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Through the Red Door Blog

In the early days of the Church, when the front door of the parish was painted red it was said to signify sanctuary – that the ground beyond these doors was holy, and anyone who entered through them was safe from harm.

In the lives of many recovering people, it is through these same red doors that sanctuary is found on a daily basis. Initially that sanctuary may not have started in the rooms with high vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, but in the basements and back rooms of churches where 12-step meetings are held.

This blog was created for recovering people to share the experiences they found walking through those doors of safety, refuge and peace.

To submit a entry to the blog, please click here for the details or contact us at info@episcopalrecovery.org.

  • 02/06/2019 8:09 PM | Anonymous

    Not long ago, a friend of mine, I’ll call her Susan, went on a trip and brought home a gift for me (she does stuff like that).  It was a pair of work gloves—I had mentioned my gardening hobby to her.  The gloves are white and sturdy and on the back of one of the gloves, stenciled in large, black capital letters, is the word PRAY.  I will never use the gloves.

    I put the gloves on the top shelf of my gardening rack.  It stands on the front porch and I pass the glove several times a day in my comings and goings.

    Each time I pass the glove I pause and see that word, I pray. I don’t have a prepared prayer I read somewhere in a book.  I don’t pray for my friends, for good weather, for world peace.

    I do this. I alert myself to the presence and responsiveness of my Higher Power and all creation.

    Now that cold weather has come and gardening chores are few, I have brought the glove indoors.  It sits on a small table near the front door.  I pass it several times a day and think a little prayer. I have two: “Thank you for keeping me sober today” and “Help me get through the day.”

    I am reminded what it is not: my Higher Power is far, far away someplace up there and I am just down here tied to the ground.  We are not separate.  We are the singer and the song.

    I will never stop using Susan’s glove and it will never wear out.

    —Ron B.

  • 01/31/2019 8:18 PM | Anonymous

    Step Twelve charges us with the responsibility of “carrying the message to the alcoholic who still suffers.” It is easier to do so sometimes, but not so easy other times. When the alcoholic is a friend or relative or spouse, or when someone simply seeks us out and inquires, usually, but not always, we can have a positive constructive conversation passing along our experiences with the disease and our recovery.

    But sometimes we are carrying the message in a hospital lock-down psyche ward or a jail-like facility for repeat DUI offenders, any compulsory confinement.  It appears that when the person is being held against his or her will, they’re not interested in much of anything, especially comments causing them to look at their own addiction; they may be only hoping to find ways to game the system. They may simply have overdosed and need to be locked-up for a few days for a medical evaluation. It may not be their first encounter with a lock-down ward—or, they are attending the weekly meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous you are chairing merely to gain favorable reports for their parole officer.  

    You find that “yes,” you are carrying the message—perhaps very effectively. But the reality is that your meeting attendees will probably continue their addictive behavior. After all, what should we expect? Most of us didn’t show any interest in the Program until we were good and ready and had fallen to the depths of our spiritual well-being.

    Of course, the state of our egos drives our reactions to this “stone-wall.” We may wish for a more positive reaction. There may be a messianic aspect to our work—we may feel as we enter the rooms that we will “save” them from themselves and deserve credit somewhere for doing so.

    Stop this self-pity! … this “self-aggrandizement”. Step Twelve calls on us to “carry the message,” not to save their souls or their lives. Look at us—our ego rears its cunning, baffling and powerful head once again maybe where and when we don’t expect it. It’s our addiction in a different costume. Your job is to open the door. If they don’t want to enter, that’s their decision. Who are we anyway to assume the power or seek to think we might wave a wand over the addict releasing him from his malady? This is the stuff that really caused us so much of a problem.We couldn’t do it for ourselves. We’d tried and failed. Do we believe we now can wave that wand over someone else, someone else who may not want to have anything to do with us or anything else to achieve that “desire to stop drinking?”

