I received my first copy of the Big Book in 1987, seven years before I finally got sober. I poured myself a large tumbler of wine and skimmed through it in an evening. Then I promptly gave it to a friend who obviously needed it more than I did. After reaching that point of "sweet surrender" that Louise talks about, I was given a second copy which I read like a novel. But even as I sped through the book and the stories in the back, certain sentences jumped out at me. One of those remains my favorite today. You can find this sentence on page 57 in the chapter entitled We Agnostics:
"What is this but a miracle of healing? Yet its elements are simple. Circumstances made him willing to believe--then he knew."
Wow! Every time I read this sentence I feel drawn more deeply into the spiritual mysticism of Alcoholics Anonymous. It reminds me that recovery is a magical process that I had nothing to do with--that it’s only by the grace of a power greater than me that I am sober. It is truly a miracle that I am healing from a hopeless state of mind and body. It also reminds me that grace isn't always comfortable or pleasant. The circumstances that made me willing to believe were difficult and painful. I received harsh grace but it was an undeserved gift nevertheless. one that many drunks never receive. The first time I read “--then he knew”, I remember thinking "knew what?" “What did he know?” Today I realize there is no real answer to this question. The longer I hang around Alcoholics Anonymous, the less I seem to know.