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: Dr. Bob’s Nightmare

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We begin the month of Monday’s for Monday Night in the Big Book, Once again. And tonight’s fare came from Dr. Bob’s Nightmare.

In Ernest’s Book, The Spirituality of Imperfection, chapter six talks about story tellers, and the need we have to find them. And when we venture out to seek, we eventually find that others, had been looking for us.

And once we find each other, we can, finally, tell someone our story.

And so it went on that night, when Bill, faced with the failure of his business deals in Akron, stood in the Mayflower Hotel, thinking a drink …

In that moment, as Lorna Kelly said to us … “Heaven held its breath, waiting to see what Bill would do.” We speak of spiritual moments in our lives, and for Bill, his very next decision was “Spiritual.” Instead of thinking the drink, he thought that what he really needed was another alcoholic.

He walked over to that church directory located on the other side of the room, and he started making phone calls, looking for a prospect. When all seemed lost, he dialed that last number on the list in front of him, and Henrietta Sieberling answered.

Anne, Dr. Bob’s wife, knew people. She had been looking for a solution for her husband’s inability to Not Drink. That night Bill was invited to Henrietta’s to meet Dr. Bob and his wife. Thinking that he could handle very little, Dr. Bob offered a mere fifteen minutes to Bill, for his trouble. Six hours later, after that first conversation began, two men sat together, sharing their stories with each other, when Bob tells us in his story …

“Of far more importance was the fact that he (read: 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.”

This story also mentions Spiritual Principles. And for many in a room, whether there is a God, or whether one believes in said God is the first stumbling block for a lot of folks.

I listened to my friends talk tonight. atheists, Agnostics, Believers and those in-between. Many of them have faith, one way or another. Each of them knows, what works for them.

The book goes on to say …“But if you really and truly want to quit drinking liquor for good and all, and sincerely feel that you must have some help, we know that we have an answer for you. It never fails, if you go about it with one half the zeal you have been in the habit of showing when you were getting another drink.

Your Heavenly Father will never let you down.”

Funny that the chair read these two pages to us, but omitted that very last sentence in her read. And someone in the crowd offered up that thought to complete the read, on the second pass.

The movement from Self Seeking and Selfishness, will change. And we learn the wisdom in seeking to help others, because at some point we came in, and were found ourselves, and over time, we too were relieved from the bondage of the craving and the consumption of alcohol.

And we learn the Four Reasons … of why we carry the message to others …

  1. Sense of Duty
  2. It is a Pleasure
  3. Because in doing so I am paying my debt to the person who took the time to pass it on to me.
  4. Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip.

I heard one of our young women talk about the highlight of her week last week: When having a good time meant imbibing and ending up in a gutter with vomit in her hair, last week she got together with other women and they talked about The Work.

The highlight of her week.

Who knew, she said, “that sharing the message would be the highlight of her week, when in the beginning she admitted saying that she did what she was told to do because she had to, in order NOT to drink. Over the years she learned just how good it would feel to share her story with other women over coffee …”

When I came back, I had no other choice. I did everything I was told to do. I connected and remain connected to this very day. Having a service commitment, made me useful and gave me a purpose for getting out of bed every day.

Making coffee all these years later, the best music to my ears is hearing some drunk come in the room and complain that he did not like my coffee …

The reply is standard … Keep Coming Back.

You will Learn to Love My Coffee …