I had an interesting and unusual experience last week - I received a package from Amazon. That's not unusual - what is unusual is that I wasn't expecting it and it's something I needed. The package contained 2 black polo shirts, which I need for work.
When I received the package, I didn't know what it was, so I opened it up and discovered the shirts. They were two Hanes brand black polo shirts. I wondered if I had ordered them by mistake, because a few days before, I was looking on Amazon at these exact shirts. I started to doubt my sanity, but then I remembered that I had no money on my debit card with which to pay for these shirts. I went to my card account and found I still had no money, and that I hadn't sent any to Amazon in over 3 months. Did Amazon, out of the goodness of their corporate heart, decide to send me something I was just looking at?
Then I found a little slip of paper inside that said this was a gift from someone, but it didn't have their name. There are only 3 people who know my shipping address, and I quickly narrowed it down to one person. I found out I was correct.
So what's the deal - is this a coincidence, or is it evidence that the Universe is constantly conspiring for my highest good? I'm choosing the latter - I want to believe what I've read and been told - that there is a force for good in the Universe that is unconditional Love, and that this force - Spirit - is always giving. I like to compare it to the Sun, even though Spirit is infinitely bigger and more powerful than the Sun. All the Sun does all day (and all night, even though we don't see it) is send out light. It doesn't matter if it's cloudy or not - the Sun is still emitting it's rays. The Sun, I know, doesn't care whether I'm a "good" boy or a "bad" boy - it just keeps shining on me. Receiving those shirts from an anonymous benefactor is tangible evidence to me that Something is working on my behalf.
I must admit that I don't have blind faith in my Higher Power. I do, however, have an intuitive sense that an underlying Substance that is perfect Love and intelligence governs Life and governs my life. This intuitive sense is my faith, and a lot of days it seems like it's not very developed. What I do have faith in are the spiritual principles of recovery from addiction - honesty, openmindedness, willingness, surrender, humility, love, hope, courage, faith, strength, and others. When I practice these principles, I am able - I have the power - to stay in recovery and be a blessing to those around me. When I stop practicing these principles, I relapse into depression and active addiction. It's that simple, and yet it's not. I have faith in these principles because when I practice them, and I see others practice them, I see them work. I see sobriety and recovery. I've experienced the results.
The question that baffles me is why do I backslide? Why do I make real progress, and then relapse?
I've experienced a ton of healing in my life, but I've also experienced a ton of sickness. I think it's about 50/50 right now, but the healing might be getting in the lead. Since July 17th, I've experienced sobriety, hope, insights, changes in attitude and behavior, and an overall improvement in my reaction to Life. I seem to be cooperating with Life lately, and that urge to self-destruct has gone into remission. As this has been developing, I've also receive signs that Spirit is active in my life. I like these signs; two of the big ones are the shirts I received and the job for which I received them. It really is a miracle that I'm back in grocery again, and all I'm going to say about that is that I recognize this job as an opportunity to make indirect amends for the shitstorm I caused over 20 years ago!
So, I've got all these signs, and I'm feeling good about my experiences and the progress I've made over the past 8 weeks (which really is no time), and I believe more and more that something Divine is working in my life - how do I keep this going? Consistent spiritual practice. I begin to learn that today I have no more important job than to maintain my sobriety/recovery. I begin to understand at a deep level that I cannot do this on my own; I must accept & receive the help of my Higher Power. Then I continue to develop my relationship with that Higher Power.
I can see more clearly today how I rationalized the thinking and behavior that pushed me away from recovery and toward relapse. I can see how I created the clouds that obscured the Sunlight of the Spirit and made me believe again that my life had no value, that I had no value. These "clouds" are fear, doubt, low self-esteem, lack of humility, resentment, self-pity, escapism, isolation, lack of connection, and hopelessness. When I allow these clouds to form, they effectively block Spirit, even though Spirit is still there. Spirit never leaves me; I try to hide.
I believe one of the key elements in keeping the faith is active gratitude. Active gratitude is simply seeking and seeing the blessings in and around me, and being thankful to Source for them. As we know by now, what I focus on grows and grows - when I focus on the shit in life, shit grows; when I focus on the good in life (and in myself), the good grows. So when I seek and acknowledge good in my life, I find it more and more; that's just the way the Universe works.
So here's the point - my experiencing the coincidences and miracles in my life is really me opening up my mind and heart to experience them. I'm improving my reception. I believe I live in an abundant Universe - that blessings and miracles are swirling around me - and that the only thing that keeps me from receiving these blessings is poor reception - a closed mind and/or a closed heart. God shows up in my life in a lot of ways - through different people and different events. In order to receive, I need to stay open; otherwise, I'll walk right by my blessings.
The way for me to improve and maintain my receptivity, my reception, is to keep a consistent spiritual practice, which includes prayer, meditation, and gratitude, and also a sense of expectation throughout the day. For me, it's skillful to expect something good - something good will happen. Expecting specific things has often proven unskillful for me - my focusing my mind on specific things seems to make me miss the better things that Spirit has in Mind for me.
I don't know how to end this, probably because there isn't an end; no matter how practiced and skillful I get, there will always be room for improving my reception. So for now, I'll say blessings on your path, thank you for reading, and