There is for me a power that exists in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous that I've not experienced elsewhere, not in Christian churches, not in a Buddhist Temples. The power of one alcoholic talking to another. It could be a chat over coffee, or at a meeting or it could be 60,000 drunks saying the Lord's Prayer together during an international convention. Magic happens when alcoholics share together. The Fellowship alone might keep me sober, but it cannot restore me to sanity. Restoration happens through the ongoing process of ego deflation contained in the 12 Steps. But I can't dream of taking the actions required but the steps without the prerequisite
spiritual qualities provided by the fellowship: Willingness, Honesty, Open mindedness.

Willingness. Left to my own devices I would have stood on the outside of Alcoholics Anonymous looking in. I wasn't a joiner. I was aloof. When I tested the water with my big toe, the Fellowship pulled me in. All around me I saw examples of useful and contented people. I learned from their example to put my hand out, to pick up the phone, to be of service. None of these actions came naturally for me. Slowly I began to enjoy sobriety.

Honesty. When the first person spoke at my first meeting I was shocked at what I was hearing. I had never heard anyone speak so candidly about their own experiences before. Today when I open my mouth in a meeting, truth seems to naturally flow out. It isn't always that way when I'm talking to my wife, friends, or business associates. It's not that I'm purposely lying to these people. It's just that when I'm sharing with another alcoholic, the thoughts seem to originate from a deeper place inside.

Open mindedness. By the time I crawled through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous my mind was like a tightly clenched fist. I had relied on my stinking thinking for so long that I had become convinced there was
only one way to go through life--my way. I was hypersensitive to any challenges to my beliefs. My mind started to relax when I realized AA members were not trying to force me to believe anything, only to save my life. My fist unclenched, opening my mind and my being to the spiritual truths of the 12 steps.

The Fellowship is ineffective without the Steps and the Steps won't work without the fellowship. Together they have produced countless living miracles. I am grateful to be one of them.