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‘Spiritualise: Revitalising Spirituality To Address 21st Century Challenges’ : Review by Canon Martin Coppen

RSA 'Spiritualise' report on Pdf

Associating, in the archaeology of memory, the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) with typing qualifications, the first surprise for this reviewer was that the Society had become a university (not in the modern sense). The second shock was to read a booklet which actually welcomed religion to a place at the richly-provisioned table of spirituality, even though there are many younger and brighter fellow guests. Dr Jonathan Rowson marshalled the two year project which led to the publication of Spiritualise with the strategic grasp of the chess Grandmaster that he is, but also wrote the report with the conceptual fluency of expression which suggests he could turn a sow’s ear of almost any argument into a silk purse. His width of reference is impressive, choice of quotations illuminating and he has an ability to find gold even in glutinous socio-speak worthy of Pseuds’ Corner.

The report is hopeful, but with a thread of nostalgia running through it. An early quotation (p.8) from the novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson captures this so brilliantly: “I want to overhear passionate arguments about what we are and what we are doing and what we ought to do … I miss civilisation, and I want it back.” In a ‘market society’ (p.83), extrinsic values dominate at the expense of intrinsic. Rowson has to face the difficulties of defining spirituality for the purpose of writing about its virtues for the sceptical public square, while bravely admitting that it is necessary to think the concept cannot be satisfactorily defined (narrowed, reduced), nor those, for instance, of spirit and soul. That is part of the problem in a utilitarian, ‘scientistic’ (a wonderful neologism! p.77) society. Also problematic are strident misconstructions of what religious belief is, which Rowson meets with admirable gentleness in his section rebutting the misunderstandings (pp.30-4).

The six public seminars underpinning the report, which are briefly summarised in boxes in the text and videos online, brought together contributors from a number of disciplines, though there were no ‘professional’ religious. Perhaps some were invited but declined? There are few of us who can hold our own in discussions about neuroscience. Theologians have been padlocked in a cellar out of the way of modern knowledge, but even if mindfulness and atheistic developments in spirituality are helping to bring depth to modern life, the Christian spiritual tradition (just to single out our special interest) potentially offers so much towards what Rowson argues for in his exposition of the four irreducibles of Love, Death, Self and Soul (ch.3, pp.56-78).

In summary, there is so much to admire, cheer, inspire, challenge and stimulate in this booklet that it deserves being taken with real seriousness in the Church of England. Institutional reorganisation may be critically necessary, but misses the point that we reveal our spiritual treasures old and new grudgingly to our faithful and but poorly to the public. I would be really interested in the CofE’s best theological and spiritual minds engaging imaginatively and carefully with Spiritualise. Now that would be Mission.

Martin Coppen is a retired CofE priest living in Andover, Hampshire.

Dr Jonathan Rowson, Spiritualise: Revitalising spirituality to address 21st century challenges (RSA, December 2014) Download from .

‘My Spiritual Journey: It’s Only Just Begun’ – Angela Field


Angela Field is a new friend on social media. She is active on every platform you have ever heard of (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Klout and Empire Avenue) and some you may not. This is what she says about herself on ‘Brand yourself‘:

Angela Field is close to finishing a Bachelors of Science in Social Sciences, and a certificate in Human Resources. She has a general studies and Oregon Transfer degree which she earned by taking a eclectic selection of classes, always drawn to writing and social sciences and business technology. She is active in social media networking on numerous platforms and loves it.

I saw something she had written on Twitter about the distinction between spirituality and religion and we began a conversation. She might perhaps be described as a seeker, although that is not how she characterises herself. I find her description of the spiritual – and religious – journey that she is on a fascinating one, and thought that some of the readers of Lay Anglicana might also be interested. She kindly agreed to write for us.

I think she makes a very valid point just in the headline – so often we tend to talk of our spiritual journeys as if we are at the end…

A spiritual journey is different for each one of us. Some begin their journey before they even realize they’ve been on one.