    But, look… never give up! You are a product of a miracle. Your higher power carried you through the early dark days. Maintain contact with your higher power as you embark on Twelve Step work like this. But don’t give up … “carry the message.” Who knows, you may even see one of these souls at your next meeting.

      Jim A., Covington, Kentucky

  • 01/23/2019 7:57 PM | Anonymous

    Somewhere in his biography CONFESSIONS St. Augustine wrote that he heard a voice from a nearby home of a boy or girl that sang, “Take and read. Take and read.”  When I was early in recovery, I remember a meeting at which I quoted from a book that I had been reading (showing off my intelligence!!). I can still see that tall husky man from across the table, stand, slap his hand on the table, and say, “We don’t read anything that is not in the Big Book.” That, thank God, was some thirty-nine years ago.

    Since then, I have read everything I could get my hands on about this allergy/ disease or sick relationship or whatever it is that one wants to call alcoholism. I totally and entirely believe that being alive today depends on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. The maintenance of my spiritual condition requires me to, “take and read.”

    What set me off on this reading spree some years ago was that somewhere I heard or read that Bill Wilson said something to the effect that everything in Alcoholics Anonymous could be found in various religions and philosophies. If that were true, I wanted to know more about it since I came into this program pretty much a fundamentalist in my beliefs.

    When I was in high school I could not remember much of what I read, so I was considered to be a slow learner/stupid. Then, one night, I was reading a novel, and I could “hear” the author read to me. From then on, I wanted to read everything I could. So, when I was told, “we do not read…,” my reaction/response was to ‘take and read.”

    Since then, I have enjoyed the spiritual/philosophical underpinnings of what came to us in the 12 steps. In The Upanishads I read, “Forgetting our divine origin, we become ensnared in the world of change and bewail our helplessness.” In The Bhagavad Gita, I read, “Even sinners become holy when they take refuge in me alone." I had already read the Jewish/Christian Scriptures.

    Early philosophers discussed the question of how one should live his/her life. It was Aristotle’s view that the happiest people were those who lived a virtuous life. The discussion continued throughout the centuries as to how we should live. It can be concluded that those of us with addiction issues are philosophers since we are all discussing the issue of how to live a good life.

    Charismatic leaders created programs to help people mediate in order to find God; study groups to lean the scriptures; prayer groups to help fight their character defects. For those for whom alcohol and other drugs were an issue there was the drunk tank/hospitalization; abstinence programs, religious programs etc.

    Then came a Wall Street atheist who couldn’t get sober, and someone told him he could pick his own description of God. One day something happened, he had a spiritual awakening and that was the beginning of our recovery program.   

    Someone once said at a meeting that the 12 Step program was created to keep our life simple; that the Big Book was written for a bunch of drunks to understand their sickness.  Bill W. may or may not have been aware of the beliefs of the religions or the philosophies he said were the background of this program. Sam Shoemaker, who Bill frequently cited as being a great influence on him, was an avid reader and had travelled in China and the Middle East. Bill did not know of St Ignatius until Fr. Ed Dowling showed him the parallel between the 12 Steps and the Ignatian Spirituality. 

    Today, my gratitude is for the gifts and talents of the early founders who were able to take traditions and philosophies and formulate them into a simple program that is suggested as a program of recovery.

    I am grateful to Bill W. for pointing out that the roots of our program run deep and wide. Everyone, everywhere, regardless of their religious or non-religious beliefs or their philosophy, can take the Big Book and the 12 Step program and there find a distillation of religions/philosophical beliefs that provide a program for a life of sobriety and serenity. “Take and Read.”

