Monday, June 28, 2010

May the force be with you

Many years ago, I bought a weird little religious plaque that said- "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." I got it for its tongue-in-cheek value; it seemed morbid and morose, but the words were written in a very romantic, flowery font. I put it next to a triptych of three open coffins and above my collection of animal skulls. Just to re-iterate, this was many years ago, and I have thankfully lost my fascination with the moribund. 

In sobriety, I unearthed this plaque during one of my archeological expeditions in my storage. I laughed at my own expense, but then it hit me. We use words like repent without ever really looking them up, and I have learned in sobriety not to simply assume that my version of anything is THE version, the only version. When I do that, then I am disappointed when the rest of the world does not act in accordance. So, I looked it up.

re·pent 1  (r-pnt)v. re·pent·edre·pent·ingre·pents
To make a change for the better as a result of remorse or contrition for one's sins.

I had previously considered repent to be a state of being deeply, almost suicidally, sorry. And the whole saying- Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand- to mean, "you better be really, really sorry, cuz you're gonna die soon, mother f*cker!" 

When I looked up the word repent, I realized how close it is to making amends. Not just to consider one's previous actions deplorable, but to take accountability and change them for the better of all. That altered everything for me. I realized, suddenly, what that plaque now meant, given the new information (bestowed on me in a moment of clarity and grace, allowing me to make the distinction between MY version of reality, and another possibility, which was infinitely more profound )...and it is this-

"When you realize the error of your ways, and set about making them right, then the kingdom of heaven IS at hand." Heaven here and now is available when we are able to repent, to make amends, to set the record straight. I personally don't believe in a heaven hereafter, or a hell down below, I believe it is right here, right now. (See previous blog) And when we live right, we experience the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

In one program of recovery that applies an amends process, that requires it in the work that is done, it says "you will be amazed before you are half way through. You will understand the word serenity, and you will know peace." When we seek the people we have harmed and set the record straight, clean up the wreckage and own our part in it, we heal our little corner of the world. And the more of us that do it, the more we heal the entire world. For each of us that has gotten sober and made amends, I like to think of all the hurt that has been transformed. Thousands of people, maybe even millions, healed by the power of recovery. What happens in recovery doesn't stay in recovery; it ripples out into the masses and creates a better planet overall. That is why I like to call it a movement; its growing and expanding, affecting many people who are not having trouble with addictions, changing music, art, literature, movies with its message of hope. Recovery is light in  a dark world. Its a force to be reckoned with, its truth and healing and love...and if that isn't heaven on earth, I don't know what is.  (Ashley D)

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