It is a mistake to approach Step Eleven with the old idea that I know what it means to pray or to receive guidance in meditation. That is not to say that I do not have ideas or spiritual experiences I bring or can draw on in Step Eleven. No. I am a spiritual being in the care of Power Accessible to Me, as I understand this Universal Power. But do I know all I can know or can benefit from learning about this Source that I am in the care of? It is pretty limiting to think I do, is it not!
My old ideas—well-intended to keep me safely alive—are my best efforts at keeping myself tuned in to a mainstream of doing life properly. Examples: “God wants us to say (specific prayer) before we eat food,” or, “Say these prayers before you go to sleep (or when you get up)”, are often taught to small children, as ways to introduce the practice of reaching out to this Power Source, i.e., tuning in.
Tuning in to this Power source—building a living relationship with it—is my goal of Step Eleven. I was not wrong in saying my prayers; I just had a limited idea about prayer if I thought this was the beginning and end of how tuning into God, “as we understand God”, has to work. Step Eleven empowers me to relax old inflexible boundaries in the care of a Loving Parent concept. In working Steps Two, Three, and Eleven, not out of fear, but in growing trust, I am free to keep or to change how I understand prayer.
Anonymity in Twelve Step programs is akin to the spiritual understanding that Chinese Taoist are said to practice (and westerners tend to misunderstand as ancestor worship). It is the view that I honor shared wisdom (as families, as peers, in an ongoing fellowship)—not by erasing individuals’ faces and names—but by keeping and living out each’s ongoing contributions to the health, nurture, and continuity of these living fellowships, gratefully and joyfully celebrating these tried-and-true concepts and practices as a timestream—a thread—that keeps living in me.
I am not breaking anonymity when I cite a co-member’s contributions in shares within the fellowship. Fellow travelers I cherish have shown me light on the path I have found here, just for today. Sponsorship includes being grateful to specific hands that reach out to me, as I, in turn, become those compassionate hands to the newcomers and to others. This is a form of spiritual prayer. I am alive as a real person to another within the fellowships. I am getting used to being part of what works, what speaks out, leads, and what transforms dysfunction in tune with what furthers our common welfare.