Heaven Held Its Breath

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Lorna Kelly, reverently speaks about Bill W. when she tells the story of the time, she herself, visited the Mayflower Hotel in Akron, Ohio. This is the actual phone, still located in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel, that Bill used on the day that changed the world.

Bill had traveled to Akron for business. That day, Bill had met with other business men, hoping to score a deal and make some money. Sadly, the business went South, and Bill walked away from that meeting, dejected and depressed.

He stood in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel that day. Bill was sober. But was standing at the crossroads of his sobriety. His day was shot, and he had but one choice to make, between two extremes.

On one side of the lobby was the bar. The Easy Choice. The most logical, for most men.

Nikos Kazantzakis once said that “Always choosing the sure path is treason for the soul.”

On the other side of the bar, was the phone, and the church directory.

In that moment, the angels in heaven, must have been holding their breaths, wondering, “which way will he go?” “What is Bill going to do?”

The world did not know this innocuous situation would be as critical as it became.

Bill could have chosen the sure thing … The bar and a drink.

But Bill was sober. And he thought to himself, in that moment of desperation, that he needed another alcoholic. And in a moment, he turned, away from the bar, towards the phone.

Bill made several calls, none of which produced his desired intention. The last number he called was to Henrietta Sieberling. And it was Henrietta who sent him to the home of one Dr. Bob and Ann Smith.

Ann knew her husband had a problem with alcohol. And she tried in vain to try to get Bob sober, one way or another. In the end, it was a single conversation that ignited the spark that became the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Bill had once said that, “He needed Bob as bad as Bob needed him.” from ABSI, from tonight’s reading.

Bill arrived at the home of Bob and Ann. Bob, none to sure of what to expect, deigned Bill fifteen minutes and not a minute more. Bill walked in, with everything that he had. His story. His experience. And his own story of alcoholism.

It is in the telling of ones story, not dogma, not preaching, nor from ones ego, that we can reach another alcoholic.

Bill sat with Bob for more than six hours, that first night. In the end, Bill spent two weeks in the home of Bob and Ann, helping Dr. Bob get sober.

It was an easy sell, the basic premise of getting sober. The identification was there from the very beginning. But Dr. Bob was a little slow on the uptake, and sputtered and ground himself into the ground on a few occasions with bouts of drinking ending up on an errant sofa in the end.

That day, as Bill spoke with Dr. Bob about his own Experience, Strength and Hope, the fellowship began.

The Book reads: Dr. Bob’s Nightmare … Pg 171, the first story in the Book.

A co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The birth of our society dates from his first day of permanent sobriety, June 10th, 1935.

To 1950, the year of his death, he carried the A.A. message to more than 5,000 alcoholic men and women, and to all these he gave his medical services without the thought of charge.

In this prodigy of service, he was well assisted by Sister Ignatia at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, one of the greatest friends our fellowship will ever know.

Alcohol and drugs are the great equalizers. They do not discriminate.

Once one walks over the threshold of any meeting, we are all equal. And the cure for what ails us, is the experience, strength and hope of one another. The allergy of the body and the obsession of the mind, is solved, in spiritual principles.

Because at some point, somewhere, in that moment of indecision, the only thing that will stand between you and a drink, will be your Higher Power.

Gratitude week is always celebrated around the anniversary of Dr. Bob’s date of sobriety.

June 10th, 1935.

Monday: Words Matter

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Always be mindful of your words. Which words you use, How you use them, Why you use them, and to Whom you use them with.

It has been said that, “It isn’t important what you say, but how you made them feel.”

I never know, on any given day, if anyone I know, pays attention to anything that I say in any meeting that I attend. A very long time ago, I watched someone have a freak moment, when, after making coffee for a period of time, got resentful, and had an ego attack, because people did not verbally Thank Him, in person.

He, in the end, left that particular meeting, calling people who went to that meeting ungrateful. That was a long time ago. I survived him.

Doing service, is a thankless job. Nobody ever says thank you. Not that I’ve been waiting for someone to sing my praises for my ability to make a mean urn of coffee … Or notice that I am the one who sets up chairs and tables at several meetings, during the week.

Marcus Aurelius talks a lot about praise and living a simple and humble life. Not bringing attention to yourself, but also, being mindful of what you do in the world, to be a “citizen, a participant, and a good human being.” Always thinking of the greater good, when it comes to what we do in public. Praise is unnecessary, because in the end, all those people, you need praise from, will eventually die.

We will all die one day and return to The Logos, that which created us …

There are certain young people, I am aligned towards. The ones that I take special interest in, for one reason or another. They know who they are. For the most part, I keep a low profile. I may be the first one in the door, and make any particular room habitable for a meeting, but my service to my friends is something I do for myself. Because I was told that doing service was the best way to remain sober.

A few weeks ago, I told you the story about THE BEER IN THE BOX …

After hearing my young lady friend talk about that beer, that she was hell-bent on drinking, even though she was almost a year sober, I did two things.

Within the meeting, I shared a story I heard told by a WOMAN who was thirty-one years sober, when she, herself, faced a possible slip, and what she did to avoid it.

At the end of that share, I quoted Mother Teresa who said …
“Well Done, You must continue to protect your special gift …”

That gift was the woman’s sobriety.

The second thing I did was to give a simple suggestion.

We all know that sometimes when we talk, nobody listens. Because I know that over my time, I have offered suggestions to my friends, and they smile at me ruefully, as if to say, “Aw, he means well, but I have no intention of following anything he says to me …”

Been there, Done that.

But to my young lady friend, I told her to go home and write out what she was about to do, that would be … TO DRINK AGAIN.

Little did I know, something I suggested, would make all the difference to her, in the end. Because it was that particular exercise she employed, that KEPT HER SOBER.

Tonight she came to the meeting and proudly told me her solution.

She went to the graduation party with her friends. But before the event, she went on to Ebay and purchased a SODA, that was five years old. The age of the beer that was sitting in that box, she had intended to drink, at said party.

I had hoped that her friends, knowing she was sober, would have her best interests in mind when it came to her sobriety.

And I did ask her this question.

At the party, she drank the SODA and NOT the beer. However, her beer was opened, and everyone else, drank from it, so she would be included in the ritual formally.

My young lady friend did take her year chip and is still sober today. She will graduate in a few weeks, and then she is off to Peru, and finally to Seattle for work.

Sadly, she won’t be returning to Montreal.

You never know when something you say to someone will sink in for someone you are talking to, and make a serious difference in their lives.

I do my best for all of my friends.

Sometimes that goodness comes back to me ten fold.