Fifty One … Made It Another Year

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“… They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.”

We Agnostics, page 51.

Tonight, we ended the month of July, with me in the chair, and we talked about God, Prayer, and Faith.

One over arching comment I heard from my friends is that for many of them, the thought of God, the practice of prayer, the admission of humility and the profession of faith, is a natural part of who they are.

They don’t necessarily “think” about God or Prayer, or Humility, or faith, every minute of the day. Those constituent parts of who they are present in everything that they do, every day. These parts are, in and of themselves, separate, but are unified in a single thought … Presence and Service.

The old story rose in my mind as I sat and listened. And I told it again. Even if my friends have heard me tell this story over and over.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away … Cue the Star Wars Theme …

God has been an integral part of my life, for the whole of my life. Memere and Grammy made sure that I knew of God, and that God loved me.

Memere, one day, when I was very young, took me to church and presented me to God, standing on the altar of that church, where she had a conversation with God, about me.

That visual is burned into the back of my mind.

I served God to the best of my ability, to the extent that in my second year of college, after high school, I ended up in Seminary, studying to be a priest.

I devoted my life to God, in every way possible. But I was not like the others. I did not do evil things that the others had done. I never broke my vows to Mother Church, during that year, and I thought that would get me by.

It didn’t.

At the end of that year, the rector, whom I had issues with personally, said to me that I was not “one of them.” Therefore, it was his decree that I would be told to leave the seminary.

Talk about being resentful and angry about God.

My alcoholism took off full-bore. And lasted until my 26th year of life. I told God to go to hell, that I did not need Him. Took back my will and my life, and pursued life.

I had come out of the closet not long after.
That only added to my alcoholic woes.

On one morning, as I sat in that bar nursing a drink at 7 a.m. fate strolled in to greet me and I danced. That morning would be the last morning.

What I did not know would eventually almost kill me.

On July 8th 1994, I got those words. “You are going to die.” A few days later I called Todd home from vacation and told him I was going to die.

As God as my witness … I may have turned my back on God. But God, in His wisdom, got my attention once again.

Never be thankful for a terminal disease.

Sometimes a fatal disease is just that, a fatal disease.

I took my life in my own hands that morning, and did what I did. And I am the one to blame for my misfortune. It is my fault.

God got my attention. Then He stepped out of Heaven and soothed my soul.

What Todd did for me, I will never forget, will always be grateful for, and remember as long as I breathe air. I will tell his story as many times as I can, because if this story dies. I die with it.

It is the power of God that makes this story critical.

Todd promised me, if I turned my will and my life over to him and trusted him with my life, that he would see to it that I survived. I may have kicked and screamed for a while, but that did not last very long.

As my friends died around me, one after another, and every day that I lived, is a testament to the Power of Todd, Read: GOD.

On the day I said goodbye to him, standing next to his car, as he got into that car, and shut the car door, he forgot to give me one small piece of information,

“What was I supposed to do now.”

I lament that he did not give me that much-needed piece of information. We were so caught up in goodbye that I don’t think that thought crossed his mind, in that moment.

When he drove off, my life drove off with him.

I could not make it alone. I had no idea what to do or how to do it.

All of the people who were still alive, already made the trek West. I was the only one who stayed. I stayed because of my heart. I stayed because I was sure, my father would die, and I would make my stand and go to my mother, and reclaim her from my father, and care for her for the rest of my days.

Obviously, that plan never happened.

My parents would rather eat dirt, than accept me as a human worthy of love.

On January 7th 2018, my father died. I got that one wrong.

My mother spit in my face, once again, saying to me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. This is the very same woman I was hedging my bets of saving and being part of her life.

Got that one wrong too.

I did drink again.

At the end of my drink binge, I called out to God. Begged Him for help.

I prayed three prayers in order of necessity.

  • A hangover
  • An Alcoholic
  • And Get me to a Meeting

God did those very things for me, in the order I needed them, miraculously.

I was on the return arc, when Troy walked into my business and his first words to me were: I did not drink today …

Troy was that blessed alcoholic whom God sent. Troy took me to my next, First Meeting. I stayed for the later 10 pm meeting and met the folks who would bring me back to life again. Those original folks are still in my life to this day.

