There’s an old saying, “How do you know the difference between a weed and a flower? If you tear it out and it grows back by itself, it’s a weed. If not, it’s a flower.” That which comes without work rapidly develops beyond control, choking the life out of the very one who allowed it to grow. The fruits of real labor, however, are enduring and cherished.
Of course, we alcoholics and addicts know all too well how fast and easy payoffs come back to haunt us. But this pertains not only to our drinking days but to our recovery as well. Being a gift from God, sobriety is true good and thus requires real work. There is no “easier softer way” to come by a gift as precious and holy as spiritual, mental and emotional healing.
There’s an old parable about a man who brings his young son to the river in the middle of the winter to engage in the mystical practice of purifying immersion in water. The man cracks the ice with an axe then lowers the boy into the freezing water. The boy shrieks, “Eek!” The father pulls the boy up, wraps him in a blanket and the boy sighs, “Ah.”
“Anything in life that starts with an ‘ah,’ will certainly end with an ‘eek “Let this be a lesson to you, my son,” says the father, “immersing in the water is a holy ritual and so it starts with an ‘eek’ but ends with an ‘ah.’ Anything in life that starts with an ‘ah,’ is certainly not holy and will just as certainly end with an ‘eek.’”
This same idea is also expressed by the terrible descent in both vitality and health during our active addiction. Negativity has no real staying power. It is always in a course of decay. Any appearance of it having substance is but a show, set up to lure man into taking its bait. The realm of holiness, however, is eternal. Any changes within it are only in a manner of increase and ascent from level to level.
Our relationship with alcohol begins with it giving us much for very little but regresses exponentially until giving us less and less for a more and more of a price. Recovery, in contrast, makes hefty demands from the outset but grows increasingly precious as the days go on.