Gather your chairs in a circle – Episode 116

unityA couple of weeks ago, at church, we honored our graduating high school seniors. The sermon that day was in the form of advice to those setting out into adult life. What caught my ear was the second point, to “gather your chairs into a circle.” What does this mean, and how does it relate to recovery?

  • We are in community when we “gather our chairs into a circle.”
  • We sometimes “turn our chairs away” and isolate ourselves, especially when life is hard.
  • I did this.
  • At most of my meetings we sit in circles or around a table, facing each other.
  • In our circle we are not alone.
  • In our circles we discover shared experience and share strength and hope.
  • So come into the circle, or find some others and gather your chairs into a new circle.

I also talked a bit about stress and how it has affected me recently. I have been putting my very busy work ahead of “the rest” of my life. When I come home, I just want to “veg”. I feel overwhelmed by all the things I have to do, and so I shut down and don't start any of them, because it's “hopeless” to think I could ever do them all. Which, of course, leads to guilt over not having done them. How am I working my way out? First and foremost, recognizing the problem. Admitting it, asking for help. “Doing the next right thing.” Shedding some responsibilities, and deciding what is most important, and putting that first.

In “my life in recovery”, I mentioned an episode of the podcast Podcast Answer Man, which touched me deeply.

Upcoming topics include worry, obsessive thinking, and some more Concepts of service. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Music from the show

Patty Griffin: Moses

Listen to why I chose this at All Songs Considered, “The Songs that Make us Cry“.

Gordon Lightfoot: The Circle is Small

Lion King soundtrack: The Circle of Life


2 comments on “Gather your chairs in a circle – Episode 116

  1. Karen says:

    Spencer- looking forward to the obsessive thinking and worry episodes. I’m a year into al anon, and those two things, plus the anxiety they produce, drove me to al anon seeking relief. The slogans such as Let Go and Let God, and Easy Does It, helped almost immediately as they can be repeated to myself, out loud if necessary. I have a sponsor and am currently working step 4. Today’s Blueprint homework included questions about Fear. I think my obsessive thinking usually starts with fear- such as when I can’t reach a loved one, or haven’t heard from a loved one in awhile. I am quick to leap to “no news is bad news” or the worst possible scenario to fill in the gaps. It seems to me that cognitive behavioral therapy and Al Anon have some of the same goals- to teach us to challenge the truthfulness and usefulness of our thoughts in very practical ways. The amount of time I have wasted on obsessive thinking, worry, and minding everyone else’s business is phenomenal. I have so much more time now! Thank you for the podcast and for your sustained commitment to it, what a great contribution. Blessings to you and your family.. Karen

  2. Brian says:

    Dear Recovery Show,

    Slowly catching up with old episodes. Finished Episode 85 – Alcoholism – this morning on the way to work. Listened to 116 last Thurs – I check for a new episode every morning. Appreciate the message of community in the episode. I led a meeting a few weeks ago on, “Let it begin with me.” I thing that creating community in your life is essential to recovery. It’s the slow formation of trust and relationships through recovery and Al Anon that have helped me get out of my head and on the road to recovery. I think that it is an “act as if,” thing too; you have to trust in the program, so that you can trust people, so that you can build relationships, so that you can hopefully find serenity and recovery.

    Went to a great meeting last night on honesty. I felt a lot of relief from hearing I was not the only one who had problems being honest with myself! Some of the shares spoke about how working Step 4 brought self-honesty to the person’s life for the first time. I’m not there yet, but was wondering what other people’s experience was on the subject?

    On the comment above about fear, p. 172 in Courage to Change – Courage is fear that has said it’s prayers. That really hit me when I read it.

    Thanks for being the meeting in my pocket!


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