The phrase “spiritual awakening,” found in the Twelfth Step and throughout A.A. literature, remains daunting to many beginners. For some, it conjures up a dramatic “conversion” experience – not an appealing idea to an alcoholic just coming off a drunk. To others, beaten down by years of steady drinking, it seems completely out of reach. But for those who persevere, ongoing sobriety almost invariably brings the realization that – in some wonderful and unexpected way – they have indeed experienced a spiritual change.
Spirituality, A.A. style, is the result of action. Step Twelve begins, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps. . .”, and in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (page 106), Bill W. describes what happens: “Maybe there are as many definitions of spiritual awakening as there are people who have had them. But certainly each genuine one has something in common with all the others. . . .
When a man or woman has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of it is that he has now become able to do, feel, and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resources alone. He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being. He has been set on a path which tells him he is really going somewhere, that life is not a dead end, not something to be endured or mastered. In a very real sense he has been transformed, because he has laid hold of a source of strength which, in one way or another, he had hitherto denied himself.”
From; AA – A Newsletter for Professionals, Fall 2003