  • 01/17/2019 12:25 PM | Anonymous

    We have dealt a bit with relapses, in many ways not a pleasant subject. From the prospective of the addict, a relapse represents failure yet again. Strange, because sometimes the effort to work the Program seemed destined to success—Big Book, Sponsor, Steps 4 and 5, even a bit of service work like chairing a meeting, and so forth. I brought it up at a discussion meeting the other day and everyone had something to say—some concentrating on “the why” it happened, others on “what to do” about a relapse. A couple talked about the “cunning, powerful, baffling “aspects of our disease. A few spoke to our usual question: “How does one deal with life’s bumps and grinds without alcohol as a crutch?”

    I think all of us have experienced to some degree a relapse or a complete discouragement with the Program or a feeling of uselessness – a lapse about our ability to deal with the disease.

    The answer is clear to most—keep working the Program. There is no holiday from our disease. Go to meetings, read the Big Book, do some service work and so forth. This litany of “working the Program” has been shown by most of us as an effective way to prevent a relapse and, for that matter, what to do when working his or her way out of the feelings of their relapse.

    Those generalizations work for life’s normal bumps and grinds. But what about catastrophic occurrences—your spouse develops Stage 4 breast cancer, a child is in a coma following a bicycle accident, your spouse asks for a divorce. The worst kind of problem you encounter may be one that has an extended life with an unknown path of resolution and fearful possible outcomes, a problem impacting the entire family – a genuine life-altering matter.

    A feeling of “entitlement” may raise its ugly head: “By God, I have 3 months to live and screw AA!” or “I’m going out with a bang” or “No one is going to prevent me from tying one on.” or, “They’d do it, if they were in my shoes.” “Besides, after all this time, I know enough about the Program so that I can come back if I need to.”

    The thought that made the most sense to me was, ”There isn’t a situation extant that can’t be made worse by continuing or resuming our active alcoholism.” Solutions we come up with while intoxicated make no sense, assuming we can remember the ideas or read our handwriting. We have layered over the problems with our addictions, masked so we didn’t have to meet their challenge.

    Sometimes in some cases like a divorce or long-term medical issues, we face a likewise long-term remediation outlook, issues associated with medical problems, divorce and the confrontation of new marriages and new families and limited accessibility to your kids. It can be just like a scab. We mentally pick at the scab until its gone and we conclude we have no options.

    But, cheer up. Going to meetings, working the Steps, a gratitude list once in a while—it’s all there for you to utilize in the real long term of life’s encountered roadblocks. But never, ever, give up!

    Jim A., Covington, Kentucky

  • 01/11/2019 1:33 PM | Anonymous

    My name is Shane, and I am a grateful, recovering sex and love addict. By the grace of my higher power and the power of the twelve steps I have been sober from acting on my bottom lines since February 20, 2013. My journey to addiction began when my adopted father, an alcoholic and sex addict, introduced me to pornography at the age of six. I now realize that exposing a six-year-old boy to pornography is a form of sexual abuse. As a child, I lacked the maturity to deal with the feelings I began to associate with these images. My secret activities continued into adolescence, where they collided with my struggle with same-sex attraction. About the time I hit puberty, I became a born-again Christian. Over my teenage years, I repeated a cycle of being attracted to boys my own age, looking at pornography, sex with self, experimenting with same-sex peers, and then drowning in a sea of religious guilt and shame. By age sixteen pornography and sex with self became my drug of choice to medicate my shame, guilt, confusion, and fear of being gay.

    After High School I entered the clergy and was married, mistakenly believing doing so would cure me of my struggles. How wrong I was! These issues persisted despite prayer, fasting, and faith. It left me convinced that I was unworthy of God’s intervention. Regretfully, my need to control everything (so the real me would never be revealed) drove a wedge between my wife and I and we divorced. I eventually married again with an honest commitment to do the right thing. However, I quickly returned to my addiction, this time discovering the internet. Addiction is progressive and debilitating, and every barrier I said I would never cross I did. In the 15 months I was acting out I had scores of sexual encounters, one of which was with a young man I met on line who was under age. Sex addiction is a sure pathway to insanity. How else can I explain the perfect sense it made (to me) to imagine that an emotional and sexual relationship with a teenager would be acceptable? I had so detached from the reality of my life that I was trying to maintain the public persona of a faithful husband, respected religious leader and member of the community while hooking up with men at the risk of my freedom, my family, my career, and my sanity.

