It was the second day of Christmas and the second day of Hanukkah 2005. I had spent the holiday with a friend who had lost his wife and his reason for living. The decision to return to Austin Texas from where I had recently moved was also prompted by the mother of my children flying in to Houston in order to organize Christmas. I was under the impression that her broom was still in the shop for repairs. I made the decision to go where I was loved and accepted rather than loved and tolerated. I belong to an anonymous organization whose prime purpose is to stay sober and help others to achieve sobriety. My name is Joseph G and I am a grateful recovered alcoholic. David B a member of the fellowship has recently overcome hepatitis c. David had been on chemo therapy for about 2 Â½ years; David’s chemo has left him with a severe case of osteoporosis. This has left his bones as bleached and thin as sun dried parchment. David’s bones now fracture like peanut brittle when attempting everyday and routine tasks. David has been a member for many years, but has unfortunately missed a couple of days along the way… David affords me a comfortable place to stay and I am there to get him back into the pool, back to our beloved meetings where we get to hear the problem, the message, and the solution in a place so safe that some of us are able to check for pinholes in our eye lids while lullabies of bitter sweet sounds of growth and recovery cycle through us, in dry clean soliloquies We are not a glum lot and the disasters of our lives become satirical forays of our once lived insanity, where the laughter becomes the acknowledgment of our common experience.
At one such meeting David started sharing his, experience, strength and hope. There is something, psychological, spiritual or even magical or maybe little of all three happens when you share in a meeting. A good meeting is when you hear something you needed to hear; God talking to you through one of the many miracles we call the fellowship. A great meeting is when you say something that someone else needed to hear. There is a glorious gift of the program, when some one comes up to you and tells you that something you said kept them sober, you just know that the God of your understanding was speaking through you, your delighted, excited and humbled all at the same time .Meetings also give you the opportunity to leave things behind you, far behind you, like watching twenty miles of ruts and ridges in the rear view mirror of a stiff suspension pick up truck while bouncing down a dusty west Texas back road. Pain, that once shared gets cut in half with the scissor action of compassion and empathy. Shame, when brought to the light of acknowledgment, the acceptance dissolves it like a wafer of alka seltzer in a pristine cold mountain lake. Joy fills the room in a celebration of shared smiles; it feels like a pop up double that turns into an infield home run. The meeting after the meeting, fellowship, touching base with old friends, the only thing that travel faster than bad news is good gossip and like a small intimate town we get and give the who’s doing what and who is doing who, that’s why we call it the grape vine . We also meet new comers and a new comer asked David to sponsor him, a perfect way to get out of your troubles and your self pity is helping someone else get out of their troubles that they created with and through the abuse of self will and John Barley corn.
Things were going great I had the honor to watch God doing for me and doing for David what we could not do for ourselves. Christmas eve and there was a regular scheduled meeting , these meetings are always a joy to participate in ,some people come because they have no where else to go ,some new in the program and this is their first sober holiday or old timers, (to become an old timer you don’t drink and you don’t die) To courage, support a way of giving back in sharing the gift of sobriety and the ability to live life on life’s terms. This meeting was no exception in that, it was exceptional. We opted to return to David’s for the balance of the evening. I made sure we had a traditional Italian Christmas eve diner of fish, well it was whole foods fish, steamed shrimp, Salmon with sweet chutney and veggies, a feastie I had a long and rewarding day but could not find Charley D’s, A Christmas Carroll, I told David that in the spirit of the night that he would be visited by three personages filled with the spirits, two alcoholics and an Al-Anon,,, beware the Al-anon!.
The next day the first day of Christmas was friends and friends of friends from the program. There was a Pot luck mixer, with always good food, good people and good conversations.
Christmas eventide, and the trek was to David’s recently departed wife’s parents. David’s Father in law, John was an intellectual and a bona fide psychologist. I am quite convinced that the scholarly merit of a P.H.D really is an accurate acronym for piled higher and deeper. I also have the ability, in no small measure to dazzle them with logic or baffle them with bull honey, although my credentials are minimal, I have had spent the night at a Holiday in Express. The conversation slowly turned to the spiritual, having recently lost a love one, the thoughts of the after life haunt you, like ethereal images in a play not yet conceived, and by the way John is an agnostic. I related to John a long held belief that I have personally witnessed and have been privy to confidences that reinforce this spiritual phenomenon. To wit, every body gets to ask the God of his understanding, if he IS, and to manifest his presence, and in some circumstances, some have the presence of mind to ask to be shown in a very specific and particular way. The rub is, it’s one to a customer, and the Boss does not do repeat performances… The atheist has no one to ask, the believer, on the other hand is quite content and feels that his faith is sufficient and to challenge the God of his understanding was a vain attempt to tempt.
John spoke of a time when his sanity was being tried, there was no relief, he walked aimlessly, and suicide stalked every step. He said he felt his skin being flayed off his body and moments hung like hours and hours blurred in to spiritual torment. He per chance wondered into, of all things a wide open church door. Upon entering he called on God, if he was there , make himself known , John related that his torment quickly subsided and his pain was replaced by an overwhelming sense of peace and Joy he had difficulty even now and after all this time had to use body language to express the angelic state he found himself.Â John remains an agnostic, intellect can dissuade from emotional confirmation, and his pain, after all has subsided.
The second day of Christmas , it was time to head back to my home in Houston, I had been gone 4 days and even the freshest fish ,like an honored guest start to smell after three days. I passed David’s welfare to the hands of some close fellowship friends and suggested that they ask David for a ride to a meeting and not to offer to give him a ride to the meeting, a more subtle approach, yet I believe we in the fellow ship are more comfortable to give help than to accept help, let alone ask for help.
The 2 ½ hour ride to Houston was punctuated by of all thing two young men on the road again and again, hitchhikers. An unusual move for me since I had read Truman C’s in Cold Blood and watched the horror movie the Hitchhiker. It’s easy to see God working in your life, but working in mine takes a new and thicker pair of glasses.
Mike and Kevin were on the way to New Orleans to cash in on the burgeoning building boom after the twin hurricanes of Katrina and Rita. They smelled of the street, it had been a long time since the repulsive sour milk smell of sweat and caked filth had wafted around my nose. I asked them how often they were able to bathe; it depended upon the weather and the kindness of strangers they chimed. They both agreed that the people they normally hung out with smelled like they did and once they washed they could smell the pungent sour odor of themselves as well as all others. I cracked the windows and let in as much fresh air as I could as we headed down the road. I offered light conversation as I steered the voyage of understanding and discovery and parried to determine if there was an opportunity for some 12 step work, carrying the message to the alcoholic that still suffers. After some time we settled in and the conversation turned to their adventures and my recent trip to Austin. , Mike, the younger of the two, he is twenty two, was telling me that he was an agnostic I told him Bill W. our co-founder was an agnostic, and that his question asking if there was a God had manifested itself as the inspiration for the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous and the deliverance of millions from a hopeless state of mind body and spirit .I suggested to Mike that if he had a question about a God of his understanding, to ask. He then started relating a story, he was not sure of its ramifications and he wanted get my take on what had happened.
Mike continued that he was in West Texas big sky country Gods country, He was alone all alone desperately alone, he had not seen a car in hours, he had no money, no food, no water and no hope, desperation like a Ferrell Ker snapped at his heels . Mike looked up into the boundless, cloudless azure blue Texas sky and screamed as loud as he could muster, and in effect he said that if there was a God he needed a ride, before the last word left his lips a car pulled up with a striking blond behind the wheel, she drove him to the next town, fed him, slated his parched thirst, and shared her well tousled bed that night with Mike. Mike asked me do you think that was an answer from God, I responded with a hardy and affirmative expletive ,a flavor of flower I rarely toss but it seemed an appropriate punctuation to form a communication at the level of their greatest understanding, for me it seemed more than obvious and maybe just maybe, that’s how God does it, he reveals himself to us at our level of understanding no more and certainly no less Mike was still an agnostic, and in love with the freedom of the open road, as for me and in retrospect, I should have asked for the blond.
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