“All the time I kept silent and my bones wasted away. I groaned day in and day out, my heart grew parched as stubble in summer drought, and at last, I admitted to you that I had sinned and no longer concealed my guilt.” Psalm 32:3-5
From the Greek god Dionysus to the present day, dualism has featured heavily in our stories.
The concept of sin and reconciliation is one, the darkness of our shadow in Jung’s psychology is another.
Almost all religions of the world espouse a type of ‘meritocracy’ and the judicial system in most societies in the 21st Century are refined versions of such.
What seems evident in our Penal/Justice system as in our Churches is that ‘Retributive justice’ doesn’t work really well.
Richard Rohr speaks of the dualism in a more healthful light by introducing (to me, at least) ‘Restorative justice’ – that we can admit our faults and errors and begin anew.
Furthermore, in quoting Thomas’ Gospel, Rohr notes, “If you bring forth that which is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring forth, it will destroy you.
This is in essence what ‘AA’ers have been suggesting since !938. ”Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
What is particularly important about this step is the recognition of our dark unconscious side and with ‘the little help of my friend’, we move on with our lives.
The sad and sorry soul, that has been groaning day in and day out until his poor fucking heart was parched like a summer drought can now drink of the cup of society again.
This ‘Restorative justice’ is vital for everyone, not just the recovering addict.
I stumbled across a midday movie on my day off yesterday. You may have missed too – a film by Gus Van Sant starring Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts, called ‘The Sea of Trees’.
It’s suspenseful drama about a man who flies to Japan, to suicide in a beautiful forest as many have done before.(apparently)
As the drama unfolds McConaughey’s character, Arthur reflects on his sins and shortcoming, regretting the love he never gave his wife, Joan.
He meets a man in the forest who is dying and instead of maintaining his suicide mission, goes to the aid of his death-seeking friend.
Through the magic of flashbacks, we see why Arthur had chosen suicide and empathize with the character but wish him to change his mind, for he has so much living left to do.
As you know, there are twists (as in your life), there is a moral to the story and a pensive thought provoking fade-away at the end.
But as Richard Rohr alludes to in ‘Breathing Under Water’ and Gus Van Sant in ‘The Sea of Trees’ depicts, the end is not the end.
Arthur’s Japanese friend says: “If you don’t believe in God, then why do you want to die?”
That question has been haunting me ever since.
At least in Step Five and in many other ways to reconcile our past, there is time to pause, reflect and have remorse – then move on.
The best thing I have done in recovery for myself, apart from not drinking alcohol, is to make amends to others I had harmed.
Wait a minute!!!
Saying sorry is supposed to be for THEM!
No, no, no. Making amends for my past errors and nastiness is for the benefit of ME. Most people I’ve made amends to don’t even know what I’m sorry about!
It’s me that the indiscretion is hurting.
This is along the same lines as my mantra every day in my morning prayers, ‘Cherish others as I would myself” helps me to be kind to others AND allows me to walk tall and beautiful in the world.
From Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s beautiful book, ‘Universal Compassion’…
“Since cherishing myself is the door to all faults
And cherishing mother beings is the foundation of all good qualities,
I seek your blessings to take as my essential practice
The yoga of exchanging self with others.”
Here’s a beautiful piece of Biblical quotation to ponder:
“When Israel sins and lies exposed like a naked whore, Yahweh only loves Israel more and at ever-deeper levels” (Ezekiel 16:1-63)