    Eventually I was found out and arrested. I seriously considered suicide when the police came to my door, but the thought of my children or wife finding my body stopped me from doing the deed. After a 93 day stay in sex rehab I was able to admit that I was an addict and came out to my family as a gay man. While there I was introduced to SLAA and made a half-hearted attempt at recovery. After rehab I did a one-year stint in state prison. I left state prison in 2012 thinking I had everything under control.

    Within six months I had relapsed. I did not believe the stories I heard about relapse being worse than the first go around with our disease, but I became a believer. I rationalized that I could handle a little pornography. That thinking error began a journey that led me back to prison for four years. During that time, I missed my grandfather and uncle’s deaths/funerals, the birth of my two grandchildren, and so much time that can never be regained. It took that second arrest and imprisonment to wake me up and get serious about recovery.

    I wrote SLAA’s office asking for a correspondent sponsor who would work with me while I was in prison. My higher power sent me just what I needed in my sponsor! He had been in prison as well and had an almost identical background. While inside, I began to work the steps, set my bottom, caution, and top lines, developed a daily spiritual routine that includes prayer, meditation, and affirmations. For a brief time, I actually met with other inmates for SLAA Meetings in our dorm. It has been said that suffering is a pathway to peace. Those four years were the most difficult days I have ever experienced – so much violence, darkness, isolation, and despair. Working the steps, the support of my sponsor, my family, a small group of fellow inmates whom I trusted, and my Higher Power were how I got through it. On December 20, 2016 I began my recovery journey in the “free” world.

    Since my release I have continued that work by seeing a licensed sex offender therapist, regularly attending our local SLAA meetings where I serve by setting up chairs, leading meetings, and serving as the chairperson for our Intergroup. I am beginning work on my ninth steps and have one sponsee. I have been able to find work and have a recovery job as a restaurant manager. I recently led a discussion group at my church that discussed the connection between the Twelve Step and the Gospel as Jesus lived out. An opportunity I never imagined I would every again have.

    I have built recovery friendships and meet regularly with a ground of men in recovery. I am actually developing healthy, intimate same sex friendships! I have a close friend who serves as my spiritual advisor and mentor who is well versed in recovery. I have surrendered my right to have sex anytime I want, with anyone I want, and have made peace with abstinence unless I am in a committed relationship.

    Almost five years of sobriety has restored much of my sanity and empowered me to begin to love myself. I am now fully present for my family and friends. My spiritual life is exactly where it needs to be, utterly human yet touched by the grace of my Higher Power. Now when I feel those familiar triggers creeping in, I call a trusted recovery partner or my sponsor. My biggest struggle is with loneliness and much to my surprise, feeling lonely does not kill me. Each day I do not act out is a step back to restoring my reputation as an honorable man. 

    I now pray for an opportunity to live out this hope by carrying this message to others trapped in their own struggle with sex and love addiction, especially those who are in vocational religious ministry. In that regard, I am now a certified Recovery Coach who focuses on helping recovering clergy stop living out a pattern of sex, love and pornography addiction. My recovery has not been perfect, but it has been the recovery I needed, including my prison sentence. I am thankful for the pain it brought and the hope I discovered behind those bars through the twelve steps of SLAA. 

    Shane M. Conway, Arkansas

  • 01/02/2019 9:43 PM | Anonymous

    Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

    In this gospel reading Jesus reminds us that it is not what we put into our bodies that causes us to sin. Now we alcoholics and addicts know well that Jesus is not talking about physical food or drink because that is certainly what finally got us into trouble. Jesus is referring to spiritual and intellectual food that we take in. It is what happens to the words, thoughts, actions that we hear and see and allow to penetrate our body and reach our heart, and then how our heart reacts to them can cause us to sin, to develop character defects. Someone harms us. We want to hurt them right back. Someone does not treat us with the respect due. We make sure they are put in their place. Our children act out. We throw up our hands and scream at them.

