Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday, a time to be reflective on a piece of gratitude from my life, which for today is for the weekly prison commitment I’m now doing for my recovery program from alcohol and drugs.
Not too long ago, when a friend mentioned that the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) prison committee in the area needed support, I felt a push from my Spirit that it was time to take on a new responsibility in my life. The AA prison committee is such that it has people who volunteer weekly in bringing recovery meetings to where people are incarcerated. Up to that point, I had only ever helped to coordinate two or three prison meetings many, many years ago, as I had typically felt too uncomfortable doing them. Yet, something gently nudged me to reconsider this as a new part of my 12th step work in helping others and just over four weeks ago that officially became a reality when I, and one of my sponsees, brought a meeting into the downtown Toledo jail on a Monday night. Ever since, we’ve been doing the same at the beginning of every week and I have found an incredible amount of gratitude in continuing to do so.
Probably the biggest reason for feeling grateful in this new part of my recovery is the simple fact that it seems to be helping others. So far, there have been a considerable number of inmates who have been really moved by what my sponsee and I have shared. Somehow, our simple sharing of our experience, strength, and hope has helped to provide them a spark on their road to recovery from their own addictions. Quite a few have even gone so far as to specifically tell us how much we’ve been inspiring them and that is motivation enough to keep going back week after week.
Another important reason for feeling grateful is that I was able to walk through my fears of being in a locked jail amongst inmates. I think it’s pretty amazing anytime I face a fear in my recovery and to choose to walk through it instead of avoiding it. So, to enter this jail every Monday night, to lock my belongings up, and to pass through not one, not two, not three, but four locked wards to get to where we take the meeting, took a huge amount of courage to overcome all my fear surrounding jails and prisons. God definitely provided me that and now after having been there for a number of weeks in a row, I find myself actually looking forward to it, rather than fearing it.
Lastly, one more reason for feeling grateful with this new prison commitment is for the sheer fact that I’ve never been incarcerated myself. Honestly, with the number of things I’ve done in my life, I should have been. During my active alcohol and drug addiction days, I most certainly did behaviors that were illegal and I’m not proud of that. Vandalism being one of the biggest and becoming a kleptomaniac being the other. Thankfully, both ended when I became sober, but sitting in this jail for an hour or so every week reminds me of how many haven’t escaped their addiction, where the result has been stints of incarceration. I’m so very thankful I’ve never had to spend any time behind bars and on some level, taking this meeting into a jail every week provides a great reminder of just how bad my alcohol and drug addiction could get if I should ever think about returning to it.
Nevertheless, in just a few short weeks, I’ve found that bringing a weekly AA prison meeting to men who are hungry for a better way of life to be extremely rewarding, mind, body, and soul, and I pray for continued guidance from my Higher Power to keep bringing a positive spiritual message to all of those there who I know most certainly are in the desperate need of it.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson