4. “God grant me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I cannot change.”
My 12 drawings of the Serenity Prayer were not created in any certain order. The 1934 Websters dictionary sat on my desk for months and I was not very methodical when choosing which word to look up next. At that time, I was not really convinced there would be twelve suitable words in the prayer. The word “Accept” was a good case in point.
The definition: “Accept v. to receive with an assenting mind”.
Here was a good, solid description that contained nothing out of the ordinary. It seemed I had found a definition which added absolutely nothing to my understanding of the Serenity Prayer.
Then the word “mind” caught my eye. One of the defining characteristic of an alcoholic (and by extension any addict) includes a certain insanity of the mind (Big Book of AA, p. 37). In my own recovery, I knew that the remedy required my making a dramatic personality change with the help of a Higher Power. Part of that change would surely require that I receive new ideas with an assenting mind.
It was hard to imagine an illustration showing an assenting mind; I wasn’t at all sure what that would look like. As I sometimes do when brainstorming, I tried to image the mirror opposite of the idea—a mind that rejected everything coming towards it…..like an umbrella fending off raindrops. That seemed like a good comparison, but it did not help me.
I needed a rain acceptor, not a rain rejector! What would a rain acceptor look like…a gutter on a house? Nah. That gutter notion caused no stirring in my heart. (While sober, I pay close attention to my instincts, because my heart is my best instrument for getting closer to the Higher Will.)
Then it hit me. Acceptance is meaningless without the ability to reject. Acceptance can only exist if the option to reject is also present. I cannot really say “yes” unless I truly have an option to say “no”. So, I flipped my “rain rejector” upside down in my mind. There it was…..
A rain ACCEPTOR!
I quickly started sketching and soon I was looking at the most improbable drawing I had ever created; a man, leaning out a window and turning his open umbrella upside down so he can collect raindrops. The end-result was an unexpected scene, but not an implausible one. It was something I could easily imagine seeing someday, no matter how unlikely. Although I am the creator of the drawing, I do not know why anyone would do this; I must accept such little mysteries the same as you.
This drawing reminds me of how I decided to take something I used my whole life—my mind—and turned it toward a completely new purpose. It went beyond intellectualism and took root somewhere in my own spirit. The change I had hoped for was possible…. I could change….. I could BE changed.
I am an ordinary person. But having this small miracle worked upon my insane mind was extraordinary.