Monday, August 3, 2009

Seventh tradition...

Probably the best "pitch man" I've ever heard around AA's Seventh Tradition was our area Treasurer a number of years ago. While, on balance, I think he was probably not our best treasurer (he had a hard time understanding the differences between the "books" of AA and other businesses or enterprises), when he talked about the nature and principles of our Seventh tradition, he seldom talked about money.

To him, this tradition was all about the privilege and opportunity of sacrifice, about truly "belonging" to something and, about choosing to participate.

When I first sobered up, I was counseled in the first few days that I was attending meetings that most people put a dollar in the basket but, if I didn't have a dollar, I could put in 50 cents. If I didn't have 50 cents, I could put in a quarter, a dime, a nickel - but, whatever I felt I could spare, that it would be appreciated and included to help "keep our doors open". They taught me that part of my "right" to be here was that I could participate at whatever level I felt I could afford.

Further, whether I would or chose to contribute financially or not, I could always clean, help with dishes, make coffee or otherwise make myself generally useful at our meeting place.

I look with sadness at my home group's largest meeting with over a 100 people in attendance and the basket often is passed 2 full rows without someone feeling enough ownership to contribute anything. I'm not sad for our meeting, we have a great deal on rent and we always seem to have plenty of money - at least for now. I'm sad for what seems to be a whole lot of our fellowship who don't choose to participate.

I try to think of this in all of my life. For much of my life, I was blessed with a good income where I could always "throw money" rather than show up and participate. Don't get me wrong, my whole family enjoyed the vacations, gifts (sometimes extravagant) and my slight-of-hand where I would always pick up the check for our outings. But, for now, that time is gone.

I've had to learn the same thing those deadbeats (I'm joking...) at my meeting need to learn. That, to participate and belong to something is one of the richest gifts life offers. The greatest joy of my life over the weekend was throwing nickles and dimes into the pool for my grandson to dive and get. No one seems to notice that it's not silver dollars or even quarters any more.

I think "self support" has everything to do with choosing to fully participate and the greater the sacrifice, the greater the blessings. Sometimes not blessings I would have sought out but always way bigger and grander than my little plans and designs.

That's been my experience...


Steve E. said...

Ed, you couldn't have said it better, yourself...OH! You DID say it! -grin!

Seriously, the Seventh Tradition is of FAR greater importance than we often attach to it. Sometimes, people do not even show up for a 7th Tradition meeting. (Heck in our group, sometimes peole don't show up for ANY of the Tradition meetings.

If AA is ever gone down the tubes, it will be "us" IN AA and not those outside. I read that many, many years ago.


Carol said...

I agree totally. Especially when the basket passes by those who have their hand firmly around their Dunkin Donuts coffee cup which cost them something.

Syd said...

I'm so grateful that I get so much in my meetings and it costs me only $1. It's the best way of living that I know and I get a million times more than I could ever contribute.

Mary Christine said...

In my current home group, people sit down and put a couple of dollars on the table waiting for the basket to be passed, almost like it is the anty. I don't like it, but I think it puts peer pressure on them to put some money in the basket.