Step Four

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Dear Fellow Travelers,

Step Four Essay -- The Rose of Mari  @-}-}-

A good many of you know Mari, or who she is. She is the founder of the Recovery Group. She writes notes on WTS from time to time. She has a trademark, which is a rose. On our Recovery web site:, there is a page where she tells the story of her rose, which for Mari, means, "I love you." But a rose becomes a rose by the unfolding of a bud into the blossom. Even some mean little acorn may manage to become a mighty oak by the same process. Growth, unfolding, always reaching for the sun, but never being finished, at least not yet. We say progress, not perfection, then virtually all of us admit to some streak of doomed perfectionism. To be whole is to be in touch with the realities of our unfolding. If being whole were to be made perfect, we should all be frozen forever in that moment. Beautiful. But dead.

The Fourth Step simply asks me to look at what I do that hinders my unfolding. It may well be that one of the chief things I do is to try to put the blame on someone else. I may excuse myself as a survivor. I have done what I had to do. But today no one is molesting me. Today no one lifts a stick or strap to beat me. Yet I continued to respond to life as though these things were still a part of my reality. I have stopped my bud from unfolding -- at first, surely, to preserve it alive at all. But why now?

Now there is a bruise. It can become the initial sign of death, or an alarm that something needs to change. That something is me. It is not to late as long as there is still life, but we do have some sense of urgency, I think. Like this week I came down with flu, which is bad enough. Ran to the doctor. Blood pressure was 128/80. Not bad for an old man who is still a large person. That meant they could prescribe one of those new antiviral drugs. Temperature was gone in less than three days. For some time before 1993, had the drug been around, I couldn't have taken it. And I can only imagine how sick I would still be. Because I chose to unfold, wholeness spread throughout my life.

A fearless moral inventory does not mean that we will beat up on ourselves. That is insanity. It means that we can remove those devises we once set there to protect ourselves, knowing that together with our Higher Power we are never unprotected, just unblocked.

I haven't had a fit of rage in so long my wife is beginning to think I may be sane. Strange and emotional behavior keeps others off balance, me in control, and the rose only a closed bud. I am unable to say how staying unfolded differs from living in an enclosed box.

There is one other thing: Don't push. We are created to unfold, and become what we were designed to be. When we allow that to happen, all the energy of the universe is on our side. Things begin to happen. Like serenity, love, peace, joy. Just look at where the pinches are, and prepare for the next steps.

Finally, I have to add that I have had the help through much of my time from an excellent Twelve Step Counselor, who specializes in several addictions including food. If you think that might help you, I advise it. If you have symptoms of some disorder, depression or whatever, seek treatment. It can be lifesaving.

But look at the poor little bud. What is this spot from? Why a bruise here? Why am I still doing these things to myself? There are subsequent steps for us to deal with others. For now, look at the rose, the Rose of Mari. And see how unfolded you can become.


Love, John,
Step Leader WTS 2001 Study


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