At a 12 step meeting there may be general leaders and professionals in the room, but there are no appointed leaders of the meetings, nor your recovery. Those titles and roles are not brought into these rooms, the meetings are anonymous. Everyone is a pedestrian, an amateur, and encouraged to be an active participant in what goes on there. These strange rooms, where people bring none of the trappings that lend them social capital in their work-a-day existence, are places that folks openly share about their weakness and their struggles. These strange rooms are also regularly found to be healing places for many. At face value it's hard to imagine why anyone would ever want to enter one of these places, and yet folks drive across town, sometimes braving snow or rain to be in these very rooms. What is the draw of these very pedestrian gatherings? How much of that draw is their pedestrian nature itself?
On the one hand these rooms are ordinary. They are just everyday folks sitting and talking to one another. On the other hand they are extraordinary spaces where everyday folks find the courage to be vulnerable and bear witness to one another's struggles without trying to fix anything.
The 12 step program is open to all faith traditions and simply uses the phrases ‘your Higher Power’ and ‘God of your understanding’ to discuss that power greater than the self to which they all turn for a restoration ‘to sanity’. Surrendering to a power greater than yourself and practicing conscious contact with God are a key part of the recovery journey. Since this is the case, it is very common for these pedestrian gatherings, made up people who came to acknowledge their weaknesses and practice vulnerability, to pray. And the prayer that they pray whenever they gather is worth reflecting on.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Until next time, be pedestrian.