Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Sojourning with Drunks

I sat drinking the terrible and weak coffee at tonight's A.A. meeting. I was feeling extremely lonely and isolated when I arrived and took my seat. The meeting soon started with the usual formalities and then the group launched into a discussion about the spirituality of A.A.

"Damn, another religious discussion," I thought close mindedly as the meeting began, preparing myself for absolute boredom and a wasted hour.

"A.A. is a program of spiritual recovery," Tim, my sometimes sponsor, said. "When I was drinking, my soul was devoid of spirituality and life. I turned away from God."

"Spirituality," I thought as I sat there feeling as if someone had just said a word in Cantonese.

That is such a novel concept to me, spirituality. I wrestle with so many aspects of A.A., but I keep coming back as my friend Wanda often tells me.

"Stay in these rooms long enough and it grows contagious and the ideas will grow on you," she has often said. "Just keep coming back."

I want to believe in something. I wholeheartedly understand mankind's desire to believe in something grander and wider scoping than himself – a unifying force that explains the unknown and allows for an afterlife – a force that could take away the desire to drink and give an alcoholic peace and solace.

"In AA, I believe that religion is for people who fear hell, and spirituality is for people who have gone through hell. In claiming that AA is religious like you do, one would have to assume that AA must share a common denomination. Well, I think we don't. I think you are wrong," Wanda told me as we were sitting outside smoking after the meeting. Her wisdom took me by surprise.

Imagine that! A.A. is not religious, but spiritual! I felt as if I had an epiphany. I had gotten the two confused. Organized religion has always left such a sour taste in my mouth over the years, but I felt maybe I could get a handle on this whole spirituality thing. There was hope for me yet!


Josie Two Shoes said...

Very cool realization, Andrew. For me and my life, there is a whole world of difference between those two concepts! I love that you keep going to meetings and coming away with something positive.

Leann said...

It's nice to see the lightbulb finally came on Andrew ;-)

Nicole, Graeme and Janel said...

It's really great that you've persevered in going! I'm pleased for you that you had that moment of dawning. I am a Christian, but there's a lot I don't like about the church. Having grown up in it I've had to unlearn a lot of what I was taught, because there is a HUGE difference between the Church and church.

The Church is about spirituality, people, relationships, love, forgiveness; while the church is all about religion, denominations, rules, tradition. You can belong to one without belonging to the other.

I hope you persevere long enough to experience the epiphany moment of meeting God.

Joshua said...

Andrew, this is a very corageous blog. I indeed enjoyed meeting you in it. Hope you'll fly over a completly diferent place e ambience in my blog and become a regular commenter.



Jenn said...

I have felt this way for awhile. I hate religions, but love the idea of spirtuality. Religions, in their essence are so exclusionary. Spirituality embraces everyone and helps them to be the best they can. Finding a way to celebrate spirtuality becomes difficult because when you get a bunch of like minded people in a rented room to talk, it becomes church.

IGNITE said...

"religion is for people who fear hell, and spirituality is for people who have gone through hell" - indeed a very very deep statement! and very very true!

unkle e said...

Andrew, I just stumbled across your blog. I reckon you've discovered something a lot of religious people miss. I would call myself anti-religious, but I try to follow the way of Jesus. I think there is a heap of difference. And I have friends who are AA members here in Australia who believe in Jesus and find him helpful on their journey. Best wishes.

Portia said...

if nothing else, there is always hope.

Melanie said...

HURRAH! I'm having a little happiness parade for you.

Yeah, organized religion is, at best, a way of systematically carving away chunks of yourself to fit a template. At worst it leads to wars, genocides, all sorts of horrible things in the name of "morality".

Spirituality, on the other hand, has the potential to coexist with all parts of yourself. To allow you to grow, to be who you truly are, the BEST part of who you truly are. Wonderful. Maybe this distinction will help you to get past the religion roadblock.

Tiffanie said...

There is a very BIG difference between religion and spirituality.

Moonlink said...

Yes, Yes, Yes

Jeani said...

CLAP CLAP CLAP I am excited for you.

shy_smiley said...

Myself, I'm Episcopalian but it was a long time coming. Like you, Andrew, I realized that I've always been a spiritual person but not a religious person. HUGE difference. Religion attempts to bring a common denominator to all the differences people bring to the Church. You take and use what works for you, ignore the rest, and tolerate the beliefs of others. Sounds like your AA meetings are like that, too, and that you've realized you can take what works for you and ignore the rest. You already tolerate the beliefs of others. You're a good man.