I’ll Stand By The Door

Recorded Audio Greeting to the Newark, New Jersey “Chorus of Recovery” 2008 International Convention

My name is Roy and I’m a sexaholic. I’m standing here in the West LA Saturday night meeting and I’m talking to a large group of sex drunks. This is where the first meeting of Sexaholics Anonymous (I think in the world) took place in this room on January 25, 1981. Through this recording I’ll be also talking to the international convention. I greet you folks and I wish I could be there. I wish Iris could be with me. The Chorus of Recovery theme, that you have, is just a marvelous idea. I understand you have solicited stories about real recovery in SA which has turned into a Chorus of Recovery. That’s really good because, as difficult as this is, God can do and is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Thinking about the title Chorus of Recovery: Every chorus starts with one note. Then there’s another note and another note, sometimes a melody, sometimes a chord. I would like to trace the steps, the voices of the chorus, that brought me and the program here. So it’ll be kind of a semi-personal/semi-historical reprise.

I go back to April 24, 1974 when I walked into the door of Alcoholics Anonymous for the first time. There was a man at the door. His name was Dick. And he handed me an AA brochure, shook my hand and offered me a seat. That was the beginning where I found, for the first time in my life, where I knew I belonged, because they were leading with their weakness. Previously I always thought we have to lead with our strength.

After a few months of sobriety, I was separated from my wife. I did not know what happened. I met a man named Jim R. Here was somebody in Alcoholics Anonymous who knew what I was and who knew where I came from. He had been a homosexual hustler in the streets of Los Angeles and had lost a family. When I met him at the door he was about four years sober in AA, clean and sober from drugs and alcohol. He had a new family, two little girls, two beautiful little daughters. Jim R. was my first sponsor.

He’s dead. They found him hanging at the off ramp of Temple Street. What happened? He’d 13th-stepped a newcomer woman in Alcoholics Anonymous. That took him out of his marriage. It took him back into drugs and everything else. The last time I saw him he told me he was speaking with the devil. However, this man saved my life. I was the only one who spoke at his funeral. I couldn’t stop weeping. All the devastation of his life was there in that small little funeral parlor. And, he was there at the door for me. So when we look at a Chorus of Recovery, we find that not all notes keep singing.

Next at the door was Carl J., my sponsor. He died a quiet sober death recently, but, thank God, he’s the one who started me through the Steps. I’d go to his house every week and do it.

The next person at the door was Kevin B. He was bi, a high school dropout, no religious background. I was a college graduate with a religious background. We had nothing in common! Anyhow, he was the one I could pick up the phone and call. He was my life connection in any impossible situation. I will never forget the first time I called him. And I said to him, “There she is—she just walked in, a new secretary, micro mini skirt, high heel shoes! She’s got it on a platter! And I’m going to pieces inside.” On the other end on the phone he says: “Yeah, I went by Ralph’s supermarket and there on the street ….” The honesty was what saved us both. We didn’t have sponsors. We didn’t sponsor each other, but he was there!

There was the first pseudo meeting of SA which happened in James Allan W.’s office with Frank H., Karl and myself. We had the AA Big Book. We were the AA sexaholics in that one meeting in Simi Valley who identified. It took us quite a while to get to know each other, but we did. After that first meeting we were so joyous that we recognized and were honest with our sexual stuff. James Allan said we ought to call this Lustaholics Anonymous. Well, of course, later on it got called Sexaholics Anonymous. It was the door to his office that was open, and that was great!

Next standing at the door was Clancy I., the great West Coast AA sponsor. I decided after my slip after a year and a half that I needed tough direction. I never had a father and never had taken instruction from a man. I needed a sponsor. For a year I’d pick up the phone and after 15 seconds Clancy read the situation intuitively. Then he’d give me an action and hang up without saying goodbye! Although that man was at the door, I couldn’t stand him. But, I followed direction and he was at the door.

Next man at the door was Chuck C., his sponsor. The people that I had been dealing with in AA who identified and who wanted to start some kind of fellowship for sexaholics, had gone by the wayside. I was left alone. So I went to Chuck C. in Laguna Beach. I said, “Here’s the deal, I’ve got to find my people. But I don’t have anybody.” Chuck C. gave me about four hours of his time. I’m just sitting there with my mouth open and he’s giving me the best of his advice and wisdom. He said “Don’t worry, God is your partner.” If it hadn’t been for that, you and I would not be here today, because I needed that direction. He was at the door of his home. So this brings us to just before SA.

