This week's Here's To Your Health is about Step 11 and coverage of AA's Indiana, State Convention held at Columbus, IN on April 1, 2, 3, 2005. Meri R. State Delegate and Mike B. the "voice," of this year's convention were my hosts. Soon after our arrival, Mike B. introduced me to a living legend whose name is often spoken around the tables of AA. Her name is Sister Ruth and although she deflected all compliments, her deep humility and powerful spiritual presence left me at a loss for words. Saturday morning while I was eating breakfast it occurred to me if I asked Sister Ruth, she might consent to be interviewed? Sister Ruth was the first person I saw after breakfast, she was at the hotel's front door, shaking hands, and greeting people as they entered the convention center. I was at once elated and humbled when she graciously consented to be interviewed. Although our talk seemed like only five minutes her interview lasted about an hour and by the end of it, I would have filled every available scrap of paper with notes. Sister Ruth was born on August 28, 1926, to a Catholic family on a farm outside Yoder, Indiana, she entered the "Sisters of St. Joseph Convent," on September 1, 1942, and her story will begin in the next issue of The Waynedale News.
While I was checking in Friday night I spoke with Frank N. who's a member of AA's Archives Committee and I was glad to see his health is better. I also hoped to meet with Professor Chesnut and obtain copies of his latest books, "The Factory Owner and the Convict," and "The St. Louis Gambler and The Railroad Man." I was within five minutes of leaving Columbus and had not yet spoken with the Professor when one last phone call to his room connected us. He said, "Where are you?" I said, "Room 112." He said, "Stay right there." Minutes later we were shaking hands, drinking coffee and reliving past experiences. Although the professor's books are late getting back from the printer they will soon be available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
About three hours later, I finally departed Columbus, IN, armed with many joyous memories and the business card of the man who spoke Saturday morning. Greg M.'s story will also soon appear in The Waynedale News, his is another incredible story that spans many years from the time he was an alcoholic hippie running the streets of Los Angeles until he met his first AA sponsor on the island of Maui, Hawaii, to his current job as manager of AA's General Service Office in New York, NY.
Step 11, continued from Bill Wilson's book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions: The actual experience of meditation and prayer across the centuries is, of course, immense. The world's libraries and places of worship are a treasure trove for all seekers. It is to be hoped that every AA who has a religious connection will return to the practice of that devotion as never before. But, what about those of us who are less fortunate and don't know how to begin?
Well we might start like this. First, let's look at a really powerful prayer. We don't have far to seek; the great men and women of all religions have left us a wonderful supply.
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace
—that where there is hatred, I may bring love
—that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness
—that where there is discord, I may bring harmony
—that where there is error, I may bring truth
—that where there is doubt, I may bring faith
—that where there is despair, I may bring hope
—that where there is darkness, I may bring light
—that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted, to understand, than to be understood—to love, than be loved.
For it is by forgiving that we are forgiven.
It is by dying that we awaken to Eternal Life.
The Fort Wayne Intergroup held their 25th Annual Northeast Indiana Convention at the Marriott Inn on April 8-10. This year's convention was a smashing success largely due to the AA women who led the charge promoting it while the men played supporting roles. Deb H. was this year's convention chairperson and Joyce B. was the convention's "voice." The Intergroup's convention is usually held at the Grand Wayne Center, but due to its massive renovation, this year's convention was instead held at the Fort Wayne Marriott Inn.
Many high impact AA and Alanon speakers spoke Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but the one who impacted Barleycorn the most was the man who spoke after the banquet Saturday night. This year's keynote speaker was a medical doctor from Ireland who currently resides in Los Angeles, California. The Dublin Doctor shared a lifetime of his memories which included being on a panel of psychiatrists, psychologists, professors and medical doctors during Adolph Eichmann's holocaust trial in the early 1970s.
The good doctor recalled one moment during that panel's discussion when a psychiatrist rose to his feet and delivered an impassioned speech: "Maybe there's a little Eichmann in all of us," he said. "Maybe if we had walked his path, lived his life and been given that much power, maybe we too might have been Eichmann's? It is not for us to judge this man so much as we should all look into the mirror, deep into our souls and during our self—examinations see if we too are as humanly flawed and with the same potential to be equally despicable as Eichmann."
Bill Wilson's book, "Alcoholics Anonymous" clearly states: "There's a bit of bad in the best of us and a bit of good in the worst of us." And, every culture seems to have another way of saying, "Judge not any man, unless we've walked a mile on his path, in his moccasins, sandals or Gucci loafers!"