    Ours is a God of love and I love all the ways scripture and sacred writings give us images to pray and  meditate on about changing our heart. The collect for this passage from Mark talks about “Graft in our hearts the love of your Name.” Some of you master gardeners know more about grafting than I do, but I hope you can identify with the personification of the word heart. Graft in our hearts the love of your Name.  Graft meaning to insert, implant, transplant into our hearts God’s heart of love.

    There are many other personifications of our hearts.

    In Lent in Morning Prayer we often read the Prayer of Manasseh (BCP pp. 90-91) where we appeal to God for forgiveness as we “Bend the knee of my heart.”  Our image is bowing our body and especially our heart as we ask on the bended knee of our heart for forgiveness for the harmful things we have done to others. Another great prayer image.

    In the marriage ceremony if the Song of Solomon (8:6) is read, we will hear, “Set me as a seal upon your heart, .. for love is stronger than death.” A seal upon our heart..a seal is a substance joining two together. It can be a substance with something stamped on it or a badge saying that this document comes from the sender. If we view this in our relationship to God we are asking to be stuck to God like glue and marked as at baptism, “marked as Christ’s own forever.”  

    Again, in a Morning Prayer Canticle, the Song of Ezekiel (36:26), God says, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” What a great image for our prayers:  asking God to take away our heart of stone.

    My favorite image of our heart is in the Prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict. The founder of the Benedictine monastic tradition’s very first words to us are, “Listen with the ear of your heart.”  What an image for our relationship to God and our neighbors. Listening to God, listening to those we meet with not just the outer part or pinna or lobe of our ear, but with the middle and especially the inner part of our ear and connect what we hear to our heart that no longer is a heart of stone but has been tightly grafted to the love of God.

    Hold on to these images of our hearts in this new year. They could be resolutions that could change our lives.
    Listen with the ear of your heart.
    Graft in our hearts the love of your Name.
    Set me as a seal upon your heart.
    Bend the knee of my heart.
    Remove from me my heart of stone.
    We will review them on February 14th

    Joanna. Joannaseibert.com

  • 12/27/2018 9:12 AM | Anonymous

    Seeing that we can’t go it alone, God delivered a Higher Power to restore us to sanity. Born of Mary into the House of David, He came to live among us to suffer with us and for us (Isaiah 53). 

    Now and still, we can’t go it alone. Richard Rohr says that when God looks at us, he sees Christ – so completely does his love align with our need for love. And when we look at each other, whom do we see? If not Christ, do we at least see ourselves in one another, in our addictions, our confusion and fear, our loneliness, our aspirations, our insights, our courage, our hope and joy?  There is so much to apprehend in one another and so much power within and among us. Other’s gifts and graces needn’t be “higher” – only present Our presence for each other is our hope and our salvation.

    Sober holidays and holy days invite us to recast traditions (especially those we may have defiled in the throes of our addiction) and invent rituals that enshrine our venerable principles and natures. The best of these celebrate the truth that we are no longer condemned to go it alone. We are not condemned by our addictions, by our failings, by our weakness. Christ is born. He is with us and in us.

    Christmas cards are a fading custom, but for me a ritual filled with luminous memories. This year, I am greeting stalwarts who have sustained me through trials and numbing losses and unexpected triumphs. Their heroic generosity and genius buttress me.  As I compose, sign and address the cards, I recall how these dear people, some barely acquaintances, by intense exertions and inspired gestures lighten my labors, lessen my load and lift my outlook. How wonderful they are! 

    I have adorned the face of this this special card with an iconic Botticelli madonna, and draped the backside with a verse sprung from the crannies of my soul:

    This Christmas

    My dear brothers and sisters,

    All you viscounts, vagabonds and visionaries,

    This year, let us celebrate the birth of Jesus.

