The last town I lived in before moving here, I was told that the old-timers meeting was a "mens only" group, and was given the general sense that it was a 'clickety' type of group that you describe. I believed that story, too. I got to the point, though, where I was craving
the type of meeting that is similar to what we have here at Step12, and that is the singleness of purpose. Based on my share after one particular meeting at what was my home group, after the meeting, a couple of the old-timers who had visited approached me to shake my hand, and one suggested to me that I was welcome to attend "their" meeting anytime. I couldn't help but look a little surprised, and I said what I had believe, that I thought that their meeting was a mens only group. Now, they
looked surprised, and said that, indeed, anyone could go to their meeting if they so chose. The next meeting that this old-timers group held, I went. And, it was such-a-relief. Here was a group who did not shun the spiritual angle, and their meetings were directly out of the Big Book, and so, singleness of purpose. This
was what I had been missing, and what I had been craving. I had missed out because I believed
what I had been told by members of this other group. I'm not saying that this is the way of all old-timers group, but, I'm still a relatively new puppy at this ball-game. The old-timers do, indeed, have something I need, they know their program. It's actually saddening to me to see, that in fact, there is a generation gap in this fellowship. I know of one old-timer here who is openly mocked and criticized at the only group available to her, and she has a lot of experience, a lot strength, and hope to share. She feels that the 'young ones' don't want to hear...she feels this way because she sees the wave off sluffs and the rolls of the eyes around the table while she shares, so she doesn't go. She relies on phone contacts and literature.
As for question 2: If individuals in the group do not already have a conscience that is guided and directed by a loving God, the how can they possibly allow God to express Himself in their conscience-which collectively would form the group's conscience?
When I first moved in to the last town I lived in...it was about a week afterwords that they held their monthly business meeting, I was invited to stay. Eager to be a part of my new group, I accepted the invitation. Among other things discussed, it had already been decided, in group conscience, that the clubhouse would post a newly painted sign. This had already been decided on, and the decision was to proceed. One member had volunteered to construct it (an oldtimer), all they needed was someone to paint it. I volunteered to paint it. For me, this little project was about service, and it would be a fabulous opportunity to connect to the group. I would work with this old-timer, and it would keep me sober. Okay...so, a few months later and some paint. The sign was finished in my own garage. I felt like I was contributing to my group...felt good. The old-timer came by to pick it up when it was finished, and he and I had ourselves a "tail-gate" meeting. This
was AA. I was comfortable. The sign was posted, and a big happy ending, right? Wronn-ng
For me, the purpose of the sign was over and done with. For me, it had nothing to do with how pretty it looked or anything else. Once the old-timer pulled out of my drive-way, for me, it was a finished project that had served its purpose for me. Next thing we know, all you know what breaks loose. Why? Because a couple of the members, who were on the executive, but did not show up for any business meetings, were profusely opposed to this sign. They weren't there for the meetings, so they knew nothing about it, and why weren't they informed or asked. (You see where this is going, right?). I have to admit, I found it all laughable--others did not. So now, there was this feud going on. The old-timer, you guessed it, went off to join this "men's only" meeting. The one lady, who I had yet to meet, when we met, and she put 2 and 2 together that I had painted it...wouldn't even look at me.
. Long story short, another "business" meeting was held, the only business to be discussed was this sign...does it stay, or does it go? Each member got asked what they thought, so those who strongly opposed it (but were not at the previous meetings when this was initially discussed), were extremely vocal, and it was rather evident that their ears snapped shut when those who were for it spoke. When it came to my turn, I'd shared the story of a member that I knew who had been in the Navy, and when his time was finished, he decided to remain in the Far East to do some 'touring', one of the things was that he wanted to do was to check out some AA meetings, and there was one that, although it was in Arabic, if it weren't for the sign outside, he definitely would not have found it, so it's apparent other groups around the world, indeed, have signs posted, informing of meeting times. I'd also shared that, for me, the purpose of the sign was to contribute to my new group, and the highlight was the tail-gate meeting in my driveway. It really didn't matter to me one way or the other if it stayed or not. One of the people who was opposed openly admitted to being racist
(ya...that's what I just said, right)...she heard one word I had said, that word was Arabic, and she heard nothing else. I felt like banging my head on the table. In the end, the sign was taken down. Those who opposed it...did not frequent meetings except for smatteringly, one not at all for months. They'd come in, made sure things went their
way, and that was all. 3 years later (and about a month before I moved away from that town), I'd driven past this clubhouse and nearly ran over a pedestrian because, be darned...there
was this sign???
O--kaa-aay??? Although I had made the oldtimers meeting my home group, I still attended the clubhouse and remained in contact. So, I got home, phoned one of the lady's and said: What the heck is that I just saw...in front of the clubhouse?
I tell you what...gave a whole new meaning to baffling, let me tell ya? She giggled, asked if I liked it. I said, no...I'm puzzled...can't believe that this sign, obviously, was still an issue?? She said those who opposed it, none of them even live in this town now, so with them gone, the group conscience was to put it back up. Okay, I said...but hasn't the town evicted the group from this building (because the town wanted to turn it into a fine-arts center)? Yes, she says, they had to be out by the end of that month. Soooo, I said...why was the sign up
, when, once again, it would have to come down anyway?
She just laughed and said that they decided to put it back up, knowing they would have to take it down...just for the sake that they could put it up.
So, then...If individuals in the group do not already have a conscience (can't be a part of the "group conscience" decisions if you aren't even going to be there when the discussions and the deciding happens), that is guided and directed by a loving God, then...how can they possibly allow God to express Himself in their conscience-which collectively would form the group's conscience? The one lady who opposed the sign, who admitted to being racist, who also admitted to not believing in God (that's okay, too...not about to comment on someone else's belief), and who rarely attended meetings...how could she be a part of this group conscience? I don't ask this to ruffle feathers...just curious of different perspectives.
Keep the ball rolling--looking forward to reading the responses.
In love and tolerance,