On Monday, I attended the Big Book study for the extended Al-Anon family known as my line of sponsorship.
It was a little different this time. We had been asked to complete a writing assignment that had been passed down through many layers of sponsors at the beginning of the new year. Laura, my great, grandsponsor who runs the meeting, had asked us to have our writing assignments finished by this meeting. There were three parts. Here was the assignment:
Our lives can become so clutted (yes, this is the word as it came to me) with useless, out of date junk… really without us realizing it is happening. If we don’t take the time and effort to clear away and clean up, we run out of room and become frustrated with the whole mess.
How much time and effort are you taking in your spiritual life to get rid of this junk?
What are your frustrations right now?
That was then (2009). This is now (2010). What are you dragging into 2010 that you need to clean up and leave behind you?
Laura shared what she wrote in response to the first question, which she took to mean: what is the state of your spiritual maintenance? She admitted that she was bad at taking time for herself. That she tended to put other people first. That she knew she needed to change that equation.
After that, people shared spontaneously about their spiritual practices. Laura wrote down things that stood out to her.
Some things that were on her list were:
Making an appointment with myself
Giving God the first word
Many people mentioned Yoga
Prayer partners came up more than once, which fell under the category of being accountable to someone else
Then we went around the room and people shared one thing that was frustrating us.
We went around the room again, and people shared one thing they were dragging in to the new year that they wanted to leave behind.
The exercise was surprisingly emotional. Tissue packets were pulled out and tossed around. More than one woman said, “I don’t know where that came from.”
At the end, Laura explained that the point of the exercise was to encourage us to take time for our spiritual lives. If we wanted to, we could draw freely upon the practices of others that we had heard.
Then she gave us another assignment, also passed down:
Write down five things I’m fearful of or need help with
Write five things I’m grateful for (separate from whatever we are doing in terms of a daily gratitude list)
Write a short letter to God—by hand—not on the computer.
Laura said we should undertake this with compassion for ourselves and understand that no one expected that we would do this perfectly.
I confess I haven’t started this yet. But I thought it would make an interesting written record of what was in my life, my mind and my heart. A record of my spiritual progress.
It struck me that we got this assignment around the new year, which is traditionally a time for new beginnings and resolutions. And we were discussing them just before Easter, which is a time of renewal.
So maybe this is a good time to start. It feels like a big commitment. Wish me well.
If any of you feel moved to do the same, I'd love to hear about it and how it's going for you.
Meanwhile, hubby and I are off to the land. I'll see you in a few days.
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