A core aspect of this vision, that I believe can be applied to systems as much as individuals, is that recovery, as an organizing paradigm, is about Restoration and Transformation. Allow me to expand this topic, with assistance from a favorite spiritual teacher, Richard Rohr.

In our duality-driven, either/or, win/lose, scarcity-not-abundance, retribution NOT restoration mind-set (My God, have you listened to these political campaigns?) we lack true recovery. Retribution appeals to the ego, Grace/transformation/recovery appeals to the soul. I’m not saying the ego is “bad”. In a healthy, actualized world, we all still have an ego, but unchecked ego is pure self-will and leads to grandiosity and always leave us unfulfilled. The biggest rock band in the world’s biggest # 1 hit was “I can’t get no satisfaction.” The anthem of our time.

Healing = movement toward wholeness and vice-versa. Ultimately, recovery always includes Grace – and Grace always brings abundance, not scarcity. A saying you hear around 12-Step is, “Religion is for those wanting to get into heaven and recovery is for those who’ve already been to hell.” This is not remotely anti-religion, just a way to lovingly portray the truth of transformation. Love is not there if and when I change, Love is there so I can change! Anybody can change given the chance. “No addict seeking recovery need ever die!” is a fact. Believe it. I’m living proof – and many, many others are too.

Recovery illuminates meaning for our human suffering, it shows us what to do with our pain, with the absurd, tragic and nonsensical injustice we see in the world. We transform and transmute our pain, so we do not transmit it. The “blessings” of all become evident and our wounds become sacred. Our wounds are sacred. All of life is sacred. This brings hope, purpose and direction. Our hurts become home to our greatest hopes. This renewed and implanted hope washes away the cynicism, bitterness, many -not necessarily all- resentments and nihilism. The soul cannot live without purpose and meaning, but shines with it. Science itself affirms and reports that everything in the universe is deeply connected. There is no such thing in the whole universe as autonomy. It doesn’t exist. Our cultural indoctrination that promotes this illusion of separation, coupled with a lack of soul purpose, supplies the nutrients that feed the very roots of the rampant rates of loneliness, addiction, depression and suicide we see.

All of this demands we change (and change is the word that most represents recovery). It’s easy to be cynical in this world. The transformation of recovery and release from cynicism compels and demands action, advocacy and activism. We live happily while advocating for change. Individual advancement is incomplete without the social connection that activist change brings about. Think globally, act locally.

As we see the whole, we create “wholeness”. Mistakes make sense and are used in our favor. Life is a school and mistakes become our supreme teachers. Hope compels us forward even into Mystery. Honest Abe Lincoln said something like, “The winner feels good, but the loser is smarter.” People who have the gifts of faith, hope and love are indestructible. In the beginning this process is scary. Powerlessness, vulnerability and surrender are SCARY! Surrender goes against everything our culture teaches. All of this demands we detach and observe and change our own thinking which certainly demands humility. Taught by the dark, we only need enough light to be able to trust the darkness. A little bit of humble courage and I do not need to be absolutely certain before I take the next right step.