My Story Continues…

[Continued from yesterday’s blog]

The day I departed for my first trip to Europe with six weeks of sobriety and 12 Step recovery under my belt, I had planned to work a good portion of the day and then leave directly for the airport from my office. I was delayed (ya know, just one more thing…), and rushed out of the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan hoping I would not miss my flight; I did not.

The plane was boarded, an older gentleman sat down next to me, and then he started making a fuss about the luggage under our seats. Nonetheless we settled in, the plane took flight, and before I knew it, my fellow traveler was placing a copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous into the pouch in front of him! Excited and feeling an instant connection with him, I turned to him and told him I had a copy of the Big Book with me too. Thus a dreaded 7-hour flight to Rome sped by as we talked in the same language about the Program, our feelings, and our experiences.

This was synchronicity at work for numerous reasons and I chuckled that:
. In this plane with 300 or so passenger seats, a member of a 12 Step Fellowship was assigned to a seat next to me
. His unmistakable membership in this anonymous association was revealed to me (and early in the trip)
. Peter was an American (like me) from the northeastern United States (like me) in a planeload mostly full of Italian-speaking Romans
. Last, but certainly not least, Peter was a Christian missionary stationed in Rome!

The significance here for me was strong. I was not left alone, new in my sobriety and new in my traveling to Europe. I got to enjoy the company of a ‘man of the cloth’ whereas up until this time, I had looked askance at ‘such people.’ Also, this came at a time when I was actively searching for a higher power. I walked off that plane onto another continent with a new attitude, my perspective shifted.

Upon hearing this story, my dear friend Jay (a member of the AA Fellowship) said to me “Even you, Joyce, have to admit this had to be more than a coincidence…” Indeed, even I. I chuckled, knowing (and glad) that my evolving conception of a higher power had a sense of humor.

My Story Begins…

The Gilbert Spirituality MeetUp Group met the other night and the topic was God Stories. We mostly focused on sharing incidents in which events happened which could not be a coincidence – or at least the person involved thought so, which is all that matters.

The idea of synchronicity was developed by Carl Jung and has special meaning for me. It was the way in which I came to believe in God. One of my first conscious “encounters” – after all God is always making Its Presence known but I often am not paying attention – occurred when I was newly on my path.

I walked into the rooms of a 12 Step program of recovery for eating disorders in March 1990 in New York City, bringing with me 19 years of ‘hard core’ atheism. I held a strong belief and daily practice based on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism where reason and logic were the answer to everything and self-sufficiency, along with perfectionism, was extreme. I had a great disdain for organized religion, and would barely give a member of the clergy the time of day if asked to. But, I considered myself a ‘free thinker’!

Six weeks later, abstinent (sober) for that period, I was on my way to Europe for the first time. Being so new to the program and traveling into unfamiliar territory, I was concerned about my ability to remain abstinent. I endeavored to get a copy of the Big Book, the ‘bible’ of the program Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) on which my particular program was based, and secured a copy in the nick of time. Reading this, indeed just having it with me, was to help ‘protect’ me from my disease of compulsive overeating. I had not yet developed a conception of a higher power to help me. I was about to get a clear demonstration of Higher Power at work.

[Continued tomorrow…]