[Extracted from the monthly ECO NEWS - March 2020]
The Home Group
The fear of the unknown. I never understood the need for a home Group. There are plenty of meetings. Why did I have to make such a commitment? I am doing just fine don’t you know. A short while later I was on another research project with alcohol and they kept getting darker. Something was amiss and I started going to AA Groups for meetings.
Here are a few of these experiences from Home Groups.
The Home Group is so full of opportunities: opportunities to watch, to learn, to grow and to teach- to lead by example as trusted servants of our message. All these opportunities assist in the beginning of understanding one’s responsibility as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
While visiting a Group they read the Preamble, which I had heard and read many times, but they read it out of the Grapevine. I learned that evening, our Preamble is the property of The AA Grapevine Inc., hence it is not in the Big Book. Then they read the Steps out of the Big Book in chapter 5. Also, the Traditions out of the Big Book (I never knew the Traditions were in the Big Book). I kept coming to this Group and learned a little more about our Literature at every meeting. You see I wasn’t a reader--besides my old meeting didn’t use many books.
Because they read out of AA books almost everyone at the table had their Big Books with them – and it wasn’t even a big book study. They all followed along during the readings. Wow! I was not accustomed to this, but I have to say I became quite comfortable with carrying and reading my Big Book. How great strides come out of simple “actions”.
On another meeting of the week they had a topic meeting and the chairperson picked the topics or readings. They were all out of AA Literature. As Bill Sees It, Comes of Age, Living Sober (which was a great help for this alcoholic early on). They would all share on these topics and if I wanted more info on them, I knew exactly what book to find it in – brilliant!!
We were at a meeting one evening and a long-time member said they never knew much about sponsorship. A member went to the dusty old rack of Literature and picked up a Sponsorship pamphlet and gave it to our friend. They had no idea there was a piece of literature on Sponsorship. There was brief discussion on the pamphlet and our long timer left in delight.
A few of the members recognized a concern. If we can’t bring the people to the literature rack – why not bring the rack to the people. So, it began, and through a Group conscience it was decided to pick 12 pamphlets and once a month a group member would share on one piece of literature and have some available to take home. Eventually, it was noticed that more members had something to share and less members were passing on their turn to speak. People were overcoming their fear with knowledge and learning what they belong to. The rack has grown to 2 racks now with plenty of copies on reserve and no dust.
My turn came and they gave me 2 weeks to prepare for the AA Group pamphlet. I read, highlighted and practiced my 3 minutes (5 minutes in alcoholic time). Right away I learned the importance of belonging to a Home Group. It is where we accept, be mentored and act on service responsibilities and try to sustain friendships. It is the strongest bond between the AA member and the Fellowship. The difference between a meeting and a Group. Suggested meeting procedures and the responsibility of self-support. Today, I can share on a Home Group topic with ease when it comes up. Another great learning experience.
One recent meeting I attended moved me. These people talked about a Higher Power, Spirituality and miracles with ease. They spoke with no heavy sighs, no fear and from practice and experience. 23 people in attendance and 21 Big Books on the table of a regular meeting. Of the 11 people to share 6 cried and the others were holding back tears. There we 2 boxes of tissues going in different directions around the room. Members with 2 months to 20+ years were sharing on the miracles of life since coming into AA.
How making amends, sending letters to abandoned children, loved ones lost while we drank and the miracle of these people reaching back now because they see the change, the profound personality change as a result of ”living” the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Many a tear was shared with these speakers by the listeners in the room as well. It was a moving experience like no other, profound, miraculous tears of joy all around. The miracles of putting the principles into “action”.
My sponsor reminds me, when posed with a question from a fellow member of AA: “If I reply from a piece of AA Literature, I will get less push back than replying from my opinion (or ego).” Let’s all stay on the same page and speak from the same book and maybe the public world does not think us a riddle. I need worry less of what others are not doing and more of what I am doing – taking the “action”.
The very essence of A.A. strength has remained with our home group, which for many has become our extended family. Once isolated by our drinking, we find in the home group a solid, continuing support system, friends and very often, a sponsor.
Become a great member of an active Home Group – The Heartbeat of AA.
Your trusted servant,
Delegate Area 78, Panel 70