Friday Night

My friend Jacob, in his Rocket Tights from LED Queens. I have a pair myself.

Tonight we had a great discussion about One Day at a Time.

And I thought to myself, how crazy my life once was. This being July and all, and I reflect on my life, as it turned out. From what it began as twenty five years ago. Then I was age 26.

When I got sick, I could not focus my thoughts, until I learned how to do that, thanks to Todd. I relate this story, as it happened.

The week I was diagnosed, I had gone to the store and bought poster board squares. I plastered them to my kitchen wall, and drew out a calendar, for three months. I numbered the months, as usual. And I began counting the day until I was supposed to die.

I had 576 days … according to my doctor.

I was waiting to die. This was even before I got suicidal. And that episode go me into recovery, at Todd’s insistence.

His lover, Roy, was my first sponsor. He came over the house one day and saw my calendar on the wall, and asked me what I was doing ? I told him, “counting the days until I die…”

He stepped into the kitchen and ripped the calendar off the wall and tore it up into pieces. He then said, You are not going to do this.

When he left, I went out and bought more poster board, and did it again, the same reaction happened. I then did it a third time. And once again, he ripped them down off the wall.

Over the next eighteen months, Todd taught me focus and control. He gave me a method to cope. And it worked famously.

I lived.

But, for the longest time, I was living with one foot on the floor, and the other on a banana peel. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, because, I was still waiting to die.

I was sick for a long time. But I felt that my suffering was salvific. And that if God has a sense of humor, he would not let me die, miserably, like all of my friends did.

I lived.

The change happened, I reckoned tonight, about the ten year mark, that would have been in 2004. I was already living here in Montreal, and my doctor treated patient Zero, the French Flight Attendant.

He promised me life. A good life. If I followed his direct orders, which I followed dutifully.

I guess, at some point, in this sober time period, I was more consumed with staying sober, and not thinking about Dying.

My Higher Power was working for me. God, that is …

I stopped waiting to die. Finally.

In the last eighteen years, my life got BIG. And my life got good. At the thirteen year mark, going into fourteen, all 12 Promises had come true, Albeit, very slowly. But they did.

A friend said, tonight, that the main ingredient for a good life in sobriety, all has to do with one thing… GRATITUDE.

He said that if you can be grateful every day, you will stay sober. Despite yourself.

I concur.

Spiritual awakening happen at the oddest times, and we don’t necessarily realize what they are until they are in the rear view mirror and you have some hindsight behind you to look back and say …

Oh Yeah, that WAS a GOD moment, wasn’t it …

Grateful.

Gratitude

Sobriety tells us that one thing will change, when we come in. Sobriety says that the only thing that will change is EVERYTHING.

I know, for me, that it was only time that would turn my life into what it is today. Back then, telling someone to buckle up and ride the coaster until it stops, people usually got it.

Now, in today’s I-Phone world of I want it NOW, and quite possibly, could you give that to me, YESTERDAY ? That’s what we deal with today.

Telling my friends to buckle up and ride the coaster does not translate very well, in the climate where, we can get it NOW, at just a few clicks.

I have really great friends. People who love me for me, and I love them for them.

Today, people are kind to me, just because. I put myself out there, here, and because of that, the universe gave me a gift of kindness from a perfect stranger, who read something I wrote here.

While I was writing the post that appears below this one, for the kindness on its way to me tomorrow, I got two phone calls.

A few months ago, I met a young man, fresh and raw. He was days sober. And he was at one of my home group meetings.

That night, he came into an empty room, as I was sitting there, alone with him. He got down on his knees and prayed the OH GOD Prayer …

Those words are simple … OH GOD I NEED THE PROMISES NOW.

I did not know this young man. But I was present for the prayer. That night a relationship began, and still goes on today. He had lost his girl friend because of his using. He just lost a job that was his life, because the mall that housed his business, raised the rent to a level that they could not possibly afford. Overnight, they moved out and the business never recovered.

With days of sobriety under his belt, I said a few words to him.

Buckle up and ride the coaster until it stops.

What he did have that many don’t, was someone to ride the coaster with him, until the ride stopped.

