sunriseIt is often said in 12-Step programs that the path to recovery lies in going to meetings, working the steps, and being of Service.  One way that 12-Steppers try to be of service is by staying around in the program to share their experience with relative newcomers.  It is an aspect of 12-Step programs that distinguishes them from most support groups in which people stop attending once their problem is solved.   But there is also a spiritual component to the 12-Steps … and to Service … as in praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out (Step 11).   That’s a much taller order than simply turning up to share your experience with a few newcomers.  But of course, if what we want is a purpose in life, what could be better than doing God’s will?  If we could only figure out what that is.

In his recorded series of recorded talks, Kabbalah Works, Rabbi David Aaron tells the story of a spiritual-minded screen writer who tells him, Rabbi, most of the time, I feel like I’m not the author of my screen plays.  It’s as if they come through me not from me.  I think all my screenplays come from God.   The Rabbi replies, Not all of them.  Only the good ones.  The story raises an interesting question regarding Service and God’s will.   I’m sure that the spiritual screenwriter was trying to write a good screenplay every time, yet sometimes, he fell short.  Perhaps he was having a bad day and his channel to God was intermittent.  Maybe he made a few plot changes that he thought were minor that dragged down the script.   How do we, as humans, choose God’s will, particularly when the choice isn’t obvious?   Rabbi Aaron says that the important choices aren’t between black and white but between white and off white.   How interesting that the most important choices for us to make as humans are the most subtle.  Most of us know that we shouldn’t steal from our neighbors but the differences between helping and enabling, being a conscientious parent and an over-protective one, between persuading and manipulating are indeed subtle.

If Service to a Higher Power is indeed our ultimate purpose, I suppose we shouldn’t expect it to be easy.  Personally, people who claim to know God’s will all the time make me very nervous.  Sometimes, we just have to make the best choice we can with our oh-so-human capabilities and trust that God will give us a less-than-subtle reminder when we choose wrong.  Sometimes, I’m afraid, it has to be a two-by-four to the side of the head.  I hate when that happens.

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2 Comments on “Service”

  1. jenihill Says:

    Very much enjoyed and also, appreciated your interpretations in this piece. I have had many things given to me -sometimes in the form of material items but frequently in the form of intangibles such as seeing and enjoying the beauty around me, friends who have at times chided me and teased, even scolded but only a few very rare individuals have abandoned our acquaintance. I try to keep those tenuous strands alive and functioning by returning the affections shown to me in as many ways as I can. The first step -to turn all over to one’s Higher Power is a difficult one and yet, an easy one too as much of that turning over depends on the earnestness of one’s request and the continuation of faith that it will be done too, thanks to that Higher Power’s strength within us.

  2. Well Older Eyes you are quite introspective in the aftermath of your 70th birthday…!

    .I think the shades of white are easier but more nuanced than the shades of gray so to speak. At least if it is a shade of white you are on the good side more or less but still good. It is the shades of gray .. a series of choices none of which seem all that good that in my mind put one to the test. Where you get to choose the least worst choice so to speak.

    it is our actions that count, many know what they should do but do nothing. As my Mom used to say the path to hell is paved with good intentions. Only God knows what is truly in our hearts and judges accordingly…. Good post.

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