America’s favorite Franciscan dropped a doozie of a daily meditation the other day, one too relevant not to pass on. It is drawn from his book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. Here’s the lion’s share, but you can read the full text here, ht JE:

AA-articleLargeThe spirituality of the Twelve Steps is another important part of my wisdom lineage. Although I have never formally belonged to a Twelve Step group, I have learned much from people who are in recovery. I truly believe that the Twelve Step program (also known as Alcoholics Anonymous or A.A.) will go down in history as America’s greatest and unique contribution to the history of spirituality. It represents what is good about American pragmatism…

My first eight years in Albuquerque, beginning in the late 1980s, I lived downtown, next door to a little church where Twelve Step meetings were held. As the members gathered right outside my back door almost every other evening, we became friends. They invited me to join them in their closed meetings. I felt very privileged. It was like being welcomed into a sacred sanctuary of people who weren’t afraid to openly admit they were “sinners.” I’d go home afterward thinking this felt more like church than the liturgy on Sunday morning. It was as if each person was a priest, and they were all healing one another. The God-talk was honest… There was no hesitancy for each person to describe their history of failure and recovery–or death and resurrection, if you prefer Christian vocabulary.

Opening with “Hi, I’m Joe, and I’m an alcoholic” is a humble and honest admission of deep need, which is what the Catholic penitential rite, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy,” is supposed to be… The entrance requirement for an A.A. meeting is not worthiness, but unworthiness, not capacity, but deep need–just as it should be…

Let’s resolve this once and for all: You’re not worthy! None of us are. Don’t even go down that worthiness road. It’s a game of denial and pretend. We’re all saved by grace. We’re all being loved in spite of ourselves. A.A. had the courage to recognize that you don’t come to God by doing it right; you come to God by doing it wrong, and then falling into an infinite mercy. The Twelve Steps wisely call such mercy “Your Higher Power.”

I also want to add what only the Gospel is fully prepared to proclaim: You’re absolutely worthy of love! Yet this has nothing to do with any earned worthiness on your part. God does not love you because you are good. God loves you because God is good!…

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