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433 Years of Sobriety …

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It was a cloudy day, Montreal got a light dusting of snow since yesterday, and now we are under a freezing rain warning over night.

Today proved to be very exciting and fulfilling. I set out early because tonight we were celebrating Tuesday Beginner’s 55th anniversary. There was a lot of food, so much so that at the end of the meeting, we tossed food into the trash because everybody left after eating and we had too much left over and no where to store it so we tossed it.

Our most trusted woman member chaired the meeting and she read from the Foreward to the Second Edition to the Big Book. There are two schools of thought about these pages of the book. We heard a young member share tonight that she had no desire to read the forewards but skip ahead to the meat of the text.

Then there are the old timers who say that in order to gain context for the book, we must read about how the movement was begun, where things went wrong, and how the steps and traditions came together.

We Read:

Our society then entered a fearsome and exciting adolescent period. The test that it faced was this: Could these large numbers of erstwhile erratic alcoholics successfully meet and work together? Would there be quarrels over membership, leadership, and money? Would there be strivings for power and prestige? Would there be schisms which would split A.A. apart?

Soon A.A. was beset by these very problems on every side and in every group. But out of this frightening and at first disrupting experience the conviction grew that A.A.’s had to hang together or die separately. We had to unify our Fellowship or pass off the scene.

In our long history of our meeting, people came and went. Many stayed sober, but moved here and there and to other groups as time progressed. I’ve seen hundreds of people come and go. A good number came for a season but decided that they did not want what we were giving. The meeting grew in numbers and we used to have a two meeting format.

But times changed and our speaker meeting numbers dropped off, so much so that the three members who were the only members for a number of years, retooled the meeting format to the Beginners Literature Discussion meeting we now employ. And this April we will celebrate 2 years in this new format.

Our group grew from 3 male members to more than twenty members of our group. Three quarters of our numbers are women. I tell the story about our most trusted female member came one week, and tens and twenties of women followed her to our meeting.

Our women bring a whole new dimension to our group. I’ve said in the past that the women do things so richly and the offer an example of true devotion and service to the book, to each other and to the steps. If it weren’t for our women, my sobriety would not be as rich as it is today.

At the end of the meeting our chair hosted a sober countdown. We began at 40 years sobriety, our first hit came at 38 years all the way down to one year. We sat almost 75 members tonight. Give or take a few heads. I wasn’t sure of the final tally. But I took down the sober numbers. Put together – we had 433 years of sobriety in the room, all together. There were also 25 folks with less than a year – and the most important – the newcomer – we had 3 newcomers with a day sober. We gave a brand new Big Book to one of those young men tonight.

I was also happy that our man who was rushed to hospital over the weekend came in and sat down as the meeting started. He did not drink today. The shares went around the room, everybody on the outer circles got to share. We went three quarters around the main table before time ran out.

We heard many good things, the most important was about gratitude. The old timers told us how they did it, the new comers shared about their struggles but for many of us, we were just happy to be at a meeting.

I had a few conversations before and after the meeting. It was good to take a little time to get to know the newcomers a little bit better. Some came to talk to me, about what they heard from me last week. And I got to share with some of our women – how they touch my heart.

I’ve been actively praying for one of our young women with a little over 75 days sober. She is in transition moving on from a breakup. And I so want her to stay sober – so we talked after the meeting. I offered her some advice because I want her to stick around. She needs to find a way to stay here, because she is on a visa and time is running out. I will be helping her figure out what to do next.

Lots of people came – all of them got to share. We had good food, good conversations and fellowship. Fellowship and being a member of a group were two things that need to be part of our sobriety. Becoming part of and being in fellowship with.

Those two things are vitally important for the newcomer to get involved.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…

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