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“I just love my grog,” admitted the fifty-five-year-old proctologist that May evening in 1935, seated in the library of the gatehouse of Henrietta Seiberling in Akron Ohio. That comment followed hard upon his listener’s narration of two decades of alcoholic debauchery in the northeast, his finding a new God during treatment in the Towns Hospital in New York City, and his five months of sobriety. Hope flash-fired their spirits: the doctor’s identification with another alcoholic and the discovery of a way out; the latter’s need for the drunk’s story to remain sober.

From this simple encounter between Dr. Bob and Bill W. emerged the worldwide organization of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Recovering alcoholics, sipping coffee and sitting in church basements, continue interfacing their unruly instincts with the 12 Steps, amidst laughter and occasional tears. Stories abound. Outside of meetings, work with sponsors fine-tunes this conversion process.

Such rigorous honesty and humility effect psychic changes within alcoholics, previously mired down by the evil of their disease. Frowns, steeled jaws, and tense shoulders, evidence of spirit-bondage, give way to lightness and mirth. Joy of living in the fourth dimension with a Higher Power facilitates engagement with their lives, usually for the first time. They are reborn.

Years pass, yet sobriety deepens. Issues of health, loss of significant others, retirement, and finance continue refining the lightsome spirits of those sharing around the tables of AA. Having already escaped the spiritual death of alcoholism, the diminishment of their bodies is not that all troublesome. Many even embrace their last years with laughter and introduce themselves as grateful recovering alcoholics!

They’ve found a way out!


Who is messing around with the rough edges of my life?

Whose sinewy hands fondle my brokenness?

Who forces me to feel my shards and claim them?

Whose fingers pull and knead, pull and knead?


More pinches, slaps, punches startle me.

Take me where I never dreamt sojourn.

Patting smoothes my new shape.

A wet towel cools me.


Then this explosion!

Like infants, giggling at Hanukah lights.


What am I becoming?


More pulling and kneading.

Will this never end?

Yet this touch coaxes surrender.

A song releases mine, long hidden beneath barrels of stale flour.


Change continues.

My pregnant shape swallows my fears.

More waiting follows.


Suddenly, my belly is cleaved and braided together.

Brushed with egg yoke, I wink at the sun.

The brick oven’s fire evokes more transformation.

It’s happened–the aromatic new creation.


Above me a shawled woman blesses candles,

chants psalms to the Challah I have become,

offers me to be torn apart and consumed by her loved ones.

Within new brokenness, I am whole.




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