We welcome guest blogger Lucy Tokheim, who writes about Step 7 of the Twelve Steps which Richard Rohr discusses in his just-released book, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. Breathing Under Water is available with a free online study guide.
Step 7: Humbly asked [God] to remove our shortcomings.
Have you ever been in the water under an overturned canoe? It is a liminal space, like a hallway or threshold.
As kids, we upturned canoes for fun. We found it much more challenging to get out from under a canoe when we were dumped into the water by surprise. It is then that we had a pause to breathe and a bit of time to ready ourselves for the challenge of righting the canoe and getting back on the water instead of in it. Our panic response was quieted in the filtered light.
I have learned to accept a pause when Richard Rohr’s writing opens up spaces into non-dual thinking, or what St. Paul calls the mind of Christ.
Right into the chapter on Step 7, I pause to breathe in this paragraph that addresses prayer: “a living relationship…with God, a synergy which creates a result larger than the exchange itself…As Jesus says in Luke’s Gospel the answer to every prayer is…the Holy Spirit. God gives us power more than answers.”
Rohr shows correspondence between Alcoholic Anonymous’ Twelve Steps and the teachings of Jesus with Scripture, theology, and his personal grounding. This helps me let go, if only for a pause, of habits and ingrained beliefs that prevent me from receiving the increased capacity of these Holy Spirit breaths, like this one: “In my experience, if you are not radically grateful every day, resentment always takes over.”
Does Jesus’ preference that we be hot or cold mean that my lukewarm tolerance is no protection from instinctively hostile reactions to threatening change? Tolerance seems better than open conflict, but is that the best I can do?
This is how the Twelve Steps echo the authenticity of the gospel. The Twelve Steps have a deepening path to the center—the love of God—that helps us forgive ourselves, forgive each other, and fulfill the prophetic vision in Isaiah 58:12 that we will repair the breach and restore the ancient paths.
Lucy Tokheim is a design artist with Tokheim Stoneware in rural Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota. Her ceramic design work inspired by Scandinavian folk art has been exhibited extensively in the Upper Midwest, at the American Folk Art Museum in New York, and in Norway. Lucy also loves to paint.
Franciscan priest Richard Rohr is founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He considers the proclamation of the gospel to be his primary call, and some related themes he addresses include eco-spirituality, Scripture as liberation, non-dual thought, the integration of action and contemplation, peace and justice issues, and male spirituality. Author of numerous books, including Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality. Preparing for Christmas With Richard Rohr: Daily Meditations for Advent, and Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent, he gives retreats and lectures internationally. He is a regular contributing writer for Sojourners and Tikkun magazines. He spoke about Breathing Under Water during a live webcast on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011.
Featured photo © Tom Swift