Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Koan: Put out that fire across the river.
It takes courage to be a fire fighter, and courage as we know, is the principle of Step Four.
As I was sitting with this koan, it was my past, my selfish actions that became the fire. I became the Fire Captain. My job was to put out the fire of my past that burned inside me.
Searching is the first thing we do. I had to first notice that there is a fire, then go out and find it. Then there’s the process of getting to what’s burning inside. This can take some time, time in reflection.
The river could be considered a barrier of sorts; what is this river anyway? I had to figure out how to cross it. Do I swim across alone? Do I ask for help from others to make it across?
Then, upon reaching the other side I must assess the fire. Actually it turns out to be many fires. Some are little spot fires; others are much larger and growing. I realize that they are all growing. Step 4 is about seeing that I don’t add any more fuel to my fire. There are ways to reduce the fuel load right now. Already the fire seems a bit under control by doing this.
But how do I put it out? Step 4 is the fire fighting, the process of putting out all these fires and keeping the fire from spreading. It takes courage to grub out all those potentially dangerous embers. I think we’ll have to wait for Step 5 for the fire to be put out.
We had twelve people attending last Friday, and as usual, the koan took us in many directions:
- The fire was my anger and resentments on the shore of the River of life.
- OK God, this is a serious directive … to put out the fire…please help me with this Fourth Step, I can’t find the fire.
- The fire…ashes…the Phoenix rising from the ashes…my rebirth.
- I need help to get this fire out.
- Responding without questioning this? Who is this anyway, telling me to put the fire out?
- In this river of recovery, it took me a while to put my toe in the river…then I found myself swimming and the fire went out!