We recognize that only a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
Jim was my patient for a couple of nights. An accountant, late fifties, he was quite drunk as he drove to work and veered off an overpass nose down onto the freeway below. Rush hour. Miraculously intact and miraculous that he didn’t kill anyone, he was nonetheless emotionally shattered.
And then there were the DT’s. At three a.m., he virtually leapt from bed, undistracted by a broken hip and that he was minutes from respiratory failure, convinced that the staff was going to kill him. I managed to wheel him back into his room on a bedside commode, hooked him to oxygen and let him cry and cry.
"Am I going to hell?" he asked.
"No," I said. "I think you are leaving hell."
Dear God, I had the pleasure of seeing his face fill with light as it dawned on him that perhaps he was forgivable, maybe he could start again.
"Only the prayer of a person with a broken heart can open the gates of heaven," say the Hasidic Jews. Step Two is about facing the Divine with the full heartbreak over what one’s life has become.
Life can be relentless in calling us to this moment of facing God and turning our lives around, but for many it is not at all dramatic. One way or another we are drawn inexorably to the moment of truth — the truth of our helplessness before our addiction and the truth of our radical vulnerability before the goodness of God.
September 11th delivered many of us directly to Step Two. No longer possible to ignore the global culture of violence and our participation in it as victims and victimizers, whatever else we might do, we must at least face God. Baffled, we ask, "Why do they hate us?" and in our bafflement, yearning for a God who would make things whole again, September 11th was a pivotal moment in the spiritual life of a nation.