I love Alcoholics Anonymous. Not only has it allowed me stop drinking but it has brought a beauty and a joy into my life that I find impossible to describe.
I have very, very kindly, been asked, by the local AA archivist, to put together these few words to describe the growth of AA in Ealing from 1996 to today.
It has been a pleasure to do so, for I owe my life, my happy, healthy, beautiful, sober, spiritual life to AA, and all the lovely wonderful people in it.
AA has allowed me not only to be sober for over seventeen years, but also to be harmonious with God, with myself, with my lovely fellow men, and with the wonderful beautiful world around me.
Through what I have learnt, I have not only been able to be sober, but I have been able to cultivate or improve my love for a God of my own understanding, and through that relationship, my relationship with all of mankind.
I also realise that the beauty of God, that I have been allowed to find inside myself, is inside everyone, and that this beauty and this sober life that I have been given through AA, is available for everyone.
Through AA I am not only been given the gift of sobriety, but I am also given the gift, to freely pass it on to all the other wonderful terrific people that come to our wonderful |Fellowship.
AA is a spiritual programme of action. I did not know this, or that the word God would be used when I first arrived, but the people I met on my first day did. They introduced me to very simple spiritual actions, which I still do today.
They were simply following the beautiful advice on Page 93 of the Big Book in the chapter, ’Working with Others,’ where it says, “Stress the spiritual feature freely.”
From day one, as the good people I met on my first day suggested, I have got on my knees, night and morning, connecting, with my own concept of God or Higher Power, all to pass this gift on to others.
This is in line with Pages 12 and 13 of the Big Book. Page 12 says, “My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?”
Page 13, says, “Never was I to pray for myself, except as my requests bore on my usefulness to others.”
I quickly got a marvellous sponsor who took me through the marvellous steps, which lead to the ‘spiritual awakening’ mentioned in Step twelve.
The Big Book also mention this on Page 79, where it says, ”Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience,”
Alcoholics Anonymous is a beautiful daily spiritual programme of action, summed up beautifully on Page 85 where it says, “What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”
What I understand this to mean is that daily I have to connect humbly and gratefully, with a God of my own concept.
I then have to take the gifts of sobriety, health, energy, joy beauty, life, light, purity and enthusiasm given freely to me by God, and try to pass them on to everyone I meet, greet or think about, in my every thought, word and deed.
When I arrived in AA I was off sick from work. I live in Ealing in London, and there were approximately 650 lovely meetings in London at the time, four of then in lovely Ealing
I was getting sick pay, and therefore, had money to buy a daily pass and travel all over London to meetings, attending over 200 in my first three months.
A lot of them were at lunchtime. My first meeting had been the fantastic 1pm meeting at Hynde Street, and I attended there virtually every day for my first eight weeks.
I found them all great, still do. At them I was learning so much.
I was hearing people share, or do chairs, and I was starting to realise, that leading the AA spiritual way of life not only meant that I was sober, but I was also happier and more comfortable than I had ever been before.
I started to feel that I was in harmony with God, the world and myself.
After about eight weeks, I returned to work, and although, I was still able to go to evening meetings, and meetings at any time of the day at the weekend, I had got a taste for lunchtime weekday meetings.
There was no lunchtime meetings in the lovely Ealing area at the time, and so we got one going at the lovely Ealing Green Methodist Church, on Tuesday the 7th January 1997.
This grew and grew, and after a few years, a lovely fantastic Friday lunchtime meeting was started at the same venue on 24/06/99. These marvellous meetings some time later moved to the wonderful Northfields Community Centre.
In Ealing at the start of 1996, there were four lovely fantastic meetings a week; on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings all at 7.30pm.
My first wonderful commitment was making tea at one of these; the wonderful Saturday night meeting then held at St Mary’s Church, South Ealing.
I also became a very grateful greeter at the marvellous Monday night meeting, then held at the lovely Haven Green Church, in Ealing Broadway.