But what about the Chorus of Recovery that started Alcoholics Anonymous? Because our program is the AA program. What about that Chorus of Recovery? Let me just briefly recap some information. In 1917, a new Episcopal clergyman by the name of Sam Shoemaker was in China trying to be a missionary and failing miserably. He met Frank Buchman (also a clergyman), who was the founder of the Oxford group, which was the precursor to AA in New York City and Akron. When Sam met him and they got to knowing each other, Frank Buchman challenged Reverend Shoemaker with the Absolutes of the Oxford group. The Oxford group believed in the Four Absolutes: Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness and Love. If your decisions and manner of life conform to those, then you are probably on the right track.

So Shoemaker took those Four Absolutes and did an inventory of his life based on those Absolutes. He was devastated; he had nothing. That made him so powerless, that he surrendered his life to God. The key word in his life was self-surrender. That’s where surrender got started. What I have been leading up to is, that the principles of our program come from people who are notes in the Chorus of Recovery, one at a time.

Now what happened? In Sam Shoemaker’s Oxford group in New York, a guy named Ebby, a hopeless drunk, came in and got sober. He happened to be a friend of Bill W. who was last gasping,  totally lost. One day Bill got a call from Ebby, he came over, and it turns out that Ebby sponsored Bill into sobriety. Then Bill started going to the Oxford group. So it was Frank Buchman, Sam Shoemaker, then Ebby, and now Bill Wilson.

When Bill was six months sober from alcohol, which was a miracle, he went to Akron. He was in the Mayflower Hotel and had trouble staying sober; he was going to relapse. He called 10 churches and one answered. He made a connection with Dr. Bob who was a hopeless drunk, and Bob got sober. That’s how AA got started.

So the history of AA is a marvelous journey. It’s a marvelous chorus and we are just a small part of that chorus in Sexaholics Anonymous. We are not unique. We are part of this chorus. I wish I would have had the foresight to call AA central office and see how many organizations have got permission to use the Steps and the “Anonymous” title. Probably 500 at least. There’s just an incredible number of fellowships, offshoots from this: good, bad or indifferent, whatever! There’s something happening. It’s the chorus of recovery! A chorus of recovery with some bad notes and some stuff in there. But that’s the way it goes. So we are being called to a harmony that is here and is our doing.

Now I’d like to read a small piece of a poem that Sam Shoemaker wrote. It’s called “I Stand by the Door.” By the way, during the 1955 Saint Louis convention, 20 years after AA was born, where Bill W. turned the organization over to the fellowship, one of the two keynote speakers in that convention was Reverend Sam Shoemaker. I urge all of you to go to the AA book, AA Comes of Age, and read the transcript of Sam Shoemaker’s talk to the fellowship. Sam Shoemaker apparently was not an alcoholic, but he sure sounded like one! He was accused by some of the people in Saint Louis of being an alcoholic. And he said that was the greatest compliment he ever had. He was an amazing man. Bill W., in that talk, gives credit to Sam Shoemaker for the principles of the AA program.

Now, “I Stand by the Door,” is written by Sam Shoemaker. And, I want to close with this. There will probably be five or six hundred people in New Jersey who are hearing this. What it all boils down to is one person to another, one drunk talking to another. One person standing at that door. And here we are going to hear it from a man whose life and work was so influential in why we are here today.

“I Stand by the Door”

I stand by the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out.
The door is the most important door in the world –
It is the door through which people walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind people,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for people to find that door – the door to God.
The most important thing that any person can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands
And put it on the latch – the latch that only clicks
And opens to the person’s own touch.

People die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live on the other side of it – live because they have not found it.

Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him.
So I stand by the door.

Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
Sometimes venture in a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening.
So I stand by the door.

There is another reason why I stand there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia
And want to get out. ‘Let me out!’ they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled.
For the old life, they have seen too much:
One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving – preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door.
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply and stay in too long
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
But not so far from people as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.

Where? Outside the door –
Thousands of them. Millions of them.
But – more important for me –
One of them, two of them, ten of them.
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
So I shall stand by the door and wait
For those who seek it.

“I had rather be a door-keeper . . .”
So I stand by the door.

Sam Shoemaker (from the Oxford Group)

Thank you and may God bless our fellowship.

Roy K., March 1, 1927 – September 15, 2009

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