One of the aspects of being here that's been surprisingly difficult, as compared with my deployment to Iraq, has been the fact that I never seem to run into people here who go to a lot of AA and Al-Anon meetings. Perhaps because there were two 12-Step meetings per week on the base where I lived Down Range, I was forever bumping into personnel who went to those meetings.
There's just something about those people.
Whenever I'm around them, I always get a better perspective on what's going on in my own life. Hearing them share their experience, strength, and hope helps me to find, maintain, and improve a sense of gratitude, no matter what's going on.
I guess that must be because AA and Al-Anon are spiritual programs. One of my friends who goes to a lot of those meetings claims that if I'm able to be grateful in the midst of whatever's happening, that's a good indication of spiritual health.
The attitude is gratitude, I guess.
Anyway, on Boxing Day afternoon, I was just about to leave my office to try to get a nap (it had already been a long couple of days, and I still had more liturgies to do before the weekend would be over), and I heard a knock at my door.
A civilian worker, who just arrived a short time ago, came to ask me whether I, as Chaplain, would know where he could find an AA meeting. I laughed and said something flippant about "those meetings" and then mentioned that I have been sober for thirty years, and he smiled a wan smile and said, "Ah, you've never taken a drink, eh?"
He mistook my attempt at humor for a negative judgment on recovery programs, and figured I wasn't much older than thirty. That first mistake was understandable (my 'humor' is an acquired taste, I guess); the second wasn't.
We cleared up the confusion, smoothed over the ruffled feathers, and established that just in the last week I'd begun speaking with someone who was concerned about a pattern of addictive behavior, even over here, and that I'd be able to introduce them to each other. I offered my office as a place for them to get together later this week, as a prelude to getting one of those meetings going here on Post.
Thus it looks as though I might, in fact, be able to encounter folks over here who go to those meetings after all. Hooray for the Higher Power!
How *did* Santa know just what to get me for Christmas this year? I have been so busy during the last three months that I forgot to write him....
Blessings and peace to one and all,
Fr. Tim, SJ