Advent adventure

A seasonal rerun.

I so miss the columns Anne Lamott used to write for Salon, because they got me through some of the roughest times of my life. (How can you not love someone who refers to herself as a “cursing Christian”?) Anyway, via several other bloggers who reminded me of this, an excerpt from one of my favorite columns. I hope it gets to someone who needs it:

So I called my Jesuit friend, Tom, who is a hopeless alcoholic of the worst sort, sober now for 22 years, someone who sometimes gets fat and wants to hang himself, so I trust him. I said, “Tell me a story about Advent. Tell me about people getting well.”

He thought for a while. Then he said, “OK.”

In 1976, when he first got sober, he was living in the People’s Republic of Berkeley, going to the very hip AA meetings there, where there were no fluorescent lights and not too much clapping — or that yahoo-cowboy-hat-in-the-air enthusiasm that you get in L.A., according to sober friends. And everything was more or less all right in early sobriety, except that he felt utterly insane all the time, filled with hostility and fear and self-contempt.

But I mean, other than that everything was OK. Then he got transferred to Los Angeles in the winter, and he did not know a soul. “It was a nightmare,” he says. “I was afraid to go into entire areas of L.A., because the only places I knew were the bars. So I called the cardinal and asked him for the name of anyone he knew in town who was in AA. And he told me to call this guy Terry.”

Terry, as it turned out, had been sober for five years at that point, so Tom thought he was God. They made arrangements to go to a meeting that night in the back of the Episcopal Cathedral, right in the heart of downtown L.A.

It was Terry’s favorite meeting, full of low-bottom drunks and junkies — people from nearby halfway houses, bikers, jazz musicians. “Plus it’s a men’s stag meeting,” says Tom. “So already I’ve got issues.
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