As I sat here meditating, waiting for a sign from God, some direction for what to write, my attention was captured by the sound of geese flying low overhead. Their distinct honking is easy to recognize.
I’m a sucker for watching geese fly, so I looked up and saw it. That distinct “V” shaped formation, the trademark shape of a flock of geese in flight.
As they flew past, the honking became more pronounced, as it appeared several were honking at each other. Before long, the “V” was in chaos. It was time for a “shift change” among the flock. Time for the geese who had been leading to fall back in line. Time for fresh recruits to take the lead, literally taking the point position at the front of the “V”.
It’s a natural occurrence in a flock of geese. The aerodynamics of long distance flight are demanding, even on these birds that are in a daily marathon of migration. The birds at the front of the “V” help cut a path through the air with less resistance for those geese behind them. By doing so, the long flight becomes manageable.
There is no discrimination, all geese get their turn at the front of the line. Yet, when that change just occurred in front of me, there was momentary chaos. A squabble appeared to be taking place, as each bird figured out what its place would be in the flock for the time being.
The squabbling lasted only a moment. Before long, the birds had once again formed their neat “V” formation, and continued on their journey north.
To these birds, the “V” shaped flock is not a matter of faith. Rather, it is a matter of instinct. Perhaps even a matter of life and death. They know that none of them is capable of making the long journey alone. Migration is no place for them to prove their prowess. It is the ultimate example of teamwork.
As an addict seeking change in my life, I had a decision to make about in who and what I would place my faith. Once introduced to the program of Narcotics Anonymous, I had to decide. Would I continue placing my faith in the drugs, hoping to somehow find what I was looking for in them? Or would I put my faith in God, NA, the steps, spiritual principles, and a group of fellow addicts seeking recovery?
I fought that decision for a good little while. Like a goose who wanted to migrate on my own, I fought the idea of joining the flock. My diseased brain tried to convince me that being part of the flock was a sign of weakness, defeat even.
On top of that, I could look at the flock and see constant squabbling. Different factions elbowing for position at the front of the “V”. Unlike the flock of geese, which seems to sort out their differences quickly, I witnessed age-old resentments played out at meetings. People wrestling their way to the front of the line, trying to dominate meetings and events.
Could I really trust this flock? Was it worthy of my faith? It seemed so unruly. Even worse, it seemed like a place where my own ego might run rampant. Maybe I should elbow my way to the top.
Unbridled ambition may not be the opposite of faith, but the two are definitely in opposition to each other. I was reminded of this fact as I tried to bully my way into being noticed. In honesty, my early efforts in NA were as much about being noticed as they were recovery.
I saw the people who seemed to be at the front of the “V” and mentally drew bullseyes on them. I saw them as targets, and wanted to knock them down.
As you can imagine, my attitude led to a lot of squabbles. These squabbles were never productive. They were simply harmful, to me and to NA unity.
Our traditions address unity, making it clear that we cannot survive without it. Today, I’m an advocate for discussing the traditions in NA meetings. Our literature says that they only work as the result of understanding and application. They are neither dull nor boring, and certainly not beyond understanding.
It wasn’t until I began to understand and apply them that my recovery began to take root in my life. My faith turned to God, NA, the steps, spiritual principles, and my fellow recovering addicts. My faith in the NA team replaced selfish ambition.
As my focus shifted, I began to see results. My recovery became more about finding a new way of life, and less about being seen as a leader or one of the cool kids.
Like the flock of geese, there are still those moments of chaos that tempt me to abandon faith. Moments when it appears I could and should follow ambition rather than seek recovery. However, those moments have grown shorter. I am learning to yield to faith. Learning to live by faith.
Have a remarkable day!