What Seemed at First a Flimsy Reed

By Beth Legacki, Alumna

Tonight, at my homegroup a memory came to mind that I hadn’t thought about in years. It was about an interaction I had in community with our founder, David Elliott, over 11 years ago.

I had been at Burning Tree Ranch for two months, still very much spiritually asleep and full of self-centered fear. I had already been to seven treatment centers. I had a head full of information, but lacked any real working knowledge or spiritual experience.

One day I was challenged in community, and I struggled. I wanted to sound good and look good, but my words and internal dialogue didn’t match. I fell apart. I broke down crying, and I was full of fear. David stopped the process and asked me to get quiet and invite God in. I shut my eyes, and all I could think about was that everyone was staring at me. I wanted to melt into the chair. To disappear. Frustrated with what had been asked of me, I opened my eyes and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know what you’re asking of me. I don’t know what it means to ask for God’s help and suddenly have clarity. I DON’T KNOW WHAT LANGUAGE YOU’RE SPEAKING!”

David re-adjusted. He then asked me if I could breathe and count my breaths. That I could do. It made tangible sense to me. I shut my eyes and counted my breaths. Now, when I opened my eyes, I wasn’t 100% calm and ready to share some profound truth, but I was aware that my mind was not racing. For a few moments, I had forgotten about me, which felt freeing.

So much of my journey in recovery has been experiencing things in hindsight. I look back on that interaction today and feel that David’s initial direction to me was based on his current experience; yet he was awake enough to realize that it was unreasonable for me to access a God that I had no acknowledged experience with. I’m grateful for David’s approach. This realization has also served me in sponsorship, I don’t feel it would be effective to look at a newcomer and ask her to “go pray about it” when she’s just not there yet.

I love the juxtaposition today. I love that I get to sit where David sat and remember how he met me. Since that day in community I’ve been willing and able to get on my knees, even when I didn’t really know what I was doing. I have leaned into the unknown, even when it was awkward and uncomfortable. I have practiced and continue to practice the clear-cut directions given in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

“What seemed at first a flimsy reed, has proved to be the loving and powerful hand of God” (BB.Pg.28)

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