Greeting Life

Image courtesy of  graur razvan ionut/

Today’s blog is focused on the following quote:

“Please, Lord, teach us to laugh again; but God, don’t ever let us forget that we cried.”

Friends in Recovery & Jerry S., (1993). Prayers for the Twelve Steps: A Spiritual Journey, p.51, Curtis, WA: RPI. Inc.

This morning when I read this prayer, I knew it was what I needed to write about in today’s blog. I have, on occasion, had students assigned to attend an open Alcoholics’ Anonymous meeting question why they encountered so much dark humor in the meeting they attended. They do not understand the alcoholics’ need to use humor to remind themselves of where they’ve been in order to reinforce where they are and where they are going in their journey of recovery. The above quoted prayer explains our need to remember the pain and suggests one means of doings so is through laughter.

In the “Sermon on the Mount” so many of us are familiar with, it is reported that Jesus said, ”  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”(Matthew 5:3, KJV). I am participating in an 11th step discussion group focused on the content of this sermon, and, so far, we have spent two weeks discussing this first beatitude. I think we will be spending more time trying to appreciate the true meaning it conveys. One thing we have all agreed upon is  those of us who are alcoholics were mired in the despair of hitting bottom before we became willing to seek and receive the gift of recovery. People in recovery often have to realize they are “poor in spirit” before they are willing to commence their  journey into and within recovery.

Do people have to experience opposites to appreciate or improve their experience? I have often heard the argument people have to be sad before they can appreciate being happy. Another version I have encountered is that without experiencing evil  we cannot appreciate experiencing  good. The list could go on and on—–we need to experience the current polar vortex coldness that envelops us in order to appreciate the warmth that will surround us in July; without being alone, we cannot appreciate the comfort of being in relationship, etc.  Are these just  convenient yet commonly held beliefs  we use to explain the inexplicable?

In a little less than two weeks I will hit the 65 year old milestone in my journey through life, and, in my experience, it is the sad, painful times in my life that have taught me the most, spiritually speaking. One of the things, though, that I am currently trying to do is to learn to focus my awareness and attention so that I can notice the blessings, the “positives,” the miracles that are embedded in my day by day life experience so that I can appreciate them in the present moment without having to experience their painful counterpoint. It is my intent that if I can learn to do this I will no longer repeatedly need to be miserable before my Higher Power gets my attention and motivates me to change something within myself to make things better.

One closing and loosely related thought has to do with perception. Over and over again, I have tried to teach my students that we perceive and interpret what we expect to perceive and interpret. Now the teacher has to learn to change her  own expectations, perceptions, and interpretations. I am grateful that I do not have to face this challenge or any other by myself. My Higher Power is guiding me through this as he has guided me through everything else. My biggest part in this is to be willing to allow this part of my journey to unfold. So, yes. I am going to make jokes and laugh about some of the painful experiences in my past so that I will not forget them and they will continue to support my journey  The laughter helps me revisit my life’s pain in a healthy way—-a way that keeps me from returning to and getting mired down in past despair and supports my current recovery.