The first phone call I got this afternoon, was from that same young man. At 6 months and a little longer, he had applied for a job, out of province. That recovery business, hired him on the spot. He called to tell me he was moving away in a few days time.

The conversation continued. And he said this, after while: I really appreciate your support, and I value your friendship, and I commented to him that in the beginning it was he who opened the door to our friendship, and that it would be up to him to shut it.

He then said:

What door, there is no door, I ripped it from the hinges.

Now I will be traveling to Nova Scotia to visit him once he gets settled and finds a good place to live where he can host guests.

He rode the coaster, good and bad, tough and easy. Finally the coaster has pulled into the station. Tonight, we got off the ride together.

Really grateful for people in my life. And for the kindness of strangers.

The second phone call was from another good friend who only had good things to say to me about his life. We’ve been friends since the very first meeting he walked into. I’ve been present for both of these men, 100%.

Sobriety is not easy. but when grace comes and settles in, life gets really good, and the only thing I can say is this …

If it were not for the rooms, I would not have everything that I have.

It came on God’s time, not mine.

And I am not God.

Thank God.

Gratitude !!!

When Hope Fails …

This piece was written by my Spiritual Director. I wanted to share it, AND write on this subject, because I have experience with Hope.

When Hope Fails

I was talking with someone who has decided not to hope any more. “Why?” I asked. “Because when the hope is unfulfilled, it hurts too much, so it’s better not to hope.”

There’s something wrong with that. But I understand it.

Proverbs 13:12
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.”

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
“but when dreams come true, there is life and joy”

I want to talk about hope a bit today. And I want to start in the Psalms.

Psalm 33:13-22
13 The LORD looks down from heaven
and sees the whole human race.
14 From his throne he observes
all who live on the earth.
15 He made their hearts,
so he understands everything they do.
16 The best-equipped army cannot save a king,
nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
17 Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory– for all its strength, it cannot save you.

God has a wonderful perspective of us and our little things. Nothing is hidden from his eternal, creating eyes.

He is able to see the whole human race, every heart, every mind, every one of our thousand secrets.

He’s able to see your motivations, that indeed you meant well even if it didn’t come out as you had hoped.

He created the hearts of men and women, to beat and beat and beat and give them life and breath. And Hopes and Dreams.

So, it says, “He understands”. Like no one else in creation.

He understands our desires. He understands our wishes. He understands our hopes. He understands our dreams.

He understands, and wants to remind us that sometimes our perspective isn’t great. Sometimes we can only see from here to the other side of the room. He see’s into eternity.

See, we often place our hope in the wrong things.

He reminds us…
A powerful army isn’t strong enough for a king. A good horse won’t give you victory, it can’t save you.

Strength won’t save us, neither will might.

The health system, blessed as we are to have it, won’t save us.
The government can’t save us.

We place our hopes in these powerless things.

We hope in due process. In the legal system.
We hope in our money, to provide a way out.
We hope in others to help us out.
We hope a relationship will work out.
We hope for a great job.
We hope in our children to make the right choices.
We hope for great presents.
We hope in our parents, to be perfect.
We hope that the pastor will have some answers.
We hope to roll up the rim and win!

Yet John 16:33 says “In me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Take Heart!

What happens when our strength isn’t enough? When our armies fail and our warhorses are not enough? What happens when hope fails and is deferred?

Lets continue in Psalm 33

18 But the LORD watches over those who fear him,
those who rely on his unfailing love.
19 He rescues them from death
and keeps them alive in times of famine.

Remember the one who’s perspective is from eternity?
The one who see’s everyone, who knows your heart?

He says he will watch over those who respect Him.

Those of you who rely on his unfailing love.
He will rescue you from the anguish of death. He will keep you from eternal death, and provide you with eternal life.

And, he will keep you as you live through seasons of famine. Not just physical hunger, but emotional hunger, spiritual dryness.

He won’t always stop the famine from coming, but he is able to keep you alive through it!!!

He won’t always stop the illness, or the poverty, or the joblessness, or the dryness. But he can keep you alive through it.

He will walk with you through the hopelessness. Through the heartsickness of unanswered hope.

You see, often we place our hopes in the things that can’t save us. In the temporary things that we can’t change. In our power and might.

