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Review and Meditation: ‘Stranger by the River’ by Paul Twitchell: Mary Helen Ferris

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“ I wish to declare the riddle of God to thee. It is most important that this be done. Listen closely and understand.
The riddle of God is this.“God is what ye believe IT is. No man is wrong about the existence of God, and yet no man is right about his knowledge of God. There is no mystery in God except that IT is what soul believes that IT is. So the riddle is that: but all men will quarrel and argue about the greatness of God and their own knowledge of Him.
“Yet every man is right in his knowledge of God. But does this mean that the drunkard is as right as the great minister who preaches from the pulpit? Yea, I say that he, the drunkard, is as much upon the path as the preacher is in his pulpit. Ah, but this is justified in thy thinking. Each in his own place according to his understanding, Ah, but there is the answer.” If the drunkard seeks God through his bottle, and it seems irreverent to speak of both in the same breath, then let it be. But I mean to tell ye that the seeking of happiness, be it on a material plane or spiritual plane is the seeking of God. The ideal of the drunkard is to become drunk and unconscious so he can forget all and dwell within himself in a state of happiness. The God-seeker wishes to become unconscious in a state of inner silence to forget all and dwell in a state of happiness within. What is the difference? ” None I tell ye, for the drunkard may be closer to God than the God-seeker who with all his intensity for the SUGMAD ( GOD/ABSOLUTE BEINGNESS/INFINITE BEING) may drive it away. On the other hand, the drunkard will in his drunkenness forget himself, his selfishness, and false self, and it being this way, may have God’s mercy granted him and lo, enlightenment comes. ” Only two things pervade upon the seeker or the drunkard. Both must be interested in what they seek, be it God or selfish interest. Both must have concentrated upon what they are seeking, and in finding it must believe in it. ” The only difference is usually of character and ideals. but who knows what thy fellowmen has in his heart unless his tongue or deeds reveal such? And such is the riddle of God. God will come to anyone who needs Him, regardless of what their state of character or ideals may be. ” This is the riddle of God.” The riddle of God is this.“God is what ye believe IT is.”

I believed many things on my Journey to find this book….Stranger by the River. I believed that the war would never end. I believed the violence and fear of my childhood would never end. I believed that God would never love me because I was a drunk.

My first “god” was my Mother.
I feared her and wanted always and in all ways to please her. I could not. I did not. Not when I attended the faith of my grand parents. Not when I attended the faith of my father. Not even when Mother “got saved” and became a preacher herself. And certainly not when I rebelled and became a catholic so that I could be a nun and finally be a lady….(dress like one, act like one…and no one could ever touch me in “that way” again).

My second “god” was hard apple cider at the age of three.
I was drinking in the pantry with my brothers and their friends on a hot Saturday afternoon in the humid Ontario Canada weather. When I drank that hard cider, I felt that all the yelling and beatings and violence did not exist. I was in my own happy place. I thought about butterflies cause it felt like some of them that lived in my stomach were escaping out my nose. I could feel their joy. The more I drank the happier the butterflies were. They were free. In thinking about them being free….I wanted more. More hard apple cider. More happy place. I never did find it. That first afternoon in the pantry….I tried to re-live it with so many more substances and I never ever did.

My third “god” was power.
If hard apple cider would make me safe in my happy place….what would beer do? What would hard liquor do? What was the power in “more and more”? I had to find out. If I got drunk enough would the pain go away. Did substances have the power to make the pain stop? I could make enough money so that I could buy all the drugs and alcohol in the world and then I would have the power. How I made that kind of money only fed more and more into the addiction of more and more. I never did get to the power. I had the money, the clothes, the attention but nothing could stop the pain. And I became addicted to the pain.

My fourth “god’ was the judge.
He was going to tell me where I was going and for how long.
It was then I could stop running.

I could then get clean from “the life”. I do not think up until that time I had ever come out of the fog. I was always acting. Obeying my Mother. Following the desires of my mistress ~substance abuse. Converting to Catholicism to finally, hopefully, have a Mother who loved me. I acted like the best nun in the world because I so wanted to be loved. The Mother who loved me was not Sister Grace who demanded obedience….nor was there safety in the convent for me to not ever be touched “that” way. I was to take my final vows. The Church was sick at the time. I was putting all my faith in another sick Mother. I told the monsieur no. He told me I would have to get drunk to leave the convent. He would not be disgraced and he would not be disobeyed. No problem I was a drunk and I could be free from the Church…but I never did get free from the substances until the judge.

