It Still Outranks Them All Part 4: Spirituality and Alcoholism
By Fr. Bogdan Djurdjulov
Alcoholism may begin in numerous ways and develop as part of a person's total life system and style. Alcoholism erodes an individual's ability to function, physically, emotionally, and spirituality. Alcoholism is not only a major medical problem, it is also a spiritual one. However we may view alcoholism, we in good conscience cannot pass by on the other side as did the Levite but must, like the Good Samaritan, be ready to help heal the wounds of anyone who is suffering.
Spirituality has to do with meaning and purpose and integrates all other aspects of life. To understand spirituality more clearly, a look at the word itself is necessary. It comes from the word "spirit" which means "breath of life." In the Hebrew and Greek, the word holds two meanings and stand for both "wind" and "spirit." This is more than an appropriate description for the breath of God. When God made man He breathed into him and made him a living soul (Gen 2:7). We were then invited to share the "spirit;" to have it within ourselves.
Each of us has this spirit within us, this very power of life. Each of us has the capacity (sometimes more and sometimes less), ability, and even a responsibility to project some of our own life and energy into others. Each of us is gifted with the power to literally "inspire" or "breathe into" others. Spirituality has to do with becoming a person in the fullest sense of the word, a journey very much a part of any person's spirituality quest. St Irenaeus said that the "glory of God is a man who is fully alive." For the active alcoholic, being fully alive is in too many cases a distant dream. Such a person's inner resources and sense of well-being have degenerated to a dangerously low level.
Some in the field of alcoholism describe alcoholics as being "spiritually bankrupt." I don't see it so much as a bankruptcy, as a temporary inability to "see" a way out by one's self. Spirituality has to do with "seeing." Alcoholism, by its very nature blinds a person from seeing reality. It's a disease of denial. The alcoholic is taken over by fear, self-pity, guilt, shame, depression, and other destructive and self-defeating behavior. The fact that an alcoholic has become dependent on a mood- and mind-altering drug like alcohol, leaves little room for trust, faith, and reliance on God and other people. The "bankruptcy" exists in the mind of the alcoholic. All around are people who are trying to help alcoholics see what they can't see on their own. Hope, in my opinion, is one of the last things to go before people abandon ship.
The Scriptures carry the theme that where there is no vision the people perish. Where there is no vision there is also no hope. We have to look beyond ourselves. Alone, we are limited.
Spirituality has to do with Relationships
Spirituality has to do with relationships. Each of us has many relationships. I would like to draw your attention to four broad areas.