On February 4th I posted a blog titled “What Makes A Life Meaningful.” In that blog I was wrestling with the fact that as an old man (of 83) it seems to me about all I can do is help a few people find hope and meaning by helping them find sobriety and/or a new life of faith in God.
I related an incident that occurred while a group of friends and I were reading about Bill Wilson’s doctor’s opinion that Bill had little chance of ever getting sober unless he had some sort of spiritual experience. I reported how one of Bill’s old drinking buddies named Ebby had gotten sober at Calvary Church in NYC and went to see Bill. I said that at first Bill thought Ebby had just “gotten religion,” but something about his friend’s changed life convinced Bill to go with Ebby to meet the Rector, Sam Shoemaker. As a result, Bill Wilson became a Christian, sobered up, and with Shoemaker’s help wrote the “Big Book” that described and inaugurated Alcoholics Anonymous’ very powerful spiritual movement during the last sixty percent of the 20th century. To read the original post, click here.
The same day the blog came out I received an email from my friend Ruben who pointed out the following:
I remembered that Ebby probably didn’t know the amazing effect of his walking a few days with his old friend, because I’d heard that Ebby went back out and drank himself to death. Ebby’s life did have great significance because of working a simple program for a short time. But I also realized that whether Ebby knew it or not, those few days eventually gave meaning to lives of probably millions of men and women around the world.
Wilson stayed sober and eventually formed Alcoholics Anonymous with Dr. Bob Smith while [Ebby] Thacher soon returned to drinking. Wilson always called Thacher his “sponsor,” and even though he had returned to drinking, Wilson looked after his friend’s welfare for the rest of his life. Thacher struggled on and off with sobriety over the years, and ultimately died sober in Ballston Spa, New York from emphysema in 1966.”
Ruben’s email included several more paragraphs about Ebby’s struggle with the disease the rest of his life, but I will not quote them here since the point of my post was not about Ebby’s death, but to say that Ebby’s willingness to go see his old friend led to the founding of a great movement of healing. And I realized that I am having a meaningful life simply by helping a few people find hope, people whom God may have plans for that are between Him and them.
And thanks to Ruben who has helped many people already, including me.