My homegroup is a small group in Houston, Texas. It’s literally the last house on the block, a small, ramshackly little house overlooking I-10. Last week, an occasionally reoccurring member stopped by for the ten o’clock candlelight meeting. When he first started coming around, maybe four years ago, he had just left his parent’s house and was living on a buddy’s sofa. Now, he has became what the locals call an “outdoorsman.” When I pulled up to the club on Tuesday, I wasn’t able to distinguish him from the other homeless that roam the area. Although he is young, maybe twenty-two, he looked like he had aged ten years. He walked with a bit of a limp. His clothes were grimy, his stench penetrating. We had a casual conversation. I inquired into his safety, but he assured me he found a nice, flat park bench in an upscale part of town. I gave him some peanut butter crackers and bought him a coke. He stayed for the whole meeting before walking back out into the night.
I read once that Bill W. spent a significant amount of time trying to discern why some people find their bottom while others never hit it. What Bill was ultimately trying to discern was the exact best time to twelve step a prospective AA, so that the program would have the maximum impact- Is it the first trip to the hospital, the second time, the third time? Is it after the wife kicks him out but before he loses the house? That sort of thing. The closest he ever came to an answer is that answer we are all familiar with: that bottoms are generally more contingent on emotional and spiritual bankruptcy rather than the material. The loss of cars, jobs, and homes does not affect an alcoholic the in the same way that fear, loneliness, and self-pity do.
After last week’s run-in with the occasionally reoccurring outdoorsman, I started thinking about my a-ha moment. My moment of clarity took two months to come to fruition, but it started with Christmas. It started with Christmas and by February, I had put down the shovel. This is not one of those blogs that supplies an answer. I don’t know why some people “go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help,” (Big Book 25). The best I’ve ever come up, the best descriptor, the best reason for my sobering up is that it was a miracle. And neither I nor Bill nor anyone else can create miracles. But God can. And Santa can. Tis the season for miracles. And to all the outdoorsmen, here’s wishing you a safe and sober holiday.