In 12 step programs people are asked to turn their lives over to God as they understand him. Humorously, people in recovery say, “It can be anyone or anything as long as it is not you.” Perfect for people in addiction who walk in with ego problems. Yesterday I heard a wise man say, “Even a doorknob can be your higher power. This may sound silly but wisdom has taught us that the God people have been taught to believe in is a judging, rejecting god, one they are afraid to turn their lives over to. A door knob may be the best a person can do at the beginning. Over time, that changes and the loving, receiving, helping God begins to show up.”
In response to what this guy was saying, a young man said, “Nature is my Higher Power.”
I said to him, “I would not have said what you just said when I was first in recovery, but I can say this. When I turned my life over to God as my Higher Power, I began to hear him speaking to me in countless ways, including in nature. I could sight hundreds of experiences I have had but I will tell you of only two:
“I was weeding my garden one day and I noticed that some weeds had shallow roots and were easy to pull out. But others were deeply rooted and if I tried to pull them out, I usually broke the stem and left the roots. I could no longer see the root, but it was surely there to grow and pop its head above the ground again later. The only way to get it out was to dig down under the plant and dig it out completely. This could damage the other plants, of course.
“It occurred to me that my character defects are just like these weeds. And just like weeds, they get in the way of the growth of our good qualities. Sometimes we have to dig deeply to find the source of our character defects. It may take years to get rid of these…we may carry them to the grave. Other defects can be eradicated by a simple change of habit or with a larger awareness.
“This is what the weeds taught me.
“Another time, I was watching with fascination a little ant carrying a big bread crumb, four times his size. I watched him until he came to a hole that other ants were crawling in and out of. He was bringing the bread crumb home to store, it seemed to me. The problem was that the crumb was too large to get into the hole. He kept trying but without success. Finally, he started to nibble at the bread and then other little ants came and nibbled as well. Eventually the little ant was able to get the bread into the hole.
“As I watched the ants work together, I thought about the burdens we often try to carry on our own. When we share our troubles with others, they get lighter and more manageable. At the same time that we share, our sharing can often be nourishment for others who are also struggling with burdens of their own.
“That little colony of ants taught me an important lesson about friendship.”
Both of the above experiences brought tears to my eyes.
Then I added: “God is not limited to any one way to communicate with us. If you are going to choose nature as your Higher power, then listen and watch and be prepared to hear what nature has to teach you.”