09 October 2007

Three times in a week

A week ago Sunday afternoon I spoke for my friend Timber Ruse. We already knew we had a lot in common, but discovered that day that we had both been heavily influenced in our early days of service by the same man: J.J. Rangstorm. It was a typical speaking engagement for this area. Ten minutes or so of preliminaries, followed by me speaking for 20 or 25 minutes, followed by 25-30 minutes of sharing from the floor. I find that I can really only tell part of my story in 20 minutes.

Friday night I had been asked to speak on the first half of the 12th Step. It was, obviously, a step meeting, 1 ½ hours long. After the opening readings, we went around the room reading the first 11 pages of the 12th Step from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. A pretty normal format so far. Then I shared. The chairperson had asked me to leave no less than 45 minutes for general sharing and that left me 10 minutes. I used 9 of them.

All week long I had been wondering (not for the first time) about what constitutes the "first half" of Step Twelve. I see three parts to it:

  1. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps,

  2. we tried to carry this message to alcoholics,

  3. And practice these principles in all our affairs.

The first two of parts of this step were changed from the Big Book draft manuscript. Instead of spritual awakening we had spiritual experience. Instead of these steps we had this course of action. Instead of to alcholics we had to others, especially alcoholics. The first of these changes occurred between the 1st (1939) and 2nd (1941) printings of the 1st edition. Appendix II, "Spritual Experience", was added at the same time. The latter two occurred before the 1st printing.

We read [just over] half the pages Bill W. devoted to the 12th Step in the 12&12. In these 11 pages, he addresses all three parts of the step. He discusses what a spiritual awakening is, then talks briefly about carrying the message and the attendant joys of that, and finally spends almost 5 pages on how we can practice these principles throughout our life. The remain 9+ pages are devoted to this latter subject as well. So in the end, I talked a little about each part of the 12th step.

The remaining 45 minutes were given over to sharing from the floor. The chairperson carefully timed each to ensure they didn't take more than 3 minutes (and only had to cut one off). There were about 50 people in attendance, only two or three of whom I already knew, and almost everyone got a chance to share.

It was good meeting and I felt pretty good about how I used my time. One man came up to me afterwards and asked for my phone number, which I of course gave to him. He lives near where my home group meets and will be moving back after he finishes his course of treatment at the rehab in the part of town in which I spoke. Another man asked me to sponsor him. Due to my service commitments, I have to be careful about taking on new pigeons, so I also gave him my number and asked him to call me, thinking we could discuss what was entailed in a sponsor-sponsee relationship and possibly to offer to be his temporary sponsor. (I haven't heard from either one.)

Sunday morning I drove 112 km to speak for the third time in the week. I was told I could take as much of the hour as I wanted and spoke for about 40 minutes. It's so much more satisfying to me personally to speak for 40 minutes rather than 20. I felt like everything came out really well and this was confirmed by some reactions I got afterwards. Clearly my Higher Power had led me to say some things that were inspirational, at least to a few people there.

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