God granted me a few dispensations. And created a number of miracles.

I ended up crossing the border, attaining Canadian Citizenship, I am still sober, almost seventeen years later. And had you told me, back in Miami, back in the day, that my life could have looked like it does today, I would have laughed at you and called you crazy.

God moved heaven and earth. And God’s saving grace has made me whole.

There IS a GOD, and I am not God.

Although, I did meet God. I spoke to God. I worked for God. I served God, every day I walked into work and served those men, who are all dead now, until they all took their last breaths on this earth. I was with many of them. When their families tossed them into the gutter and into the streets, I was there, with a few friends, who cared for the sick, until they eventually died, in our arms.

None of my friends died alone. Not One Of Them.

Nobody knows the intricacies of this story. Nobody really cares, even the gay men I know today. They know nothing about AIDS or Living with AIDS. They really don’t care for my stories, because they cannot identify.

If my story dies, I will die with it.

Which is Why, till the day that I take my last breath, I will utter the name of Todd and thank God for saving my life, all these years.

I made it to 51.

Let’s PARTY !!!

At What Point Can We Get Honest ?

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I heard one of my friends tonight say, about a conversation he had earlier, with a friend, that he was not sure he could be honest with said friend about the topic they were discussing.

I know my friend for many years now. I have many friends, I have known for a long time, and becoming who we are begins with getting better all the way around. We stay clean and sober, and we do the work that is given to us, Willingly.

Willingness is the key.

I have said before that I cannot do life alone. I need my sponsor, my guides and my friends. I need that voice, coming over my shoulder, that says … It’s gonna be OK.

I have a few twenty-four hours under my belt. And for a long time, I did not know what I did not know. And I know the first time I was attempting to get sober, there was A LOT that I did not know. And that worked against me, as represented by the wordsI spoke and the decisions I made, based on self. (not the good self for that matter)

Life is all about becoming who we are supposed to be. Sometimes the road is easy, but in my experience, for many people, the road has been very tough.

I spoke tonight about life. I knew, very early on, in my life, what it was that I did NOT want to be. I heard words that I swore I would never use myself. And I heard thoughts that were repugnant, bigoted and racist.

I knew …

Growing up, if you did not fit in the box my parents wanted you to check, they punished you with silence, and darkness and humiliation and resentment.

Imagine a kid growing up with that kind of negativity and trying to find your way into the world, and survive the slog!

My father went to his grave, hating me, and resenting me for becoming who I was meant to be. My mother is on that very same shit path herself. Last night, I read in this months Grape Vine, about a woman long sober, making peace with her mother, and she asked her what she could do to mend the fence between them ?

The answer was, You Could agree with me sometimes. I’m not always wrong you know.

And I thought about that conversation all day today.

I imagine going to visit my mother, in my brother’s house, where nobody knows me today, and does not want to know me, because of resentment and anger and denial. I imagine having that kind of conversation with her, knowing she spits out the same vile shit, like a script she has mastered over my lifetime.

I don’t ever think I will ever mend that fence, myself.

The second time I got sober, I began with steps that were all about ME. What people did to me, and why they deserve my scorn and hatred. I remember the first round of steps I did, and how LONG my fourth step was, and the hours it took to do my fifth.

Then I burned them.

For years and years, I’ve been working steps with different people, with different lengths of sobriety. And I have amassed a library of knowledge about myself but more importantly, knowledge about everybody else.

God has a funny way with me. The evidence is right there for me to look at. Steps Six and Seven are the growth steps. The change steps. Because we work Six and Seven for the rest of our lives. And further up the road, at Ten, we learn how to do spot check inventories and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Over the years, as I pass through Six and Seven, God shows me Six and Seven, in front of my face. I have learned to see “spiritually.” It has taken a long time to work that vision out. I know I can trust because I can see.

It is the same with some of my friends, when it comes to me. They can see, for me, when I cannot see for myself. And each of them, each in their own ways, have the voice and the temperament to sit me down and tell me like it is, when I fuck up.

Many of my friends know who they are, in each of their varying lengths of sobriety. Many of my friends are honest with me. And I see that virtue in them, in the books I have read on honesty, virtue and honor.

What I see in them, I want to become myself.

I don’t know, at what point, we can trust our vision, and humbly admit we don’t know everything, but I we know some things. In the beginning, I would not say anything to people because I did not know myself what it was I really wanted to say, even if it sounded good in my head.

Over the years, I have worked with others. And over the years I have had several sponsors. And over the years, each of them fell victim to their own character defects.

As I get and stay sober, and life goes on, and shit happens, and things get real, what I witnessed was my friends, my sponsor and other drunks, reacting to the fact that I was having a hard time. I listened to the words they said to me. And I witnessed what each of them did to me, in response to my life getting “Shit Real.”

The rooms really don’t like to see people “In the Mix” People in the rooms, don’t like to witness pain and hardship. And many of my friends and sponsor at the time, pushed me away, freaking out, because I was freaking out, and when I jumped out of my placid, quiet, reserved skin, and became a little odd and crazy, that freaked people out, because I was coming out of my skin, and for a long time at that, that quiet, sane individual became someone they did not know, or want to know.

So they all ran for the hills.

What a shame. And at that point my friends, not knowing what to do with a crazy man, in front of them, all scattered.

There are many ways to get sober. I know a friend, who is more than twenty-five years sober. She, like myself, learned how to get sober, the hard way. We walked into particular meetings, and those men and women, said one thing to us …

If you follow our suggestions, and do not argue, and you work, as we show you what to do, yes, you too will get and stay sober.

There were no two ways about it. It was their way or the highway, so to speak.

She was handed her job. And likewise, I was handed mine. A coffee pot.

We listened to old timers tell us what to do. We both had sponsors who did the right thing at the right time, for the right reason. We learned suggestions. We worked steps. We did service, and to this day, BOTH of us do service, all the time, every day.

Repetition is the key in recovery.

We read the same book, work the same steps. hear the same stories, over and over again. But as we share with each other, as we remain clean and sober, perspective changes.

Each time we make a pass at a particular story or topic or step, we see it in the way we see it IN THAT MOMENT, as it is. not particularly, the way we saw it, the last time we hit that share, or topic or step.

It is like polishing a gem stone. Each pass at the wheel makes the gem better.

We both know what we heard, all those years ago. We both know what we did, over the years, so we know what to do, because we spent the better part of our lives, treading the same things over and over. With all that time between us, and each in our own times, we know what we know, because we heard, we worked, we spoke, and we did.

She has a voice, and I have mine. Based on practical experience, strength and hope.

I talk to newcomers and I tell them what I did, and I make simple suggestions. Not many people want to hear what I have to say, because I, like my elder lady friend, come from the sober school of hard knocks.

Sobriety is not easy. And people know that from the get go.

But if you say something that is not easy … They respond with I just Can’t !

So I ask, why not ? What have you got to lose, but the old way you used to live ?

They say that honesty is the best policy. But when do we know what honesty is, and when do we know that what we have to say matters, is truthful, honest and comes from a place of humility?

That, is a tall order. And can take a lifetime to learn.

Over the years, I have worked with men and women. many of them are not in my life anymore, because when I hit the rough spot, who I became was unacceptable to their sensibilities. All that sober knowledge I spent teaching them, went for naught.

Because each of them sunk into their character defects. I saw it. I heard it, and I spoke about it too. Being honest in all my affairs was a mantra I use to this day.

I was honest with them. They did not like that. So that made me less sober or trustworthy.

Fuck Me for Trying !!!

I know today, the odds, when people come in the rooms. By what they say, and what they do, and who they listen to. The fighters and arguers, never make it. Those who justify their addictions, never get better. Until they decide to get honest.

I know sober folks who are constitutionally unable to be honest with themselves.

If I attend a meeting, for a long time, for a specific reason, to learn something, and people treat me badly, that is not on me, it is on them. When people who used to be my friends, turn out to NOT be friends, and do not have the ability to reciprocate kindness, that is on them and not me.

