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Only the beginning

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A friend in Program says:

It can be all too easy to see Program as a recipe. If we put the appropriate ingredients -- going to meetings, working the Steps -- into the mix at the appropriate time, we'll end up with recovery which comes with a warranty: admittedly, not a cast-iron guarantee, but something close to that, with a reasonable expectation of a decent standard of living, a certain amount of job security, good health for our children. From time to time we hear of people in Program who have added what seem to be the right ingredients and have followed the recipe, but who have encountered some significant reversal -- the death of a spouse, loss of a job. When this happens, we utter some talisman like, "There but for the grace of God," in an attempt to avert the same kind of tragedy for ourselves.

In this scenario, Steps 10, 11 and 12 become merely the icing on the cake we've so carefully baked. There's nothing really new in them -- they're just a repetition of the preceding nine Steps.

But those of us who have started to work those last three Steps meaningfully and on a daily basis discover the exact opposite. Far from being a recipe, the first nine Steps turn out to have been only a beginning -- the clearing away of the spiritual undergrowth, as it were. It turns out that the entire focus of Program is the last three Steps as an ongoing way of life. And that way of life comes with no security at all. There is quite literally nothing to depend on, because wanting and attempting to depend on something -- anything -- was in fact the root of our disease. Instead, it turns out that life must be lived just as it is, with its joys and sorrows, its gains and its losses.

"The spiritual life is never one of achievement:
it is always one of letting go."

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