300,000

It only takes one word, one story, or one action, to impact a life.

We don’t know, sometimes, that what we do, changes lives. We don’t know that something we said might have been the words needed, or the story, poignant, or the action necessary.

I heard it said tonight, “The More I help others, the More I see God.”

St. Matthias turned 71 years years old today, as the one meeting in Montreal, that has been in the same location for 71 years. The English fellowship began in 1945, in the home of Dave B. There were only a handful of men in those days. But from a few sprung more than a dozen, and that dozen turned into twenty five people.

In The Mid Nineteen Forties, the fellowship rented a room, at the Old Montreal Forum (right up the street from my home)  at a prodigious $10.00 a month. Pretty cheap as rent goes for a meeting in 1945. But, the alcoholics as they were, back in the day, enjoyed playing cards till the wee hours of the morning. I guess they needed someplace to be. I can identify.

Sadly, the Forum decided that playing cards till the wee hours of the morning was unacceptable, and tossed the merry sober bunch out onto the street. It was then in 1947 that the St. Matthias group began.

For Seventy one years, people have come through our doors. Calculating the numbers, by our matriarch tonight, she mused that probably, 300,000 people have walked through our doors.

Imagine, just for a moment…

Imagine, just for a moment, That somewhere in the endless reaches of the universe, on the outer edge of a galaxy of a hundred thousand million suns, deep within a cluster of slowly forming planets, that a small sphere of just the right size, lies just the right distance, from its Mother Star, cooling in the coldness of space, try to imagine … 

One of my lady friends drove us to the church this evening, with a car load of groceries, that had been purchased and put together, for tonight’s festive anniversary. With ten members, we dished out a smorgasbord of food, enough to feed over 100 people.

We had set out 140 chairs, and the excess back row at twenty. So 160 chairs.

Every seat was filled.

A few months ago, my lady friend told her story to us. I have said before that a segment of our women have serious death spiral stories, enough of a death spiral, that upon hearing said story, you would think, “there is no way she can pull out of this and survive.” But she and a handful of other women did just that. They survived, got sober and thrived !!!

Tonight, we were blessed to hear her husband share his story.

We don’t know, what we don’t know, when we show up. Bedraggled, and sullen, short on time, and short in temper. We don’t necessarily trust the people we have walked in on.

And we surely, may not be ready for the HUG. You know that HUG that can only come from a recovering alcoholic!

When we hear the words; Love and Support and Hope and Life, we might not believe with our own ears, what we are hearing. But I know, for me, and our man tonight, the people who were here, when we got here, said just those words to us, and to everybody else who came in after us.

They loved us, until we could love ourselves, beyond our wildest dreams.

Imagine, that if 300,000 people graced our little basement hall, ponder a moment the odds of just how many of them are still sober today.

That number itself would be sobering for sure …

At the end of the night, we did a Sober Countdown. With over 100 people sitting in the room, as a whole, when counted, we had collectively lived 938 sober years,, 78 months, 2 weeks and, 4 days as a whole.

Not many OLD, OLD timers come out much any more. And we did not see the really high number sober folks as in past years. But we hit some in the high 40’s.

In 52 days, by the Grace of God, I will hit Seventeen years of continuous sobriety. A good portion of those seventeen years has been spent, in our little basement hall, every Thursday night. I’ve been on Set up and Coffee for a long time. Our group is heavy on itinerant members who travel often for business and in the Winters, many of them migrate South for the season, so for those months, we fly by the seat of our pants, filling in all the jobs with a short crew of folks who are in town, on any given Thursday.

We aim to change those numbers, in the future.

We are trying to figure out a better way to carry the message, and get people to engage, as new members. We aim to raise our games when it comes to sponsorship and really working with newcomers.

The Twelve Step Rep job is a tough sell. We don’t see many folks come in the door, the first time, take a chip, THEN STAY …

However among us, those of us with TIME do stand up when called upon to represent the group, for both the women and the men. Not many people want to listen to me, or hear what I have to say.

Tonight, I was talking to a friend about her, and as soon as I turned the conversation onto me, she turned away, and began chatting with anyone standing around us, as if she had not seen them in ages, and needed to suddenly catch up.

I Noticed the snub … From someone I did not expect it from.

As the meeting closed, I did a cursory clean up of supplies and carried them to the kitchen for storage. Everybody was eating, and like I said, nobody really wants to hear me talk, so I took my leave, locked the outer door, and came home for dinner.

