When I was 17-years-old I was part of a youth group that travelled to Israel for three weeks. It was a great trip. We were able to travel around the country and were billeted in the homes of Israelis in a small town called Or Yehuda. My favourite part of the trip was a visit to the City of Jerusalem. We visited several sites within the Holy City including the Western Wall (aka: The Wailing Wall). This wall is the only thing left of the second temple after it was destroyed by the Romans. Thousands upon thousands of people visit this wall on a regular basis to pray to God. If you are ever able to visit this wall you will notice that there are millions of tiny pieces of paper shoved into the cracks of it. These are payers to God placed in it by visitors. I was no exception and placed my own note into the wall.
Once a Jewish male is Bar Mitzvahed he is allowed to take part in the ritual of praying while wearing tefillin (phylacteries), one on the forehead and one on the left arm. There was an Hasidic Jew praying at the wall the day I visited and he was placing tefillin on people who wanted to pray with them. I took full advantage of this offer. While placing the tefillin on me the Jewish man noticed that I had an earring. He advised me to, “follow faith not fads.” I blew off this advice and went on with my life.
Who could have known that 18 years later I’d be a hollow shell of a man who had lost faith in anything and crawled into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. As I began this journey in AA I came to believe in a power greater than myself and had faith that this power would, not only, help me to remain sober but would be a guiding beacon in my life – guiding me in both my thinking and my actions. As I went through the 12 Steps of recovery I learned that I could not find serenity in things outside of myself (fads included) but that I must find that inner power that my God placed within me in order to become happy, joyous and free.
Today I have faith that a power greater than myself is looking out for me and guiding me in this journey of recovery. I have not been lucky enough to return to Israel but am confident that I would have a new outlook on spirituality and faith if I ever do.
By the way, I still have the earing (actually two more). I also have a couple of tattoos – one the Hebrew symbol of life and one the Hebrew word for peace as well as my sobriety date.