    We’ll sing in tune with the angels,

    Rejoice in delight with the shepherds,

    Pray in accord with the sages,

    Let’s exclaim uproarious, unbounded, unanimous love for all.

    Let’s adorn every greeting with fond wishes and wrap every gift with affection.

    Let’s shed rancor and rage, and be mellow, light-hearted and merry.

    On Christmas morn, let’s rise as happy children,

    And on Christmas night go to our beds forgiving and forgiven,

    Hearts bursting with newborn love for one another,

    In the name of the child

    Whose love conveys us all from creche to cross to eternity.   Amen.

    Martin McElroy, 2018, from Shattered, Anthems of Healing and Rejoicing

  • 12/19/2018 7:48 PM | Anonymous

    In Parts 1 and 2, we spoke about having to consider our relationships with “people, places and things,” usually stating or implying that the frequency of those relationships may have to be reduced or eliminated, or at least at first seriously curtail the frequency of those relations, i.e., you may have to skip the traditional nineteenth hole gathering, or cut the time spent with the family at the traditional Fourth of July Grill-out or find an eatery with a burger just as fine at “Thelma and Harold’s Good Time Bar & Grill”.

    Early in the program it’s important to reduce those places where you always consumed more alcohol than appropriate and embarrassed yourself and family before the gathered crowd.

    You thought that everyone in attendance consumed just as much as you, but such is not usually the case. They–the normal drinkers–can actually stop at a given point, at the point “they’ve had enough.” So, your behavior is not the norm, and looking back, if we are honest, we had to admit that usually in any form of relaxation and socializing–the 19th hole or Labor Day grill-outs–you always seemed to have a whole lot more to drink than everyone else. Be honest with yourself. If you can, listen to their conversations. They actually make sense. They aren’t garbled or slurred. They haven’t spilled a glass of beer on the picnic table, or loudly passed along the latest “out-of-place” racial insult. 

    But, enough about the negativity of the excessive drinking. Look at the bright side. You’ll be able to remember conversations, what article or book title you promised to send to the person. You were cold sober when you said, “let’s have lunch” and really meant it and will remember that you said you’d call to set something up. Political and religious discussions may even be coherent and remembered. You may actually be persuaded by a contrary discussion.  You’ll understand and remember a good joke or story. You probably will find that sooner or later you will find new friends.

    The benefit doesn’t include those good old feelings of being in control of your person. You’ll have positive feelings about the evening–that “feel good” attitude. Shame of that evening, or tomorrow, won’t haunt you. Instead you will realize you are making progress, you are changing your abusive ways of the past.  Your spouse might even comment, “I like/love you more when you aren’t drinking, like those days of yesteryear before alcohol dominated your behavior.”

    You may even find material benefits as a result of your demonstrated sobriety: a new sales lead, being asked to make a contact, and you may find a new ability of remembering what your profession or employment is all about.

    What’s not to like about sobriety–in part gained by changing those alcoholic people, places and things that did so much to enable you to go to the depths of your addiction?

    Jim A. Covington, Kentucky

  • 12/12/2018 8:25 PM | Anonymous

    My name is Brandon. I'm an alcoholic and an addict, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ.

    That is how the meetings I first attended opened.

    The 12 steps and 8 principles had scriptures attached to them, and we recited them each meeting.

    In this Advent season, I am reminded of the Light. I am always trying to open a crack through which the Light may shine.

    Last night, I "pulled an all-nighter." I did this knowing it's a potentially risky behavior for my recovery. I did this for the love of my daughter. My daughter is autistic and hasn't been sleeping through the night. Often, she can self-soothe when she can't sleep, but last night she couldn't. So I was there for her.

    She and I talked for several hours about skills we each use to communicate with ourselves... To find the calm in the storm of our minds. We went to IHOP at Midnight and ate Grinch-themed pancakes. We returned home and played video games.