My fifth god was my desire to stay clean. I got sober in prison. I learned about a different way of being and I could actually think. I remembered and was filled with guilt and shame. In prison I learned about recovery through 12 step programs. I could not believe there were words such as chastity. People actually lived that way without having to (pardon the pun) get into the “habit”. I did not have to act anymore. I could be me. But who was that?
Joseph Campbell said ‘”follow your bliss.” What was bliss other than from the bottle? Now I did not have my bottle….who and what was I.
What would be my god now. What would I be if I were not a drunk?
But I mean to tell ye that the seeking of happiness, be it on a material plane or spiritual plane is the seeking of God. The ideal of the drunkard is to become drunk and unconscious so he can forget all and dwell within himself in a state of happiness. The God-seeker wishes to become unconscious in a state of inner silence to forget all and dwell in a state of happiness within. What is the difference?
The seeking of happiness (through the bottle) had been my life until the age of 33. Thirty years on the bottle and its friends. I had no social skills. I could work. I had incredible jobs as a high-functioning drunk and a former nun. I always got hired. I was always in control and always drunk..
Through the twelve steps of recovery I learned about a happiness without substances. I learned about words like clean, sober, celibate, modest, quiet and a whole new world of things.
There was this Higher Power thing. Not a god who would hate me for being a drunk. Just some loving energy that had replaced the booze and drugs. I liked that.

Through recovery I found a world of discovery. I had always loved books. I would learn. I would read. I would write. I would discover who I am. I did my time. I paid my debt to society and now I could find more books.
One book that changed my way of thinking was Paul Twitchell’s Stranger by the River. My favorite chapter…the Riddle of God.
 
And now I am living the rest of the story.


Mary Helen Ferris blogs at Great Poetry and is a friend of mine on Facebook, Google +Pinterest, Twitter and Empire Avenue. She describes herself as “I am a hermit who likes people. A world traveler who travels the keyboard. A writer who listens.”

30 comments on this post:

greatpoetrymhf said...
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Thank you kindly for sharing my most favorite chapter of Stranger by the River. It is an honour to share the love here and I appreciate the invitation. Bless you “In all the ways you acknowledge the hand of the Creator of All” in others lives.

William Bull said...
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Beautifully written, my friend.Thank you.

greatpoetrymhf said...
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Beloved friend I thank you

14 April 2013 10:40
13 April 2013 11:03
Duane said...
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Hi Mary Helen, this is a wonderful account of your life and recovery. I do so understand the communions with God in our deepest hours of despair while at our worst.

As for why I am still here, it is through my own path I believe that I have gained compassion and understanding into the difficulties of others and how evil forces operate in this world. That it was part of my own spiritual development… beyond the simply physical… the need to quest for a Higher Power.

I am so blessed to be your friend and have shared part of your journey as I traveled in my own recovery. Namaste, Duane

greatpoetrymhf said...
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Beloved friend I thank you

14 April 2013 10:40
14 April 2013 03:41
13 April 2013 10:19
Lay Anglicana said...
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This is so moving Mary Helen, and it is I who am deeply honoured that you would share your journey with us. I feel we are travelling together along spiritual paths, which criss- cross and separate from time to time but are heading towards the same goal. May you be blessed.

greatpoetrymhf said...
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Beloved teacher of my heart….oh I thank you

14 April 2013 10:42
13 April 2013 15:52
Haroun Kola said...
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Thanks for sharing

greatpoetrymhf said...
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Beloved friend I thank you

14 April 2013 10:43
13 April 2013 16:20
Linda LeBoutillier said...
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Mary Helen, thank you so much for sharing this! You have a wonderful gift for writing.

greatpoetrymhf said...
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Beloved teacher of my heart, sweet Soul Sister thank you I am honoured to walk with women such as you and Laura Sykes….something I never thought possible….Love lifted me.

14 April 2013 10:45
14 April 2013 03:12
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Well written. For the past two weeks I have been thinking about the riddle of God. When I walk the street and see people of other faith doing their thing, I feel so serene within me. “There goes another Soul, just like me, who is on the quest for God”.
Yesterday, a friend told me in the tennis court that I am lost because I don’t believe in his savior. I smiled. For he his just another soul trying to find happiness just like me.
The difference is that I understand a little about the riddle of God.
Thank you Mary Helen

greatpoetrymhf said...
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Beloved friend I thank you

greatpoetrymhf said...
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firstnigeriatoon Please be certain to send your link of the Nigerian equaliavent of Mr Bean to me let me broadcast him to my network in gratitude.

