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The Gift of Bill

I attended my home group tonight – like most Wednesday nights. Tonight we were on Step 11 and had a great lead and some great follow-up call ups to make for a great meeting. I was fortunate enough to sit by my sponsor during the meeting – we had both attended a retreat committee meeting before the meeting and just kept those seats. During the meeting he reached into his pocket and handed me a wrapped gift and card (for a moment I felt special, then I realized he brought all his sponsees  gifts – then I realized I”m unique, like everyone else )
I opened the card first and read (the card itself was a Happy Holidays message inside)

“Hi Jamez, I really want you to read this and make it a part of your 11th step. Love the Sponsor”

Opening the small package I found this

The Best of Bill

The Best of Bill

The Best of Bill is a collection of 6 essays from Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA. In this book he talks about

Faith

Fear

Honesty

Humility

Love 

and Anonymity

It’s 88 pages long and those pages include a Forward, the AA Preamble, 12 steps, 12 traditions a short “about Bill W” and the Prayer of St Francis.

It’s a good little book, I’ve read these essays on occasion and talked with other about them – most recently in fact with my sponsor and one of his other sponsees when I was in New Mexico for a get away.

He said in his note: “Make this part of your 11th step” for those of you not in the know that’s:

“11. Sought through prayer and medication to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Even as an atheist I pray – when I first got into the program I hand wrote and recited the 3rd and 7th step prayers until I had them committed to memory. I say a litany of prayers each day which include those two – it goes like this:

“God I offer myself to thee to build with me and to do with me as thou wilt, relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do thy will always.

My creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. grant me strength, as I go out from her to do your bidding. 

God please grant me knowledge of your will for me and the power to carry that out”

When I’m praying and saying these words I’m usually picturing in my mind the Big Book – and consider it an exercise of the mind, been doing this for so many years it’s part of my daily routine. I say that the majority of mornings when I start my day, I have days when I’m in a hurry and forget and I have days when I’m just going to lay on the couch and think I don’t need to be mentally centered (I’m being lazy). I do find that when I take the time to chant these few phrases I’m more likely to be free of self, looking for how I can be a contributor to life instead of just a taker… it helps my day go better.

I also read some literature I’ve found helpful over the years, mostly program stuff but that too can help to keep me on the right path during the day.

If I’m VERY prepared and plan ahead I can schedule a self mindfulness meditation – but the temptation to play games on Facebook or rush off to work is very strong so it happens very rarely… but when I can take those five minutes (can you imagine I’m here trying to make excuses for not finding 5 minutes a day to mediate… yep, I’m lazy) and just clear my mind – I’m a lot better of a person to other humans on the planet… I do frequently during the day “pause when agitated or doubtful” take a deep breath.. and practice restraint of pen and tongue… most of the time… really I do.

So I, being the self-centered creature I am, began to wonder what my sponsor thought was lacking in my program that needed work – being a harsh judge of my character I thought probably all of those listed essays… So I was a little dismayed at first… but then I remembered he actually has made this part of his own 11th step and it’s helped him… and seeing as I think he’s pretty smart most of the time… maybe it’s not about what’s wrong with me, maybe it’s about what can be better…

Anyway, after my mind got done wrestling with itself I reminded my sponsor that he had given me a copy of this book already – he smiled knowingly… don’t you hate when they do that? and said he thought so and then he said something wise that I can’t recall now of course (sponsors wisdom can be like that for me) but I agreed with him.

So tonight when I retire I’ll take a look at the first essay “Faith” and see what I can learn from it and if it’ll help me grow.

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