Monday, December 14, 2009

The AA of Bill W. by Rich Giberti

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am absolutely NOT against ministers or church-going (I attend a fantastic Calvary Chapel), I believe they have their place and for the most part provide a great and needed service. I also believe that many, if not most recovering persons greatly benefit from 12-step meetings and a great sponsor ;)

Despite the form with which church and 12-step groups take, there is a better and more effectual path than mentor & meeting – paradoxically, it was Bill Wilson that said real freedom came from a “spiritual experience – in short, a genuine conversion.” I think Bill W. would shake his head in disbelief were he to listen to people claim a light bulb or door knob were their higher power. Neither of these (nor the church, or even a good man) can change our nature and remove destructive thirsts. In 1961 eminent psychiatrist Carl Jung reiterated this point to Bill W. in a letter, Dr. Jung wrote; “You see, "alcohol" in Latin is "spiritus" and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum.” Translated, the divine spirit is against (counteracts/defeats) spirits (alcohol).

Dr. Jung said that the (alcoholic or addicts) deep craving was the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness; expressed in medieval language: the union with God.

After years of degenerate living, and following hard on the heals of 1929’s Black Tuesday, Bill W. had finally and irrevocably reached his “bottom.” According to the standard tale Bill’s life-changing experience went something like this:

After repeatedly failing to get his drinking under control, Wilson, trembling on the brink of insanity, called up into the sky, “If there be a God, let Him show Himself now!” Suddenly, a warm bright light filled the room and Wilson found himself standing atop a mighty mountain. A wind came to him, surrounding his body and moving through it. With its departure, Wilson fell back into himself and never touched another drop of alcohol.

Listen to how Bill W. described the events leading to his personal freedom:

“In December 1934, I appeared at Towns Hospital, New York. My old friend, Dr. William Silkworth shook his head. Soon free of my sedation and alcohol I felt horribly depressed. My friend Ebby turned up and although glad to see him, I shrank a little as I feared evangelism, but nothing of the sort happened. After some small talk, I again asked him for his neat little formula for recovery. Quietly and sanely and without the slightest pressure he told me and then he left.

Lying there in conflict, I dropped into the blackest depression I had ever known. Momentarily my prideful depression was crushed. I cried out, "Now I am ready to do anything - anything to receive what my friend Ebby has." Though I certainly didn't expect anything, I did make this frantic appeal, "If there be a God, will He show Himself!" The result was instant, electric beyond description. The place seemed to light up, blinding white. I knew only ecstasy and seemed on a mountain. A great wind blew, enveloping and penetrating me. To me, it was not of air but of Spirit. Blazing, there came the tremendous thought, "you are a free man." Then the ecstasy subsided. Still on the bed, I now found myself in a new world of consciousness which was suffused by a Presence. One with the Universe, a great peace came over me. I thought, ‘So this is the God of the preachers, this is the great Reality.’"

Isn’t this electric, ecstatic, peace & freedom inducing experience what most of us are seeking? Neither 12-steps, nor one thousand are the answer. It's not another painful, difficult, confusing relationship with either man or group we want, but a soul-satisfying, thirst-quenching encounter and subsequent friendship with God.

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