NOTE: this post was originally posted on May 1, but I have been living, and fleshing out, the grace of paradox these last few weeks. So I re-read it and just wanted to add a bit to it. May you all know the absolute perfection of the paradox called Grace.
For some, the thought of discovering spirituality and an ever deepening relationship with God in a room full of drunks and drug addicts telling stories might seem like a paradox at first glance. But as ancient wisdom reveals to us, stories are one of the foundations God uses to reveal divine love and grace to us; and stories are exactly what are found in the rooms of us 12 steppers.
Holy people, in every corner of the world and in every faith tradition, told stories to reveal deeper truths and sacred wisdom. Jesus told stories – some offensive, some hilarious, all of them insightful – as he taught and fleshed out these stories as a means of communicating God’s infinite and tender love for us.
Stories in general and recovery stories in particular are what keep people like me clean and sober. We share what we have done and who we have been in the hopes of opening up our hearts to let the grace of God fill and transform us, so we do not remain those fractured characters of our stories past. In sharing our stories, in sharing my story, I find I am freed from the bondage of the past and the restraints of the dis-ease named addiction.
For when my story is unleashed, I am unchained.
Stories are the vehicle for God’s grace as it comes in tenderness, in messiness, in darkness and shifting shadows…but come it does when I open my heart and share the truth of who I am and what I have been like. And in stories, in the sharing of my past wreckage and destruction, healing is found and divine light is released into the world, shining so as to light the path for those who walk with me and those who will come after me.
Addiction is indeed cunning and baffling, but only for us. It is not so for God; for God is not baffled by my dis-ease. God is the great Mystery that swallows up all the mysteries of the how’s and why’s of addiction. God is the truth in the lies. God is the light in the darkness. God is the tenderness to my sharp edges. Indeed, God is the very grace in the midst of my lostness.
That is the grace and power of paradox and the paradox of grace.
Only in a room full of addicts and alcoholics (the walking wounded and wonderful) do I learn that I cannot keep what I do not give away. And like the ancient echoes of the prayer of St. Francis, I learn daily that in giving, I receive; in pardoning, I am pardoned; and in dying daily to my ego, I am born anew into the living grace of a loving God.