Monday, March 29, 2010

Nunca! Nunca!

I attended another Spanish speaking AA meeting yesterday.  A 3-1/2 hour meeting (no breaks) followed by a 1-hour feast/fiesta really takes a bite out of your day - it's especially tiring when you've already been sitting in meetings for the whole weekend.

It was important to attend though in that one of the pillars of that community (Spanish-speaking AA) was celebrating his 26 years of sobriety.  He's been a good friend to me and many others - there were about 150 people there from all over the state.

Since I don't speak Spanish, these meetings are hard for me but there is so much I can learn.  I see what they do as largely an AA Public Information pitch for families and friends in addition to an AA meeting.

The format runs something like this:
  1. After the starting rituals (prayer, reading, etc.), they invite some of the new people (under 30 days) up to share.  While they talk about "...really meaning it this time..." and "...going to try harder...", some of the audience laugh and catcall him - suggest they probably aren't really done - etc.
  2. Then people (mostly men) with generally increasing lengths of sobriety and experience, share what they did to get and stay sober and how their lives have changed.
  3. Then (about 2+ hours into the deal), they call special guests to share - people who are General Service Representatives, District Committee Members, Intergroup officers, the area Delegate, etc. about what AA is and is not and how it has impacted their lives and honoring the person celebrating.
  4. Next family members are given a chance to talk.  A brother who had 2 years sober at one time and would love to get sober again but just can't seem to make it through a day without drinking.  A sister who came from Oklahoma just to say that she is proud of her brother and grateful to AA,  Alanon members, kids, grandkids, cousins, everyone is given a chance to say what they think of the birthday boy or anything at all.
  5. Finally, the target of this celebration is given the chance to talk.
As he walked to the podium, tears were already streaming down his dark, handsome face.  Even with my exceedingly poor Spanish, I could clearly hear much of what he shared: "Nothing! Nothing! could have prepared me for so much love and gratitude from the miracle of what AA has done for me and my family!!!" ; "...all that I am today, all that I have today, all that I will ever be, I owe to AA...";  "...from a life of hopeless dispair and nothingness, I am now the happiest man in the world, thanks to AA...";  "...AA and God never gave up on my, long after I'd given up on myself..."

I hope you get the idea.  Not a dry eye anywhere.

Then, this community who are mostly unemployed or work below minimum wage, fed us all.

Rich, thick, meaty mole. Hearty green chili.  Pasta.  Fresh tortillas.  Cake.  All homemade and delicious.

As embarrassed as we were, it was clear that we would offend them if we didn't take extra plates of food home.

My heart is still full.  This "work" that we do in AA is important.  For ourselves and, more importantly, for others.  AA can and will change my life if I let it.

And, it tastes good too...


Steve E said...

What a great experience. Thanks for sharing that.


The Turning Point said...

All that we are..have and will ever be We owe to AA.
Yesterday my wife and I revisited the family albums. What a life its is in AA!

thanks for you post


Anonymous said...

Wow! There are some things you just don't need language for! Really inspirational!! Thanks and have a great day.!!!

Carol said...

That sounds wonderful.

Syd said...

I'm glad that you were there to listen and probably understand more than you imagined. It is hard to not understand the gratitude and the feelings.

Mary Christine said...

Wonderful, wonderful.