Kacy Ritter – Corporate Director of Alumni Services
Most often, we think of the word “vision” as being related to the physical act of sight. Interestingly enough, that definition isn’t first or even second in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. In its highest sense, the word “vision” is meant to encompass something far more mystical and—in this recovered addict’s opinion—it undeniably references the “fourth dimension of existence.” Conceptually, living with vision means living with a level of consciousness that is powered by imagination, insight and wisdom. There is something innately divine about having vision.
In titling the chapter, “A Vision for You”, it seems much more likely that our alcoholic forefathers were referencing otherworldly awareness and foresight rather than the mere state of being able to see. Given that the 12 Steps comprise a spiritual program of action, imagining the word “vision” in anything other than a sacred context would seem farsighted, at best. Though the Big Book may present a pragmatic design for living, it is clear that the ultimate goal of the 12 Steps is to enable the alcoholic to become not merely sober, but to become a spiritual being with extraordinary vision.
Recovery is all about VISION. Or, at least it should be.
Far too often, we sell the newcomer short, making them believe that engagement in recovery is simply a matter of carrying on for the next 24 hours, drug-free. Momentary relief may be a punctuated goal when entering the fellowship, but it certainly isn’t a powerful vision with depth and weight, nor is it a substitute which can captivate the interest of those suffering from alcoholism. Without a reason to live, many alcoholics lose sight of the potential beauty which is possible through recovery. While these reasons alone may not be enough to keep one sober, they can certainly draw the attention of the alcoholic mind, and help to fix blind eyes on the vision offered through a spiritual life. Those of us on the path to transformation know that there is something to be said for vision. It can become the driving force in our progression towards wholeness.
As a person in long-term recovery, this consideration begs the candid question: “Am I living with Vision?” We are told in the Eleventh Step that “Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane,” when we are being directed by the disciplines of prayer and meditation. In the concluding chapter of our basic text, it is remarked that Bill and his wife had “visioned the Great Reality—their Loving and All Powerful Creator.” The implication is that those who are engaged in recovery—be it the alcoholic or the family member—should have caught at least a flash of the aptly named “world of the Spirit.” Snapshots of a spiritual life should reflect a level of wonder and magnificence which paint more than mere picture of survival.
If I am not living with vision, perhaps I am simply making a collage from the scraps of my former life, rather than allowing God to artfully create a life with infinite possibility.
The focus of my life at the present moment can offer a glimpse of the vision—or perhaps more pointedly, the lack of vision—which motivates my existence. A life lived with vision doesn’t preclude the idea of being present in the now, as what we experience in the now is driven by our personal world view. We know that “every day is a day in which we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities.” Here, vision is meant to communicate a divinely inspired awareness. Having shed the shackles of self, we should expect nothing less than to live with a snapshot of God’s perspective in our lives. We should begin to see ourselves as God sees us, and to see others in that same compassionate light.
In the presence of the “sunlight of the Spirit,” we become free to imagine lives in which we are capable of fantastic and visionary experiences— lives in which we are free to be the people we were meant to be before addiction took hold. This is one of the boundless promises of walking a spiritual path. Whether we are in recovery or not, our view as spiritual beings should be magnified by powerful and unconquerable encounters with a truly Creative Intelligence.
To actively engage in recovery is to accept a gift of supernatural vision which will continually challenge us to expect nothing less than a wildly inspired life.