Non nobis solum nati sumus (Not for ourselves alone are we born.)

IMG_217570050684695Funny thing happened to me this morning. As I slowly closed my Big Book I suddenly realized that a chapter in my life was also closing. As this realization sunk in waves of emotion rolled over me and crashed against my normally tough exterior shell. Despite myself and against my wishes, tears filled my eyes.

You see for an entire year now an “old timer” (35 years sober and actively working a daily AA/spiritual program) has been Skyping with me on a weekly basis for the purpose of studying the Big Book. Yes I have a sponsor, yes I work the Steps with my sponsor and sponsees and yes I have read the book several times, but I wanted to do this study in addition to the other action I was taking in my program. Now when I say study I mean STUDY!  Not just passively reading the book together, but actively debating, discussing, and dissecting line by line, word by word.

So why the emotion and why big the deal?  Well maybe because it took entire year, it changed my life and now it is over.  For an entire year he pushed me, he prodded me and he provoked me. For an entire year he challenged everything I thought I knew. For an entire year under his guidance the Big Book came alive in a new way, it has become real, accessible and more relevant in my life.  For an entire year through thick and thin, high and low he gave me the priceless gift of his time, his wisdom and his experience. For an entire year he put up with, was persistent and patient with the sick, self-centered, little alcoholic punk that I am. For an entire year he gave—himself.

Apparently I still have a lot of growing to do because as I closed my book and it hit me that we were completely done my first thought was “I want more!” Thankfully that thought was quickly dislodged by overwhelming gratitude for what this old-timer had given me. Promptly I then tried to express my gratitude, but of course did a completely inept job at doing so—how do you thank someone for such a gift anyway?  As customary the old-timer gruffly brushed my thanks aside and barked at me in his usual fashion, “don’t wallow! Go give it away.”

Funny thing happened to me this afternoon. A young lady just a few short months sober, who has a sponsor, who has worked the Steps and yes who has read the book dropped by my house and said, “I want to dig deeper into the Big Book. Will you go through it with me?”