Sobriety is a gift that grows with time

The 2012 rally theme was inspired by the reading for June 26th in Daily Reflections, “A Gift That Grows With Time”:

For most normal folks, drinking means conviviality, companionship and colorful imagination. It means release from care, boredom and worry. It is joyous intimacy with friends and a feeling that life is good. (Alcoholics Anonymous, p.151)

The longer I chased these elusive feelings with alcohol, the more out of reach they were. However, by applying this passage to my sobriety, I found that it described the magnificent new life made available to me by the A.A. program. It “truly does get better” one day at a time. The warmth, the love and the joy so simply expressed in these words grow in breadth and depth each time I read it. Sobriety is a gift that grows with time.

Reprinted from Daily Reflections, p. 186, with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

More from the literature about gifts in sobriety

So look around at the people near you at your group meeting—every alcoholic is closer to you, at that meeting, than a brother or a sister. They understand you better than a mother or a father. They are sitting there extending to you a wonderful gift—a gift which ranks second only to the gift of your sobriety (which they have already helped to give you)—the gift of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Reprinted with permission of The A.A. Grapevine, Inc. October 1958, Vol. 15 No. 5

“Our membership ought to include all who suffer alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover…”

A.A. is a gift, a free gift from on high. There’s no question that we earned the need of the gift, earned it in the bitter torture of alcoholism, but it is also true that no one of us earned the right to the gift.

On the contrary, some of us fought the Giver and His gift, refused the Giver and His gift until alcohol had beaten us to our knees in our own particular gutter. Then, and only then, did we accept the gift.

It is an A.A. paradox many times stated that only by sharing this gift, by seeking to give it to others, can we retain it for our very own, and so retaining it, see it grow in import and beauty. The more of it we give, the more of it we have.

Reprinted with permission of The A.A. Grapevine, Inc. July 1946, Vol. 3 No. 2

“Give them the gift of sobriety…that’s your job”

Nanaimo’s 44th annual AA rally was held over the last weekend in January, providing a venue and many opportunities for AA members from across the mid-Island region to share their recovery with one another—and to invite newcomers into the Fellowship.

Under the theme “A gift that grows,” five keynote speakers from Alcoholics Anonymous and partnering Fellowship Al-Anon shared their experiences with sobriety—the “gift that grows”—with hundreds of rally-goers.

Dan ‘Corky’ S, from Texas, told the Saturday-evening crowd that he attributes his over 40 years in sobriety “totally and completely to this (AA) program.”

“I absolutely adore going to Alcoholics Anonymous,” he said, “It’s the neatest thing in the whole world.” And Corky held out the vaunted promises in the Big Book as a reality to be experienced. “You cannot imagine what your life is going to be like in five years…I know that…I can tell you that. It’s part of my life today.”

Corky commented on the “fuss about people (coming into AA) from treatment centres, prisons, and the courts,” and he declared, “They’re the only source of newcomers we have now…we need to reach out with love to the new people coming in.”

Small group presentations about the AA traditions and service

Kurt M shared his experiences working with AA’s traditions over five years of formal tradition study, not to mention many years of sobriety and of studying the history of the Fellowship. His presentation was called Traditions: The Anvil of Experience.

“The traditions hold us together and protect what we have,” he said, adding that he wasn’t trying to be an expert. But he acknowledged that the AA traditions have helped him “to live with all of you better.”

Kurt led a packed room through a brief review of the traditions, beginning with the emphasis on unity in the first tradition (“I don’t know why I wasn’t made aware of it earlier,” he said, of his early experiences in sobriety). He addressed the importance of anonymity as described in the twelfth tradition, adding that “All of these traditions require sacrifice…power, money, and time (for example). Kurt’s conclusion: “Traditions are more like hugs than hammers. Love, tolerance, alcohol itself is our greatest disciplinarian.”

Sue B, who is the current secretary with BC/Yukon Area 79, shared her service experiences and observations in a presentation called What does your triangle look like?

Sue’s opening question was “How many legs are there on your three-legged stool?” It was a strong reminder about the importance of balance in sobriety: the AA triangle includes three sides representing unity, recovery, and service.

“Service definitely saved my life,” Sue declared. “I got a job making coffee…that’s where my life changed.” She started arriving early to meetings, instead of at the last moment. “I was letting them get to know me.” She now believes “Service is 2 plus 2 equals 122…it’s far more miraculous than we can account for.”

Sue’s service experiences within AA also helped her to be of service outside of the Fellowship. “You guys showed me how—for the first time—to show up in service.”

Spiritual speaker emphasizes courage, AA literature

Lyla M, from Nanaimo, was the “spiritual speaker” on Sunday morning. She began her story with a reference to the “violent twists” mentioned in the chapter on step 8 in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

Lyla’s story includes experiences of abuses in childhood and mental illness in adult years. “I did not want to feel the way I felt in my life, and that’s why I drank,” she said.

Lyla’s search took her from AA to psychiatry to church and back to AA again. “Please don’t go away if you’re here!” she said. Lyla has really gotten into the AA literature. “It can tell you how to live outside the meetings.”

In her conclusion, Lyla M asserted that “Life is good (now)…I honestly thought I would never be happy.” And she added what were perhaps her key messages—“Trust God. Clean house. And serve others.”

More thoughts about the Gift

Corky S concluded his Saturday evening talk by saying “The most precious gift given (by this program) is our ability to reach out to another alcoholic. No one has that ability except another alcoholic.”

“My story is more pathetic than dramatic,” he said, “But that’s what got me here.”

What was Corky’s final challenge to the 300 members of AA in the room? “Reach out and show (the still-suffering alcoholic) what happened to you…and give them the gift of sobriety…that’s your job.”

A little earlier that evening, Dan O, with 58 years of sobriety, presented Amy, with 2 days of sobriety, with a copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

45th rally to come in 2013

The rally auditorium displays banners from past rally themes—from “A design for living” in 2011 to “First things first” in 2001, and many others. The annual Nanaimo AA rally has been organized every year for 44 years. The event is planned by an independent committee of AA members, who work within the traditions and concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The rally provides ways for people living in recovery from alcoholism to share their experience, strength, and hope—with each other, and with the still-suffering alcoholic.