The last two paragraphs of Chapter 11, “A Vision For You” in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, have always been my favorite passage in the book. For much of my sobriety, each time I read them (or heard them read), I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I was never quite sure why, but I always felt something very deeply on each occasion.
On May 26, 2016, I was living in New York City and was preparing to fly home to Texas the next day to visit my mother, who was battling cancer. That morning I sat down, pulled out my Big Book, went to page 164, and read the last 161 words again. As I read, I noticed some very explicit promises, prayers, actions, and warnings hiding in plain sight. I began writing down what I saw in the hope that what I found, might one day be able to help others working our program of action in the way it had helped me.
Over the next few months, I’m going to share Chapters of an e-book I released back in May 2020 titled, “The Last 161 Words (of the First 164 Pages)“ with you. If you are interested in reading the whole e-book, I have offered it for free on this website for anyone who would like to read it. It’s a short, quick, and easy read. It’s readable in two formats; 1.) FlipBook on the website, or 2.) Free PDF download at https://takethe12.org/library/
The original title of this book was intended to be “Reflections on A Vision For You”, but when I sat down and finally started fleshing it out, I felt I wanted to call it something a little less grandiose. One day, as I was reading the content from which this book was drawn, it hit me… “The last 161 words of the first 164 pages of the Big Book contains all Twelve of our Steps!” And so, it was.
………. CHAPTER 1 ……….
“Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little.”
The Step Connection: Step 7 – “Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.”
Promises, Prayers, Actions, and Warnings: This is both a Promise and a Prayer. The pure humility found in a statement like this conveys the clarity of Bill W.’s true understanding of the obstinate alcoholic nature. WHY? Because he made our 12 Steps suggestions and not mandates. He knew what he was doing (or God knew what God was doing through Bill).
The promise lies in the fact that when I admit to myself that in and of myself, I know nothing, I can experience the true meaning of humility – the desire to seek and do God’s will – as Bill outlined in Step 7 in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
The prayer in this passage is an acknowledgment to God that I’m grateful for the humility I’ve found, realizing, and admitting just how little I really do know about myself and the spiritual malady that I’m afflicted with.
………. CHAPTER 2 ……….
“God will constantly disclose more to you and to us.”
The Step Connection: 1st 1⁄2 of Step 11 – “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God…”
Promises, Prayers, Actions, and Warnings: What an incredible Promise Bill gave me here. God cannot disclose more to me if I’m not actively seeking to improve my conscious contact with Him. I get to go deeper as I TALK to God through prayer and LISTEN to God through meditation. I have the talkin’ thing down (and those who know me well know that’s true) – but the listenin’ thing? I still have some work to do on that one. Thank God I’m still open to teachable moments.
Just about the time I think (which is my first mistake) I have it all down, God discloses Himself to me through His kids. I’m continually being taught that the biggest problem I’ll ever have is separation from the Divine. That old saying of “more will be revealed” is completely true so long as I remain open and receptive to God’s clear-cut direction given to me through His beloved.