Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter April 2005

Dear Marina Dock Members and Patrons,

It's April, we just celebrated Easter, and "Spring is in the air." Unfortunately, for now it remains metaphorically, in the air only - it would be nice to see some hard evidence of Spring in the weather - this Winter seems interminable. I am now a firm believer in Seasonal Affective Disorder. In fact, clinicians have discovered that as the weather gets better people are less likely to use mental health services, become more active, and are much more energized. Studies have shown a deep psychological and cultural connection with Spring that goes along with our natural inclination for purification, a need to clean things up not just on the outside but inside as well. It would be interesting to research how many of us have actually taken Steps Four and Five around this time of the year?

In the beginning

Whether we are religious or not, most societies have some form of late Spring ritual that centers around the concept of change or a journey, a moving from one place to another. This symbolic event usually involves a shift from a place of darkness and gloom into sunshine, air and growth. The word "Easter" for example takes its name from Ishtar, the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love and fertility. Later when these ancient Pagan beliefs reached Northern Europe, Ishtar became Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring, fertility, and the rising sun. In fact, the old English Word for Easter, "Eastre" refers to Ostara. It's interesting that the Teutonic Springtime celebrations, which emphasized the triumph of life over death, were used by early Christian missionaries to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. Christian Easter then gradually absorbed these earlier traditional symbols.

My Ancestors were Pagans

I was born in Duleek, pronounced Do-leek, County Meath, Ireland, about four miles south of the majestic Boyne Valley where the foundations of Christianity in Ireland were laid. It was on the Hill Of Slane where St Patrick lit his famous Paschal Fire 432 AD which incensed The High Kings of Ireland on the nearby Hill Of Tara. The Kings summoned the young Patrick, the Christian son of a Roman Centurion, to Tara for an explanation. It is there, legend has it, that Patrick converted the Irish Kings and Chieftains to Christianity by using the three-leaf shamrock to explain "The Holy Trinity" of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. Right in the center of all this lies the ancient passage-graves of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, overlooking the historic Boyne River, located about four miles Northwest of Duleek between Slane and Drogheda. Newgrange was constructed around 3200 BC, according to the most reliable Carbon 14 dates available from archeology making it more than 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids and 1,000 years older than Stonehenge. In 1993, Newgrange and its sister sites Knowth and Dowth were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of their outstanding cultural legacy.

If you decide to include Ireland in your vacation plans, this site is definitely a must for anyone interested in early Pagan beliefs and rituals, and the origins of Christianity in Ireland. Ironically, I never once visited Newgrange in all my years growing up in Duleek. A few abortive attempts were made in a semi-inebriated stupor but I could never get past Dolly Mitchell's pub on the Slane / Drogheda road within a stones throw from this historic site. I did finally make it to Newgrange in 1993 when I last visited Duleek.

Tea or Coffee?

It must now be apparent, to even the most optimistic among us, that the free-spending, freewheeling days of unlimited economic expansion and growth that characterized the mid-to late 1990's are definitely over. I no longer even look at the price of oil/gas. I don't have to. All I need to do is buy a two-pound bag of high quality coffee, and for some reason oil prices impact coffee prices? Yet again, The Marina Dock continues to defy fundamental laws of economic supply and demand. We are now offering not 1 but 2 brands of high quality coffee, Peets and Equator, at prices that are reasonable and competitive. If you are, like me, an avid connoisseur of tea, you have to be impressed by our tea selection. We go to great lengths to have an array of choices for the discerning tea drinker. If there is a particular tea you like, please let us know and we will try to make it available to you. I would like to point out that last year we introduced all paper, fully recyclable cups and other products, with little added cost to our patrons. We were hoping this move towards environmental correctness would inspire those who are not yet members or donors to "seize the moment" and help us out financially. In order to sustain this high quality of service we need new members.

Literature Racks and Pamphlets

This month, you may have noticed, we installed a new AA literature rack on the wall in the East Room. The Marina Dock provided this rack to the groups and the literature/pamphlets are free for the taking, made possible by the group's contributions. We also have a new rack in the social room where members can pick up Marina Dock schedules, as well as information on City & County food, shelter, and mental health information, for those in need.

Speaking of Health

We are now facing the prospect of being reported to the SF Health Department by our neighbors to the right and the School next door to the left; because of second hand smoke issues. It is no longer acceptable for our members and patrons to smoke outside on the sidewalk to the immediate right or left of our facility - period - especially by the school fence. For years, we have had an ongoing battle with the smokers among us, trying to get them to cooperate and comply with this simple request. Now, the gloves are off, we are in serious danger of losing this space because of this major health issue. We are asking everyone's support on this. If you see anyone smoking outside, please ask them to move down to the corner of Fillmore and Greenwich to smoke. The reality being, smoking is no longer socially acceptable. It's not that we don't understand or empathize with smokers -most of us smoked at one time or another. However, times and attitudes are definitely changing towards smoking, and our neighbors are complaining. We do have a Nicotine Anonymous meeting on Saturday morning at 10:00 AM and we have space for more if anyone wants to get involved in starting additional meetings.

