How many of you have seen the picture titled: “The Man on the Bed”?
I hope you have, we own it. It is an illustration that was done by a Grapevine volunteer illustrator and presented to Bill W. in 1955. It is a depiction of that first visit to St. Thomas hospital in Akron, where Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob talked to Bill D. – AA #3. When Bill W. received this picture, he said this illustration CAPTURED THE ESSENCE OF AA. I believe this picture also captures the ESSENCE of BRIDGING THE GAP.
Bill W. and Dr. Bob instinctively knew that in order to stay sober, they must immediately begin work with other alcoholics, alcoholics of our type. In 1935, there existed many places where alcoholics are temporarily stored on their journey through hell. Before AA, that was all they could do for them.
Prior to Bill and Bob making that fateful connection, alcoholics of our type faced incarceration, asylum or insignificant oblivion. Dr. Bob’s access to a hospital fighting, and losing, the hopeless battle against alcoholism was pure serendipity.
Look back to the Man on the Bed, we see three people in this illustration. Two men are wearing suits and looking intently, but kindly, at the third man. The third man is the ‘man on the bed’, Bill Dotson.
Are you anywhere in this illustration? I am.
I have been the man on the bed. I have been delivered from a ‘seemingly hopeless state of mind and body’ that is alcoholism. I know Bill D. like a brother. We have shared the same unkind womb. I embrace those memories today – more than 17 years later, knowing that without those experiences I would not be the miracle I am today.
The miracle today is that I am able to be the ‘suits’ in this illustration – carrying the message back to those who need it. I get to be a part of their miracle as it unfolds before my eyes.
AA members are a part of this picture in every way imaginable, even if you are not aware that you are. We are the ‘suits’ that carry the message into the myriad of alcoholic storage facilities, now called Treatment Facilities or some other term. We are the first face at a meeting, extending our hand and leading the way to the coffee pot. We are the contributors placing the ‘buck in the basket’ that provides OUR literature to uncertain prospects.
One key thing this picture does not show is what happened AFTER Bill D. was released from the hospital – they met up with him and continued to show him this ‘new way of living’.
Bill and Bob didn’t just abandon their newfound friend. They didn’t hand them a meeting list or tell him to go to their web page or text me, of course, or even say ‘Call Me’. Nope. They incorporated him and his family into their world, into their sober life. Reaching out to the shaky newcomer.
However shaky it is, it is likely more than what the newcomer has ever known. The thoughts of spending a day or even a portion of a day – sober – with others who are sober is more than the newcomer ever dares to dream of having. It makes the difference.
Everyone can be a part of this. If you can’t be the ‘suits’ going in to a place, you can be the ‘greeter’ that takes the time to meet up with them and light the path into their new life. You can make a difference.
When a candle shares its flame to light another candle, it is not diminished. You simply have more light.