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!