“Dear Higher Power, I come to you seeking help.”
With that simple sentence and heartfelt sentiment I, a self-identified recovering Roman Catholic, made a dramatic surrender and concerted effort to connect with my Higher Power. In Twelve Step recovery this is expressed in Step Eleven, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him.” I had been sober for nearly nine years in September 2000, yet there was something missing from my life.
In March 2000, after the end of yet another romantic relationship, I went crying to my sponsor about my broken-hearted plight. His advice, which I have come to believe was divinely inspired, flowed from his lips over the phone line to my heart like the utterances of a mystic to a transfixed believer. “Perhaps the relationship you are meant to cultivate is the one between you and your Higher Power, not one between you and another human being.” There was just one problem, as I saw it. Okay, maybe two. Just how was I to go about cultivating that relationship? In addition, how could I be by myself, not in a relationship, and be okay with that?
The answers came nearly six months to the day after the advice was given when I sat at the gazebo on Enders Island, an Edmundite retreat on the Atlantic Ocean in the southeastern Connecticut town of Stonington. I simply sat down and had a written conversation with my Higher Power.
“I intend to surrender my will to yours completely and trust in your grace to continue to bless me with your wisdom, love, and compassion. Help me better understand your plan for me.”
The response was simple, yet frightening: “My love for you is unending.”
“But I fear.”
“From your fear comes strength. From your doubt comes an even stronger faith.”
“Help heal me of my fears. Help me unblock the blockade around my heart, the ice that encases my soul.”
“I am the torch that brightens all. I am the heat that warms all. I am the love that heals all.”
“Even me in all my brokenness?”
“You are whole and part of my army of believers. My light shines within you, and from your mouth comes forth my wisdom.”
“Show me your path.”
“It is laid before you every day.”
“Why do I sometimes fail to see it?”
“Because you are human and imperfect.”
“Why do I struggle in the area of relationships?”
“Because you are afraid of being hurt. Afraid of loving another with all your being.”
“Must I continue to endure this pain?”
“No. You are on the right path. Love yourself and the love of your life will present herself.”
“How do I love myself?”
“By believing in me, by caring for yourself well, and by banishing all doubts of your goodness.”
“Speak to me more about my relationship struggles.”
“You give yourself away. You become like a child, needy and submissive. You abandon your strength.”
“How do I withstand my past, my relationship with my mother, and the wounds of my father?”
“You love. You love yourself and others in your life. You embrace the downtrodden, you nurture your children—you withhold judgment.”
“Dear Higher Power, how do I know your will?”
“Follow the leading of your heart. If it is pure and you’ve asked for guidance, you will do well by others.”
“Please leave me with a thought of how to proceed with our conversations.”
Then, as if on cue, I immediately heard the lyrics from the song “Day by Day” echoing in my head: “To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly.”
These written meditations continued on a weekly basis for several weeks.
Seeking daily guidance and inspiration from a power greater than myself has been a continuing effort since I attended a day-long seminar on November 4, 2001, which included instruction on how to listen to God. A book by the same name, How to Listen to God by Wally Paton, gave me the how and the why of it.
This spiritual calendar is intended to prompt you to give thought to the how and why of you being here at this place at this time, and to inspire you to improve your conscious contact with the Universal Being of your understanding. The format is simple; daily guidance as it was originally written and the opportunity for you to reflect on its relevance and meaning to you. The guidance I present to you is culled from the guidance I received, and that of other spiritual seekers who have participated in the daily effort at receiving direction.
Reflections for January
The Dawn of a New Year, Which Will Usher in Change and Growth!
The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to reflect on faith, new beginnings, and envisioning what you want to bring into your life in the coming weeks and months. It is a time of new promise and different responses and actions. A shedding and letting go of what no longer serves you and your higher good. As with most new beginnings, there can be fear and the desire to control attached to our goals. We attempt to control because we fear being out of control. Giving our will and our lives over to the care of a Higher Power can be a frightening proposition. Equally frightening for me has been those times when I drew nearer to that power greater than myself. Oftentimes the very nearness I sought resulted in me wanting to run from the Higher Power out of fear of what I would (continue) to discover about myself. Old messages come back of, “I’m not worthy of this blessing,” and I may engage in self-sabotage or flee my Higher Power by engaging in unhealthy forms of escape. Many times when I felt closest to that power, I wanted to run away. Frequently during my life I was either running from something or to something and sometimes both simultaneously without any awareness that I was doing either. Such is the curse of unconsciousness, blissful though it sometimes may appear to be.
