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Leaving the workhouse

A friend in Program says:

The workhouse was provided by the British Victorians as part of the solution to the problem of the destitute. Afraid that, if the poor and the homeless were merely fed and housed, they would remain happily idle all the time, these nineteenth-century philanthropists instead provided the very basics of life in return for forced labor by using the institution of the workhouse.

In one of the most famous scenes of Victorian literature, a little boy who has recently been taken into the workhouse enjoys his gruel so much that he takes his empty bowl to the master, holds it out, and says:

"Please, sir, I want some more." Which does not go down very well with the authorities.

When we first get acquainted with Program, we're like the children in that workhouse. Compared to the misery of where we've been, it seems like a pretty good place. But the first Steps of Program are not a place to stay, but merely a starting place. Steps 1 thru 9 are a preparation for the real business of living a spiritual life -- they're not somewhere to live. And yet many of us seem content to stay there for ever.

Eventually some of us come to see that, while the presenting issues of our addiction have gone, we're still living in a world of our own imagining. At some point it becomes unbearable, and we decide we want some more. That's when the daily, committed practice of the last three Steps can start; that's when we leave the workhouse.

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

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