Dear Marina Dock Members
Thank you for your continued support, The Marina Dock, owes
its success to the ongoing generosity and support of a small
group of big supporters, and a large group of everyday small
donations. I guess that just about covers everyone who walks
through our doors. One thing we are sure of is, you all have
a stake in this operation and have a part to play in the miracle
on 2118 Greenwich St. Everyday new people cross our threshold
seeking help and refuge from the ravages of alcoholism and substance
abuse, and everyday you await their arrival with empathy, compassion
and unconditional love. My part in all of this is merely academic
we do the footwork but the results remain exclusively in the
hands of a God of our understanding. What a great phrase that
is, I love it and I try to find an excuse to work it into a
discussion at every opportunity. In fact just last night I had
a chance to expound on that very topic.
Godless in the Excelsior
I gave my newcomer
friend Dante (not his real name) a ride to the Excelsior and
as we cruised down Ocean Ave the conversation invariably turned
from joblessness and bills, to powerlessness and God. Dante
has a little over a year and is really struggling right now
with paying his rent and holding down a job, not to mention
that he and his girlfriend just ended their relationship the
night before. He asked me how it was for me when it came to
ending relationships? I told him I never did end a relationship
I simply stopped showing up and after a while the other person
would realize they were no longer in a relationship. He laughed
at that and figured I was trying to humor him and pull him out
of his funky mood. Then he asked me if I had a problem with
a belief in a "Higher Power" or God when I first came
around the program. I told him I was so deranged from alcoholism
that I thought Elvis was God. Dante laughed, he is from Memphis
so he got a kick out of that one. Seriously though I asked,
trying to steer the conversation back on to a more spiritual
footing, why do you think you have a problem with the God part
of the program ?. He said, I don't know for sure, but it may
have something to do with growing up in Tennessee rather than
Virginia, my folks grew up in Richmond, he said jokingly. I
told Dante most newcomers have problems with the spiritual angle
when we first get sober, l suggested we see what Bill our co-founder
has to say to the newcomer on this issue.
Belief in God From
"Let's Ask Bill Wilson"
Q- What about
the alcoholic who says that he cannot possibly believe in God?
A - A great many of
them come to A.A. and they say that they are trapped. By this
they mean that we have convinced them that they are fatally
ill, yet they cannot accept a belief in God and His grace as
a means of recovery. Happily this does not prove to be an impossible
dilemma at all. We simply suggest that the newcomers take an
easy stance and an open mind; that he proceeds to practice those
parts of the Twelve Steps that anyone's common sense would readily
recommend. He can certainly admit that he is an alcoholic; that
he ought to make a moral inventory; that he ought to discuss
his defects with another person; that he should make restitution
for harms done; and that he can be helpful to other alcoholics.
We emphasize the 'open mind,' that
at least he should admit that there might be a 'Higher Power.'
He can certainly admit that he is not God, nor is mankind in
general. If he wishes he could place his own dependence upon
his own A.A. group. That group is certainly a "Higher Power,"
so far as recovery from alcoholism is concerned. If these reasonable
conditions are met, he then finds himself released from the
compulsion to drink; he discovers that his motivations have
been changed far out of proportion to anything that could have
been achieved by a simple association with us or by any practice
of a little more honesty, humility, tolerance, and helpfulness.
Little by little he becomes aware that a "Higher Power"
is indeed at work. In a matter of months, or at least in a year
or two, he is talking freely about God, as he understands Him.
He has received the gift of God's grace - and he knows it. (N.C.C.A.,
Blue Book, Vol.12, 1960)
A Piece of local
On September 1st 2006 Wade D will
celebrate 56 years of sobriety. Wade is very much involved in
the everyday operations of The Marina Dock, like his friend
of 5 decades, Frank Brennan, Wade's influence extends into every
corner of the global recovery community. Frank died in September
2003 in San Francisco, California.
Random reflections on the occasion
of Frank Brennan's 50th clean and sober birthday, January 4,
1996. Celebration dinner, 7pm at the Holiday Inn, Union Square,
Valentine, Nebraska December 28, 1995
When Pauline and I moved from Chicago
to San Francisco in 1966 Frank welcomed us with open arms. At
the time Frank was the major domo at the 7 Seas club which catered
to alcoholic seamen. He invited us to a Saturday night AA meeting.