For me, my spiritual journey began through exploration of churches and religions with my friends. Since my parents didn’t regularly attend church or speak much on the topic of religion, I was able to explore religions, God, and spirituality in a unique way. I have attended Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran and Baptist churches, just to mention a few, and would like now to attend a mosque and find a Buddhist temple to worship in.

I have studied and continue to study religion on my own and at Linfield College. I acquired a copy of the Qu’ran and read from it often. Most recently, I have taken a class on Buddhism as I am very drawn to the beliefs of the Buddhist religion, which I find fascinating. I love the teachings of Buddhism, most especially mindfulness.

In today’s society we often forget the impact we have on each other and how we can choose to have a negative or positive impact on those around us. It’s like the concept of six degrees of separation, the impact we make on others ultimately will come around to affect ourselves.

I enjoy attending bible studies, listening to sermons, and attending seminars on the subjects of evolution, religion, and spirituality.

I love church for the sense of community that it brings to its congregation, the picnics, and charity work. I love it when the church members feel godly and treat you as if you are welcomed unconditionally with open arms of acceptance, without judgment, only love. Those aren’t always easy to find, is what I’ve found. It hurts to come into the house of the Lord and be treated by a member of the church as if you are unwelcome in his home. That is not the kind of church that I want to attend, and unfortunately there are those.

My spiritual journey has taken me to my knees and I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned while I was there. I feel that God is in all of us and without his strength I wouldn’t still be standing. I appreciate the time that I’ve been given and try to take the time to tell people how I feel about them and show them how special they are, and how much they are loved.

Currently, I have found Pantheism, which seems to tie into what I feel about God, the Universe, and us as humans. I am still new to the formal study, but many of the beliefs that I have formed are shared here with others belonging to this ‘religion’ or set of beliefs shared by many. What I feel is that as atoms, protons, electrons and neutrons we are energy but unique energy, each specifically generated through a process. In this energy there is a power stronger than our own or it’s a part of us that cannot be divided. It feels to me as if God is inside all of his creations and that is why when we see him in us we can’t help but be awestruck at his magnificence.

We are all amazing creations and I feel blessed to be on this spiritual journey with you. Do know that the journey is always taking us to new directions, new insights, and always evolving, so be ready for all your journey has to offer.

Angela Field

The Search For The Farther Thing: Richard Hooker


Man doth seek a triple perfection: first a sensual, consisting in those things which very life itself requireth either as necessary supplements, or as beauties and ornaments thereof; then as intellectual, consisting in those things which none underneath man is either capable or or acquainted with; lastly a spiritual and divine, consisting in those things whereunto we tend by supernatural means here, but cannot here attain unto them.

They that make the first of these three the scope of their whole life are said by the Apostle to have no god but only their belly, to be earthly minded men. Unto the second they bend themselves, who seek especially to excel in all such knowledge and virtue as doth most commend men. To this branch belongeth the law of moral and civil perfection.

That there is somewhat higher than either of these two, no other proof doth need than the very process of man’s desire, which being natural should be frustrate, if there were not some farther thing wherein it might rest at the length contented, which in the former it cannot do. For man doth not seem to rest satisfied, either with fruition of that wherewith his life is preserved, or with performance of such actions as to advance him most deservedly in estimation; but doth further covet, yea oftentimes manifestly pursue with great sedulity and earnestness, that which cannot stand him in any stead for vital use; that which exceedeth the reach of sense; yea, somewhat above capacity of reason, somewhat divine and heavenly, which with hidden exultation it rather surmiseth than conceiveth; somewhat it seeketh, and what that is directly it knoweth not, yet very intentive desire thereof doth so incite it, that all other known delights and pleasures are laid aside, they give place to the search of this but only suspected desire.

Richard Hooker 1554-1600

The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity 1594

On any list of great English theologians, the name of Richard Hooker would appear at or near the top. His masterpiece is The Laws Of Ecclesiastical Polity. Its philosophical base is Aristotelian, with a strong emphasis on natural law eternally planted by God in creation. On this foundation, all positive laws of Church and State are developed from Scriptural revelation, ancient tradition, reason, and experience.

