November, 2010, Julee & I at Trevi Fountain in Rome

Step 11:

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

I just want to say again that I am in no way an expert regarding Alcoholics Anonymous, and don’t claim to represent the organization or their beliefs. I simply recognized that my friends in AA were some of the biggest supporters of Little Book of Virtues and sought to understand why. 

AA doesn’t push any organized religion, but they do acknowledge a higher power (called “God” in step 11 and even given gender “Him!”) I tried to do the same in writing Little Book of Virtues. I’m a Jesus follower wanna-be, but I’m not suggesting that you have to be one in order to benefit from my book, or in order to be my friend. 

In Step 11, notice that AA’s prayer is for two things; knowledge…and power.  Knowledge of God’s will for our lives, which doesn’t include addiction and alcoholism, and the power to overcome and then stay away from addiction and alcoholism. I’m going to assume that AA would say that meditating and practicing the virtues is a big part of God’s will for our lives; loving people, respecting people, honoring others, being kind to one another…and so on in the fifty-two ways I have written about and more. And I’m also going to venture that if we are doing that, if the focus on our lives is to practice the virtues, most of us won’t have the time or desire to abuse alcohol and drugs.  And I will take all that “higher power” I can get.

Are you familiar with “The Lord’s Prayer?” It’s the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. It’s short, simple and to the point. It’s the prayer I pray most when seeking the things that Step 11 suggests we pray for.

Step 12:

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

I don’t believe you have to have a “spiritual awakening” to practice the virtues, but I’m not sure that sustaining any regular practice of the virtues (values, principles, fruits of the spirit) is possible without a spiritual awakening!  If it isn’t the spiritual awakening that leads you in the first place to practicing the virtues, then practicing the virtues will lead you to the spiritual awakening! I’m fairly certain of that. That’s what Step 12 assumes; you’ve practiced the first eleven steps, and they have brought you to step 12, a spiritual awakening. That seems to be the way it worked for my AA friends, and that’s the way it’s worked for me.

Thanks for hanging in there with me the past several weeks as I have explored how the 12 Steps seem to link up with Little Book of Virtues. I’ll be on to new ways of exploring contemplation and action of the virtues in the weeks to come. One of my good AA friends told me one of the AA motto’s is “Change…or Die.” I think my Virtues motto might be “Practice…or Regret that you Didn’t.”