Pass the Basket

“We were astounded to find that we were as tight as the bark on a tree.  So A.A., the Movement, started and stayed broke, while its individual members waxed prosperous.” 

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 161.

Spirituality and money seem like strange bedfellows.  Materialism is seen as a fault. “The love of money is the root of all evil.”  Here in AA, where so many things are the opposite of the ways of the world in general, money, gratitude, love and spirituality are all closely tied. Where they meet is in the basket passed at meetings.

As a newcomer to AA many years ago, it was suggested to me by my sponsor that I put $2 in the basket at my home group and $1 in the basket of groups that I also attended. Back then a dollar or two was a generous contribution.  The same amount today simply won’t buy what it did then.  Prices have soared.  Everything costs more including the rental for AA meeting rooms, the literature and refreshments, the travel expenses for our GSRs to attend the Quarterlies. When new to AA I had no idea of where the group contributions went. I wouldn’t have known a Quarterly if I’d been bitten by one.  However, I learned and was amazed.  There is a huge world of AA out beyond my home group. The Intergroup Office is the first place many people call when they want to get sober.  It’s where our literature comes to be purchased by the groups and where calls come in for information and for 12th step calls. Then there is the District.  Group contributions keep the Districts afloat and allow the business of AA to continue.  Everything we do in AA is for the purpose of carrying the message to the still suffering alcoholic.  Then there is the Area, the General Service Office and the General Service Conference where the decisions, made at the group level on how to better carry the AA message, are discussed and voted on.

As AA does not accept contributions from outside sources, it’s the money from the basket being passed, along with literature sales, which fund this whole life-saving organization known as Alcoholics Anonymous.

How does Tradition 7 work in my life? I’m constantly aware that without contributions the life-saving message of AA will not be carried to those who need it.  The money is not going to come from anywhere else, as AA does not accept money from outside sources.  I also have to be aware of my tendency towards selfishness, self-centeredness and rationalization.  I always had the money for alcohol when I wanted it, for my own pleasures, for the coffee shops in sobriety.  I can’t afford the $4 latte today and still be generous when the basket is passed at meetings.  So, the lattes had to go.  Weighed against saving the life and sanity of a fellow alcoholic it’s a very small sacrifice indeed.  Those who came before me gave so that AA was here when I needed it.  All I had to do was walk through the doors.  The room rent was paid for, the coffee was on, a display of literature was available at cost and the pamphlets were free for the taking.  I went home with a Big Book and a handful of pamphlets. That was the beginning of a journey of sobriety, spiritual growth and fellowship, a journey toward love and contentment.  I truly believe that as I give I am giving to my Higher Power through AA.  What has come back to me is priceless.  Serenity, love, a fulfilling life of service and also of enjoyment and much improved relationships with others, a certain knowledge that I can stay sober for the rest of my life by following a few spiritual principle are all gifts I received through AA.

So, there it is.  In the end, when I give to AA, I give to my Higher Power and to myself. Gratitude is a loving action.  My sobriety is a gift for which I thank you and all the AA members who have gone before me.