This week’s “Here’s To Your Health” is a continuation of Sister Ruth’s story, we ended her story last week with…I could not say the words, “My name is Ruth and I’m an alcoholic.” I was so ashamed that I just sat in a corner and wanted to disappear…I was at Suitland, Maryland four months and just couldn’t get through the steps. In Step One, I could admit that I was powerless over alcohol because I couldn’t quit drinking it, but I couldn’t admit that my life was unmanageable. I knew God had the power to restore my sanity, but why would He want to? And the Third Step, “Made a decision to turn our will and life over to the care of God, “as we understood Him.” “You’ve got to be kidding, I already knew about God,” “Ok God, you have my permission to zap me.”
The turning point in my recovery began at a meeting held in the downtown ghetto in the poorest slum of Washington, D.C. The Director of our recovery center was very effective and he believed we should go to all types of A.A meetings. That ghetto meeting was held on Friday nights, we pulled up in front of this liquor store, they had a bouncer at the top of the stairs and if a practicing drunk pleaded his case well enough to convince the bouncer that he really wanted help then he was admitted.
Once inside the door the practicing alcoholic was sat in a chair at the back of the room. He was shaking too badly to hold a full cup of coffee so they gave him a half of cup and told him to sit quietly. That ghetto meeting was extremely spiritual and it became my favorite one and I hung onto every word they said. I heard stories there that I’ve never heard anywhere else, and it’s unbelievable the things that had happened to those people. Before the meeting adjourned a couple of the guys went over to this trembling wino; put their arms around him and started talking to him. And, it made no difference to them what he looked, smelled or acted like! And, when I witnessed that, it occurred to me that God must surely be kind and loving; not the punishing God that I’d imagined all of my life. All-of-a-sudden in a flash of intuition, I understood that I had a warped image of God in my mind.
Sometime during that ghetto meeting, God switched from the intellectual understanding in my head; to my heart! I had never-before-seen, so much love in one room as when those recovering alcoholics reached out to the trembling man who still suffered. And, the same thing is still happening today, whenever a new-comer comes into the rooms of AA, it doesn’t matter what they smell, look, or act like, or how much money they have, people already in recovery wrap their arms around them and “we” love them until they can love themselves.