When I was walking home from the Al-Anon meeting Monday night, I realized I had a lot of respect for the people who gathered there. Not that everything they said was so deep or spiritually mature; many seemed to be beginners in the spiritual life. I think what impressed me was their seriousness about it. They came knowing they desperately needed help and so were very focused on what was real and true and good for them in the spiritual teaching being offered.

Of course that's what any prayer meeting or bible study should be like. But most of the ones I've experienced aren't like that. People come for something interesting to do, like a hobby. Like a book club. Or they come because it's seen as "spiritual" or "virtuous" and respected.

Twelve step groups, on the other hand, are not considered respectable. It's actually pretty humbling to go, because most people don't think highly of those "in recovery." But they need it so much they go anyway. They're not deterred by what others might think of them, they're just desperately trying to find the healing they need. That's the kind of spiritual seeking that I really respect.