I quickly realised that part of the reason I was feeling so well, was that not only was I doing the spiritual things suggested, but that because of my circumstances, I was able to go to meetings, virtually any time of the day, not only in London, but also in Berkshire, Surrey or Middlesex.
I could buy a travel card, or as I had a car, drive up to London or into the countryside to go to meetings. When I took the car, and was often able to take others with me.
We had lovely meetings before the meeting on the way to the venue, and of course lovely meetings after the meeting in the car on the way home.
Coming home, we often stopped for a picnic, or just stopped and looked at some sights, such as the Thames, Windsor Castle, or we would stop, to see the wonderful sun setting, or to gaze at a starlight night; all things that we could later put on our wonderful gratitude lists
In this I felt that I was privileged. I had the money to do this. Others often could not afford the cost of a travel ticket, or a car, and of course others, particularly women with children, could not afford the time it took to travel to some of these meetings, and so could only get to a few meetings a week.
My first meeting as mentioned was at lunchtime at Hynde Street, just off Oxford Street. I used to go there regularly for at least a year. There, I met lots of overseas visitors, particularly from the USA.
We talked about the beauty of AA. We all agreed that AA was the greatest, and the Big Book and the steps were the same in both countries.
However, the point was constantly made to me by visitors from the USA, that there was so many more meeting in the USA per population than in England.
I also later found out that there was many more meetings per population, in Ireland than in England
This was universal, whichever part of America they came from, not only did they say that there were more meetings, but also they were at virtually every hour of the day.
I thought this was great. I later found out for instance, that there are over 3,500 meetings in New York, a city virtually the same size as London, which today has approximately 700 meetings.
In New York, there are also at least 600 meetings held each week in Prisons and Educational Facilities, London holds 22.
Because of my circumstances and financial situation I was able to go to two, three or more meetings a day, particularly at weekends, an opportunity, which I felt everyone in AA should enjoy.
So an idea started to develop of aiming to have at least one meeting each night in the Ealing area, and with God’s love, and the enthusiasm and gratitude of the wonderful members, this happened.
A meeting was opened on Tuesday night at 19.30 on 14/03/98, closely followed by one on Thursday night also at 19.30 a few months later. Both these meetings now take place at Ealing Green Methodist Church.
There was then by mid 1998, a meeting each day in the Ealing area, apart from Sunday, and again with God’s love, and the enthusiasm of the members, one was started on Sunday the 22/10/00 at 10am at Northfields Community Centre.
This was for an hour. There was 11 there the first week, but now the average is 25 plus. There were also the two lunchtime meetings on Tuesday and Friday.
These all prospered, and with God’s love it was decided to start an early morning one hour meeting on Wednesday 8/7/03, just to see how it would go.
There were, and still are, early morning meetings in the centre of London. These, I was in my early days, able to attend and enjoy, and the thought arose, why shouldn’t there be early morning meetings in the lovely suburbs, as there are elsewhere in the world
At the first morning meeting, held at Ealing Green Methodist Church on 8/07/03, there were 17 people, and although it did not attract many for many years, those who went, always enjoyed and benefited from it.
As time went on, attempts were made to have more morning meetings, but we could not find an early morning venue. By divine providence, we came upon beautiful Bayham Road in West Ealing.
This was a lovely wonderful pleasant room, with reasonable rent, and the most beautiful bay windows. It also has and still has free parking.
We started an early morning meeting there on Monday 4/09/06, and a Friday morning meeting there four days later on 9/09/06. These were also like the wonderful Wednesday morning meeting, for an hour.
These went so well, thank God, that a Tuesday morning meeting was started there on 10/10/06 and a Thursday morning meeting two days later on 12/10/06, also for an hour. These were all at 7.30 am. Soon thereafter, the Wednesday morning moved from Ealing Green, to Bayham Road.
There were now, by late 2006, morning meetings each morning, Monday to Friday at Bayham Road at 7.30. These were all ticking along nicely and it was decided to open a Saturday morning meeting there at 9am.
