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Since its 2004 inception in Baltimore, Maryland, Chronic Pain Anonymous has offered a heartening response to sufferers around the world who embrace the gentle discipline of 12-Step recovery. Social media and word of mouth spread this spiritual approach to the afflicted, often shunted from one doctor or health care practitioner to another. Experience subsequently led to the inclusion of chronic illness as it, too, exacerbates mental, emotional, and spiritual disorders that worsen physical pain.

Fifteen years have passed, with anonymous members reflecting upon their cumulative knowledge; from these efforts emerged Recipe for Recovery – A Guide to the Twelve Steps of Chronic Pain Anonymous. Its founder Dale L. articulated its premise to read: “…based upon faith, humility, and the ability to turn over problems of our life to a greater power, without trying to control or direct the outcome.”

This guidebook is necessarily slim to accommodate the limited energies of its readers. The recipe motif works well: a list of Ingredients (virtues) critical to working each Step opens each chapter, followed by the Description (photo of the desired product), the Directions (the work involved) followed by Questions (to be written), and What It Looks Like (members’ practice of the Step). Of necessity, the words are sparse, though not without affording a spiritual wallop.

Daily meetings, via phone, Skype, and Zoom continue forging this spiritual fellowship through which Higher Power transforms psyches: Life is still full, despite physical affliction.

A member since September 2017, I depend upon this gentle discipline, underscored by daily phone contact with my sponsor. Within each twenty-four hours, I remain largely content as I wait out my time.

 

 

It seems that unquenchable fires besmirch social media, crisp psyches of world leaders, and incinerate trusted values, that planet Earth is afire. Dulled by decades of saber rattling, of “limited” wars, of police in riot gear and protesters hitting the streets, of arrests and imprisonments and torture, these clashes seldom shock—just more of the same. Yet, violence continues stalking the unaware, sucks them into the security of the humdrum within which addictions proliferate and jam emergency rooms.

No amount of intelligence gathering seems to stem this escalation. No amount of special committees, with more than ample funding, produce effective strategies. No amount of prayer vigils with tears, flickering candles, flowers, and Teddy bears stay God’s hand over this mayhem. Always, there’s more.

But there’s another way to look at this deadly scenario. We know that firefighters fight fire with fire. We must do similarly, but first we must uncover our instinctual fires, burning within shit-piles, hidden within our unconscious; then name them: pride, anger, greed, sloth, envy, gluttony, lust, and envy; then, own their domination over our thoughts and choices; and then, practice restraint—a tall order, to be sure.

Despite this malady endemic to the human condition, there is help.

Jesus cried, I have come to cast fire upon the earth and what would I but that it be enkindled (Luke 12:49). This purifying fire requires clamping firefighters’ protective gear around our spirits and consciously setting to work on our stuff. That’s the rub. It’s a rough discipline, but the only path toward harmonious living with others. It works. It just takes practice…

 

 

Available on Amazon

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