 The occasion of his writing was the demand of English Puritans for a reformation of Church government. Calvin had established in Geneva a system whereby each congregation was ruled by a commission comprising two thirds laymen elected annually by the congregation and one third clergy serving for life. The English Puritans (by arguments more curious than convincing) held that no church not so governed could claim to be Christian.

Hooker replies to this assertion, but in the process he raises and considers fundamental questions about the authority and legitimacy of government (religious and secular), about the nature of law, and about various kinds of law, including the laws of physics as well as the laws of England. In the course of his book he sets forth the Anglican view of the Church, and the Anglican approach to the discovery of religious truth (the so-called Via Media, or middle road), and explains how this differs from the position of the Puritans, on the one hand, and the adherents of the Pope, on the other. He is very heavy reading, but well worth it. (He says, on the first page of Chapter I: “Those unto whom we shall seem tedious are in no wise injuried by us, seeing that it lies in their own hands to spare themselves the labor they are unwilling to endure.” This translates into modern English as: “If you can’t take the intellectual heat, get out of the kitchen. If you can’t stand a book that makes you think, go read the funny papers.”)

 The effect of the book has been considerable. Hooker greatly influenced John Locke, and (both directly and through Locke), American political philosophy in the late 1700’s. Although Hooker is unsparing in his censure of what he believes to be the errors of Rome, his contemporary, Pope Clement VIII (died 1605), said of the book: “It has in it such seeds of eternity that it will abide until the last fire shall consume all learning.”

Head Into Heart – “The Sacred Heart”: Richard Rohr


I am in the process of reading ‘Immortal Diamond‘, by Richard Rohr, and will be putting up a review in the next few days. Meanwhile, I thought you might enjoy this short extract. He writes as a Catholic, with a love of imagery such as the sacred heart which the more diehard Protestants among us may find hard to share. But he explains why we should try and put this prejudice aside and dwell for a moment on how the image came into being, and why it still resonates.

Extract from ‘Immortal Diamond’: Appendix D – Head into Heart: “The Sacred Heart”

Many have described prayer as bringing your thinking down into your heart. This is not just sentimentality. It was almost the preoccupation of much of Orthodox monasticism, as we see in classics like the Philokalia and the teachings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers.

It always seemed like soft piety to me until someone taught me how to do it, and I learned the immense benefits of doing it. Probably the best single teacher for me  – on the how – was Robert Sardello in his little masterpiece of a book, Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness.

As a Catholic, I was often puzzled by the continued return to heart imagery among our saints and in our art. The “Sacred Heart ” of Jesus and the “Immaculate Heart of Mary”  are images known to Catholics worldwide, where they are always pointing to their heart and it is ablaze. I often wonder what people actually do with these images. Are they mere sentiment? Are they objects of worship or objects of transformation? Such images keep recurring only if they are speaking something important and good from the unconscious, maybe even something necessary for the soul’s emergence. What might that be?

Next time a resentment, negativity, or irritation comes into your mind, for example, and you want to play it out or attach to it, move that thought or person literally into your heart space because such commentaries are almost entirely lodged in your head. There, surround it with silence (which is much easier to do in the heart). There, it is surrounded with blood, which will often feel warm like coals. In this place, it is almost impossible to comment, judge, create story lines or remain antagonistic. You are in a place that does not create or feed on contraries but is the natural organ of life, embodiment and love. Love lives and thrives in the heart space. It has kept me from wanting to hurt people who have hurt me. It keeps me every day from obsessive, repetitive or compulsive head games. It can make the difference between being happy and being miserable and negative.

Could this be what we are really doing when we say we are praying for someone? Yes, we are holding them in our heart space. Do it in an almost physical sense, and you will see how calmly and quickly it works.

Now the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart have been transferred to you. They are pointing for you to join them there. The “sacred heart” is then your heart too.

The image is Stained glass showing an image of the sacred heart and roses, from chapel that used to be part of a convent (now a Baptist church and school complex) in El Cajon, California via Wikimedia.

My Spiritual Journey: Melanie Newbould


I think I can begin by saying that I was always aware that there was a world outside of me to which I felt connected. I suspect that this is true for many, perhaps, most children. I think I found it difficult talk to others about this feeling and I felt it made me different to my parents and my older sister.

