Suddenly Something Happened
PERHAPS THOSE who know just a little about AA think our meetings must become dull and monotonous and our talks collapse into tiresome and repetitious laments or tortured remembrances. It might seem that once we have left behind the hell we existed in, we shouldn't have to go so assiduously to these meetings, for no new thoughts or experiences are to be found there.
As AAs, we need these lifesaving contacts to support and maintain our happily found sobriety. We need to and must see each other regularly, helping one another with continuing problems, sharing them--and sharing, too, our personal triumphs and mutually enjoying them. United, we continue to walk together along the upward-winding road we took when we left drinking behind.
For us, our meetings are eternally new, each offering something--whether happy or tragic--to encourage, sustain, and reaffirm our precious sobriety. I discovered at an AA meeting that a simple recitation of the Lord's Prayer could become, not the serene and humble supplication to God we are familiar with, but an agonized cry of impotence, the cry of a soul hoping with every word for the miracle of liberation and salvation.
The meeting had concluded, and we were ready for the final prayer. We had formed our circle, grasping each other's hands. But before anyone had said a word, Enrique asked, "Would you let me lead the prayer?"
His voice was almost a whisper, eager yet timid. He looked around the circle, waiting for our response. Enrique was like a battered little old bird spreading his shaking wings. He had a four-day beard; his tattered clothes hung loosely on his skinny frame; his dirty, ragged coat and pants were beyond patching; unwashed elbows stuck out of his sleeves. His eyes were reddened; patches of dirt obscured his face; a streak of the dirt and dried blood ran from his temple to his wrinkled cheek, changing his thin, bony face into a grotesque mask.
Enrique had visited our group before--never exactly drunk. Some remnant of innate dignity and pride kept him from exhibiting himself as a totally destroyed person. And I had watched his unflagging battle against slavery to alcohol. Now his look was pleading, imploring us to say yes.
Finally, someone said, "Of course, Enrique. You lead the prayer tonight." Stiffening and swallowing hard, Enrique prepared to lead the prayer. His eyes shut tightly. He tightened his grip on the hands of those at each side of him. His face took on a look of great intensity; sweat started out on his forehead, and he braced himself.
"Our Father who art. . ." (his voice trembling) "in heaven. . ." (looking up for inspiration, for dim words in the dark tunnel of memory) "Thy kingdom. . ." (tightened, grim mouth) "Thy will be done. . ." (angry, bitter rebellion against his own helplessness; tears starting down his bearded cheeks) "on earth. . ." (the voice breaking now, tight in his throat) "as it is in heaven. . ." (the end barely audible).
Then Enrique burst into tears and cried like a child.
No one said a word. We could not. But all of our hands gripped tighter and warmer. Everyone gazed at Enrique with compassion, love, and understanding. We identified with him. We were together with him in his defeat, for Enrique was nothing other than a repetition of our own experiences. There came the overwhelming realization that, in the fight against the ravages of alcohol, we are all truly brothers and sisters.