There are LONG SOBER men and women, whom I have known for the whole of my sobriety. We are talking people with decades of sobriety, who treat me with ignorance and silence. That just floors me.

I know who I am today. And I know what I know about each person I know. Because I have spent the better part of sixteen years and a few months, watching and listening to them in meetings.

I got sober, on the backs of every single person in every single meeting I went to. Every single day of this sober segment.

I know every decision they made. I know every mistake they made. I heard every word they said, in meetings, over and over. I watched people go back out, come back in, go back out and come back in.

I also watched some people die in that process.

If you did something and succeeded, I used that myself. If you did something and failed, I chalked it up to lessons learned. I made mistakes. I said things. I decided things too.

For the most part, I did my best, with whatever I had at the moment.

Not everybody was amused. Many people judge and are critical of me.

That is on them and not me. People are who they are, and will do what they do, so I should not let that bother me, but it does. Some don’t seem to learn and get better. They just want to be who they are. And their growth becomes stunted.

I am honest with people. Almost to a fault and that scares people, that I could know what I know, it is only that I know because I have tested all my methods over the years and I know what works.

I am in the book. I am in my steps. I am in meetings, and I do service. All the time.

I am always looking for the next greatest teacher or lesson. And right now, I am in a brand new incarnation of who I want to be, based on those I surround myself with.

I trust few.

We are all growing up to who we want to be.

Each at our paces.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

And what ever happens, a drink will not solve them.

So I hit another meeting …

Monday: Not Resting on our Laurels

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We often take for granted, what we do every day to stay sober. We often forget that sobriety is a full-time job. And we often forget what that last drink tasted like and what it did to us, and where we ended up.

Once we put down the DRINK, the game becomes all about the “THINK.”

We move from our drinking problem, into the thinking problem.

Tonight we read from the book and Step Ten. And what is always the case, when we get here, is that we all say out loud … “Well, I could do this better.”

Taking that daily inventory and those simple questions:

Was I Selfish, Dishonest, Resentful or Fearful ?

Add to this list: What are my motives ? Should I really do this or say that ?

I know, back in 2012, when the women of Tuesday Beginners began to introduce a certain structure to our lives, by way of the work they were doing with their own sponsees, I learned a new way to work my program.

That structure became a solid tool that I used with every single person I worked with since. And it did work.

Writing is something I do, often. Taking to someone about my list has been, not so much. I’m not connecting with another human on a regular basis, like I used to. But, I often find myself in places with certain older men and women, who remind me to check my motives.

In the recent past, they have cautioned me against speaking AND acting. I ignored that advice, which turned into one huge Shit Storm.

I need to practice keeping my mouth shut in public. Because I know, not many people are interested in hearing what they really need to do, even if I think they need to hear it.

My friend Philippe talks about the Book and the Work as necessities. Getting honest and doing the work, because sobriety IS WORK.

You cannot get sober by Osmosis.

But for the most part, people don’t want to break a sweat. They want to come to a meeting, sit there and suck it up like a sponge, then walk out of the room, and in a matter of minutes forget, everything that they just heard.

They don’t go home and write it down. They aren’t learning on the same scale that I am. Because alcoholics are a science project to study, intimately.

I go home, write, dissect, and I learn everything I can about everyone around me. That’s how I got sober and continue to stay sober. By watching and noting stupidity, strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures.

What we have is a daily reprieve, contingent on the maintenance of our Spiritual condition.

There is no One Way to do Step Ten. There is no grand plan, or method.

Once of my friends, at the last World Convention, in Atlanta, went to find those men and women who did it, “The Right Way.” In the end he was surprised to find that even with those OLD TIMERS who were 50 plus years sober, at that event, there was no RIGHT method.

The only thing that mattered was that, we took inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

I don’t work with others, like I used to.

The one thing my guys have going for them is this …

We work, on a daily basis, on our Spiritual Teachings. Based on Spiritual Principles as taught to us, by men who teach us how to do that.

If you are not reading the Book, then why not ?
If you aren’t working your program, then why not ?
If you aren’t going to meetings, then why not ?
If you aren’t working with others, then why not ?

Sobriety is a gift. And sharing that gift with another is vitally important to staying sober.

One alcoholic working with another.

Doctor Bob’s Humility Prayer on his desk … A friend spoke these words tonight:

“Perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or vexed, irritable or sore; to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me.

It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised, it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go and shut the door and pray to my father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep-sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble.”

 

Saturday: Thoughts

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I heard a young lady share this thought last night on Humility …

Humility:
Learning to be Honest in who you are, and letting go the consequences of that Honesty.

The reading from A.B.S.I. talked about Step 5 …
Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

When we come in, it seems like we have finally arrived, finding people who understand us, finally. So we get into steps at some point, and we get to our inventory, and it isn’t until we sit with another alcoholic and we share that inventory with them, do we find spiritual peace.

In my case, in my experience, I would do my inventories, and talk about them incessantly. But there was always something I was keeping to myself, and from God.

And it wasn’t until this round, over the summer, that my spiritual director, figured out what I was trying to say, and why I was keeping it inside, and not letting it go.

And he tossed me a Bible story about Leah and Jacob.

And finally, she had to let go the expectation that after bearing the seven sons of Israel, that Jacob would love her, which he never did come round to doing. And God spoke to Leah and said, ‘Now turn your eyes to God and let me take it away from you.”

Se had to turn ALL of her expectations over to God. Which was what I had to do. Nobody in the rooms had that exact Spiritual Insight for me. It took my Spiritual Director from outside to see it and be able to show me what I needed to do.

Finally, after more than a decade and some, I found that lasting peace, I needed to have to get on with my life after fifty.

I have a friend, we all have that certain man in the room who gives the same advice, over and over. When he came in, he was shot to death, and suicidal. But there was a sliver of faith within him that kept him from killing himself.

For many, when it came to drugs and alcohol, no matter the environmental conditions outside, rain, wind, hurricane, snowstorm, if there was drugs or alcohol at the end of that trek, we were definitely going to go out and get them.

Sobriety is WORK. Sobriety takes WORK. Sobriety is not EASY.

He tells us over and over that, we really need to shut the fuck up and listen when people tell us that we need to get honest, and do the fucking work, as the book lays out.

There is no hemming and hawing. This is the deal. You come in and you want to get sober, well, this is your chance. Here is the book, READ the BOOK, and DO what it says.

It’s not rocket science.

If you go about your sobriety with the same zeal that you drank and drugged, then you too can get sober, and be free of the shackles that kept you bound to substances.

I know today, that I am not meant to help everybody and that not everybody wants my spin on sobriety. And I am good with that.

I’ve made my Fuck It List. And I wiped several more people off with that list.

And you know, since I started making that list daily, I can sleep at night. The rat has stopped spinning on his wheel.

My friend Sean said to me last night, that he has noticed that I am having better weeks, consecutively. If he can see it, then that is a good thing.

Something is working in my favor.

More to come.

Friday: Humbly, On Our Knees …

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In the Original Manuscript of the Big Book, on page 26 of that manuscript, Step Seven reads: Humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings, holding nothing back.

There are such religious notions, peppered throughout the Original Manuscript. Not all of them made it into the first printing of the Big Book in 1939.

I actually have a First Edition Big Book, printed in 1939.

Some of the more drastic “suggestions” that might seem, just a little too harsh for the sensibilities of those who see the Judeo-Christian influences in the Big Book, a problem in getting sober, were scrubbed from the final copy that went to print.

In one pass at my Steps a few years ago, in reading the Twelve and Twelve, approached Step Seven with this process: Read Step Seven, and find every word Humble or Humility.

Step Seven is the Step where we encounter this term. Humility.

  • What does it mean,
  • What does it look like,
  • And how do I find it for myself ?

For me, as I have stayed sober, Humility has been defined and refined over my years.

One friend tonight said that for him, “Humility was the recognition that he was not as big as he thought he was, but also that he was not as small as he thought he was either.”

Others talk about being “Right Sized” What does “Right Sized” mean ?

My definition of Humility, at this moment, means, “I don’t know.” I also add that, one specific old timer has offered to me that, “If I think I know something, I’d better sit down, and keep my mouth shut.”