I grew up in West Yorkshire. I went to a Church of England infants school initially that closed when I was seven, so I had then to go to the local County Primary School. However, for my first two years of formal schooling I got bible studies every day- so I did get to know all the major events in the Old and New Testaments fairly early in life. At my next two totally secular schools there was the statutory religious teaching, but I never pursued anything more than this. In secondary school, my education was largely in science and maths – the recommended course by the teachers who informed us that we were more likely to end up in gainful employment that way.

We were not a religious family at all. My mother and sister had both been nominally C of E and had both been confirmed at an early stage but neither had taken things any further and were not Church goers. In fact my sister became a passionate atheist as an adult, arguing that she could not see how a good God would allow suffering as one saw everyday on the news. My father was nominally Methodist, but he was totally uninterested in religion and had never attended as an adult. I therefore grew up without any religious leanings. I was baptised as an infant, though – so I was nominally a Christian.

I did have interests outside my school studies. Mostly music and literature. In my first encounter with Wuthering Heights I found much of what I had instinctively felt about the universe – that somehow my existence was not entirely contained within me – but I was connected in some way with the whole of reality. Wuthering Heights expresses this feeling very well, as do some of Emily‘s other writings. My next encounter with great art was with Richard Wagner. When I was about 12 or 13, I heard the final scene from Tristan and Isolde, variously called the Liebestod (Lovedeath)  or transfiguration. It was on a record of the soprano voice that my sister gave me. Isolde sings of her longing to be lost in the world breath. When I heard this- when I had my first encounter with the mind of Richard Wagner, I realised that I would never be the same again. This is usual I think for those that adore the great man. Again, I felt I had found that art expressed what I felt about what it was to be human in this life.

I had friends at secondary school in my group, some of whom shared my love of Wagner and some of whom did not. Some of them were Christian and some of them seemed to be finding something in Jesus that was similar to what I found listening to opera and other music. At that stage, Christianity did not seem to strike any sort of chord with me. I did not become a church-goer. I decided that confirmation was not for me, at least at that stage. But I never entirely ruled out confirmation one day. The thought even crossed my mind that I might someday wish to join some denomination other than the C of E. I knew I could never ever be an atheist- I was just not born that way!

So I went on to University to study medicine in London. I had friends there who were Christian. Indeed, this was the first time I met any Catholics. They all went to different schools, so we never met them. They seemed jollier than Anglicans. They liked dancing and traditional music. However, I did not see any connection between Jesus and the feelings that I had about my place in the Universe. I never really thought about it that much.

I continued to think about Richard Wagner though! I finally went to see my first Ring opera at Covent Garden. I saw Dame Gwyneth Jones ride into the fire- well I can’t actually remember how she did it. I ‘m pretty sure they didn’t risk a real horse in that production. There’s only very rarely a real horse.

I spent the next years, becoming qualified, learning medicine and getting to a point where I was employable and employed (takes a long time in medicine). Nothing really changed – I liked Wagner still! I learned more medicine. But I did not really make any steps in my “spiritual journey”, or whatever it’s called.

I didn’t meet anyone I wanted to marry for quite a few years – I suppose it sometimes happens like that. Anyway, I finally did. He was Catholic – an ex-Benedictine Monk. He had not been born into a Catholic family. His parents had converted from the C of E when he was twelve and they had made him convert with them, much to his disgust at the time. Though they were not at all wealthy – they ran a fruit and flower shop in Northampton – they sent him to a large Catholic public school run by the Benedictines, making sacrifices for themselves so that their son could get what they considered a good education. He went from there to Cambridge and following that he joined the monastery. Now he feels that a major reason why he did this was to avoid national service, still compulsory at this time. He never felt that the monastery was quite the correct place for him and chose never to be a Priest. But he stayed there for a number of years, working as a House Master and English teacher, before finally leaving. He then set up a college for boys who found it difficult to pass exams and did this for a number of years. Though he did not feel he had a vocation to Monastic living, he remained a believing Catholic. Eventually, he met me and Wagner was important common ground for us.

