One of the advantages of having been in these rooms for years is that people notice when you aren’t showing up as often. I’m grateful for OA friends who have called to say they’ve missed seeing me, and who have sent text messages saying "I hope to see you at the noon meeting today!" They’ve helped me get back to where I hear the things I need to hear.
At one such meeting, we read a wonderful story titled “Power of Meetings” (Taste of Lifeline, pages 70-73). The author shared about her first meeting, which changed her life, and said that meetings continue to be a foundation of her recovery. This got me thinking about my own first meeting and what meetings have meant to me. I realized that although “meetings” is technically just ONE of our Tools, they incorporate most of the other Tools as well.
I attended my first meeting in 1993. There was only one other person there, but this man put out the sign, led the meeting, shared his phone number, gave me a Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous), and reviewed the meeting directory with me. That meeting got me started in OA and introduced me to literature and phone calls. I also got to be honest about my crazy food and unmanageable life for the first time. In 2021, I get to give back by helping ensure there is someone there to welcome others to their first meeting—on Zoom.
As I attended more meetings, I met my first sponsor. That’s really the best place to meet sponsors, right? When I started sponsoring others (my Step 12 foundation), I connected with those people because we were at the same meeting. Zoom meetings are where they keep the newcomers these days, and I’m grateful to be sponsoring two new people in the past year.
In my early days of program, when the “We Care” list went around the meeting, I wrote names and phone numbers inside the covers of my OA books. Now my cell phone is chock-full of OA numbers…members I’ve met at both face-to-face and Zoom meetings.
I own just about every OA book published, but I certainly don’t read them all on my own. On non-meeting days, I might not get around to reading at all. We fumbled around a bit at first on Zoom, but meetings soon hit their stride and most have chosen one of our amazing, hope-filled books as their focus.
My first service was setting out chairs at a face-to-face meeting. Zoom meetings also need people to give service, and it is important for me to step up. When I say yes to service in a Zoom meeting, it’s easier for me to stay present, and it’s good for me to know I am contributing to the well-being of the meeting.
Meetings are where I learned to listen and give other people my undivided attention, three minutes at a time, without giving advice. It is a little harder in Zoom meetings, but I’ve found that leaving my video on helps me be accountable for being attentive, and taking notes helps if I'm having trouble staying focused. When I do these things, I am much more likely to come away thinking “Wow! What a great meeting!”
These days, there are new voices sharing their stories of hope in our meetings—our “world-wide Fellowship” has become an everyday reality. We’re connected in a way we were not before, and what a boon this must be for meetings in small towns everywhere!
Meetings have provided structure for me—an opportunity to “show up” on an ongoing basis. I wasn’t happy to have the bottom fall out of that structure a year ago, but I am grateful we as a Fellowship made quick use of the tools at hand to make meetings available again.
I see my OA family at OA meetings. As a person who (still!) has a tendency to drift toward isolation, the Fellowship is very important for me. I need to show up and claim my seat (or at least my little square!) at meetings. I am grateful to be able to do so.
See you on Zoom! :)
Beverly M. – Region One