When Hannah and Connie drove here yesterday, Hannah brought her friend Jess from college. Hannah always introduces me to Jess even though I have met her several times before. I am not exactly sure how the two girls became acquainted as Jess is a nurse and Hannah an artist which means they were in different schools at the university, but I suspect it was through the Christian fellowship on the JMU campus. The beauty of these religious fellowships is that girls can have a relatively good experience in college. By that I mean no drugs, no alcohol, no predatory males. I know that is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but for girls in a family where half of their near relatives are in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse (or should be) the chance to hang around with people who are clean and sober is a joy.
Why do spiritual programs work (if you work them)? I don’t know, but I do know they work. I have seen miracles every day for the past few decades. For example, the Fellowship of AA, the granddaddy of 12-step programs was started by an alcoholic stockbroker, Bill Wilson, and Doctor Bob, who was trying to help Bill get sober. Both were influenced by the teachings of Carl G. Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist who was overshadowed by Freud. Today, Freud is passé, while Jungian ideas are alive and well through AA, influencing the lives of many.
Every five years or so, members from the worldwide fellowship of AA gather at some location, usually in North America. One year, I accompanied David to Montreal to attend one of these gatherings. Many of us rode the Montrealer that runs from Washington DC to Montreal Canada. We were newly married and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
A couple we knew from our church, Tony and Arlene, rode in our car and sat facing us. Our car was filled with AA people from Washington DC, as well as folks in Al-Anon like me. When we walked to the club car, we passed though AA meetings underway everywhere. Sometimes they were gathered in the coupling areas between cars. The whole train was one big AA meeting. When the train reached New York, a group of boisterous, laughing AA people got on and filled one of the empty cars. We stopped again in Boston and more members of the fellowship joined us. The whole train was an AA train. All though the night, someone was holding a meeting somewhere on the train. The club cars ran out of coffee. They sold no liquor. The staff was totally puzzled. Never had the club car run out of coffee and had a surplus of booze.
We reached Montreal the next day, and within a few days, the whole city of Montreal was devoid of coffee. Generally, the hotels and restaurants can expect to sell a lot of booze when a large group of people gathers in a “convention” city. That did not happen this time.
The highlights of the trip for me included taking a car trip to Quebec City; driving through Trois Rivers and the beautiful Quebec countryside; Sitting in the dark in my friend Lois’s hotel room looking out at the blue lights in the spires of Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal “Our Lady” of Montreal; the perfectly blue sky and the beautiful water lily ponds at the Montreal Botanic Gardens; and being surrounded by people I loved and who loved me.
One of the neatest things was that when I went to claim my name tag, the French Canadian fellow helping me knew how to pronounce my name, Dianne, which is French. ‘Dee Ahn,’ he exclaimed excitedly. No one had ever done that, and I suppose he was pleased to see an American with a French name.
I have traveled to Montreal many times, mostly on business or for professional meetings. I have flown and taken the train and driven. I recall none of these trips as fondly as the trip on the Montrealer with David. It was like being on a week-high with no drugs or alcohol involved.