by Marc and Julie Anderson
TOPEKA — For Tim Meier, a member of St. Theresa Parish in Perry, the path to a strong prayer life took an unexpected turn 28 years ago when he checked himself into a treatment program.
There, he found the strength to take a different road, one he had previously abandoned.
A cradle Catholic, the 62-year-old Meier attended Catholic schools through high school. His prayer life consisted of prayers said in school, at Mass, at a parish rosary or grace before family meals.
Over time, he stopped praying and going to Mass altogether. And he turned to alcohol.
In 1988, he realized he needed help. With family support, Meier entered a treatment program. There, he found what he’d been missing — a prayer life.
Upon arrival at the facility, he looked at the wall where the Twelve-step program was listed.
“You realize there’s some spirituality to the program,” Meier said.
In fact, the second and third steps encourage people to believe in a power greater than themselves and to turn their lives over to God.
One of the first prayers Meier encountered was the Serenity Prayer, which reads: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
“That was a daily thing,” said Meier. He often prayed it several times a day on his own.
And every Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in which he participated (sometimes five or more a week) began and ended with that prayer.
For five years, Meier prayed the Serenity Prayer in the morning and attended at least one daily meeting. At night, he made a moral inventory of how he had done that particular day before praying the Serenity Prayer one last time. Comparing it to an examination of conscience, the moral inventory helped him to identify specific behaviors that, if left unchecked, might lead him down the wrong road.
Between 1993 and 1997, Meier said, he didn’t keep up the routine as much as he probably should have.
Then, his dad, one of his heroes, died.
“I realized I needed to protect my sobriety, and I wondered how to do that,” he said.
Around that same time, his family moved and started attending St. Theresa Church in nearby Perry.
“And you have to realize, I hadn’t been going at all,” said Meier. But that soon changed, and he and his family returned again and again.
Eventually, he joined the choir, where he found a new place to pray.
In fact, Meier enjoys singing so much that he often finds himself “singing” the words of the “Ave Maria” or whatever “Gloria” is in season as he’s going to sleep.
By “singing,” he said, the words flow in his mind, and he finds himself able to quiet himself for the night.
Nowadays, Meier serves as a sponsor in an effort to help others find the same peace he now enjoys.
“The Twelve-step program is a beautiful, well-thought-out plan that anyone can do,” he said.