    After she fell asleep around 5am, I had a clear memory of those early meetings so many years ago. The Light was shining.

    My name is Brandon. I am an alcoholic and an addict, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ.

    The truth is I don't attend those meetings anymore because they preached a particularly homophobic doctrine, and I am queer and trans.

    But those meetings and the people there still reside in my heart and are part of my recovery team in the way their stories and words live in my memory.

    Every time I hear "11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and power to carry that out," I can't help saying, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly" (Colossians 3:16a) and thinking of my first sponsor all those years ago.

    As I stayed awake with my daughter last night and helped her use her self-soothe skills, I worked on my own self-soothe skills and remembered why the Light is so beautiful this time of year. It is when family, friends, communities, and even people with whom we disagree come together in a Spirit of giving. We all share in making things new.

    This Advent I celebrate my daughter's growth; my sobriety which continues to draw me nearer to God, myself, my wife, my child, and others; and the new groups I've found which support my continuing recovery where I now say, "My name is Brandon. I'm a queer, trans Christian in lifelong recovery from alcohol and drugs, and I'm open to new ideas and language to help me on the way."


  • 12/07/2018 12:22 PM | Anonymous

    Our hope is that when this chip of a book is launched on the world tide of alcoholism, defeated drinkers will seize upon it, to follow its suggestions. Many, we are sure, will rise to their feet and march on. They will approach still other sick ones and fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous may spring up in each city and hamlet, havens for those who must find a way out.   Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 153*

    Advent is a time of anticipation, expectation and preparation. How does the forward-thinking impetus of Advent fit in with the “no expectations, no resentments” philosophy of AA? Easily. The “Promises” tell us that God will do for us what we could not do for ourselves, just as Advent tells us that God is near. AA is a light in the darkness. The Program and Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous promise us the path to a life of freedom and happiness.

    An AA old-timer said at a meeting last week that Alcoholics Anonymous had brought him from a life of self-centered fear to a life of gratitude. Gratitude is the key. No matter what is going on in ourselves, our family or the world, there is always something to be grateful for. The AA tradition of November being Gratitude Month is a perfect lead-in to the Christian tradition of Advent. With grateful hearts, we begin the new year with anticipation and assurance.

    So what does this mean in practical terms? How does being a grateful, sober Episcopalian affect my day-to-day life during the Holiday Season? First of all, I can be assured that the joy of the season is not dependent on my purchases. I bring the gift of sobriety to my life, to my family, friends and neighbors. The gift of sobriety includes the gifts of acceptance, thankfulness and encouragement. It includes reliability, stability and joyfulness. Anything I can buy can’t measure up to the inestimable worth of what I already bring to those I love. I can be relieved of the anxieties that who I am or what I bring or what I give aren’t good enough.

    Second, being a grateful, sober Episcopalian means that I am not alone. I never have to go anywhere alone, I never have to face a family or office function alone, I never have to make a decision alone. Fellowships of AA are nearby. Meetings abound—and their numbers increase during the holidays. Many meetings supply lists of members’ phone numbers and we are all encouraged to make use of the phone. If you do make a call, you are giving that person the gift of your trust in their sobriety and their ability to help you.

    And finally, being a grateful, sober Episcopalian means that I know about the cycle of the seasons. I know that Advent brings each of us renewal and promise. I know that the light overcomes the darkness. I know that despite the struggles and confusion of the modern age, God’s promises in Advent and God’s promises in the Big Book come true. We have been called, each of us, to bear witness to the Good News of sobriety, in fellowship and in hope.

    -Christine H.

    * The AA Bible, Alcoholics Anonymous, was published in 1939 when there were almost 1400 people in dozens of groups who had together to obtain sobriety. Today there are over two million people who meet in over 120,000 groups worldwide. There is hope for us all.

© Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church
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