“Miracles are nothing other than God’s ordinary truth seen with surprised eyes.” — Gerald May, Addiction and Grace
I read a few ‘teaching’ books related to my coursework in spiritual direction. Once I’ve finished with a book, I try to sum up the gifts received. But Addiction and Grace did not really lend itself to this particular exercise. Instead I was left with a few questions, like, what has this book made of me? Am I an addict?
It’s not easy to think of myself as “addict”, though I do acknowledge that I once suffered from a work addiction, a very long time ago. Over lunch yesterday — when I was telling my family about what I was learning in this book — my husband surprised me by saying that I still have a work addiction — that the only thing that has changed is the work itself. I’m still trying to make sense of his words, wondering if I’m blind to the truth that my husband so apparently sees.
What I do know is that I didn’t share my thoughts about the book at this evening’s group discussion; instead, I listened or sometimes nodded my head when someone said something that felt true to my experience. Had I shared, I would likely have confessed that the book has left me sad and edgy — that it made me recall — more than one — that favorite T.S. Eliot quote of mine: “humankind cannot bear very much reality.”
I have returned to all those underlined words that ‘hit home’ as I read them. Quotes that assert that we all suffer from addiction and that we are never totally free of our addictions. May asserts that if we become free of one — and by free, May talks about the addiction as if it is in remission rather than cured — another swings into the open parking spot to take its place. Addiction is defined broadly:
“The same processes that are responsible for addiction to alcohol and narcotics are also responsible for addiction to ideas, work, relationships, power, moods, fantasies, and an endless variety of other things.”
Of course, as I’m reading these words, and many more like them, part of my mind is engaged in coming up with a list of my own ‘addictions’. That chocolate pudding I was craving last week, perhaps? The books that I must buy and not check-out from the library? God forbid — this blog?
It’s ironic that my reasons for purchasing and reading this book have turned out to be only ancillary after it’s all said and read. It was not to primarily help others that I read this book, though I believe the lessons learned will allow me to do so, in a very indirect supportive way. Rather, this book invites me to name my own addictions so that, with God’s help, I can become “free” of their power in my life. And who but God knows what miracles of ordinary truth this may mean to my surprised eyes.