One morning, two monks were walking in silence across the countryside and came to a wide river. A woman was standing there, too frightened to attempt to cross. The first monk lifted her up and carried her across the water, setting her down on the other side. The monks then continued their silent journey as the sun first rose in the sky and then gradually sank towards the horizon.
Suddenly the second monk burst out: "I can not remain quiet any longer! Our order most strictly forbids our even talking to a woman. You have done far worse: you have touched a woman, lifted her up, held her to yourself and carried her across a river!"
The first monk looked at him and said mildly: "I only carried her across the river. You have been carrying her all day."
Step 10 is there to help us deal with the weight of our judgement of other people. First comes the feeling of anger and resentment. Then comes the temptation to visit and re-visit the feeling -- as someone once observed, "The only way to keep a resentment alive is to nurse it." And then -- sooner or later -- comes the action, and it's always an undesirable action, isn't it?
A measure of how well we're doing with Step 10 is how long we carry the weight of the feeling before turning the light of Step 10 on it. Before we came into Program we could carry these feelings for years. Steps 4 through 9 helped us deal with those; but we're still tempted to take on new resentments and carry them for hours, perhaps days. And that is why we are urged to practice Step 10 constantly -- as the second monk in our story presumably did not. We cannot help the feeling; but we can make it an ongoing practice to follow the feeling with a Tenth Step instead of some precipitate and regrettable action.
"The spiritual life is never one of achievement; it is always one of letting go."