Sending hope

Sending hope

Once again, I am in a South Florida fellowship hall, invited by my son to attend an AA meeting.

Some 80 chairs line the long, narrow room in neat rows.  By the time the meeting starts, it’s standing room only.  Late-comers sit cross-legged on the floor.

I sit in the back, wanting to be invisible, humbled to be among this small multitude – and to be a witness.

Ages range from late teens to seventies.  Most are men, maybe a third women. Dress varies. Yes, there are baggy pants and slouchy shirts, but there also are trim polos, khaki slacks, fitted blouses and tee shirts with Miami, Pittsburgh, Cross Fit and Salty Crew.

Two men tell their stories.  They are unremarkable, variations on a theme of loss, isolation, desperation and hope.  Each recounts feeling different as a youth, awkward and out of step. Then the alcohol or pills set in and soften the angst, until they don’t.

The stories end with the miracle of finding a community that cares.  There are the Twelve Steps, a sponsor, the meetings, and all of it matters.

But what matters most is the fellowship that draws them in and holds them up. Perhaps it’s best personified in how the meeting ends.

The chair announces, “We have a special way of closing.”


All stand. A few quiet seconds follow as the circle expands to ensure everyone is in.

Hands lock. Heads bow.  The Lord’s Prayer begins softly, rises and fills the air, lifting to the high rafters of this South Florida church.

What I hear inside my head is…

God, please protect these children.  Find their parents, wherever they are, and let them know that their sons and daughters are alive and safe, at least for this night, in the arms of these angels.

Because surely there are angels in this room.