Steps 11&12: Tattoo



11:  Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him/Her, praying only for knowledge of His/Her will for us and the power to carry that out.

Lay flat, in darkness, in silence.  Alone.
Close your caffeinated eyes.

Now imagine a wall full of light switches.  Each switch represents a thought you must shut down before accessing the deeper, divine Self.

The friend who did the thing.  The election.  The election.  The election.  (Sometimes it takes three tries to make sure it’s all the way off.)  Your child whose butt stinks.  The child whose heart hurts.  The Cheerios on the ground.  The brown grass.  The neighbors thinking about the brown grass.  The neighbors.  Project Runway.  The coloring books plastering the dining room table.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

Until you’ve got none left to flip.

Now imagine Jesus’ back yard, or front porch, or wherever.  Jesus isn’t your thing?  Imagine someplace where Love flourishes and Light pierces and all the energy of Life spills out in a wave of peace.

Remember that place you once met God?  Go there.

Got it?  K.

What does it smell like?  How old are you there?  What do you see?  What can’t you see?  Reach out and feel something, what do you sense?

Now what does God want to show you?  Where is Love leading?  Follow.  Trust.  Keep breathing.
Wait until it’s over.  Wait until you’re not afraid, wait until you have permission to leave.


Exhale.  Exhale.  Exhale.

Open your eyes.  Write down what happened.  Or don’t.  But I always do.

This is called a Resource—it’s yours.  A tool, a prayer, a meditation that can (and does) take you near to the heart of God, the heart of Love.

Once in a Resource Jesus pulled out flashlights from a man-purse He was wearing and massaged my throbbing legs with their warm, reddish-blue healing light.  I came out of the meditation pain-free & able to smile.

Months ago, I saw a Lion (who was a representation of God, duh #Aslan) resting at the base of Mt. Sinai.  I searched His mane, not knowing what I looked for, until I found it.  The name of every soul tattooed on His flesh.  This image helped me the other night as I watched a brutal, Good, bewildering, and hard election unfold.

Donald Trump’s name is tattooed on God’s flesh, I saw it.  So is Hillary’s.

Sometimes I sit on the grassy, warm shores of the slow-moving Still Waters mentioned in Psalm 23.  I rest in the waters and relax as liquid pass under my naked, weightless body, anchored by some large, smooth river stones.

“What were you doing in there, Mama?”  My children ask me as a smile-stumble from the dark master bedroom.

“I was talking to God.”

Resourcing helps me not whack my kids, and prevents the venom from spewing out of the mouth.  It’s where I go for help with a husband, or a reminder of my Goodness.  Once Jesus let me hold a friend’s unborn baby, and eat apple pie with my deceased sister, Ellen.

It doesn’t matter if it’s real or not.  Though the unborn baby came, the pain was healed, and my heart for Trump softened.  It just helps—a lot.

Maybe it’ll help you.

Which leads me the final, 12th step:  Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics/addicts/everyone, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Once, years ago, I went to rehab.  And there, God showed me how deeply S/He adores humans, even the really fucked up ones.  The 12-steps teach us how to find serenity in this spinning world, how to accept (or maybe even love?) humanity, and they encourage us to extend that serenity and love to others.  All in the name of a Higher Power.  God.  Love.  Light.

It’s a gospel, a Good News.

I can’t stop talking about it.

Where is God?  Right there.  Where is Heaven?  Right here.  Where are you?  Tattooed onto the deepest layers of Love’s flesh and bones—forever.  And so is everyone else.

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Step 10: I Can Fix This

To The Man Who Maybe Totaled My Car On Tuesday,

You’re lucky I’m in recovery, because you really messed me up.  The tenth step reinforces the discipline of continuing to take fearless moral inventories, and I’ve done dozens on you in the last two days.  Each time I reach the conclusion that I’m behaving fearfully:

I’m afraid the whiplash will cause permanent damage.  I’m afraid my kid’s necks won’t get better.  I’m afraid the body shop and insurance company will decide to total my Pilot.  Knees, please stop clicking.  How much money this will cost us?  I know, his insurance will cover it all, but what if it doesn’t?  And I DON’T HAVE TIME TO FIGHT INSURANCE COMPANIES.  I’m afraid I’ll ask a doctor for oxy if the pain doesn’t get better.

Lord, “Do not be afraid” is the most repeated verse in the Bible.  So I’m gonna try real hard, real hard, to be strong and courageous.  I’ll try and remember that You’re the God of cancer, chronic pain, infertility, addiction, abuse, and car accidents.

You’re a God of Too Much.  And a car accident on Tuesday morning was Too Much.

To The Husband Who Won’t Pick Up The Girl’s Hair Clips Deep Under The Clawfoot Tub,

You’re lucky I’m in recovery, too.  Actually, I am lucky I have you.  Thank you for all you do, for all you hold, for all you bend over to retrieve for me.  I’ve stared at the hair clips for over a year; I know you don’t see them though.  Finally I decided I was done holding it over your head, or over my own head rather.  Like when I used to have to tread water holding gallon jugs above the water’s surface in water polo practice.

It’s so tiring.  It’s Too Much.

I finished the inventory while sitting on the toilet the other day, staring down at the purple plastic edges peeking out from under the porcelain tub.  Turns out I was dishonest (Babe, could you please come and reach these clips?), inconsiderate (I don’t care if he doesn’t want to pick these up, and hasn’t in over a year— I want what I want, right now), and fearful (What if I bend over too far and my sciatic flares up?)

