How I Got Plugged In

My program for recovery only works if I continue to use the tools. For me, one of the most important tools of this simple 12 Step program is prayer.

Just now I was trying to get my cordless mouse to work and becoming increasingly frustrated. I had all this stuff I wanted to say and my one of my communication tools is the mouse! No mouse, no post! I shook it, reset it, changed the battery… nothing. I even tried spitting on the bottom. (That doesn’t work by the way.) Then I realized I had left the wireless USB device in another laptop. For me writing without the mouse is like living without prayer. Simple. No communication happening.

Being relatively new to recovery, I have not forgotten the series of events that brought me out of the pits. For me, the first part of my realization of how barren my life had become happened 3 months before I quit drinking. It was December and I was staying at a hermitage in the middle of Cedar Rapids on the Prairiewoods acreage. Though the private retreat site was less than 5 miles from my house, it seemed important to get away.

Prairiewoods has two hermitages located in the woods on the north edge of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I stayed for several days in the one room facility made from straw bales. There is even a peek-hole into the wall so you can see beneath the plaster to the straw. I loved that! There’s a wetland septic system a little ways from the wooden deck by the patio door complete with swamp grasses and cattails. I sat on the wooden planks of the deck with a blanket and my wine reading a little, drinking a little and crying a lot while listening to the frogs and the nuthatches talking. (No, not to me, to each other.)

In 2006, on December 10th, I spent a lot of time on the deck floor with my pillow and blanket, in fact it was so warm, I almost fell asleep in the afternoon sun. I had selected some books from the retreat library and was reading Thomas Merton and Henry Nouwen and writing in a journal. So far, a typical day for me during this stay.

At one point, I felt so overwhelmed by my desire to be closer to truth, that I just asked God to show me that He cared. I remember thinking, “That’s stupid, Heidi” but I couldn’t help it. I really wanted to know He cared about me. These great authors had so many profound ideas but nothing was clicking. I was irritable with my lot in life. I knew God loved me (intellectually) but I wanted to see it and feel it. Is that too much to ask?

Nothing happened. The birds had quit interacting with the frogs and it seemed too quiet. In my discontent, I got up to stretch and go for a walk. I headed for the creek. At the beginning of the trail, I saw a nun walking and nodded to her. Then I realized I might want my jacket so I went back to the hermitage. As I entered the woods the second time, looked to the North and there was a rainbow! It wasn’t raining, foggy or cloudy but there it was! A miracle?

I looked around, more for confirmation than anything else, to see if anyone else could see it. The nun and her dog were a short distance into the woods and I yelled at her to come look at this! She hurried towards me, the dog following. I pointed wordlessly in the direction of the rainbow. She gasped and her hands flew to her mouth as she suppressed tears.

She hugged me and told me that her sister had died the day before and in her prayers when she got up this morning she’d asked for a sign that her sister was okay. We hugged again. I cried. She cried.

The dog looked on, completely unmoved while we patted each other on the arms. I didn’t tell her what my prayer was. The nun remarked that her dog never lets people approach her. She was surprised he didn’t try to keep me from embracing her. I just shrugged. Dogs and babies… they love me. (Frankly, it’s not usually mutual.)

I was happy for her. Happy that she saw the rainbow, happier that anyone else was a witness to it, actually. I could barely believe God! He answered two prayers with one rainbow and let me be a be a part of it! What are the chances? Not many, I’d wager. But I still choose to think of the rainbow as my own little miracle.

I went back to the Hermitage just wanting solitude on the deck to thank Him for caring about my little crisis, my little life. I prayed for a very long time and it seemed the floodgates were opened. I was feeling the presence of my God again and I was no longer restless, irritable or discontent.