By Rev. Charles F. Harper M.Div. Spiritual Counselor , Betty Ford Center
“Sel love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self neglect.”
In AA/NA we always suggest to newcomers seeking a sponsor that they should find a spoinosr who has some “thing” , some indefineable ut attracttive “it” , some manmifestation of spirit that they want. In this series of articles we explore what someone who is in a place of “spiritual awakening “ might just look like.
As we make our way down the road less traveled, it is strongly suggested that we look at our selves: “inner leper” and all. Here we face the truth of who we are by taking a moral inventory or, if you prefer , a “truth” inventory.
It is believved that if we do this , we can come into a healthy relationship understanding, acceptance and ultimately a compassionm or love for who we are as authentic human beings. As Abraham Heschel wrote : “Being human is difficult. Becomomg human is a lifelong process. To be truly human is a gift.”
Before the invenmtory process “the better angels of our nature” as well as our “inner lepers”have lurked in the corners of shadowed consciusness. As we do our inventory we are blessed with an illumibating light. Miraculously, by bringing our angels and our lepers into consciousness, we are no longer fractured but we ccome into a relationship with ourselves as whole human beings worthy of love. Moreover, the masks which have suffociated and restrained the very expression of out authrentic beings are tossed aside with gladness. Ultimately and with humility we are liberated into a “lightntness of being.”
For example, when I took a moral inventory I came away from the mirror painfully admitting that I was at that time and I think to a large extent today the same person I was when I was a “yuppie” . The same underlying patterns of entitlement, resentments, ego run riot, judgement and resentments were and are still a part of my being.
Today my perfectionism stiill urges me to do things things at which I excell. Rigid plans leabve me irritated when disrupted by the gods. My selfishness makes me keenly aware of whether or not my self interests will be served and I still do things with the same inner energy of an alpha male.
There is however a change in me. As a young man I was a master of the universe. Today, I believe, no, I know. I’m not in charge. Translated this means, in spite of shortcomings and defects of character that the God of my understanding loves this particualr “work in progress” anyways.
In his poem “Song of Myself” the poet Walt Whitman was able to reconcile his own feelings of feelings of inadequacy and all his failure and write about himself :
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death…”
This surely what it means to experience a dimension of spiritual awakening. This, I think, is a telltale sign of an spiritual person so enthralled with the day and the mission of life and self that he or she is able to “celebrate myself and sing myself…Hoping to cease not til death.” May it be so for you.