We may even place our hope in Christ to change the story, the situation, yet that may not be the very best for us.

When our hope is deferred…
When it feels like God has not heard us…

We have 2 choices.

1. Get bitter
-Get angry. At God and humanity. And yourself.
-Never hope again because it always fails you anyway.

Or

2. Trust in God. Refocus your hope.

Remember, the one who loves you, who knows you, who made you.
When hope fails, we need to raise it up a level.

PSALM 33
20 We depend on the LORD alone to save us.
Only he can help us, protecting us like a shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we are trusting in his holy name.
22 Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.

When our only hope is in man’s strength and ability, and that fails, it means we’ve been aiming to low. We need to lift our focus higher.

Only He can help us. Only He can protect us as life goes on all around us.

Because our hearts rejoice in him. They find life and meaning in knowing Him.

A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of a friend who had been ill for some time.
1970’s heart attack. Heart disease for years.
Put on a heart transplant list, became too ill for that.

As he was dying, and his human hope was deferred a final time, he was able to rejoice and be glad. Because he knew the one who knew him. He trusted in God and his heart rejoiced.

For his family too. The funeral was a real, true celebration of hope. And Gods faithfulness through life and in death.

This is how it is possible for those who have experienced tremendous brokenness and hopelessness, to actually rejoice and be glad. Because they knew the maker of their hearts.

Where is your true hope? In the things of this earth? Or in the things of Heaven?

Have you had hope deferred, even by God? He who knows and created your human heart understands.

Lift up your eyes, your broken hearts.
Trust the one with the higher perspective. Trust in God.

This is my story about HOPE.

When one is faced with a terrible situation, and the end of the line is your next stop, one really learns about hope. When we are faced with odds that are against us, we learn about hope. When doctors tell you that you are going to die, go home, kiss your ass goodbye, and wait to die …

You learn what hope is. Because before you get there, hopelessness really does set in, because there is no light at the end of the tunnel. And the light you do see, is the train coming at you, at 100 miles per hour.

Before hope sets in, if the odds are really dire, you think to yourself, that “no, I’m not gonna die that way, so I am going to take matters into my own hands, and do what I think is best for me.” ” No, I am gonna kill myself, my own way, so as to defer sickness and pain, in the short term.”

Then, GOD steps out of Heaven, and says … STOP !

Heaven is always respectful of our free will. Heaven never pushes itself on us, but holds its breath, to see which way we will choose ?

I had two choices. I could STOP, or I could go to the bitter end, and blot out the suffering, until Death did come for me, on my twisted terms.

I know God. I’ve met Him. I walked with Him, and I communed with Him.

God had other ideas. Hope was not one of them, because there was no hope. True, I was gonna die, sooner or later. I knew that. But words were spoken, out of love and compassion.

Those words told me that I did have a choice, about how I was going to attack death, and live to tell the story. That was he decision I made.

God was there. I was not alone. All I needed to do was follow directions.

Now, you might ask, how did you find the path to hope ? I didn’t.

I don’t know how you bounce back from being told, “You are going to die, there is no hope, so get on the ride, and ride it.”

Sometimes, when you are marked for death, there is no return. Sadly, the percentages of life after death diagnosis are slim. I’ve seen both sides of this coin in as many years. I know, that sometimes people die. That illness and sickness is capricious.

I can tell you what I did, every day.

Inside the four walls of the bar I worked in, was a safe space. The good thing about psychology is this, “sometimes it works.”

I had much going on in my mind at that time. Worries that were beyond my capacity to grasp them. I had serious issues. Death, was just one of them. My alcoholism was the other. I had to attack BOTH at the same time.

Needless to say, life had become Hopeless.

I was not moaning over the fact that I could not drink any longer. Once I got passed the point of acceptance, drinking became a non issue. I was working in the belly of the beast, in a BAR, for God’s sake.

Really, death was the only dance I had to dance.

I had to start stacking alive days. So we could say, in Jimmy Settle terms, was that July 8th 1994, was my first death day.

Every day forwards would become another “death day.”

I came to work. But the day this all began, it was a challenge. I was loved, and that’s what mattered. I was told that I could follow directions, and if I did, I would live. I was down for that from the get go, no matter how hard I battled against my worse nature, because I kicked and screamed and cried an awful lot, in those first few months.

