From time to time I like to try to relate to different perceptions of my Higher Power, as an experiment. Some years ago I obtained a figure of Hotei the Laughing Buddha. Some time after that I found a nice one of Kwan Yin, which rode around on my car dashboard accompanied by St. Peter and Silent Bob. Kwan Yin survived removal from the car, while the other two did not. A couple of years later I got a tiny brass figurine of Durga. These three remain at my workplace and while I like them quite a bit, I don’t really perceive them as aspects of my HP the way I intended.

This sort of thing does not come naturally to me. The faith tradition I was brought up in involved a faceless God. Some people described Him as a very old man on a throne with long white hair and a beard, but he was verbally described this way, never depicted. the Virgin Mary was seldom depicted (except at Christmas), but Jesus constantly was. Jesus’ face was the face of divinity. But since we were only supposed to pray to God, as Jesus was the big brother savior guy and not the Creator, this left me without a visual focus for my prayers. I frequently prayed to the sky or the floor or the darkness inside my eyelids. But I’ve always been a bit envious of people who get to pray to divinities they can see.
There was a TV comedy series in Great Britain called The Vicar of Dibley wherein the minister habitually conversed with her portrait of Jesus. I liked that. I frequently converse with my Higher Power, but again, no portrait. My inner image of my Higher Power is something like a fractal – enormous and mysterious and complex with differing parts that relate to people of differing faiths, and different sub-parts that relate to different individuals. This is how I perceive a God that tends to the whole Universe and still is entirely concerned with the fall of a sparrow.
I tried printing up some pictures of fractals one time, but this wasn’t very satisfying at all.
The current phase of this experiment involves an image I found on the Internet and printed on some cardstock then stuck on my daily reader’s book cover with package tape. I looked for something specific for this image. I try to relate to female interpretations of God for two reasons: I have trouble trusting women, and it’s completely opposite to how I was raised. Here I wanted a woman who looks a bit older than me, so that I instinctively trust that she knows better than I do. Maybe in the future I’ll try a child or a teen just to play with that limitation. I wanted someone with a kind face, but not a weak one. I wanted someone whose eyes could seem loving but could also seem firm. Oddly, I didn’t find what I wanted until searching the keywords “woman” and “menopause”. Heh.
So this image went onto my daily reader, and for what-the-heck, I found some pretty images of Durga and Kwan Yin and put them on as well, so I can speak with them when I especially need strength or mercy, respectively.
So far, so good. This face is easy to talk to, though I’m not completely sure yet it works for talking to my Higher Power. My concept of a Higher Power doesn’t mind if I borrow a face for the purpose, but it takes some getting used to anyway. It was a bit easier settling my thoughts into prayer this morning. We’ll see.

I wasn’t going to go to Area Assembly because I knew it wouldn’t be possible get the time off from work on a weekend. I was printing up flyers to bring to the meetings I attend when I tripped over a copy of the agenda for Assembly. One item popped out and hit me right in the head. It is about helping out “struggling Districts”.

My brain:
I have to go. I just have to go.
When my colleague came in for his shift, I asked him about possibly swapping some duty time, and he was completely amenable! I could be off-duty! I could go!
So there we have it. Just like that, I’m going to Assembly. Financial things have been occurring oddly lately (ever since I made a commitment to my HP to handle my debts before starting a new and costly project), and I actually have the funds to go. I hope to find out what ideas the others have for revitalizing Districts, and maybe we can use some of them in mine.

I bought Many Voices, One Journey because it was the new book out and I generally love Al-Anon literature. However, once it arrived, I realized that it was a year-by-year history of the organization, complete with notes from the conferences and administrative decisions.

My spirits fell. This looked dull. Oh so dull.

Nevertheless, I started to read and slowly became fascinated. I caught myself putting sticky notes on the pages I wanted to find again very soon.

The arrival of this book couldn’t be timed any better.

I may run a slight risk at breaking my anonymity by stating that my District is just about dead. It may be a slight risk because there might be many Districts with this problem – how to know? At any rate, it has been the source of some despair that there are so few meetings around here and that they are so poorly attended. I haven’t seen a business meeting at all and so far only two group conscience votes, both on the same topic. Rotation of meeting chair is likewise rare. I can count on one hand the announcements I’ve heard about events or functions in the area outside the group in the past year and a half, nearly all to do with Christmas.

And right now in my mind is the image of Lois at a table hand writing postal letters to some 30-odd scattered groups to get their opinions on matters and offer support. It’s just amazing.

I’m finding out the roots of all sorts of odd and controversial policies. I’m finding out that the issue of the role of adult child groups isn’t new at all, first emerging in the 80s. I’m finding out that the Obstacles to Success, which I’d never heard until moving to this area, is one of the oldest readings in practice. I’m finding out that our Headquarters was not always in Virginia, and how it came to be so.

The most important thing I’m finding out is how other people helped Al-Anon grow in places it didn’t occur before, or did occur but weakly. I’m finding out how people and groups honored the Traditions and Concepts in their relations, and how they didn’t, and what the results were. I’m learning stuff that can help me right now, what to do, what not to do, and most importantly, how to treasure the people of Al-Anon, rather than my own self-image.

It would be really easy for me to jump right in, take over, and get things done! That grinning little character defect in me would love to just own this District and run it as I believe it ought to be run. How Al-Anon is that?

Right here I have some fantastic examples to follow, and some illustrations of what could come up and how to handle it. In short – Experience, Strength, and Hope. All from some dry old history book!

I think I can help here. I think I can help a lot, if I can help other people get energized and if I can confine myself to some good, honest service work, not directing or controlling. I want this District to be every bit as vibrant as the one I used to live in, and this can happen. Together We Can Make It.