The Patience of an Angel

If grace continues to lead me on my present path, my sobriety will soon reach the age of majority: I will hit the 18 year mark. It will be an adult, but also, a baby. After all, when you live your sobriety one day at a time, the clock never gets past 24 hours. 

By Marie-France Bancel

When I began in the “brotherhood,” as they call it, I would spend my meetings curled up in a little ball in a back corner. But that’s not how it works! You soon figure it out: the support of other members isn’t just a great big gift they give to others; it’s also their road back to society.

It’s in sharing that we are reborn. When we tell of our own pain and suffering, little treasures of compassion well up with unsuspected mercy. During my first very difficult two years, I often reached out for help, and never did my hand fall empty. In return, later on I took others’ hands, thankful to be able to open up to the world.don’t do many meetings anymore. But the last one I attended is a reminder as to why it’s important to remember how I got here.

As soon as I sat down I spotted a little man at the back of the room. Ageless, a little rough, he gave off an indefinable vibe, restless, serious, and silent. With his old t-shirt, scraggly beard and messy hair, he could have passed for a homeless person, or a wise man, or maybe even a poet.

 At the end of the meeting we were invited to stand. With a graceful gait he went to the front of the room. He had something to celebrate: 36 years before, a now-deceased member had pulled him off a park bench and marched him to a meeting. It had happened in the last century, but for our wise man, it could have been yesterday.

Not a day went by that he didn’t think about the direct, frank, angel who had come to his park bench not to sneer, but to help. He chose to honour his angel by reaching out to help others.

I’m always moved by these older members who are at once weighed down and lightened by their years of experience, strength and hope. Often found sitting quietly in the back of the room, they wait patiently to pay it forward. In a society where everything is a spectacle, it’s rare to see small miracles being handed out discreetly, without fanfare.  

Far from the world’s noise, noble acts full of poetry are being carried out. I love these out-of-the-way places where mountains are moved. It reminds us of life before our uncertain present time. We are travelling across grey areas that fade into black. It’s human nature for us to harden under such circumstances, to lose hope. Still, we should keep one eye open for that uncombed angel waiting in the shadows, reaching out a helping hand. 

  • First published in Reflet de Société magazine, vol. 29, no 1, January 2021, page 23.  

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