The Spirit in Recovery

My HipstaPrint 4[2]

Most of the time, our human tendency is to want to grasp, to command, to bring about, to do . .  . but when dealing with the spiritual, the attempt to control or manipulate makes that which we seek, that which we hope for vanish.  We might as well try to capture soap bubbles with a fork.  Awe and control are impossible bedfellows.   – Experiencing Spirituality by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, p. 12

After a brief time in recovery, I began to make peace with the fire and damnation religion of my youth.  But for many years I have tried to figure out how to get my hands around spirituality – What is it I believe? What is my Creed? But my experience with the Spirit is much more in line with the above quote.

For example, about 15 years ago, about once per month I traveled north along a two-lane road between Clayton and Sicily Island Louisiana.  On one occasion, there was something about the stretch of road, the time of day, the sun beginning to set over the stubble of picked cotton fields that set me into a euphoric experience of the spirit unlike anything ever achieved in a church or with alcohol or drugs.  The same experience occurred the next month at about the same spot on the road.  This time I pulled over and marveled at the experience of which I am still uncertain.  I called the place Magic Land.  The next month, I came prepared.  I had my 35 mm camera and a cassette tape recorder (pre-digital days) and was ready to fully document the experience.  But nothing happened.  The road was just the road and the cotton field was no different from any other.  Magic Land never occurred again on that drive.  I have come to wonder how many Magic Lands at other places along the road I missed because I was so fixated on experiencing the one between Clayton and Sicily Island.

A few Sunday’s ago was Pentecost – taken from the Jewish tradition of Moses getting the Commandments on Mount Sinai and in the Christian calendar when the Spirit filled the Apostles.  I occupied my normal seat when attending church on Pentecost – centered on the pulpit, about ten rows back.  The preacher, the Rev. John Sewell, preached a sermon that particularly resonated with me that day – in part:

Let us, before this Day in 2015, strain to hear God’s spontaneous call, as the Spirit moves, broods in the risky places of life, of Memphis. Let this Day one year hence find us doing something we would never have dreamed possible.  The Spirit moves in the risky places.


The Holy Spirit brooded over the waters of Chaos.  For many years I have observed this in Alcoholics Anonymous – what can’t be controlled, or be willed into being true, CAN by surrendering to the Holy One most present in that very place, brings that very thing into being. It’s called recovery.  The Holy Spirit is perhaps most creative in the places over which we have no control.

I was not expecting that message but welcomed the challenge.  I am committed to finding myself “doing something we (I) would never have dreamed possible.”

Today, that all works for me as the Spirit in recovery.


2 thoughts on “The Spirit in Recovery

  1. Those god moments sure are great. They used to feel more random and mysterious, but can be summoned more reliably outdoors. I don’t guess I’ve ever had one indoors. Completely agree that spirituality feels too hard to define. It’s there though, definitely. For now I won’t worry about nailing it down. Enjoyed the imagery of Magic Land and message here. Great stuff!

  2. Thanks for your comments. There is a certain irony in celebrating the spiritual in a space closed off from the cosmos, even if the ceiling is high. I get the vision quest and pilgrimage concepts – to go out, be mindful and intentional and experience what there is to experience.

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