A step ahead
Reno Triangle Club
I went looking into the Truckee Meadows’ nooks and crannies for spiritual experience. It turned into a visit to the Reno Triangle Club’s midday meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s a thin line I walk here, as anonymity is a key component of the AA 12-step program, and I don’t want to identify anyone by their names or words. Nobody invited me, but, as they say, all are welcome. There are no “stars” here. All are equally powerless before the drug, and all are only one drink away from the abyss.
The meeting began promptly at 2 p.m. The room was fairly large, with metal chairs and gray cushions for more than 110 people. There were 40-45 at this meeting. The room was rectangular with a hanging tile ceiling and walls of a vaguely yellow color. The walls were adorned with murals and posters declaring the 12 steps, 12 traditions and the pithy AA sayings like “Turn it over,” “Easy does it,” and “Keep it simple.”
The meeting began with a recitation of the Serenity Prayer: “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.” This was followed by the preamble, which begins: “Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.”
Anniversaries of sobriety were acknowledged, particularly a 30-day and a 90-day celebration.
I don’t want to use all the words of this feature quoting the AA service materials. All of this type of information can be found at www.alcoholics-anonymous.org. For Northern Nevada, meeting times can be found at www.aanorthernnevada.org.
Monday’s meeting began in earnest with one man at the front telling the story of how he came to be a member. He started drinking when he was young, in high school. “I had the time of my life … but it [alcohol] stopped working. They started putting me in jail.”
He ended up spending years at Nevada’s Indian Springs “resort.” He more or less attributes his salvation to the judge who sent him there. And now he has 14 years of sobriety.
A person was picked at random to offer the topic of the day. Gratitude was chosen. People throughout the room began their stories with the words, “My name is … and I’m an alcoholic.
“I’m grateful for all the things God has put in my life,” said one. “I really like taking care of people. When I was drunk, it was the opposite.”
Said another, “Gratitude is an action; if I’m grateful for something, I need to show that. I thank God for my sobriety every day … I just say, ‘Thank You. I’m grateful to this program because I know I can be available [for my family]. Today, I’m eligible for life. God is a way maker. He’s a second-chance, third-chance, 10th-chance God. He’s just a wonderful, wonderful God.”
The recitations continued, some quoting the acquired wisdom of sponsors who came before, all speaking from the heart. Some were more glib than others, having recited their stories many times to many groups similar to this one.
Honestly, I’ve been in many places of worship, and I haven’t heard this sort of genuine personal recitation of God’s place in the individual’s life. When I came to the gathering, I thought perhaps it was a stretch to put an AA meeting in a space usually reserved for more traditional spiritual practices, but this group has its ritual, personal testimony and even honored writings—same as any other religious organization. After all, God is mentioned in six of the 12 steps, with the second—Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity—expressing a belief in God’s personal intervention in their lives.
Want to introduce Brian to your place of worship? Call 324-4440 ext. 3525.