by Bill Watkins 9/26/2018
I was confirmed Catholic in a haze of “getting it done,” not quite hungover but certainly between hangovers.
My first memory of church was Dad’s legs, moving really fast. “Come on, kids! We’re late!” and he sped-walked up the boulevard to church. We followed, the rest of life pretty cool with lots of well-timed presents and stuff around to keep us entertained.
My first love went un-reported, as Proverbs 5:18 and Malachi’s 2:14’s Wife of your Youth was not much preached or cared for in our neck of the woods. Alcohol was everywhere, something I now see as a false god, along with college and anything else that distracts us from the straight, narrow path to Heaven.
I had no relationship with God or any kind of Higher Power until I went to an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center, where my sister had checked herself in in January of 1995. On February 7th of that year, in a small therapy group on the campus of the Betty Ford Center in Palm Desert, California:
I had a spiritual awakening.
It involved telling the truth. A black social worker named Lee Harris asked me in that group if I had a girlfriend, after asking me why I was “excited” to be there. Between those questions, he asked how my relationship was with my dad. “Loving? Affectionate?” I said “We hi-five and watch sports.”
So Lee asked if I had a girlfriend, and I looked left and right, saw a safe room—and admitted the truth to all there that I had Never had a girlfriend. My big secret. I had no intimacy in my life, no close friends. I played sports. I drank alcohol. And I pretended to believe in God at church, something impossible to accomplish without telling the truth.
February 7th, 1995
The scales lifted, the eyes clear.
Honesty, finally the truth at
twenty-two given with a tear.
“I’ve never had a girlfriend”
coaxed when the moment was right,
I let down my guards to finally
see the light.
You can’t be helped ‘til you ask
for it. You can’t ask ‘til safe,
I looked left and right before I
truth supplied and saw that it was all
right—I came out!!!
I was unhappy, even though I had
friends after friends coming to my
I was empty even though the trophies
and plaques on walls increased
and filled—attempted to fill, this would
have to be enough!
Spiritual Awakening—LORD, have me!
Done hiding it was safe to bloom,
and now, no more garden parties,
I separate the happy with the gloom
and see the world in poems—
I did not ask for permission and leave
another world behind: self-doubt, beer,
hollering around death, we put up
our hands at fear.
Trapped no more at Betty Ford
the 7th of February a.d. ‘95
ready to turn the boat around…
Trapped no more you want more
and more so ditch tomorrow for today.
They criticize you and analyze you
as you smile and accept today
From Betty Ford, I went into the Al-Anon program, for family members and friends of problem drinkers. Betty Ford had prescribed two meetings a week to all Family Program attendees like myself, but I’ll report here that I started out going about once every other week.
I limped into the meetings, learned about my perfectionism and people-pleasing, started to believe in a Higher Power—which at first was the unconditional love of my Al-Anon groups.
Later, my definition would expand, come back to the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and even the Native American Great Spirit.
My last conscious drink of alcohol was on March 6th, 2002. I now celebrate sixteen years of sobriety and growing health, after I almost died in two drug overdoses, 1999 and 2000. My drinking started on Dad’s lap at five—his last sip of bourbon on his lap. It was then that I let the Devil into my life.
I was blacking out with friends on the substance by age thirteen. Graduated Polytechnic School in Pasadena, California a full-blown alcoholic at age seventeen in 1990. I did well in the classroom and sports field, headed to the false god college without God, graduated, then found my way to Betty Ford, chronicled above…
Recently, I came back to the Church. My father passed away in December of last year; he used to attend mass every day, and I saw a vision of starting to go, to get out of the house, get started early and be of more service to other people and God. I’m glad I have decided to do this, despite the many problems I see in the Church.
For instance, where did YHWH go in the New Testament? LORD, all capitals? Weird, we go down to “Lord” in the New Testament, and everybody nods along, as if nothing strange is afoot. Many Christian churches call Jesus God, but I studied the Old Testament, saw an amazingly deep and convincing description of YHWH that would never accede to being watered down into anything else.
I love Jesus. A best friend with words from God to be sure! He teaches us to be as little children, truthful, and Loving!
A path to heaven is carved by the Word, and I love to study it and try to do what Jesus taught, along with obeying the ten commandments God gave to Moses for the Jews to follow. So, therefore, I consider myself a Judeo-Christian, and think all true Christians are that, including Catholics.
