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The Benefits Of Service
Recently, as I was returning from a short break in Jersey in the Channel Islands, I was in a window seat in the plane and was treated to the magnificent sight of a sunset above the clouds with vibrant reds and oranges giving way to all the colours of the rainbow. As the sun sank below the level of the clouds and the riot of colours ended it set me to thinking about how far I had come on my journey in the Fellowship - from my inability to appreciate anything or anybody in the last few days of my alcohol-fuelled insanity to my almost childlike appreciation of what I had just witnessed.
My journey on that aeroplane was not the first I have made in my recovery and I sometimes idly wonder how many of those wonderful alcohol-free holidays I would have made had I not been loved back to sanity and sobriety in the meeting rooms of AA. The stark answer to that question is probably very few of those journeys would have been possible, as my wife would almost certainly not have been with me and my spending on ‘the booze’ would have prevented me saving and planning our next holiday.
I was filled with gratitude on that flight for my life as it is now and it is a gratitude that I try to repay to the Fellowship by doing the one thing this wonderful Fellowship asks of me: to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic.
A wise, long term sober member once told me that my Higher Power would not give me anything to do that I could not manage. At the time I chose not to accept that wisdom as many of the things I was good at had also been areas that fuelled my character defects and so I was afraid that becoming involved in areas of service might lead me back to the demon drink. It took a little time to realise that if I was really putting my faith in our Programme of Recovery, rather than looking over my shoulder at old behaviours and outcomes, then there was nothing to fear.
I have always really been involved in service in many ways without really knowing or appreciating the fact; be it moving the chairs at my group or taking on a job at my group’s conscience meeting and seeing that task through until rotating out and getting a fresh challenge to deal with. I even went along to my local intergroup and after a while became one of that group’s representatives to region. I learned a lot at those groups. I learned that many intergroups and indeed regional meetings can suffer from a lack of participation from all the groups in their area. This might be because a particular group conscience does not wish to be involved at those levels or that there are a lot of people in the Fellowship who, like me, had a fear and suspicion of getting involved.
I try only to share my experience and not my opinion (which is difficult for somebody who used to have an opinion on everything) and my experience of my service at Scotia Region is that is has enhanced my sobriety and encouraged my humility especially when I see individuals at that body reporting on what is happening within the region in regard to the various disciplines: Prison, Telephone, and Armed Services Liaison to name but a few. The willingness of the region delegates to attend the annual Conference at York, which should not be mistaken for a convention, should also be noted and although conventions are an important part of the Fellowship they most certainly are not the conscience of AA in Great Britain. That is actually the precise role of our annual Conference. My experience of Conference has enhanced my sobriety as I have watched and learned from many of the delegates from the differing regions throughout the country.
I have had the honour of being the Conference Chair for this year and found that what my wise old friend told me is true; that your Higher Power will not ask of you something that you cannot do. I am finishing this article at Conference where there is a real buzz as the delegates discuss the various questions and issues among themselves in the formal committee sessions and during the tea breaks. I have a feeling of contentment almost akin to that moment of peace I spoke about on the aeroplane at the start of this article. If you have not yet got involved in service allow me to share my experience that it has only enhanced my sobriety.
Kirkintilloch Wednesday Night Big Book Group