In memory

We lost two of our Marina Dock family over the last couple of months:

Stephan P, 1948-2005

Stephan was a member in good standing for many years. Stephan was a gentleman and a scholar, who loved English literature, poetry, photography, music and travel. Having successfully overcome his own internal struggles, he became interested in the lives of those less fortunate around him. He was drawn by his passion for photography to create character studies of the often tragic lives of the people on the streets of San Francisco. Stephan's passing will leave a void in the lives of those that loved him.

Jill J, 1967-2005

Jill was born and raised in Yuba City, California. After graduating from high school, she went on to receive a degree in communications from UC Santa Barbara. Jill moved to San Francisco and became a highly professional businesswoman in both public relations and later real estate sales. Jill was active in the recovery community - attended a lot of meetings, sponsored other women and had service commitments. She tried to give to others the gifts she had received from sobriety.

In 2000 at age 30, Jill was diagnosed with breast cancer. After reconstruction surgery and chemotherapy the disease went into remission. In 2002 the cancer returned but Jill kept working, attending meetings, and carrying the message. When she became too sick to attend meetings her friends brought meetings to her house. At the end Jill was surrounded by a multitude of close friends from within the fellowship and UC Santa Barbara. Jill passed away on March 11, 2005. She succumbed to the ravages of breast cancer that she had battled for six years. We will miss her. May the spirit with which she lived be an inspiration to each of you every day.

Please join us in celebrating the life of Jill. There will be an open Memorial Service, Saturday, April 9, 2005 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM at Fort Mason, Building C, Room 260.

By Kathleen M and friends & family of Jill's

Other News

The Sunday 5:15 PM and the 6:30 PM AA meetings need a new secretary. There are some other weekday meetings that also need a secretary. The Codependents Anonymous groups on Saturday 4:45 PM, Tuesday 6:20 PM, and Friday 6:30 PM all need people who are willing to serve and support -otherwise they are in danger of folding. We have a new Sugar Anonymous group on Thursdays. Check the schedule for the time. We could probably use some more Nicotine Anonymous meetings, now that smoking especially outside The Marina Dock, is becoming increasingly more difficult to indulge in. That's kind of how it is for all addictions: we surrender when the pain of maintaining the addiction exceeds the pain of letting go and letting God (surrender).

The Secretary's Workshop is close to becoming mandatory for people who are new to service in AA at the Marina Dock. For years we have had complaints about individuals not knowing what they were doing when it came to conducting an AA meeting. Now there is a marked improvement in the quality of service due to this very important workshop. The workshop not only covers AA Principles and Traditions, but also answers questions pertaining to the Seventh Tradition and the difference between the Seventh Tradition and contributions to Hospitals and Institutions (The H&I can) in an AA meeting. The Workshop is held the 3rd Saturday of every month at 1:30 PM in the West Room. If you are new to service or someone who wants to know more about being of service this Workshop answers all your questions.

We need you

We are always in need of funds. If you are still considering a donation, I believe there is still time for a 501(c) (3) tax deduction for 2004. We welcome donations of any amount. Recently a woman sent me this testament as to why she wants to make a monthly $10.00 contribution to the Marina Dock:

1. I got sober at the Marina (Dry) Dock and probably wouldn't have stayed sober in the early days without the Marina Dock.

2. The Marina Dock's is in a safe, inviting and relaxing neighborhood which is important to me as a woman.
3. I found a lot of people like myself just out of rehab or newly sober at the meetings.
4. From my location in Lower Pacific Heights, I only need one bus ride (22 Fillmore) to get there.
5. The many daytime meetings (Noon to 5:15 PM) work perfectly into my schedule. Saturday's 3:30 PM meeting is also one of my favorites.
6. I also like the fact that I have the option of attending NA meetings at the Marina Dock in the evening because I have problems other than alcohol.
7. On the days that I don't have to see my probation officer, I can hang out at the Marina Dock all afternoon and attend a variety of meetings.
8. I'm originally from Baltimore and a few days ago I ran into a couple from my old neighborhood in a meeting.
9. It was through a chance encounter at the Marina Dock that I got my first sober job in San Francisco.
10. Although I don't make a lot of money, I have pledged $10.00 a month to the Marina Dock as a gesture of gratitude. Thank you for being there for me.

Elizabeth G., Lower Pacific Heights.


With Gratitude,

Anthony T. Murray "Irish Tony"


[ Back to archive index ]