I asked a man who appeared to know God to be my sponsor, AA language for guide or mentor. He said “yes” and the next day we began to do the 12 step program of AA. He knew I did not believe in God. At our first meeting, as we stood by the bank of a small stream, he asked "Could you make this stream flow the other way?" No" I replied, “I do not control gravity”. “Good" my sponsor said, "The force of gravity will do for you. Go home and make your bed, we will meet again tomorrow.” This was too much. The force of gravity to keep me sober, and told to make my bed. "What has my bed got to do with drinking" I questioned?
"Simple" he replied "this is your problem! You live life only doing what you want. Go home, make your bed and I will see you tomorrow."
My spiritual journey had begun. First: I agreed that there were forces like gravity to dictate which way streams flowed, and that I did not have control over them. In AA language this was now MY Higher Power. Second: Making my bed each day was to be my first act of following instructions and restoring order to my life. Third: I had a program to follow. Others were staying sober following this program and I was willing to put aside my skepticism. Shortly after my first year of being sober I upgraded my higher power, now perceiving God as the sun, moon, stars and gravity. Then one morning, as I watched the sun’s rays warming people as they sat in our meeting, I made an amazing connection. My God’s light was shining on people. They were being warmed by the sun, and they loved me. Was it possible, I thought, that my God loved me through people?
A few months into my second year of sobriety my sponsor told me to start meditation. I found the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, in Woodacre, California. I was soon a devout follower of the Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, and was enthusiastic about my new found Buddhist spirituality.
I met a girl at a Spirit Rock singles meditation. We were paired to spend five minutes looking into each other’s eyes. We fell in love. A whirlwind romance followed. Off we went to Scotland to meet my mum and sisters, then to London for Christmas and finally to South Africa to meet my father. But she had her secret. There was a previous lover and he wanted her back. We booked to spend two weeks on the island of Kauai in Hawaii to rekindle our romance. I was dumped at the airport and then flew alone to Kauai in a state of emotional shock. The pain was almost unbearable. I called my sponsor, desperate not to drink. He said "stay there, go to your AA meetings and seek God." It was not what I wanted to hear, but I listened.
I was an emotional wreck. I went to an AA meeting on the Saturday evening as suggested. I tried to enjoy the island but it was imposible in my emotional condition. On Sunday afternoon, about 3:30pm, I was standing in the shower to rinse off from the resort hot tub when another wave of emotional pain washed over me. I cried out, "God please help me, I do not want to drink".
I am a technology evangelist. I do not hear voices! I heard clearly, "You are asking me for help, but you will not come to my house". And with the voice came a clear picture of the church in a place called Koloa Town nearby. I had walked past it looking for my meeting the evening before. I jumped out of the shower, pulled on my clothes, and drove directly to the church. I looked about. It was empty. A sign out front indicated that there was an evening service at 6:00pm. In the garden I saw a young boy picking fruit from a tree. I called out to him with the only thing that came to mind, "what do you wear to come to church?" "Just like you are" he replied, and carried on picking his fruit.