Conscious Contact

Conscious contact for me means the experience of God showing up in my life, not an idea of God I read in some spiritual book. When I’m awake and aware, I can see my life is everything God does and nothing I do. There is no place God isn’t. But it’s so easy for me to get distracted, fall back asleep, to take God for granted. Then I begin to believe that I am the power making my life happen. I need daily reminders to maintain my conscious contact with God. Fortunately I’m surrounded by powerful reminders every where I look.

I become aware of the presence of God in most every meeting I attend. The other big book says, “where more than one are gathered in His name, God is present.” When my mind is not wandering off, sometimes I can actually feel the presence of God in a meeting. Sometimes when I’m sharing with another drunk I hear the words come out of my mouth and I think. “Wow, I didn’t know I knew that.” I reach out to newcomers and occasionally there’s a big payoff — seeing the light come on when the person finally “gets it.”  I listen to you share what your life was like, what happened and what it’s like now. When I hear how God is working in your life, I am reminded God is working in my life too.

I had a powerful experience of God recently. A man I share with had been struggling to stay sober for years. He’d get a couple of months then take his foot off the gas with predictable results. He told me over and over again that he didn’t deserve sobriety. Then, as it says in our book, something happened. After his last reset, he became very active in the program. He attended meetings every day, took a number of services commitments and hung out with other alcoholics outside the meetings. Two weeks ago he had an accident on his motor scooter and broke his ankle in half. He spent the night in the Emergency Room. His ankle was too swollen for surgery, so they put him in a cast and discharged him the next morning on crutches. He called one of his new sobriety buddies to pick him up and together they went to his early morning meeting to make the coffee. Wow. God becomes absolutely real for me just thinking about it.

Besides staying active in the AA program, I seek to maintain conscious contact by hiking alone in nature with my cell phone turned off. This is my primary Eleventh Step practice. Solitude is so wonderful after a lifetime of isolation. I strive to keep distractions to a minimum. I watch very little TV and have no strong opinions on outside issues. Recently a friend called me unpatriotic because I wouldn’t get caught up in the recent election. It may be selfish, but my peace of mind is more important to me than who is president.

I’ve been traveling in Southeast Asia for the past few weeks. It seems like there are ornate temples and beautiful statues of Buddha everywhere I look.  I am surrounded by these symbols, but they don’t trigger awareness of God for me. Yet when I glimpse the beautiful, joyous faces of the little Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese children, I’m absolutely positive God is real and alive.

Good Orderly Direction

My wife, a practicing Christian, believed there is a devil. I tried to point out that if there really is a devil, that God made it, so the devil must be in our lives for a purpose. She didn’t buy it. I feel the same way about ego. I could not be the person I am today without an ego. After years of letting go of old ideas through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, ego is no longer the prime motivating force, but without the energy of my fearful ego pushing me a little, I would never get off the couch. Perhaps ego is simply the fearful little kid I abandoned as I grew. I’m learning to embrace ego rather than hold it in contempt.

Since I don’t feel qualified to judge what is a right thing or a wrong thing, I like to use the term, “next indicated thing” instead. I read that a monk once asked a holy man what it meant to live a spiritual life. The sage’s reply: “When you are hungry, eat; when you are tired, sleep.” I really do believe it can be this simple  — flowing in the direction life is moving, doing the next indicated thing; solving any problems that appear without frustration, confusion, or suffering. I believe this is the life that God intended for us when he put us here.

I’ve had a taste of being in the flow during the past couple of years. The promise that I’ll intuitively  know how to handle situations that used to baffle me has come true. I’ve stopped trying to figure it all out and second guessing myself. I trust spiritual intuition (Good Orderly Direction); I try to put one foot in front of the other, and accept whatever the outcome in advance. It works, it really does!

One Day at a Time

One day at a time for me is about staying present and realizing that today is all I have. This is not always easy. While I seem to have made peace with my past, my mind occasionally drags me  into the fearful future where it focuses on all that can go wrong. It reminds me death is approaching, but before death what? What if I can't get around? What if I run out of money? Who will look after me when I’m no longer able?  When I’m living in the fearful future I miss the beauty and joy of the present moment. Fortunately, I no longer trip into the future very often and when I do I don’t stay very long.

I believe the ability to live in today is due to the habit of sobriety I developed in my first 90 days. I continue to take the same actions today that I did when I was new. I go to a meeting almost every day. I call other alcoholics and answer the phone when it rings. I practice 12 step principles to the best of my ability. I try to stay fit in body, mind and spirit. I don’t do any of this perfectly but I do it consistently.  I did not develop the habit of sobriety because I was afraid of drinking. I kept coming back because for the first time in my life it felt like I fit in. I got a kick out of the meetings and connected with the other wacky alcoholics in the rooms. Slowly my life began to change. I was drawn into the spiritual mystery. I keep coming back for the same reasons today.

The habit of sobriety produced a faith in me that works in all conditions. Faith gives me the courage to walk through the dark times without picking up a drink. Faith loosens my grip on the steering wheel and I’m better able to allow my life to unfold naturally. Faith gives me the calm assurance that everything is happening exactly as it is supposed to despite what my mind tries to tell me. This gift of faith makes it possible for me to live one day at a time and let the future take care of itself.