We were married on 3rd July 1993 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Lampeter. At this point it never occurred to me that I could also become Catholic. So we stayed the way we were for 19 years. Me a sort of non-specific believer in something and my husband a Catholic. I did sometimes go to mass with him, but never thought of joining myself.

For us, our marriage is an exciting journey. We go to as much Shakespeare as we could and this was a discovery for me; I honestly had not realised what a major genius he was – how well he understood humans. We have also seen as much Wagner as we can afford including several complete Rings, several Tristans and several Parsifals. Now this last opera was important in the next phase of my spiritual journey. It was one of the works of art that made me understand the link between Christianity and my feelings of belonging to a wider universe. The point of Parsifal is that suffering is part of the human condition and that empathy with suffering is what being a human is about. Wagner himself made the point that the Christian God is one of us, suffering. From this I started to think that the point of Christianity was that it makes it clear that humans are part of everything else that exists, because God was born as one of us. I found this a difficult but exciting idea. I continued to think about this for a few more years,

In 2004 my husband and I decided to become vegan. We had acquired several cats and a dog and we became aware how devoted animals are to us. From this time we felt that exploitation of animals was something we wanted to avoid wherever possible. Becoming vegan has been the most fantastic adventure for us Like many others who take this decision we suddenly found that food tastes much better and that there are many more things to eat than there ever were before! We really love it. It also is a practical way of living life as though life is sacred and important- to try to avoid hurting others.

Also around this time my husband and I read Joyce‘s Ulysses together. Now this was also a work that helped me decide what I felt about Christianity. Christian symbols are part of its fabric, though it is, famously, the tale of everyday life in 1904 in Dublin. So, to me it illustrated how Christianity is deeply embedded within my life, as well as that of Leopold, Molly and Stephen.

So all of this encounter with art helped me to think more about Christianity and to think that, perhaps, I should consider joining my husband. I did think for several more years, though. Because I had encountered the Bible at school, I had thought of it as something you are taught about by a teacher, like a text book. I had never really thought about it as a work of history/literature. The Gospels are obviously very exciting works when you think about it- telling this astonishing story about a group of provincial men who were not learned scholars or politically powerful and never really went much to the big cities. But this group were to have a major influence on the events of the next two thousands years. Of course none of this is original thought, but it is just that it took me many years to realise it. The central figure of the Gospels, whether you think he is connected in some way to God or not is clearly someone who is charismatic and who possesses an astonishing intellect. So finally, I came to realise why my Christian school friends of forty or so years ago had been so excited by Jesus and I realised gradually that I also found him exciting, mysterious and wonderful. I suppose, like many other people, I found this happening to me without any effort on my part.

So I decided that I should formally join a Christian Church in early 2012. My decision to join the Catholic Church was much influenced by my husband. For practical reasons, it makes sense to both go to the same church! However, it is not just for this reason; I am attracted by Catholicism – though I am aware that many aspects of it are not unique and many in the C of E hold very similar views, regarding themselves as Catholic.

I love the notion of the sacraments. To me God is not outside the Universe but within every particle of it. God was born as a human, so humans are part of God. All life is an encounter with God. I love the Catholic conception of marriage – as a sacrament between the two individuals who express this continually as they live. I love the idea of the Eucharist- an encounter with God- which is to say an encounter with the whole of everything, an encounter outside time. Or so it seems to me- though I’m not a theologian and obviously the Eucharist is not the easiest! I love the idea that we are part of a community, that is continuous from the first century AD (though of I know that other churches would also feel this).

So that is how I came to be confirmed, received into the Catholic Church and received the Eucharist for the first time on 30th March 2013 in the Easter Vigil, which is such a wonderfully joyful celebration. So myself and my husband are now Catholics together!

In the YouTube extract,  Waltraud Meier closes a performance of Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde with Isolde’s transfiguration (though more commonly referred to as Liebestod – Love-Death).

The image is Illustration by Willy Pogany (1912) from the book, “Walk Me Through My Dreams” (A Picture book of Verses) by Joe Lindsay via Wikimedia

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


“ 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.”

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