A sober, peaceful and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!
Last night we had friends over for paella and sat around a fire under the stars — the clouds blew away and the Southern Cross galaxy looked magnificent, with a thickening white crescent of moon. I was woken before dawn by processions of African Zionist church members drumming and chanting up on the hill, and in a short while I am going off to roast chickens for 200 elderly and homeless people. Something that would have seemed impossibly daunting before I got sober but I now have a Foolproof Plan involving relays of ovens and hot pans and timing!
My housemate had a great evening along eating paella and laughing, telling stories, with the rest of us and then spent much of the night sitting up with angina pain, which makes me feel helpless and sick with fear. But I have learned in this last year that it doesn’t help to focus on the fears and setbacks which are inevitable — I try to set them in the context of life’s inevitable ups and downs.
Reading through various websites this morning I was startled to discover that one of my favourite poets, Don Paterson, once wanted to become a preacher — short but very funny piece in the Guardian:
I was a small, fat boy in a kilt with, as I saw it, limited career options. Something in show business seemed about right. Half-human, half-traybake I may have been, but I was still keen to impress. My opportunities were few and my models fewer, but I had Sunday school, and my grandfather. He was a minister in the United Free Church of Scotland. Standing up and telling everyone how to behave seemed like a grand job. And – how cool is this – they had to call you Reverend. So I taught myself to recite the names of all the books of the Bible. The old dears who read us boring stories in the windy North Halls found this trick devastatingly precocious and declared me a shoo-in for the ministry.
Figuring that the speed of my delivery would be directly proportional to its impact, I got faster and faster, and trained with a stopwatch. I could see myself as the dog-collared focus of a vast, rapt stadium, where I’d rattle the books off so fast the big ladies would swoon at the miracle of it.
Alas, this turned out to be much less impressive than I’d hoped, especially to women, though it took me several years to accept the fact. I should say that, blissfully, God figured nowhere in this, even as an afterthought.
When I get back home there will be rock lobster grilled over coals and one or two friends around to sit and enjoy a late festive meal. I have invited my unsober friend K over because she will be all alone but I don’t know if she can be lured away from the gin and that lubricious wallowing in self-pity we all love to indulge in while drunk on significant holidays. ‘Cry me a river’ was once my leitmotif on occasions like Christmas. Now I have a theme of Jingle Bells sung by cats recurring in the back of my mind.
If you need to take a few minutes to relax and unwind, refocus, this is a lovely Silent Night meditation.
And if you want to get sober today, there are many of us all over the world wide web and from many different continents and countries who are here for you.