Being under self-quarantine has given me some much needed down-time, and as I wander through my house I keep noticing things I haven’t noticed in a while, an old tin that upon opening, divulged a small pile of recipes, half -finished craft projects begging for attention, lots of books I’ve been meaning to read, and a few old notebooks that when opened, take me on journeys to the past in the form of old poems, old articles , and old ramblings that I wrote many years ago. Finding and reading the short piece, Taking the Steps by Candlelight, really gave me food for thought, in light of the situation in our world today. I’ve included my thoughts and reaction to this little gem I wrote years ago.
Taking the Steps by Candlelight
The night we had a hurricane blow through, it was meeting night. My home group met on Monday nights and I had learned early in sobriety that we never cancel a meeting; the doors must always be open. So that night a few of us made it to our meeting, not in the midst of the storm, but when the church building was closed and there was no electricity in the area. We couldn’t go inside to set up or make coffee. But the church did have an outside picnic shelter nearby. So we hopped in our cars and drove over to the picnic pavilion. I had brought a few candles and ashtrays just in case, and so had three or four other people. A couple of us had brought our Big Books and I had brought an old Grapevine Magazine, so we had all the readings. There was a sense of adventure setting up in the dark, a sense of camaraderie in working together to have a meeting no matter what. That night we read by candlelight. Those who drove out for the Monday night Meeting were not disappointed. This was fellowship at its finest.
I wrote this article years ago when I was younger, healthier and newer to sobriety. Today I am an “Old-Timer” with 20 years of sobriety, and while I still love A.A. and its fellowship passionately, I have developed more common sense and more of a need for self-preservation. Way back then I still felt ‘10- feet- tall and bulletproof’ as they say in the rooms. I was also an over achiever and a perfectionist and was heavily into service work. I was so devoted to my home group and would never have dreamed of missing a meeting. A.A. had saved my life and I was eternally grateful and willing to give back at just about any cost. As I said, common sense came later. I don’t know if that night it was my love of A.A., my sense of obligation to the program and the people, or my 100 percent acceptance of all the dogma of the fellowship, or my need to be invincible, important and needed. I hadn’t yet learned that the show would go on with out me. I was that important. For the first time in my life I was important, needed, and valuable. This was a heady brew. Add to that the exhilaration of having a common purpose, total sense of right, and a dangerous mission to complete. This wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last time I fell prey to such a wonderful mix of emotions and excitement. I had been the kid who always took on the dare, swinging off buildings and risking my life in numerous ways.
But today, I have mellowed. Many never thought I would or could. I’ve been through a few things and I’ve learned a few things. I’ve lost a husband and sponsor, and a number of friends and loved ones. I’ve had two knee replacements and a heart attack. I’ve broken bones and hearts, mine and others. I have a compromised immune system due to RA. And today I want to live. That wasn’t always the case. The fellowship has given me a life that I want to keep. And family, friends, and loved ones that I want to keep, too.
So three weeks ago when I and my fellow home group members decided to close our meeting because it had been suggested that staying at home and social distancing would save us and others from possibly spreading a new virus that was spreading around the world, we did it. Probably for the first time in A.A. history we were closing a meeting. We had already made it clear to each other that we need to stay in touch, exchanging phone numbers and email addresses. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my sobriety. But today, I know I am not 10 feet tall and bulletproof. And the fellowship will find a way to carry on, with or without me.
Lori Crockett. April 2, 2020