This started on 2/02/08, and although there was only four at the first meeting, it now regularly attracts 20 to 30, in fact it was so successful, that a Sunday morning meeting, also for an hour, was started there on 29/02/08.
By early 2008, there were at least two meetings held each day in the Ealing area,
These were daily morning meetings at Bayham Road, 7.30 pm evening meetings Monday to Saturday, and a Sunday 10am meeting, plus lunchtime meetings on Tuesday and Friday, all ticking along nicely.
Again we were looking for more venues, particularly for more wonderful lunchtime meetings, and we then came across, wonderful Green Man Lane Community Centre, in West Ealing, thank God.
With the God given enthusiasm of the members, we were able to get three lunchtime one-hour meetings going there on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 1pm.
These started on 15/09/08, 17/09/08 and 18/09/08. They all continue to do well, so by September 2008, there were three wonderful meetings a day in the Ealing area.
These were daily morning meetings, daily lunchtime meetings, and evening meetings Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, plus a Sunday 10am morning meeting.
There were also meetings at 6pm on Tuesday and Friday evenings. The Tuesday meeting had opened at lovely Northfields Community centre on 30/12/04. There was about 10 the first night, but now it attracts 25 plus a week.
The Friday night meeting also started there soon after, but quickly moved to St John’s Church, Mattock lane. Again there was an average of 10 at the start, but 25 plus now. It was therefore decided to have 6pm meetings, on the other nights of the week.
Meetings on Monday, Thursday and Saturday nights at 6pm, were therefore started at Bayham Road, on 21/09/09, 24/09/09 and 26/09/09, again all for an hour, with a Wednesday 6pm meeting, also for an hour, starting at Green Man Lane on 30/09/09.
This Wednesday night meeting at Green Man Lane subsequently moved to Bayham Road.
So from late September 2009, there have been at least four meetings each day in the Ealing area.
Thank God, they all continue to prosper, all to help the newcomer, and, God willing, even more wonderful meetings will be started as and when the need arises.
Earlier an evening meeting had started at Bayham Road on Sunday 26/09/09, at 7pm, and also another Wednesday night meeting at 7.30pm was started on 22/10/10 at Green Man Lane. This is also now held at Bayham Road.
Towards the end of 2009, there were therefore 13 meetings a week at Bayham Road, there are now 15, all for an hour, all ticking along nicely.
Because of the small but lovely size of Bayham Road, basically a lovely meeting room, kitchen and toilet, and because there were a large number of other groups and societies using it, we were restricted in what we could keep overnight on the premises.
This meant that everything became communal. The teas etc, the literature, were all shared amongst the meetings, as they so frequently do in other places and countries.
This we felt was a great idea, and definitely contributed to the growth in meetings, the numbers attending, and the amount of recovery.
All the above meetings tick along nicely. At times all these meetings, at Bayham Road, Ealing Green, Green Man Lane, Mattock Lane, and Northfields Community Centre, have all required people putting their shoulders a bit harder to the wheel, as the need arises.
People have always been willing to do this. They put their shoulders willingly, lovingly and enthusiastically to the wheel, all to help the newcomer.
We all did this because we all realise this gift is beyond price, for it’s not only the gift of sobriety, the gift of life, it’s the gift of a beautiful happy spiritual life, and all we want to do is to try to help others obtain it.
As time has gone on, more and more people have come forward to do service, as more and more people have come to and remained in our fantastic Fellowship. God willing, this will beautifully and wonderfully continue.
It has not always worked out. We tried to get two morning meetings going at 10am on Tuesday and Thursday at Green Man Lane. These did not go so well, and after about 18 months they had to close.
God willing, in time there will be a range of meetings at 10am, and also afternoon meetings at say 3.30pm, as they have in cities in the USA, plus of course others at other times.
God willing this situation, will not only exist in Ealing but also in every Borough in London, and also every city in the country. All there, to help the wonderful newcomer on the road to recovery and to the wonderful sober, beautiful spiritual life on offer.
May we pray that every area of London, and every city in the country has at least four meetings a day, again all to pass on our wonderful beautiful spiritual message.