I enjoy the supporting role in a meeting. I don’t need to be up front at the table, I am more than happy to come in quietly and make some coffee and put out the chairs and supplies, so that when people arrive the coffee is ready and snacks are on the table to be eaten.

That is the most thankless job in the fellowship. And in as many years, I’ve seen a few alcoholics, have ego attacks and loose their cookies, in front of the meeting itself, pissing and moaning that nobody thanked them.

I survived all of them. Today.

A room ready to rock and roll, as the first guest arrives, usually guarantees that they will return, over and over again, because I make a MEAN POT OF COFFEE. Coffee that will keep you up past your regular bed time…

I know how I got sober. Just like I know how all the elder men and women at St. Matthias got sober. We did it the hard way. Working our asses off for each and every day of sobriety.

Sobriety is not easy. But the book does say that “We tried to find the easier softer way, but we could not …” The Fellowship IS the easier softer way, if only people believed us. First they have to Read the Book, and follow some simple suggestions.

And one day at a time, God willing … They too will get sober, in spite of themselves.

A good night was had by all.

300,000 people … Imagine that …

Sunday Sundries: Birthday Pre-Show

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Sometimes you just have to tell people to just “FUCK OFF !!!” My phone has been ringing off the hook, with a very needy, self-centered woman, who thinks I exist to serve her day and night as her beck and call boy.

NOT !!!!

I have a rule about reciprocity, if you fail this requirement, you loose …

I spent the balance of the day with my best friend, eating good food, and decadent desserts, at Jeanne Mance Park. Jeanne Mance Park is within earshot of Mount Royal Park, across Parc (road) where the Sunday Funday Smoke Some Weed and Play Your Drums, Tam Tam’s takes place weekly.

On our left was a badminton game going on. On our right, was a biker, who was smoking weed, he asked us for a light, with a huge DUBE in his hand. He didn’t ask us if we wanted to share, just a light, for himself.

Not that we would have partaken anyway.

You cannot go very far in Montreal, in the park system and not have to smell weed in the air all around you.

How often does your best friend come to Montreal to see you ? Not often enough. We pledged to change that. I will be going to Ottawa next month.

Good conversation was had.

On the way home, we stopped in a very dangerous shop. A RECORD STORE !!!

I haven’t seen a record player since I left the Night Club business some years ago. I knew records existed. But I have not owned a record player in more than thirty years.

But I bought three records for myself. Which means, I need a RECORD PLAYER …

Xanadu is self-explanatory. I have the music on my phone already. I remember, as a teen-ager getting both my parents to take me to see the film. I’ve seen it several hundred times over the years.

Level 42 needs a little bit more explanation.

When I was a young man, not yet twenty-one, I was working in a travel agency. I was the Manager of said agency at the time. Auspicious? Maybe, maybe not. It was a career that I could have prospered in. Save for the rampant alcoholism that was already present.

That particular year, business was especially good. Pan American ticket sales were through the roof, and we traveled as often as we could. First Class at that.

Because, who flew coach, when First Class Passes were handed out quarterly.

First stop was London, England. Don’t remember much of England. But I did some serious record shopping while I was there. I had a walk man in my carry on luggage and I shipped all my packages home, because we could not check luggage when traveling stand-by passes.

I bought a Level 42 Cassette of Running in the Family … Record Above …

I have a copy of that album on my phone as well. And I listen to it often. One particular cut on that album, “Children Say” has a sound that is reminiscent of trains over tracks.

Every time I listen to it, I can shut my eyes, and JUST make out a visual memory of the over night train we rode from Munich, Germany to Rome. It was an overnight, sleeper car journey.

I know both records I bought today. Just finding these little gems of records is sweet.

I could really do some damage, money wise, if I started collecting records again.

Which means, I need a player to play them on.

My best friend gave me a John Coltrane CD called Giant Steps.

I am told that it was one of his best creations, after he got sober. A little JAZZ to accompany my meditation practice.

Last year, or was it the year before, I got John Coltrane’s Love Supreme CD. He was still living in Montreal, before they moved to Ottawa. We used to sit on the deck out back, and listen to music, and eat fattening food and talk for hours upon hours.

Something I really miss today. And he came up for a concert on Friday, which coincided with my birthday quite nicely.

I’m really grateful.

In 4 hours … I will technically be 50 years old.