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The Forty-Year Medallion

Recently I attended an alcoholism recovery meeting in Taos, New Mexico, in which an 82 year old member collected a “40” year chip.  Now, though I’ve been attending addiction recovery meetings (Twelve-Step meetings) for many years, I have never, ever witnessed anyone celebrating that many years in recovery!  Wow!! His dapper western attire was set off by his squint-eyed rugged face framed by a white beard.  With a cowboy hat resting on the table in front of him, he looked every bit the iconic frontier figure, not unlike others I’ve seen in Taos.

The meeting was well attended, being a long established men’s group and conviviality ruled.  But as the meeting began and the ‘old timer’ was called upon to share, the room became reverently quiet as members recognized the special importance of this evening.  What a privilege to hear such a wise sage share his experience, strength, and hope!  After graciously accepting his forty-year medallion with much applause from the group, “Bill” began to speak of the initial experiences with spirituality and growth in recovery.  How during the first few years of recovery from alcohol addiction, which he obtained without the aid of professional alcohol and drug treatment, he struggled with the “God” part of the Program, not quite finding or experiencing what he thought he “should” find.  He went on to say that after bringing his dilemma up for the umpteenth time during a meeting, an old timer came up to him afterwards and said, “Quit looking for God.  He ain’t lost!”

Nowadays, with most folks coming to addiction recovery via alcohol and drug treatment programs, finding one’s Higher Power, spiritual connection, or “God as we understand Him” is made a little easier with professional help.

David Lasserre

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