15 April 2013 19:03
15 April 2013 13:50
15 April 2013 10:01
Darcie said...
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My Goddess, very powerful story. A reminder to look for the answers sometimes hidden within the struggle. XO

greatpoetrymhf said...
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Thanks to you SIster of the Shield, the obstacle is the gift. Thanks for being a wonderful gift in my life.

16 April 2013 10:39
16 April 2013 04:23
Colin Hall said...
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Mary Helen, For me this the most compelling account of anyone’s search for God AND it appears as if I have been looking in the mirror of where I have been. Yet not as traumatic. This really helps me understand where I am at right now – especially from all that has happened & is still happening since the second initiation in 1998. This is a great propeller back into my abstract paintings and also the new found Infrared photography.

Now life seems to have so much more meaning

Love in ECK
Colin Hall

greatpoetrymhf said...
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Beloved friend I thank you.

Your paintings have changed lives…Colin Hall..
One, is mine. It hangs over my computer and I visit it in contemplations. It is a wondrous gift for a hermit.
.Two, a seeker who came to my home, saw your painting and cried…”.I know this place.”upon looking at your gift to me. Now it has a new home and she does too.
I have many more walls and would not be offended to help you find a home for your paintings.
Since this story 38 years ago I have a passion for art. .I would love to share your gift to the world. That gift is you…..your love, your family, your art. You are the gift the world is waiting for.

Love in the Sunlight of the Spirit (the ECK)
Mary Helen Ferris

19 April 2013 06:44
18 April 2013 23:39
cendrinemedia said...
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My dear friend,

It’s the first time I get to read about your life, in much more gripping details than what you had already shared with me. You are a beautiful testimony to the world that there is no age to become a role model.

Thank you!

greatpoetrymhf said...
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Thanks kindly Cendrine Marrouat, beloved soul sister. Now you can comprehend why your kindnesses blow me away. Merci beacoup. Travel well in your light….I have.

cendrinemedia said...
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The beauty of life lies in its simplicity. :-)

greatpoetrymhf said...
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indeed

21 April 2013 06:14
21 April 2013 04:01
21 April 2013 02:28
20 April 2013 08:09
Diana Love said...
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thankyou so much for such a beautiful book review. This is going to help so many people. Thankyou for posting it. I love Stranger by the River

20 April 2013 13:11
greatpoetrymhf said...
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Thank you dearest best friend Diana Love, Your walk with me has been so loving and supportive. Giant HUgZ

21 April 2013 02:30
Catherine Ganci said...
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Some things never get old, walking the holy ground towards God is always worth bearing witness to ~ thank you so very much Mary Helen !

greatpoetrymhf said...
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Thanks Catherine….my delightful Oracle of Oregon. I continue learn love from you. How kind of you to take the time to share the Sunlight of the Spirit.

21 May 2013 20:27
14 May 2013 03:38
Gord said...
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How beautiful Mary Helen. You have a great soul. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and vision. I’m sure many others have been inspired by your own self-reflection to find the spiritual power they need to overcome those things that have dragged them down.

Privileged to have a friend like you. : )

09 November 2013 06:43
Sepher said...
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You shared a beautiful story of your Great suffering as a catalyst for Great change and being centered in God Itself. I like the way Paul is saying that the “drunkard is as great as the minister.”
This is an important point as in the human consciousness people judge by appearances and deem themselves and deem others as unworthy of God and God Realization. God Realization recedes into a never to be attained future that never comes no matter how many years go by. But the being on the pulpit by all appearances seems more worthy because the individual assumes he himself will be forever unworthy, he will never be good enough or perfect enough for God. This is an illusion of trying to perfect the little human self and the psychology of the lower bodies instead of out of body travel in the pure positive God Worlds returning to God and God Realization truly in this lifetime. The false profit will imply that God Realization is not possible in (this) lifetime but this is untrue, it is possible for the individual who is unattached to opinion, dogma, religion, fixed idea, personality worship and attachment as Paul Twitchell has shared countless times for the well being of the Soul who is a true God Seeker who wishes to return to God. If you would like to explore this concept here is a video of one visiting the lower heavens and the Pure Positive God Worlds- Chapters 1, 10, 18- Huray Galactica- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1ZM9ISaimI and here is information about little known things of the God Realized great being Paul Twitchell- http://www.paultwitchelltruth.com.

09 February 2014 00:56

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