But I listened to advice, and I did what I was told. And every day that I lived, I trusted in the advice given. Come to work. Leave the baggage of the outside world, OUTSIDE the door. When you cross the threshold, the only thing you need to think about, is the job you are given, on any given night, and ONLY that.

Getting to shut off my brain, for a few hours, on a nightly basis, worked.

I did not have to think about dying, inside. Because I watched it come for everybody else around me, in the patrons who were sick, who patronized the bar I worked in.

They all Died. I survived them all.

I stacked enough days, that when I got to my literal “death day,” and I was still alive, I went on with life. I don’t think you can call this hope, because, I was still very sick, and death, was still a “Clear and Present Danger.”

When you live with “Clear and Present Danger” one learns how to govern expectations, and life itself.

I have twenty five years of living with Clear and Present Danger.

I take nothing for granted.

I’m no longer hopeless. I don’t suffer from a three fold disease, Mental, Physical and Spiritual disease. Alcoholism is an every day job. Living is a bit higher on that list. As long as I live, and I don’t drink today, I have a fighting chance.

If I take my will back and decide that I am going to go it alone, I am literally FUCKED !!!

I know God. I’ve met Him. If I close my eyes, and sit still and be quiet, I can see Him in my minds eye, and I can even hear His voice.

I’m alive. And if you find hope in this story, then I did my job.

Hope comes, when you stack enough ALIVE DAYS together, and you live, longer than you thought you would, not only does hope come, but more importantly, GRATITUDE comes.

Gratitude does amazing things when you have no hope. Because if you can be grateful for one thing a day, there is hope.

You cannot have hope and NOT be grateful, because a by product of gratitude is hope.

That is my story and I am sticking to it.

Gratitude in Action

Where would we be without the founders? When it seemed all might be lost, and men of good substance and good character found themselves in the throws of alcoholism, the solution came down to one interaction of a man in his own throws of a desire to drink, and the almost miraculous need to work with another alcoholic, started this great ball of sobriety rolling.

That day, standing in the lobby of the Mayflower hotel, Bill Wilson’s business meeting went down the tubes, he stood there contemplating a decision that would change the world. There were just two choices. One, to drink, or Two, to make a phone call.

Old timers I have met in my years, have stood in the lobby of said hotel and told their story of what the room looked like, how many feet stood between Bill, as he stood there, between the lobby bar, and the phone directory on the opposite wall, on the other side of the room.

Many years later, here in Montreal, a man in the throws of alcoholism, in the year 1943, wrote to New York for help. Help arrived for him. In 1944, the fellowship began, here in Canada. Dave B, got sober, in spite of himself.

A year later, into his own sobriety, Bobbie said to him, “It is time for you to carry the message to another alcoholic, we think it is time you helped someone who needs help.”

New York GSO sent Dave, 400 letters, they had received, and so A.A. was born in Quebec. From a humble apartment not far from where I live today, a rag tag bunch of drunks met in a living room, while their wives congregated in the bedroom or the kitchen.

This was before the dawn of the hallowed church basement.

The little living room meeting, grew exponentially. A group of three men, turned into twelve and then twenty five.

In the beginning there were three meetings in Montreal. I’ve been a member at all three of those original meetings.

We take for granted, many of us, that we have a meeting list, that is chock full of meetings, in various languages, in various locations, every day of the week.

Imagine in 1944, there were no meetings, but the one living room.

Gratitude is a word we hear often in the beginning. Oh, you must have gratitude, or, you must cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Many of these suggestions go unheard and untouched by many. Because when many come in, they have no idea why they need to be grateful to sit in a church basement, with these people, they don’t know, AND for the rest of their lives.

How can we have gratitude, when we ourselves, most likely haven’t even admitted to our innermost selves, that we are alcoholics.

Sobriety comes in stages, by fits and starts, by trial and error, but eventually, we find our grooves, and we settle in for the long haul.

Tonight, we attended the 60th anniversary of the first meeting I homed in when I moved to Montreal, Tuesday Beginners. And the read tonight, from the Big Book, was Gratitude in Action. the story of Dave B, and the dawn of the fellowship here in Montreal.

