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Step 11 and Gratitude

The older I get, the more grateful I become.  The other night our little CoDa group worked on the 11th step.  “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for God’s will for our lives and the courage to carry that out.”   When I was younger, my prayers were mostly gimme prayers.  I thought that Jesus’ “whatever you ask for in my name,”  meant I was supposed to tell God what I wanted and needed to be happy and fulfilled.   World peace, for instance, or being accepted in the college of my choice or making the kids be more obedient.  With the passage of time and years in the program, I’ve come to understand that praying for God’s will for my life means letting go of the kite strings.  Nor does “God’s will” imply I will live happily ever or that bad things won’t happen to me.  God’s will for our lives, I believe,  means that we will find the inner resources we need to deal with what is happening, be that good or challenging.  It is experiencing gratitude and joy in the midst of pain and suffering.  It’s learning how to love rather than hate.

Life happens.  My husband died.  My friend’s house burned down.  We both were battered and broken by our traumas, but it’s precisely because my husband died and her house burned down that we discovered each other as walking partners.  And, because we walk together each morning, we’re able to appreciate and share the beauty of our village and rural surroundings.  We’ve learned to encourage each other and experience the joy of a deepening friendship.  It’s stepping back so that someone else can flourish.  It is being grateful in and for all things.

At this stage of my life, I see gratitude and resurrection as Siamese twins.  I don’t understand resurrection as so much about life after death, though it may be.  Resurrection, for me,  is the assurance that in spite of how it feels, there are no real endings, only beginnings; that pain is the prelude to joy; that death and rebirth is the essence of life.  Yes, I still find letting go to be a struggle.  My letting go is never a once-and-done, I find, but when I can finally let go of this or that piece, I always discover something new and beautiful taking its place. 

I would give anything to have my husband back.  I miss him and the life we shared.  His absence leaves a big hole, but as I am able to say, “thy will be done”  each day brings me something new and beautiful…not to replace him, but to enhance this new stage of my journey.   Yesterday, for example, I noticed a budding cyclamen peeping out from under a frost-killed plant.  I quickly repotted it and brought it inside.  Today, an exceptionally dark and dreary November day,  that little plant is smiling at me, filling me with gratitude’s sunshine.  

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