You can’t master the New Testament without obeying the teachings of the Jewish Torah. But then there’s that lingering continuity error, regarding “LORD” being reduced to “Lord.” By who? Jesus? His disciples? The Greeks who wrote the gospels down on paper?
YHWH is the real deal, as a Native American would say about the Great Spirit, both reflecting true power and the Great Mystery.
We speak of Jesus, forgetting the Father.
There was the Hebrew text, the Torah,
what Christians call the Old Testament.
In it there was a SACRED Name, no vowels,
all capitals, that WAS NOT TO BE UTTERED
OR USED IN ANY WAY IN VAIN.
Not casually dropped in a sentence,
but used in worship for specific prayers
YHWH. Do not use it in vain.
In English, someone decided to write
this sacred name with a vowel, we must
forgive them: “LORD.” All capitals, though,
do not forget that, those that interchange
Jesus with God, “LORD” with Lord, the small
case “New Testament” version.
The Father is the Father, the son is the son.
Jesus came with God’s word not pointing at
himself, but Up, at his Dad.
“Our Father, who art in heaven,”
prayed and taught us to pray, did
Jesus. Not “Our Jesus…”
YHWH. Do not use it in vain.
Power, lightning ending your life
in an instant. Giving, creating, the Creator
Do not forget the order… Do not forget
the Father. Respect the Power.
The Great Spirit
Once upon a wordless time,
the beat and pulse of the universe
created a ball of fire that became
People walked on it, when it was
less hot, battled big beasts for
control, then learned to get along
in different areas in different ways.
There were things all people had in
common; others so different that it
led to more battles and fighting,
It’s always a bit of a fight for peace,
for the good feelings that arise when
we stay quiet and let bad times
roll into good like thunder from
lightning, rainbows from the rain,
the waterfall cascading down as
a poem from the Great Spirit above.
The Great Spirit is the Native American
concept for God, higher power, a
supreme creator and director of all
things and beings.
Be quiet a while.
Listen, and if in a bad energy, find a good
one when you can.
Take a walk, and let your legs
guide you to the Peace that you need
to spark an idea.
Recall that it was a great spark that created
the earth, all of us humans starting
as the love between man and woman,
the universe the same.
“Something there is that doesn’t
love a wall,” said Robert Frost.
Something wants the wall to break,
if for no other reason to get humans
off the couch to with the Great Spirit
up and Co-Create.
Do not always do your first thought’s
dream. Wait, sometimes, for a second,
even a third before you decide with your
highest form of prayer or thinking.
Move your arms or dance as a sign
to the Earth and sky, and call things you
see names that make you feel a connection
I am a former Englishman, living in
My native name is Naked Horse, as
in a wild horse without a saddle—
running free and guided only by love
If you, too, live here, maybe you want
to look out for a native spirit name to
Whatever you want, you may ask
The answer will come in your dreams,
if not while you are awake, so
listen well, and smile as you play
I could write another piece called “The Confession of a Polytheist,” my upbringing all over the place, never centering on God. “School, Sports, College, Girls, There, Here, no there!” Anywhere but humble at the feet of one, unifying power.
The best sermon I ever heard our pastor give was about putting God in the center of your life. There are good elements to the Roman Catholic Church, it does get me out of the house, socializing and mixing with people. The singing and music can be pleasing—not just to us, but to God, as David showed us…
Church is a thing, like school, like any other place, a passion, a hobby or interest. If one wants to be spiritual and do the will of God, the work is private, the prayer best done between you and God. Jesus warned against public prayer, and promoted private moments between you and God—public prayer being rewarded with a slap on the back, private prayer rewarded by God Him or Herself in private.
Humility—knowing our place—will bring us all to oneness and Peace. The rough places will be made smooth, evolution works, but no good thing thrives without honesty. I plan to continue attending mass, trying to be of service where the Gospel is spoken, songs sung to please the LORD. I wrote this piece to tell the truth and inspire truth, knowing how powerless I am over so many things. Admitting that, we come to believe in a Power greater than us, see the glory in turning our will and lives over to that power.
May no person, place or thing get in the way of that Power, of our dedication to trying to know God’s will and carry it out. No doctor’s diagnosis, college, or anything not clearly God. Beware false gods; they are everywhere, tempting anyone not rooted and committed to the One.