Out of all the people sitting in the room tonight, THREE of us have had interactions with Old OLD timers, who knew Dave B, in the flesh, old OLD timers who went to meetings with Dave B, and had their own stories of him, aside from what view we get from the book.

In years Nine and Ten, I went looking for OLD OLD timers. I spent more than a year, combing the city for them. I lucked out and found a handful of men, who knew Bill and Dr. Bob, and Dave B. Three founders. I also met men who were participants in the very first phase of the fellowship as it had its humble beginnings. I spent all that time collecting their stories, and here, deep within the memory of this blog, are those memories.

Every minute of sobriety, even the most mundane moments, had their precise usefulness. I talked with one of my oldest friends in the room today, at the meeting earlier tonight. He was there when I came in, during a time, that Tuesday Beginners was a very unique meeting. It was unique for its people who were there when I came in. Mostly women. It was unique for the fellowship that existed then, and the specific men and women who populated that meeting.

I commented to him that, we’ve never seen another iteration of that kind of community, anywhere in the city. And it is true, that a generation of people have long since moved on to other places, or have grown old and don’t make it out, and several have died of old age.

It is good to be reminded of gratitude every so often. Because you really don’t know how grateful I am for the people, the meetings, and the immense amounts of time people spent with me, to help me stay sober.

Before the dawn of cell phones, we had what was called LAND LINES.

You know, that phone attached to the kitchen wall ???

We did not sit at home waiting for that 2000 pound phone to ring, we went to break bread before and after, we hung out together for hours before and after a meeting. You don’t know a good thing, till it’s gone.

A sober friend might be the most important person in your life right now. And the more sober friends you have, will make the journey so much sweeter. I had all that and a whole lot more.

I met the right people, or the right people, were in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason. I’ve said this before, in an earlier post, I listen to a lot of people on a weekly basis. And over time, I’ve watched many of my friends grow up. I know everything that they did in sobriety.

Because what do we do in meetings? We listen to others, figure out their own lives, in front of us, in real time. We hear them talk themselves through situations that used to baffle them. We listen to them justify just about everything under the sun.

We know all the good and all the bad. We know who succeeded and who did not. We know everybody who chose to drink again, and we even watched friends loose their battle with the bottle and die …

The solution exists, for those who need it. All you need is to ask, and it will be given you. You cannot imagine the immense wealth of education you find sitting in a church basement, several times a week.

If it were not for the multitude of WOMEN and MEN who took time to show up and talk, I would not be who I am today. Because, who I am is an amalgamation of every single woman and man I know to this very day.

All of them participated in creating the life I have, because I listened to them talk, and create their own lives of success and sobriety.

There is no better formation ground for personal growth, than inside a church basement. What the greater world out there does not know, and has no idea of, unless of course they are powerless over the drink, never know what they are missing.

People in the real world, OUT THERE, follow the distinct pattern of life, education, work, marriage, children, cars, houses, and money. I tried that life and failed miserably, because I was powerless over my addictions.

I thought I had to walk that walk, like my father before me. He had the life, the wealth and the material success, amid the functioning alcoholism that pervaded his life. I walked that same road for a while, until it stopped working for me.

Had Todd NOT SAID STOP, when he did, I would surely have died many years ago. He started this road to my success. If it were not for his love and devotion to saving my life, I would not be here today to constantly repeat this portion of my story, over and over again.

God exists. I know that deep within my soul.

Remember all those good people who played a role in your own success, and when you do, you grasp the notion of Gratitude In Action.



Weddings …

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A funny thing happened in 2018 … We were invited to not one, not two, but THREE weddings this Summer.

Our niece Melissa and her hubby Stephan were married in May, down in Ontario. It was the first time we have ever traveled like that. The first time on a Via Rail Train. It was a hellish weekend for sure, as I wrote on that particular weekend (here on the blog)

Today, was wedding number TWO.

My friend Juan married his sweet heart, in a small and intimate wedding at St. Patrick’s Lady Chapel, at the Basilica.

I Instagrammed the entire day for you. Go —> over there and check it out.

You never know what kind of impact you are going to have on someone who needs The Solution, Finds that solution, and Listens to advice, when necessary. You never know the entire impact you will have on One Human being, let alone that human beings family.