Humility asks us to be Vulnerable to that Power Greater than Ourselves.

We constantly work towards turning it over, to that Power, which I choose to call God, every day.

Humility has been the lesson that has been hammered home in my life over the last year.

When the Orlando Tragedy happened, I threw in my spiritual towel and I cursed God. I fell apart in public, and fell to my knees, sobbing, pleading God to help me, because I was bereft, and had no idea how to begin to figure out why I was on my knees sobbing.

It all begins, when we get on our knees.

We might not know the reason why ? But to defer to God, and set one’s self before God in humble supplication, begins on one’s knees.

I learned that in Seminary. Why we prayed, and why we knelt and what it meant as men who came together to learn how to follow God. The men who were leading us, in the end, turned out, not to be the finest example of humility, based on the scandals they caused during their tenures in their priesthoods.

I wanted, so badly, to count myself as a man who would serve God. I made God that promise all those years ago, as a teen-ager, with stars of God in my eyes.

That promise to serve God would take my entire life to figure out.

It has to be the right time, the ground fertile, and I would be able to fulfill that promise, one way or another.

A year ago, I fell to my knees, and was rebuked by a man who was LONG sober, rebuking me that “You think you are so special, that we should treat you differently, You are such a child.”

I could have slapped the shit out of him right then and there. I could have hurt him seriously, in that moment, but my better judgment took over, and I got up, wiped my face and walked away, keeping my mouth shut, and not saying a word or acting on my impulses.

Thank God, Elder Spencer came into my life.

I don’t think I would have made it without him, today.

Sometimes, I have shared, that I need to be Bitch Slapped by God, in order for Him to get my attention.

Oprah has a better definition of this process:

God speaks to us in a whisper. If He whispers and we miss it the first time, He will whisper again. If we miss it the second time, He hits us over the head with a 2 x 4, if we miss Him the third time, finally, He drops a wall on top of us.

I actually lived this out a few years ago.

I’m not sure God was trying to get my attention, with a catastrophic massacre of kids in a nightclub to get me to notice Him. But He had my attention for sure.

Which led to an entire year of trying to find God, after I had cursed Him as I sat where I am sitting right this very moment.

Enter Elder Spencer … There are no coincidences. Only God.

I was there at one time, now I am here.

Now I Know !

The message is loud and clear. My life and sobriety are all about God and His goodness and kindness. I can let go of that old, tired and miserable story.

Sobriety today is about Humility, Faith, Love and the Atonement. 

The Atonement makes everything work.

Without it we are nothing, and can be nothing.

Humbly, on our knees, we asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Holding Nothing Back.

Suffering and Sacrament: On Finding Connection as a Grocery Store Cashier

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Borrowed from: Stephen – S. Bradford Long Blog – Daily Reflection.

Every day, I go to work as a grocery store cashier at a family-owned business in a prosperous region of the more generally depressed Appalachian mountains. This work has transformed my life, not because it is the exciting, high-impact, high-power job so many of us dream about in our twenties and thirties, but because it brings me into direct contact with humanity.

I am sometimes astonished by the suffering, just beneath the surface, that permeates the air. I see it in the grocery store in a way I might not see it in other careers, because all humanity – the miserable and the joyful, the ill and the well, the rich and the poor – need to eat. Therefore, the grocery store is a gathering place where all social lines breakdown. We are united by the commonality of food.

I see a young man – eyes drooping, so thin I can see his spine poking against his teeshirt, dragging himself through the aisles as if he is dragging a tank behind him. I watch him through the aisles, I check him out at the register, and he is often rude, empty. Being a depressive myself, I know the marks of an inner Hell that is tearing him to shreds.

I watch people dying slowly and miserably of terminal illnesses that they cannot afford to address. Some are full of bile, their regret cast before them like a long shadow, while others are trying to soak up as much life as they can.

I remember the old woman who received a phone call while in my line to inform her that her grandson had just committed suicide. She wept, and I listened hard to her stories of her grandson. She thanked me, and went on her way.

