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News & Views - Dec, 1998 Issue #55

by: Larry Wells & Anngela Ritter
Wilderness Quest
Monticello, Utah

We have often had questions raised on how religion impacts our wilderness program. “You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual,” says Father Leo Booth. “Spirituality is how you connect to yourself and the world, mentally, emotionally and physically. We do not get spirituality through religion or philosophy. It is simply the essence of being human.” (Quotes from an article by Elwood Bernas in Hazeldon Foundation, 1996). 

At Wilderness Quest spirituality is not religion. Our connection is through the 12 Step Program where we seek out contact with a Higher Power of our own understanding, someone or something outside ourselves that loves and cares about us all the time, and where performance does not equal worth. The beauty of 12 Step spirituality is that it does not require members to adhere to a specific set of teachings about the nature of “God” or living a spiritual life. It validates personal spiritual experiences and brings an added dimension to bear on the addiction and the individual‘s vital need to connect with a power higher than themselves. Addictions are spiritual diseases....our spirits are not at ease. The way to heal and recover then is to heal our spirit and recover our soul. 

In 12 Step programs, spirituality is defined broadly using terms like soul, spirit, human spirit, God, nature, love, hope in the face of pain and tragedy, the power of the group, mysteries of life, miracles, and the miracle of recovery itself. These all represent personal spiritual value and experiences powerful enough to bring about the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery. Recovery has less to do with religion and more to do with reality, honesty and asking for help outside yourself. Recovering spiritually is about sobriety not holiness. The first step in moving into the realm of recovery is to take off the mask and get real. Perhaps one of the hardest spiritual practices you will perform as a recovering individual is telling the whole truth about yourself and your addictions. 

It has been said “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” A Higher Power and recovery is something of a personal nature, and an individual’s Higher Power is their choice. It’s your recovery, not ours. 

Copyright © 1998, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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