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In our daily practice of prayer and meditation, how often have we been moved by a particular thought or postulate, something that touched us deeply? In that special moment, our soul was swayed, our spiritual aura and insight uplifted, only to have that marvelous experience drift from our consciousness a short time later and be gone completely before day's end.
Perhaps if that same thought or concept were there in our next day's meditation and the day after that, we would more likely be able to savor its insight in even greater depth. This could then provide the opportunity for such an experience to become a true wellspring for our spiritual condition, a sturdy linchpin in our recovery from alcoholism.
This special book, based on the chronicles from the Hour of Power Eleventh Step meditation meetings originated and conducted by Geno W., cofounder of the well-known Wolfe Street Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, is designed to provide just such an opportunity. It offers spiritual thoughts and postulates that can be meditated on for an entire week, thus giving the reader the occasion to probe deeply into the awesome power of the Eleventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous and other Twelve Step programs.
It is, in a sense, patterned after the Twelve Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous itself, in which constant repetition of its concepts and principles builds a strong foundation for sobriety. So too can the thoughtful repetition of specific spiritual concepts reinforce that foundation and enable one to build a strong spiritual life based on a "conscious contact with God as we understood Him"--the only certain solution to the disease of alcoholism.
The purpose of this book, then, is to enhance our practice of the Eleventh Step in our daily prayers and meditation. If we are vigilant in that pursuit, the program of AA promises we will soon see a glimpse of that ultimate reality, which is the kingdom of God.
Wolfe Street and the Hour of Power
Each year, more than a hundred thousand men and women cross the threshold of the Wolfe Street Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, hoping to find some semblance of peace and serenity in their troubled worlds. They have this hope of a daily reprieve thanks to three recovered alcoholics who dedicated much of their lives to helping others.
It was in the fall of 1982 when Geno W., Joe McQuanny, and Bert Jones, three local businessmen who have since passed on, saw the need for a place that could provide frequent support meetings for those seeking recovery from alcoholism through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. They found a former nurses' residence at 1210 Wolfe Street and, with the assistance of volunteers, turned the two-story building into a comfortable facility where today AA groups hold more than forty meetings each week and where a variety of special activities and special events support and celebrate recovery.
As the Center grew as a focal point of sobriety, its founders and new board of directors created an outreach program to carry the message of recovery from addiction into jails and prisons, courts and corporations, and other community organizations eager to learn more about combating this growing problem.
Today, the Wolfe Street Center actively implements Twelve Step programs designed to educate and help all those seeking recovery from addiction, including families whose problems relate to alcoholism.
Convinced that the real answer lies in focusing on the spiritual solution fostered by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, in 1983 Geno W. proposed the institution of a special meeting at the Center specifically for that purpose--to help himself and others find greater spiritual awareness and growth through meditating on AA's Eleventh Step: "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."
That meeting, which he called "The Hour of Power," is still held every Sunday morning at the Center from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. It's one of the largest meetings of its kind in Little Rock and very much a major commitment for all the groups that meet at the Wolfe Street Center.
Many of those who were close to Geno W. personally recall with great warmth and appreciation his unstinting preparations for each Eleventh Step gathering. He would rise between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning--the time he often described as "those hours of desperation" for most drunks, when God has a chance of touching their hearts--and start making notes for that morning's meditation meeting.
His topics usually centered on ways of establishing and improving "our conscious contact with God" and on how pain can open the door, how humility can create the pathway, how prayer can light the way, and how true faith can establish a strong personal relationship with our Higher Power. It was the accumulation of these notes chronicled on yellow pads that provide the basis and direction for this book.
After finishing his notations, Geno would arrive at the Center around six to team up with his breakfast crew. While he never said so himself, once again those who knew him said his cooking and serving breakfast to all those who came for the Hour of Power meeting gave him the humility he needed to share his most intimate spiritual thoughts and lead others toward a greater dedication to, and practice of, the Eleventh Step.
It is the hope of all those at the Wolfe Street Center that you, the reader, gain as much insight from Geno W.'s meditation topics and concepts as they continue to gain from each and every Hour of Power meeting.
Beginning the Journey
The very first word in the Eleventh Step of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that I be a seeker, a seeker on a journey to discover the awesome power of God that can reconstruct my life. I am urged to begin my journey by asking him to direct my thinking, so that it be free from self-pity and from dishonest and self-seeking motives. I am to ask not only for the strength to pursue this journey, but also for his inspiration--for the desire to follow and be an instrument of his will.
Looking back for a moment at my initial struggles to find sobriety, when I finally admitted I was powerless over alcohol and became willing to go to any length to stop drinking, I was offered a postulate I found difficult to accept at first. The premise was that I could regain power by admitting defeat and then turning my will and my life over to a God of my understanding. Having tried almost every other course of action to stay sober and failed, I grudgingly assented. And as I did, I heard the Twelve Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous telling me: "Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves....If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago."
Still, turning my will and my life over to the care of a God who I felt was stern, rigid, and unloving, a God I believed had abandoned me because of my wretched way of life, a God from whom I felt almost totally removed, was not an easy task. So I was directed to pray--to pray daily on my knees to seek a God of my understanding into whose care I could turn over my will and my life.
As my journey of recovery led me through the Twelve Steps, I came to learn more about my disease and myself. That it was not just about my drinking and drugging but also my character defects and shortcomings. My thoughts and actions changed. I began hearing more about God through the people at meetings. They spoke of his love and caring, his support and direction. Slowly my perception of my Higher Power began to evolve.
Soon I came to realize it was God who had given me this precious gift of sobriety, the power to refuse alcohol and drugs, the power to work the Twelve Steps in my life. Then came another more marvelous realization--that God was my very best friend. That he had always been there and would always be a loving friend provided I continued to seek a conscious contact with him on a daily basis.
I learned that the journey I am on has much to do with helping others, which in turn enables me to deal with life and life's problems. And as I become more aware of this, I find it easier to deal with any obstacle, since I am no longer trying to do it alone. I not only have God's power when I ask for it, but he continues to direct my life through the comments I hear at meetings, when carrying the message of recovery to others, when being of service, and when I'm practicing the Eleventh Step each morning.
Now that I have begun my Eleventh Step journey, I find that I am at peace with myself most of the time. I have already come to understand that life's conflicts and problems are all part of that journey. I know that I have been given the knowledge to understand that my Higher Power will not leave me to meet life's challenges alone. He will always give me the strength to face them, accept them, or overcome them according to his will.
Without any doubt, the greatest discovery I have already made on this spiritual pilgrimage is that the kingdom of God is deep within me. Recognizing that gives me the power to remain free from the desire to drink or drug and to build the kind of spiritual life upon which my sobriety and my life itself depend. And for that I will be forever grateful.
Dear God, as I begin this journey each day to seek a closer conscious contact with you, my Higher Power, let me not rely on any changes that have already taken place in me, any reconstruction that you have done in my life until now. For by choosing my will over yours, all of that can be gone in a single breath. Therefore, please give me the grace to rely only on you, your will for me, your love and caring. May I continue seeking knowledge of your will and the power to carry that out, one day at a time.
The power of God grows within me as I continue to seek God's will.