Earlier this year the General Service Office (GSO) of Alcoholics Anonymous in New York, NY published guidance on “Safety in A.A.”. The paper was entitled "Safety and A.A.: Our Common Welfare". Printed on January 25, 2017, this paper laid out the A.A. philosophy and helpful suggestions for keeping A.A. groups safe.
So you’ve been asked to bring a meeting into a facility. Congratulations! What an honor and privilege it is to be involved in service. As it states on page 89 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous:
“To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends--this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.”
This simple phrase I’ve been hearing since I walked into the rooms of recovery. Today I realize it means just as much to me now as it did when I couldn't stop obsessing over a drink.
Have I told you about the sponsor that I am fortunate to have at this time? Well, I will now since I am still deeply touched by our conversation last night.
I was blessed with a wonderful sponsor, George, for years, but then he died four years ago. I grieved him mightily and, after about four months, I realized I was limping along in my recovery without a sponsor. I was finding it easier to skip my home group, easier to breeze through my tenth step at night. I began to pray for the grace to both want a sponsor and to know who that might be. In the quiet of my prayer what I heard was “Bob.”
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, I attended open AA meetings for 13 years without figuring out that I was an alcoholic. This was odd, because I seemed to have a natural affinity for alcoholics and other addicts. As a pastor, I had conducted more interventions than anyone else in my town. Many evenings, I brought people to detox, and then sat up late at night learning about this disease. I taught college and graduate school courses on addiction without figuring out that I was an alcoholic and addict. I went to twelve step meetings because I really wanted to be with the people. My home group tolerated me well, because it was an open meeting. Occasionally I’d overhear someone whispering “He almost admitted it,” but I never did.