Take the time to envision what you want to manifest in your life this day, this week, this month, or this year. Give it expression. Take the time to write it down in a journal, or speak about it to a friend. Invite the possible. We can ask our Higher Power to guide us to the possible, seeking the recognition of the right choices, the right path.
“I know not the path, but I know I must continue to walk it.”
That sentiment, which occurred to me several years ago, is the essence of faith, the ultimate expression of being a spiritual seeker. Have you ever seen the Michael Jackson music video for the song “Billie Jean”? In it he dances on these large squares, which seem to magically light up as he steps on them. That’s what my life path has been, is today, and will continue to be: an unfolding in and of light. The light of spirit is that inextricable force that propels us forward, which calls us to grow and ultimately love—love of self and others.
When I wrote the meditation below, I was obsessing about a former girlfriend. We had broken up six months prior and I very intentionally sought clarity about what it was that I was meant to do to address my obsessive thoughts. I was uneasy and was seeking relief from the very scientific reaction I felt in the pit of my stomach. I knew something was amiss but I couldn’t name it, couldn’t comprehend why I was feeling the way I was until I sought guidance on the matter.
Originally written on October 1, 2000, on Ender’s Island, at 6:25 pm:
“Dear Higher Power, I humbly come before thee to ask that in your presence I may know your wisdom clearer, that your will for me be more evident, and your blessings more appreciated.
Please speak to me about my obsession with Tricia (fictitious name), my preoccupation with sex, and my inability to stay in the present.”
“My son, you are much blessed and your commitment to growth is evident. Yet as you grow you fear and as you fear you veer from the path—that path of self-acceptance and love. That path that you yearn to fulfill. Be not afraid, you do well always to dwell in my presence, which is love.”
“What does Tricia represent?”
“She is a diversion, an attempt at a return to mother, a person you practiced your codependence with. Her presence still has the capacity to propel you into rescuing behavior.”
“What about my preoccupation with sex?”
“It, too, is a diversion. A way not to feel or seek the love and understanding you crave. When you are obsessing about sex you dwell in a fantasy world, a world where you can forget the pain and work of growth—a way to escape.”
“How should I address both my Tricia obsession and my thoughts of sexual gratification?”
“Come to me and I will relieve you of those obsessions. Come to me in prayer. Come to me in meditation. Seek me out in conversations with others, in reflection on recovery, and AA readings. Help others and you help yourself.”
“I saw a deer on the way out here tonight nibbling on a bright red apple.”
“She represents trust, the trust you must continue to show me and others in your life. Hunger after life the way the deer hungers for that apple. Give not into the temptation to short circuit your growth by seeking out diversion.”
“Dear Higher Power, what parting comments do you have as I go forth from here?”
“Do well, always and everywhere. Speak and practice my love and kindness for you and those in your life. Remember to trust and let go of the obsessions that separate you from me and others that care for you.”
“Thank you for your many blessings.”
As I wrote this last sentence, the lights in the gazebo and the lights on other parts of the property went on.
Weekly Reflections and Guidance for January
The following conversations are meant to help you concentrate on a specific feeling or thought for each week of the month. Let these meditations guide your actions and bring you peace.
Dear Higher Power, as I start anew this year let me recommit myself to discerning your will for me on a daily basis and allow me to bask in the light of your love. Direct me to share your light and love with others you put in my path and others that I am meant to seek out.
“Be good to yourself and others today. Be positive and encouraging. Be a witness, an example of my love.”
Your power to transform lives astounds me. I am grateful for my recognition of my powerlessness and inherent strengths. Help me use your gifts to be of maximum use and service to others.
“Hold someone in need. Hug someone. Share their grief. Share another’s joy. Love your kids. Be kind.”
Higher Power, I pray that your perfect thought precede my actions, that your perfect love characterize my outlook and countenance, and that your wisdom be shared with others through my voice.
“Slow down. Take good care of yourself. Be comfortable being you. Care deeply. Be of maximum use to others.”
Dear Higher Power, your perfect love I accept and receive, your perfect plan I aspire to discern, your perfection inspires me, awes me, and frightens me. Thank you for the challenges you lay before me. Thank you for your many, many blessings.
Thomas M. Greaney, of Savvy Communications, is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor in Connecticut and Rhode Island. He is also a certified co-occurring disorder professional. His other expertise is mentoring and inspiring young adults. He facilitates his SAFE (Substance Abuse Freedom through Education) and BUTT OUT! (Tobacco education and cessation) programs for young men at a preparatory school in Connecticut.