This post first appeared in August 2012 on Sobriety Junkie at reneweveryday.com.
Every now and then I have what seems an intelligent notion. This Tuesday evening may have been one of those now-and-thens.
Every Tuesday at 6 PM, I attend a meeting that is a combination Big Book study and meditation group. This Tuesday was special in a number of ways. After the usual meeting protocol (steps, traditions, etc.), the chairperson asked if there were any sobriety birthdays. My sponsor announced that he had celebrated 32 years the day before, on the 20th, and one of the men I sponsor then announced that he’d celebrated one year on Sunday, the 19th.
I couldn’t help but reflect on sponsorship for a moment after that. I tend to fret a lot about whether I do right by the men who have asked me to help them work their way through sobriety one day at a time. (In fact, the only thing I fret about more is whether I do right by the children I’m trying to raise.)
I know that my only real job as a sponsor is to walk my sponsees through the steps as outlined in our basic text. I know that they can always up and find themselves another sponsor if they don’t feel like they’re getting what they need from me. I also know that I have a very experienced and competent sponsor myself who can guide me through most any situation I might encounter as someone else’s sponsor. Still, with all of that knowledge and assurance at my fingertips, I often find myself wishing there were a handy little guidebook (GSO approved, of course) about what to do and what not to do as someone’s sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous.
Every Tuesday evening at around 6:50, the chairperson leads our group into meditation. Those of us who founded the meeting agreed a long time ago that the chairperson would lead the group into meditation by reading, slowly and clearly, all the elements of the Prayer of Saint Francis (a.k.a. the 11th Step Prayer).
Tuesday night was no different, and it was during the recitation of that prayer as we went into meditation that it hit me–my now-and-then a great notion: This, the Prayer of Saint Francis, is exactly the step-by-step guide to sponsorship that I had been looking for. And so, here it is, for all to ponder. Let me know if you agree:
Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.