I’ve said before, Sometimes I talk, and Juan listens. Sometimes Juan talks, and rages, and screams, and gets angry, and I listen. Then other times we are together and words are not necessary.

I was absolutely GOBSMACKED today.

From the wedding chapel, we walked to Old Montreal, which was not very far. We arrived at the hotel where the reception was being held, early, so we waited.

At 5 pm the terrace on the 4th floor opened. It was open bar, had an open Oyster Bar, and lots of nibble food. We were sitting off to the side, because I did not know anyone there, besides the bride and groom. We tried to blend into the furniture.

After a little while, Juan’s sister, who played the guitar and sang “Here Comes the Sun,” at the wedding, walked up to us and sat down with us, and began to talk. She wanted me to know how grateful she was and that her entire family was, for the work that I do with her brother.

She said that he speaks very highly of me and that everybody knows who I am because Juan talks about me incessantly. She wanted to tell me that she was grateful that she got her brother back, from a hopeless state of being, into the man he is today.

I did not know what to say after that.

It’s an anonymous program right.

Nobody mentioned it, but it was plainly visible on her face.

As the reception in the hall was starting up, we took our seats. We were on the entrance side of the hall, Juan and the family were sitting on the far side of the room, near the dance floor.

A little while later, the bridal party arrived, and were introduced. We all got up from our chairs, and proceeded to the dance floor, to see Juan and Nadia dance their first dance as husband and wife.

They said a few words of thanks.

Juan’s father, took out a script from his jacket pocket and grabbed the mic. Amid thanks to the guests for coming, he singled me out, in a room full of people, I did not know, and whom did not know who I was, And addressing me personally, in front of everyone, thanked me for giving their family back their son. That the man Juan is today, is a direct reflection of what I particularly do for Juan, on any given day. He said, so gratefully, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Juan’s family has seen its share of alcohol.

As Juan’s father finished his speech (IN SPANISH), his brother Rodrigo, took the very same script and read it in English. Once again, singling me out in English as well.

Needless to say I was GOBSMACKED !!!

That has never happened to me in public before. Having a family, get up, in front of their family and friends who traveled from far and wide, to be there, thank a complete stranger. Because at that point, only Juan’s sister had recognized me earlier in the evening. I had not met any of the other family, YET !

Towards the end of the dinner service, I asked Juan to send his father over to my table so I could introduce myself to him formally. Because up to that point, we’d never met.

Juan’s father Rodrigo senior came to our table and took my hand in his and in broken English proceeded to thank me again, profusely, saying that his family is so grateful for what I have done for their son. He was besides himself.

I don’t know about you, but it really isn’t about me.

It’s about helping others, to the best of our ability. Because you never know what kind of impact you will have on a single human being, let alone his entire family.

I’m totally grateful, gobsmacked, and humble.

Kinda chokes me up as I write this down.

June 10th 1935 … The First Day

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Pioneers of A.A.

Dr. Bob and the nine men and women who here tell their stories were among the early members of A.A.’s first groups. All ten have now passed away of natural causes, having maintained complete sobriety. Today, hundreds of additional A.A. members can be found who have had no relapse for more than fifty years. All of these, then, are the pioneers of A.A. They bear witness that release from alcoholism can really be permanent.

Dr. Bob’s Nightmare

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 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 or fellowship will ever know.

83 years ago today, the fellowship marks its beginning. The first day of Dr. Bob Smith’s permanent sobriety date. This also marks what we now call Founder’s Day and Gratitude week, all over the world.

On that fateful day, as Bill’s business went South, and he stood in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel in Akron, heaven held its breath, waiting to see what choice Bill would make next. There he stood in that lobby, the bar to one side and the phone and church directory to the other.

It only took mere seconds, the choice Bill eventually made. And in that choice the fellowship of A.A. was on its way to being born. After several failed calls, Bill reached, one Henrietta Sieberling who put him in contact with Ann, Dr. Bob’s wife.

Quoting Dr. Bob …

“Of far more importance was the fact that Bill was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what he was talking about in regards to alcoholism from actual experience, in other words, he talked my language.”

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.