Lord, forgive me for holding those gallon jugs for so long, the weariness was self-induced.  I’m sorry I blamed David.  I’m sorry I forgot just how capable, effective, generous, and loving I am.  I could’ve picked them up; it was my Next Loving Step that I refused to take.  And my marriage suffered for it.

To The Presidential Candidates In The 2016 Election,

You guys are hurting my feelings.  I know, I’m afraid.  Waiting for the result of the election is like waiting for a PET scan to confirm or deny the existence of active cancer cells.  Does America have cancer or not?  Who wouldn’t be afraid of cancer?

Could we try a little harder to resemble decent humans?  Is that Too Much to ask?

Lord, just so we’re clear, I belong to You; not Hillary or Donald.  I fight for Love, not reformed tax law.  My birthplace has nothing to do with my citizenship.  Eden all the way.

To The Biological Father Who Walked Away,

First of all, hi.  It’s been a while.  Your granddaughters asked what happened to you today, and I told them, I don’t know.

Second, I know you are wounded, not wicked.  The inventories don’t always work on you, because it’s hard to figure out what role I played in you abandoning us all—again.  Sometimes I land on dishonesty, because I know I haven’t reached out to try and redeem & restore.  But then I remember the fruits of my honesty in the past, and so I think I’d rather keep my pearls to myself, thank you very much.  And my therapist.

Lord…I don’t even know…I have no clue…It’s Too Much for me to begin to solve…take it and make it Good…

To The Giant Trucks Parked Outside My House,

Oooooh you know how to press a Mama’s buttons.  I’m hot & flushed just thinking about all that premium space your behemoth vehicles hoard.

Inhale.  Exhale.  Too.  Much.  Inhale.  Exhale.

But I know I behave selfishly.  I WANT AT LEAST ONE SPACE!  We have a 1-1/2 size lot, there should be something for Claire and her four babies.  I see the fear, too.  And I suppose it’s inconsiderate of me to expect my comfort to cost you yours.

Lord, Help me remember that you breathed into the truckers holy, body clay, too.  You called them Good.  May I breathe before cursing them under my breathe.  Maybe they have needs, too?  Maybe they even need to park in front of my fenced property?  Maybe the problem is that I think it’s “my” property?

Maybe I need to chill the hell out and remember that I can’t control anything except how I choose to respond to the distracted driver on Colfax, the husband who tries so hard and the politicians who don’t try hard enough, the wounded, invisible patriarch, and the Chevy drivers.

When a day feels like Too Much, the 10th step helps me remember what I can fix—myself.
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Steps 6 & 7: Light It Up



You know in middle and high school when you begged God to make you less proud, less shallow, less fat, and less horny?  I’ve been asking God to make me better for as long as I’ve been applying mascara.

The sixth and seventh steps give us permission to accept the gift of our humanity.  And guys, God adores humans.

6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

So the three hernias popped out, the lights flipped on, I confessed, and could breathe again.

Now what?

Only the raddest transformation ever.  When my darkest corners and inside bits detected Light, the little curled-up Claire decided to unfurl for the first time in decades.  Rubbing her sensitive eyes she stepped into the warmth, into the Love that only a Higher Power can provide.

Good lighting perks up even the dullest complexion, and I felt beautiful despite my mistakes and my mortality.  I began to trust the God of cancer, the God of death, the God of addiction and chronic pain, the God of weary mamas and politics, and even the Middle East.   Because who could reject the Love that takes you no matter what?  Who could resist such a persistent and wild holiness?

My eyes adjusted to the blaring brightness, and at last I stood—mouth gaping— before a God I pray I never define.  No more checking identification at the doors of Heaven, no more defending a God who never asks for my defense.  Just surrender, humble surrender.

Extending outrageous grace and love to people I thought I disagreed with became easy and necessary.  I could see their Light, too: LGBTQ, Black Lives Matter, Evangelicals, felons, my husband and kids, ISIS, my mom.  It had wrapped me up and held me close, so that’s what I’ll do to everyone else.

My prayers shifted direction as abruptly as my car does when a kid demands a potty break.  Since there is no condemnation in Christ, asking for forgiveness and help was simple— I was free and careless just like the murderous David or the yucky debt collectors.

The hard part?  Recalling that, in Eden, God called the Clay that became Claire Good.  I’ve found that all my problems arise from memory loss.  A forgotten whisper from the Higher Power: you are a beloved child of mine.  Shhhh.  Remember.

I don’t think “sin” is our defect, because we are human, and God expects humans to fuck up.  The defects aren’t pride, rage, lust, or addiction–those are the humanity.

The shortcoming is believing we are anything other than Good.  When we forget that God so loved the World, we forget that God so loves us, and everyone else.

Instead of: Lord, give me more self control, forgive me for eating the entire apple pie and disrespecting my body temple.  Try: Lord, forgive me for my memory loss, help me remember I’m a divine child of a Good, Hard, Wild, and Loving God.  

Where are your dark corners?  What part of God and the Bible and yourself do you defend, even if sometimes it feels too hard and sort of untrue and makes you sweat a little?  How big (or little) is the box in which you keep the Highest Power?  What if I told you everyone has God’s Light and Love pulsing through them?  Right now.  Yes, even him/her/them.

What if I told you that perfection is your name and goodness is your game?

Your defect isn’t your skin color, your income, your religious affiliation or voter registration.  Your shortcoming isn’t that you love someone the same gender as you or that you’re divorced or had an abortion.

We fall short when we forget to turn on the Lights.  God, take my humanity and hold it close.  Help me remember.

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