Gopher State in the Twin Cities

This is a big weekend here in the Twin Cities and surrounding states. It’s the 43rd Gopher State Roundup, celebrating recovery from alcoholism and other addictions. Throughout the entire weekend men and women, young and old, gather at the Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington, MN, to listen to AA and Al-Anon speakers from around the country. The wisdom shared is beyond belief. The fellowship enjoyed is indescribable. And the food is flowing. Many AA groups from around the area have rented rooms that surround the main entry hall and you can wander in at will for food, drink and fellowship.

I well remember my first Gopher State Roundup. It was 40 years ago. I had been sober just days and I couldn’t believe I had wandered into such a joyous gathering of people. I didn’t know what I would discover in AA circles but I had certainly not envisioned happy, loving men and women eager to explain their journey to me. I can’t be certain I knew at that first Roundup that I’d still be attending 40 years later, but here I am. And so grateful for the journey. And every single day, even more grateful than the preceding day. I think perhaps that’s what happens when you reach your mid-seventies. Each day becomes an even greater blessing.

At that first Roundup I well remember a speaker saying look to your left. Now look to your right. Only one of the 3 of you will die sober. That was a chilling thought. I was sitting with friends so I couldn’t fathom this would be true for the three of us, and in fact, we three are still here. However, over these many years I have lost more people than I care to even admit. Alcoholism is a disease that never goes to sleep. It’s a disease we have to be ever vigilant about. And to me, vigilance means never skipping meetings. Never refusing to reach out a helping hand when another suffering alcoholic asks for help. And it means service to others.

One of the activities that means the most to me now is answering phones at AA Intergroup. It’s a simple way to serve those who are seeking what so many millions of us have already found. Any one reading this today, who happens to be sharing this recovery journey, ask yourself, right now, where you would be if some one had not shown up to make the journey with you.

That’s our only assignment today. Any day, in fact. Walk with another until she or he finds their way. And the person you help doesn’t have to be an alcoholic, either. Just walk with someone and let them know you care. None of us can imagine what the ripple effect of reaching out can possibly mean. But I can promise you, that’s how we make a difference in this life, in this world, in this day that stands before us.



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