I remember the man who wandered through my line, tears in his eyes. He looked at me as if he were starving for something I couldn’t give him, and he said, “My best friend just died of a heroin overdose. Please, please, value your friends, value every moment you have on this earth.” He wandered out the door, lost in his grief.

An old woman came through me line once, and her cart was full of frozen cakes. She met my eyes. “My daughter just killed herself,” she said. “These frozen cakes were her favorite. I will save them, I will keep them forever.”

I see meth addicts, skeletons of their former selves. I see alcoholics, the smell of whiskey heavy on their breath. I see the mentally ill, talking to people who aren’t there, and I see the homeless, wandering in from the street because we have air conditioning and cheap food. I see shreds of humanity abandoned and forgotten.

I see joy, too. I see the old woman who had finally, after years of saving money, finally got teeth. And, to top it all off, she got an aesthetist to remove all her facial hair. Now she flashes her brilliant smile at everyone she can, and she is radiant with joy. All she ever wanted was teeth, and now she has them.

In this setting, in which new suffering walks through our doors every day, mixed in with the mundane, the regular, the blithely happy, feeding the public is transformed. It’s no longer a chore, but a sacrament. When I hand people whatever nourishing food they’ve chosen off the shelves, I hear the words of Christ, “This is my body, broken for you.”

That everyday moment is transfigured into something sacred, for it is full of the recognition that this is another human soul, and that this human soul is capable of galaxies of silent suffering. That connection with suffering, and that offering up of nourishment – that is holy, that is sacred.

Every day, I am reminded that we all feel pain. We all suffer. We all yearn to be seen. And this realization fills me with a tenderness that words cannot express. I can’t put it into words, this seeing of humanity. I wish I could share this tenderness with everyone I can. I wish I could tell everyone who seems dubious of my work, “no, you don’t understand. Working in a grocery store is not a waste of time. It’s not a waste of my talents. If only you could see what I see.”

Friday: Sacred, is the Room I find in Myself

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There are but two sins … The Lesser, is to get in the way of our own spiritual path. The Greater, is to get in the way of someone else’s spiritual path.

I see humility for today as a safe and secure stance midway between violent emotional extremes. It is a quiet place where I can keep enough perspective and enough balance to take my next small step up the clearly marked road that points toward eternal values.

The reading tonight touches on Arrogance, Attitude and Humility.

Which leads back to yesterdays quote:

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !

The Fellowship, early on, was a sordid affair. And thinking about it logically, the Big Book was written towards a certain segment of the population. And in the early years, the Fellowship grew out of trials and errors.

They really did not have a leg to stand on, when it came to knowledge or certainty.

This reading talks about some, early on, who believed they had the “Real A.A.” And that they had a definitive answer to the problem of the drink, and only they could impart this message and that, from the reading, “You better get it…”

A very arrogant approach, don’t you think ?

This reading is dates 1961. The Fellowship came together in 1939. That is only 22 years from inception, to the point Bill wrote this passage for the Grapevine. I imagine that Bill probably mulled over what he was either hearing himself, or from others, who came in contact with the men, whom this reading, refers to.

I don’t know, in my life today, WHO has the definitive answer to recovery. Because I know, for myself, that there are old timers with TIME, but they surely are not sober. There are men and women I respect, who have some time.

All I know is this … Every so often I am introduced to someone who has a method, or a practice, or a way, they work their program. Over the past four or so years, I’ve employed several practices and methods that I know worked for the men and women, I have adopted these practices from.

None of them, we could say are the End All Be All. They are merely, additions to practice and method, to incorporate, along with the Book.

Working with others, is a great way to find out for ones self, that:

No, I don’t know, but I am trying to find out. OK !

I don’t have all the answers, which is why I go to meetings and talk with people I respect, who have a little more experience than I do. We are all souls walking in the same direction, trying to figure it out ourselves.

There is no ultimate authority, except the God of our understanding as He speaks in our Group Conscience.

I know what size my pants are. And I know how big, my head can get if I am not careful.

Keeping it simple and staying out of my head is a daily task.

If either my pants or my head swell to greatly, then I know:

I must decrease so that He may increase.