“We feel that elimination of our drinking is but a beginning.”
~The Big Book, There Is A Solution
“It is a design for living that works in rough going…The joy of living we really have, even under pressure and difficulty.”
~The Big Book, Bill’s Story
Guideposts, Bumpers, and Wisdom from Bill W
Wouldn’t Bill Wilson be a great choice when playing that game of, “Pick 3 people – alive or dead – fictional or real – who you’d like to sit with at a dinner table and shoot the breeze?”
One thing I’d ask is, “How literally did you mean to suggest that the Big Book be taken? Do you think that there is any room for interpretation in the program?”
In my imaginary conversation, Bill would say, “Hell,” (because he seems like the kind of crusty old codger who would start off like that) “I just want people to be able to stay sober and live in the sunlight of the spirit so they will know the joy, peace, and serenity I have come to know.”
The “progress not perfection” piece is so empowering. To me, the steps are like the bumpers kids use at the bowling alley to keep the balls from going into the gutter. When my thoughts and actions bump against the wisdom embedded in the Steps and the program itself, I know to shift course because I’m getting dangerously close to the edge. How great to have a way of sensing it before I end up back in the gutter.
I sense that Bill W. somehow spun language so delicately that anyone could read into it and get out of it what they needed to support them on the road to recovery. I was a bit surprised to hear someone say recently that this is clearly a Christian-based program, which conveniently is what she’s seeking.
Interesting! I do not see it that way at all. Which works for me, as that is not what I’m seeking.
Bill W. flat out discusses his thoughts about God over time, and seems able to clearly relate to those who are not ready or able to fully dive into any specific gospel. He states in the chapter “We Agnostics” that the “main objective” of the Big Book is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself, which will solve your problem.
There’s nothing to say it cannot be the traditional approach to God, but it seems to leave room for a non-traditional approach, too.
He goes on to say in the same “We Agnostics” chapter that he has “shared honest doubt and prejudice about an organized religions’ approach to God.” In “Bill’s Story,” he writes, “I simply had to believe in a Spirit of the Universe… but “with ministers, and the world’s religions, I parted right there.”
He goes on to say that much to his relief, another person’s concept of God need not be considered. Simply, an “acceptance that a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things” gives way to a new sense of power and direction.
“I could go for such conceptions as Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind or Sprit of Nature… and I have since talked with scores of men who felt the same way.” If we were at that dinner table, it would be scores of men, plus me.
Bill explains in great detail the moment he realized he could create his own concept of a Higher Power. When he was asked, “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?” that was it. The Big Shift – the bright light of Spiritual Awakening hit him as a willingness to link up to something beyond his human power. He said that gave him the foundation upon which he could build, and he was able to start in earnest from that point.
This willingness he calls the simple cornerstone of the program. He added that it was necessary to take other simple steps. Which I presume to mean The Steps, which he outlines in the following chapter, entitled, “How It Works.”
He says The 12 steps are suggested as a program of recovery, and offer a “design for living” that will stand the test of time.
Getting sober is an ending and a beginning.
What would you ask Bill W?
Who else would you pick for dinner conversation?
Do you feel this program enhances or replaces your religious needs?
In gratitude, harmony, and support,