By Christine R.

In his final days, my friend Paul B. spent a lot of time in the hospital. During one of those overnight stays, at around 2 a.m. the night nurse came in. Paul had terrible insomnia and so was wide awake when she entered. 

The nurse said, “I understand you are a friend of Bill W. We have a man down the hall who would like you to ‘Speak him the Steps.’” Unsure of what he was getting into, nonetheless Paul said, “Sure. I’ll be right there.” Dressed in his bathrobe, he padded down the chilly hallway after the nurse. Soon, Paul found himself at the bedside of what appeared to be a dying man. After the nurse left, the patient quietly said, “Speak me the Steps.” With a lot of time and meetings under his belt, Paul recited the Steps. Holding this man’s hand, Paul relayed the answers for countless alcoholics, as one after another he “spoke the Steps.” Within a few hours, the man was dead. Paul allowed as how probably he was the last person the man saw. The Steps, the last thing he heard. 

Over the years, I remember Paul’s story as I hear the same solution applied many a time. Like the other day, a father was working to resolve the difficulties his son was having. The answer upon which they both could agree came when the father “spoke the Steps.” Starting with Step One, all about the powerlessness and the unmanageability of the son’s situation. Followed by Steps Two and Three, bringing a return to sanity along with a decision to find the answers from a Power greater than himself—a Power attainable to us all. 

On Sunday, a sponsee called while I was driving. Pulling over, I listened to the unmanageability. More than a listener, she needed a “solutioner.” By “speaking the Steps” she was guided to Step Two as we talked about finding a Power greater than herself. And where was that Power? Answer: Meetings. Phone calls. Service. Listening in meditation. Prayer. As she sought that Power on the phone, she came to realize that Power surrounded her all day. With this Source, she was placed on a path where the tasks before her were either accomplished or well on their way. 

This interchange is reminiscent of the Working with Others (page 99), where it says, “The most incompatible people discover they have a basis upon which they can meet.” Or page 17 in the chapter There Is A Solution: “We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action.” 

When newcomers call, I let them know, “You just did a perfect Second Step.” Nearly always, their reply is, “Huh?” To which comes the answer, “By reaching out with a phone call, you are looking for a Power greater than yourself. You could have chosen to drink. Instead, you chose to pick up the phone and find a different Source.” 

Speaking the Steps is more than speaking them. It means living them, so they become part of you. Seeing them as user-friendly. Like a chest of drawers, you can pull one out for any occasion. As an example, our friend T.K. used to say, “We live in Step 11, seeking God’s direction and power. When we screw up, we have Step 10 to clean up the mess. When we have extra energy, we have Step 12 to give back to this Program and pay forward what saved our lives.” By working a strong Step 12 with another alcoholic, we return to Step One. We remember where we came from. And so we come full circle. 

Round and round we work the Steps. We say them. We speak them. We work them. We live them. Like lights on a Christmas tree, rising higher with new awareness and new perspective. Thus, the Steps become part of our day-to-day experience. Like fabric interwoven, indelibly ingrained. Were I to have a last wish for my last hour, the wish would be to hear someone at my bedside “Speak me the Steps.”

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