"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." —Step Twelve, Alcoholics Anonymous Experiencing a spiritual awakening as a result of working all 12 of the Steps, we are compelled to carry our message to those who still suffer, passing on to others the gift that was freely given to us. As we carry the message that we have found a spiritual solution to our common problem and then we pass on our knowledge of the Twelve Steps, it becomes an endless cycle that leads us to the spiritual solution over and over. The gift that keeps on giving. "Is sobriety all that we are to expect of a spiritual awakening? . . . No, sobriety is only a bare beginning; it is only the first gift of the first awakening. If more gifts are to be received, our awakening has to go on. And if it does go on, we find that bit by bit we can discard the old life—the one that did not work—for a new life that can and does work under any conditions whatever." —Bill W., December 1957 Step Twelve declares that as the result of these Steps, we experience a spiritual awakening that compels us to carry to others our message of a spiritual solution. When I think of a spiritual experience, I think of Bill W.'s sudden blast of life-changing white light in Towns Hospital. I did not initially have a sudden, blinding spiritual nova—mine was of the educational variety. I did experience a spiritual awakening that was much like the way I wake up in the morning—slowly, one eye opens and then closes. Then the other eye opens and then closes. I begin to stretch, I fight it, and, slowly but surely, eventually I wake up. I fight waking up and fought my spiritual awakening for as long as I could, but I eventually had to face the reality of the day— that in fact there is a God, and that God is working in and through my life to the extent that I follow His will for me and allow Him to make changes in me and through me. For most of us, our spiritual awakening comes slowly as a result of working the Steps, which lead us to the clear realization and acceptance of the three pertinent ideas found in the Big Book in the beginning of chapter 5: That we were alcoholics and could not manage our own lives That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism That God could and would if He were sought As the result of these steps, I awoke to the understanding that it was no longer necessary for me to run my life based on self and fear, fueled by drugs and alcohol. As the result of practicing all 12 of the Steps and surrendering to the Twelve Step way of life, I learned that, so long as I aligned myself with God's will by growing along spiritual lines and living in maximum service—especially by working directly and intensively with other drunks—the compulsion to drink would be lifted forever, contingent upon daily maintenance of my newfound spiritual condition. I was promised that not only would my life get better but that it would transform into something beyond my wildest dreams, and so it has. I accepted the mandate set for us by Step 12 and began to do that work, which was mine to do and in a maximum manner—no half measures. The chains that formerly bound up my soul and crippled the circumstances of my life dropped away, and I was set free. This awakening and the precious gift of knowledge about the spiritual solution, which is developing an intimate relationship with God, was knowledge too exciting to keep to myself. I felt compelled to give it away. Living in our Higher Power's will—however we define that Power—is what keeps us sober. And that means being of maximum service to others. It's all about love and service. My friend Brave F., sober since 2013, embodies this concept powerfully. "I believe that having a spiritual awakening is simply becoming aware of a reality that has always been there. I believe that every human being is designed to have purpose, as we are all God's kids and we are placed on Earth to help Him help others. I believe that as a recovering alcoholic I am called to serve a very specific purpose—to meet people when they are at their most broken state, and to reach out my hand and carry the message of finding hope and healing through God. "I am simply doing what every human being is designed to do. But for me, as an alcoholic in recovery, I believe that just a little bit more is expected, because we have lived in darkness and are uniquely qualified to show others who suffer from our common problem how to find the light. "For me, the message we carry is the message of love. There are two forces working here, love and fear. When I am driven by selfishness and fear, I will fall into harm. When I am driven by unconditional love, then my life will fall into place, and everything gets filtered through that. I know it is a cliche, but in order for me to be able to not only live in the solution but also to grow, I have to give it away. I have to share it. That's how this thing is designed; that's how it works." Making Step Twelve a Full Course Meal Sponsorship may be considered the highest form of Step 12 service—as the meat and potatoes of Step Twelve. It is through the sponsorship process and Twelfth Step calls that the nitty-gritty work is accomplished, and we forge our most intimate and spiritual connections with other human beings. However, if we want to enjoy a well-balanced, full-course meal at our spiritual feast, there are other delicious opportunities to directly carry the message: speaking at meetings; bringing meetings to hospitals, treatment centers, prisons, and other institutions; and hosting and conducting special Twelve Step educational events, such as Wally P.'s Back to Basics Step workshops, Mike F.'s AA History seminars, and Big Book studies such as "The Big Book Comes Alive." There are a host of Step Twelve service commitments that support creating a space where the message can be carried, ensuring that our meetings are up and running so that the newcomers can find our fellowship, meet their sponsors who will take them through the Steps, and provide us all with ongoing opportunities to be of service. Many service commitments can be carried out by newcomers, even before they have completed the first 11 Steps, in order to introduce them to the joys and benefits of service. The solution is always found through action: we change our minds by moving a muscle, and moving our service muscles keeps us spiritually fit. These actions of service for the group help us make a deeper surrender by breaking through our arrogance and showing us new levels of humility. Perhaps most importantly, they help us feel like we are a part of the group by making good connections and feeling that we belong, rather than remaining isolated and feeling terminally unique. Our meetings are the home of our fellowship. Serving as a greeter, making coffee, bringing the donuts and cookies, setting up and cleaning up the meeting space, procuring the anniversary chips, leading meetings, and giving others rides to meetings—each of these opportunities for service is a wonderful spiritual appetizer that will help the newcomer practice the spiritual principles of focusing their energies on serving the needs of others. Other service commitments that are of great importance to each group and beyond include: Holding office as group secretary, treasurer, or chairperson Serving on steering committees for roundups, conventions, retreats, and conferences Volunteering for local intergroup phone hotlines and meeting referral services If we are truly invested in Step Twelve and committed to being of maximum service, then we are doing a combination of these service commitments to supplement our work making Twelfth Step calls and sponsorship. We become a walking Big Book and carry our message by power of example. Gary K. has served as an ambassador for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) and created and produced four national tours the live stage production, Pass It On…An Evening with Bill W. and Dr. Bob. He also portrays Bill W. in the traveling production of the off-Broadway play, Bill W. and Dr. Bob and has appeared as a frequent guest on national TV advocating for 12 Step recovery.