from the history books …

Cong. John Sieberling wrote:

In the spring of 1971, the newspapers reported the passing of Bill Wilson of New York City, who as one of the two co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. The other co-founder, Dr. Robert Smith of Akron, Ohio, has passed on some years earlier.

Shortly after Bill’s death, the Akron Alcoholics groups asked my mother Henrietta Seiberling, to speak at the annual “Founders Day” meeting in Akron, which is attended by members of Alcoholics Anonymous from all over the world. She lives in New York and did not feel up to traveling, so they asked me to speak in her place.

I agreed to speak but felt that it would mean most to them to hear some of her own words, so I called her on the telephone and asked her to tell me about the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous so that I could make sure my remarks were accurate. I made a tape recording of the conversation and played part of it at the 1971 Founders Day meeting, which was held in the gymnasium at the University of Akron with a couple of thousand people present.

A very small portion of what Henrietta said:
The need was there, and all of the necessary elements were furnished by God. Bill the promoter, and I, not being an alcoholic, for perspective. Every Wednesday night I would speak on some new experience or spiritual idea I had read. That’s the way we all grew. Eventually the meetings moved to King School. Some man from Hollywood came, an actor, and he said that he had been all over the country and that there was something in the King School group that wasn’t in any other group. I think it was our great stress and reliance on guidance and quiet times.

Bill did a grand job. We can all see in his life what the Oxford Group people had told us in their message: that if we turn our lives to God and let him run it, he will take our shortcomings and make them valuable in His way and give us our heart’s desire. And when I got the word that Bill had gone on, I sat there, and it was just as if someone had spoken to me again on top of my head. Something said to me, “Verily, verily, he as received his reward.” So I went to the Bible, and there it was, in Matthew VI. Then I looked at Bill’s story in Alcoholics Anonymous where Bill had said that all his failures were because he always wanted people to think he was somebody.

In the first edition of the book, he said he always wanted to make his mark among people. And by letting God run his life, God took his ego and gave him his hearts desire in God’s way. And when he was gone, he was on the front page of the New York Times, famous all over the world. So it does verify what the Oxford Group people had told him.

can i tell you that when i read the portion in bold today, i started crying? i don’t know. it just was the idea that god will take my shortcomings and make them valuable … and then also give me my heart’s desire. yes. is this possibly true? even for me? i’ve read this stuff in AA literature before, and i guess as henrietta alludes, this stuff is even in the bible. but, i just saw it and heard it anew today. it was hopeful.

and of course, i relate so much to bill. i’ve said in several leads that “wanting to be cool will kill me.” and i love that bill has that same instinct, too. and i’ve had this inkling for quite some time now that my “heart’s desire” to be “rich and famous” is going to look somewhat different than what i’ve originally pictured it to be. and now i see this sentence that god took bill’s ego and “gave him his heart’s desire in god’s way.” i guess what could be better than that?

i don’t know. i feel like a god freak sometimes, but you know, i can’t be apologizing for that anymore. it is what it is and if you judge me for it, then so be it. i wasn’t afraid to be judged for being a pothead or someone who got wasted. so, i have to keep on this path and let it be what it is.

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