PRAASA 2016 has come to an end and…wow! I feel like I get a little redundant when I describe this PRAASA as perhaps even better than the last one. But, for me at least, that always seem stop be true.
And you know, redundant as it may sound, it may well be true. After all each PRAASA does try learn from those that came before, just as we learn from our sponsors. I know for a fact that when I was on the PRAASA 2011 host committee I spent hours talking with the folks who’d hosted the past few PRAASAS and did my best not to repeat their mistakes. Admittedly I wasn’t always successful, but I tried.
The other reason also has to do with something I’ve said over and over in writing these reports for the last several years. The quality of my relationships with our fellow servants at PRAASA continues to get better with time and contact. I remember being at my first PRAASA, very confused and, I’ll admit it, a little in awe of the ease with which I saw people in interact. I couldn’t do that then. I’m not sure I can do it all the time now, but now I have a host of friends, a fellowship has grown up about me, and PRAASA is an experience I definitely do not want to miss. I know you’ll feel the same way if you attend. If you haven’t been to one yet, join us in Sacramento next year.
So what about Sunday?
Well as you probably know Sunday is a half day with less on the agenda, but in many ways the best is saved for last. The order of business if for Sunday is:
8:00 AM to 9:00 AM PANEL 8—WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?
9:15 AM to 10:45 AM PANEL 9—PAST TRUSTEES SHARING SESSION
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM PANEL 10—DELEGATE’S ASK IT BASKET
The first is simple enough, it’s an open mic for folks to talk about whatever they didn’t get a chance to say at the earlier panels. And of courser, in true AA fashion folks have a chance to say whatever on their mind – related or not.
Next up is always the Past Trustee’s Sharing Session and this, for many – myself included, is one of the biggest highlights of any PRAASA.
Our past trustees are an incredible group of people. The wealth of AA history and practice they bring to the table is beyond compare. A diverse group to be sure, they do all share several commonalities; humility and compassion come to mind right away. And yet they aren’t “high and mighty” by any means they embody the best of servant leadership and are very accessible and easy to talk to.
Any notes I could post would shortchange their words so I’ll just say this. Almost unanimously, and perhaps it was unanimous, they all suggested that one of the biggest dangers we face is rigidity. All to often we decide there’s only one way to do things, one way to work the steps, one way to run a meeting, and we can have a tendency to insist on conformity to our own vision of AA. They encouraged us to remember that one of the prime requisites for recovery, indeed simply for a happy life, is to remain openminded, open to change, open to trying new things.
The last panel of PRAASA is always the ‘stump the delegate’ panel. These are questions from the ask-it-basket, much the same as we do at our assemblies. And like the questions at our assemblies some are easy to answer, some not so easy, and some really have no answer or perhaps many answers, all good but all different.
Each delegate received at least one question pulled from the basket and distributed by Joel, the Pacific Regional Delegate. He may not admit it, but it was pretty clear he was having some fun deciding who should answer which question.
Our own delegate, Cheryl N., received the question: “What is the difference between H&I and Corrections?” As may know, Cheryl is serving on the Corrections committee at the GSC so this is a particularly apt question for her.
But of course, as you may also know, in Hawaii we don’t really have an H&I committee, we have a Treatment committee. Well that’s pretty much what Cheryl explained. She went on to explain further that in Hawaii the lines between committees can be a bit blurred and we depend on the folks doing the work to do it, regardless of which particular committee it “belongs.”
And that was it! PRAASA 2016 had come to a close. Of course I spent time saying see you soon to friends old and new and then I was off thinking PRAASA is over and I’ll do a little siteseeing.
Well I’m a big fan of museums so I headed to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Cultural to see what was what. Part of the admission price includes a tour of the Campbell house (not the same family as in Hawaii) and since it started right after I go there I figured, why not?
And of course PRAASA wasn’t really over. Sure we’d closed with the Responsibility Pledge, said our farewells, and dispersed, but it seems a couple of us dispersed to the museum, so the conversation continued.
Later in the afternoon I headed to a meeting at the local Alano Club and found, yep, two folks from Hawaii there attending a potluck dinner and two speaker meeting. I drove a couple of other visitors back to their hotel, exchanging contact information, and talking story the whole way of course. Nope, PRAASA really wasn’t over yet.
Yesterday morning I really did have to get ready to leave, but not before going to a meeting at the 5th Avenue Fellowship Hall again, and seeing some of my new Spokane friends to wish them will. After that I had time to write most of this post, but as you’ll see, I didn’t finish it in time to post it yesterday.
And a good thing too because…PRAASA wasn’t really over. 🙂 On the way home, passing through Seattle I ran into another Hawaii member who’d been there from Maui and as we both had an hour or two to kill we had a very nice (for airports) trout dinner and, you guessed it, talked story the whole time.
This morning I’m back at work and I can’t get over the feeling that maybe PRAASA is never really over. Maybe PRAASA isn’t just the annual event, but the ongoing bonds of friendship and fellowship that we find when we come together in love and unity.
I don’t know about you, but I’m making plans for PRAASA 2017 in Sacramento! Please join me.
Yours in love and service,