In the Ealing area, there has also been a tremendous growth in the number of Polish speaking meetings, there are now three in the area. There is even an English-speaking meeting at the wonderful Polish Church in Ealing Broadway, at 8pm on Mondays.
This started on the 14/06/10, and recently on Saturday night at Northfields Community Centre, a 9.30pm marvellous meditation meeting was started. This follows on from the marvellous 7.30pm meeting.
The position since 1996 has therefore, thank God, and the God given beauty, energy, and grateful enthusiasm of the members, been one of beautiful sober spiritual growth.
There were four wonderful lovely meetings in the Ealing W5 and W13 area in 1996. There are now 31, 24 of which are for an hour.
The total number of beautiful wonderful healing visits per week in 1996, was about 100 to 120, today there are approximately 400 to 450 beautiful wonderful healing visits being made each week.
God willing, they will all grow and glow, with even more people coming, and even more meetings arising as the need develops, all with the aim to help the beautiful newcomer, all with the aim to help pass on the wonderful fantastic sober gift and welcome, that we so gratefully received.
The reason that things have worked out so successfully, is because of the God given enthusiasm of the members, all so grateful, and all wanting to pass on this beautiful gift of sobriety, to our wonderful brothers and sisters.
It has also helped, that nearly all the new meetings were for an hour. Of the 31 weekly meetings now held in Ealing, 24 are for an hour.
This appears to be the length of time of meetings in the USA, Canada and Ireland, where they certainly have many more meetings per head of population than are held here. Could there be a coincidence ?
We have also, thank God, been given a number of wonderful fantastic venues in the area, all very reasonably priced. Daily we still want to do more, all to carry our lovely, beautiful spiritual message, to the wonderful newcomer.
Daily we pray that lovely AA does happily and healthily spiritually grow and glow, all to help the lovely wonderful newcomer.
Always realising how lovingly and beautifully we were received and welcomed, and always realising that as it says on Page 85 of the Big Book, “What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”
I pray this give some small glimpse of how this all happened. I realise that it all came about because of the beauty of God, a word I could not even say when I arrived, and the wonderful, beautiful God given enthusiasm of the members.
I was very kindly asked to put this together by wonderful people in AA. It has been a joy to do so, and in no way whatever I write, or whatever I do, can ever, ever repay what AA has given or done for me.
It has been a joy, to be involved in it all.
Not only trying to pass on, the God given sobriety we have so gratefully been given, but, also, the joy, the happiness, the beauty, the health, the discipline and energy that has come into our lives, by following the wonderful spiritual programme of AA.
In my own case, I know that AA has not only saved my life, but has replaced it with a beautiful wonderful spiritual way of life, and an inner life, that I could not have envisaged. I was dying a horrendous painful death over 17 years ago.
Today, not only, have I been given all these extra years of life, but as the Big Book says on Page 25, “We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.”
The above words, I find to be true. I am so very, very, very grateful, and yet these mere words cannot describe my very grateful gratitude, or what I have received.
I also realise that whatever I have done or do in AA can never, ever, repay the beauty, joy, health, energy, spirituality and happiness that has come into my life, through being part of it; being part of the most beautiful fantastic wonderful Fellowship in the world.
I thank dear lovely God for tremendous, wonderful AA, and for all the beautiful, wonderful people I have met in it, each one wonderful, and each one beautiful. They are all in my prayers, as I am sure I am in theirs.
Each day, I pray that, God willing, I can continue to daily pass on the beautiful gifts of sobriety and spirituality that I have been so freely given, to others, in my every thought, word and deed, to everyone I meet, greet, or think about.
Thanks for reading this, God bless you all, your all in my prayers, in fact the whole world these days is in my prayers, from a very grateful member who happens to live in beautiful Ealing, where living through God’s love, and the beauty of AA, is now a great feeling.
Thank you God, we love you ever so much, and are so very grateful, for this fantastic, fabulous, wonderful Alcoholics Anonymous, sober spiritual way of life, Dennis Friday 22 March 2013.