We ascended a flight of stairs. When we approached the landing
we recognized Lee Marvin, a prominent movie star, drunk and
disheveled, sitting on the last step. He mumbled that Frank
wouldn't let him stay inside. We later found that Frank had
bounced him for being loud and obstreperous. Frank was alert
to early warning signals of people who tend to become allergic
to their own bullshit. We were entranced with the 7 Seas Club
- it had the trappings of a sleazy waterfront dive.
Through the years Frank has earned
and enjoyed the respect and love of Bay Area AAs. He is a down
home guy and, thankfully, with a half a century of sobriety
Frank is not and never has been an AA guru. Our friends to the
south in LaLa land suffer a few gurus gladly - I recall one
who drones on and on. Almost every time he opens his mouth he
subtracts from the sum total of AA wisdom. Frank ain't that
way - his remarks are pithy and sparkle with self-deprecating
Frank is direct but now and then his
directness wanders off in circuitous fashion. We baseball fans
over age fifty tag him with affection as the Casey Stengel of
AA. I recall Frank calling me about a fallen away Catholic from
Boston with a huge guilt problem which was putting his sobriety
in jeopardy. Frank inveigled me into inviting the Bostonian,
and AA Father Andy, to lunch at the Banker's Club. I ducked
out after a round of Perrier and left them a running tab. Later
Andy told me the guy ate like the Russians were in Daly City,
attacking, and was only interested in relating his Brahmin Harvard
background. Frankly, we saved no souls that day.
We scored when Frank called me about
John, who had spent over a year in a halfway house, and had
lost all confidence in an attempt to re-enter the corporate
world. We convinced John to apply to the company which had fired
him for drinking. John thought we were nuts but it worked. His
former company, after a couple of years, promoted him to a top
executive position in Chicago.
The piece de resistance
came on a Sunday morning in 1971 when Frank, accompanied by
a handsome couple, dropped by our house. Joe R. was black and
the chief steward on the SS African Rainbow. Shalimar, an East
Indian, was raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Joe, several
years previously, had made a 12th step call on a physician who
was Shalimar's father. The doctor rejected our way of sober
life. However, all was not lost as subsequently Joe and Shalimar
were married. Joe wore out his welcome in apartheid South Africa
and was banished due to political activity. Pauline and I were
leaving on a holiday for South Africa the following morning.
Frank dropped his bombshell shortly
before leaving our house. He casually mentioned that Joe had
been 12 stepping Zulu King Edward Masinga in Durban prior to
Joe's getting the boot. Frank then reached into his always bulging
jacket inside pocket to hand me a sheaf of news articles from
the Durban papers. These described erratic behavior, including
alcohol abuse, plus infidelity problems of the King and his
number 8 wife. Joe gave me the name and phone number of a white
Vice President of a sugar company known as "Sugar Hill"
in Durban AA circles.
Why am I providing this background
information? Then came the rapid fire pitch from Frank: "You're
going to be in Durbin for ten days. We want you to call "Sugar
Bill" and follow up on Joe's 12th step calls on the King.
We gotta go now. Be your own best friend. Drop me a card. Goodbye."
I belatedly realized that once again the master delegator had
struck with a swift and deft touch.
Upon arrival at Durban's Hotel Edward
I followed instructions and got in touch with "Sugar Bill."
I outlined the situation. Bill indicated he would co-operate
but he said he believed it to be a most difficult assignment.
He proved to be right.
Fortunately, in the world of apartheid,
Bill had underground contacts. No way could we reach the King
direct 'protocol indicated intermediaries. Proposed meetings
were set up and then cancelled. "Sugar Bill" and I
played hide and seek with the King for ten days. We never met
him. It was frustrating, but fun. We went to any lengths to
try and carry the message. The King went to any lengths to avoid
us. He won - or did he? "Sugar Bill" and I reluctantly
accepted the obvious. The King was not ready to stop drinking.
Sorry, Frank, we really tried.
Old friend - you are the niftiest
on your fiftieth. May you enjoy good health and sobriety into
the millennium -and then some.
Pauline and I love you