“What are you so happy about?” he asked his grinning, arm swinging buddy as they made their way to their 10:00 philosophy class.
“I don’t know, I guess just enjoy this class, don’t you?”
“Well, yeah. I mean I’m learning a lot, but it doesn’t mean I have to click my heels on the way there.”
‘Buddy’ smiled. “It’s more than just the material, I also feel really connected to the prof.”
He rolled his eyes. “I don’t get you. I know he’s big-name professor and he definitely knows his stuff, but that’s it. What’s the big connection?”
“Have you ever talked to him?”
“Duh, I’m in his class. I raise my hand to answer questions as much as anyone, and I even ask them once in a while.”
“But do you ever talk to him, you know, like he’s a real person and not just a teaching machine?”
He looked at Buddy waiting for the punch line, but the guy was serious. “Um, no. But why should I? When even could I?”
“C’mon, you know as well as I do that he has open office hours three afternoons a week. You can just stop by then and talk to him about anything.”
“And you do that?” he asked.
“Sure. At least once or twice a week.”
“What do you talk about?”
“Usually something having to do with the day’s class – at least that’s how we start out. But then things expand, and we start speaking about life. Really, we can end up talking about anything. I really enjoy it, and I think he does too. He’s very cool once you get to know him.”
“Okay, Buddy, I get it. You’re buttering him up to get a good grade.”
“No way. I mean, maybe I’ll end up with a better grade because I feel more tuned into the class, but that’s not why I’m doing it. I just enjoy the relationship.”
“I don’t know. I show up to class. I do my assignments and study hard for the tests. He’s the prof, I’m the student, and that’s enough of a relationship for me.”
Buddy grinned. “Okay. But if so, why aren’t you bopping to class like me?”
Step 11 of the 12-Step Recovery programs says: “(We) sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him…”
To many people, prayer means reciting a formal, set regimen of prayers in specified settings, as a type of obligation. Sort of like doing all the assignments and never talking to the professor outside of the classroom. This is a great, but the 11th Step invites us to do, besides this, something deeper. It invites us to experience a personal, living relationship with a personal, living God.
To quote the book ‘The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions’ of OA (page 94):
“In addition to reciting memorized prayers, we can express ourselves to God in our own words, much as we might talk with our best friend. Some of us have been taught there are things we shouldn’t say to God or feelings we shouldn’t express. However now that we’re recovering…we need complete freedom to express our honest feelings in any situation, without fear of saying the wrong thing and damaging or destroying our relationship with God. Such freedom is an essential factor in the healing process because recovery is based on the practice of honesty with ourselves and our Higher Power. We need the security of knowing that nothing can destroy our relationship with this all-important source of healing and strength while we honestly explore our deepest selves.”
Fortunately, Judaism has assured us for centuries that we have just such unbreakable bond with a loving God, and has urged us to fearlessly and joyously experience a real, living relationship with God by being real and speaking to Him in a real, uncensored way.
Happiness in life and in Jewishness is all about The Relationship. Give it a try and you might just find yourself in a whole new ‘class’…