Saturday, February 16, 2008

Serenity Prayer

Poem in it's entirety:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen. --Reinhold Niebuhr (Friedrich Oetinger?)

I have the above picture hanging in my bedroom, a treasured gift from a dear internet friend. This beautiful poem is the foundation for recovery in AA. If we can grasp those first three lines, and live them fully, we have a chance at a meaningful recovery. Interestingly enough, this poem may or may not have been written by Reinhold Niebuhr, though he is always credited for it. He himself gave credit to Friedrich Oetinger, an 18th century theologian. The story goes that a member of AA brought the poem to our founder, Bill Wilson, and it went from there as they had it printed on cards. Perhaps the member was actually Niebuhr, and somehow the finder became the author in AA lore. Since Niebuhr denied authorship, I think it's likely that he was a true devotee of the steps, going along with the need for rigorous honesty, rather than claiming the praise for it himself. This would be a admirable example for us all.

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