The Little House on Genessee
Fort Wayne, Indiana
John S. (Fort Wayne, Indiana) The Little House on Genessee, November 2012, paperback xii + 122 pp., ISBN 978-1-4759-5162-2, $13.95; ebook ISBN 978-1-4759-5163-9, $3.99|
John Stark turned his little house on Genessee Avenue in Fort Wayne, Indiana, into a place where he sponsored, over the years, a long series of alcoholics and addicts, and led them to sobriety through Alcoholics Anonymous and the twelve steps. Many of these people came from very rough backgrounds, including hardened ex-cons and people who rode in motorcycle gangs, but what you see in them now is a combination of strength and gentleness, of fearlessness and kindness, and of what is still the old toughness, but mixed now with a marvelous depth of love and spiritual presence.
In this book he and seven of the people he sponsored tell the story of how their alcoholism and addiction led them into lives of desperation and despair, but how practicing a set of simple daily actions enabled them to recover from their seemingly hopeless affliction.
CLICK HERE to see his other book "Tales from the Caribbean"
In memory of John Stark"When my sponsor Ed Kennedy died, I was one of the six pall bearers at his funeral. He told me before he died that he didnít want me blubbering around at his funeral because it was a happy day -- an end to his suffering. He told me that if I had successfully carried AA's message of sobriety to six other men before I died, then I would have done more for AA than all of the grandees in the program."
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Apr. 11, 1945 - Nov. 9, 2012)
In Johnís early life he was a great sailor, using the Virgin Islands as his base and taking fast sailboats for adventure and commerce through the waters of the Southern Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. He worked for many years at a special martial arts dojo, and rode motorcycles which could outrun anything else on the road. But narcotics and the bottle brought him down.
Finally, in 1985, he put aside alcohol and drugs, and by 1994 he was devising the method which he lays out in this book. Eleven of the fi rst twelve people he tried it on got sober and stayed sober. It is built on the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Joe and Charlie tapes, and the teachings of the good Fort Wayne physician Dr. Zweig. John boils it down into something so simple that anyone can understand how to do it. And it works. People all over Johnís part of the country have seen it work for the past 18 years, again and again, for the toughest, the angriest, the most rebellious, and the most self-destructive alcoholics and addicts in the world.
John Stark in 1985 at the helm of the Touché,
a 55-foot Abeking and Rasmussen racing sloop
built in Lemwerder, Germany
CLICK HERE to look at John's other book
"Tales from the Caribbean"
A set of simple daily actions
The Tuesday night Joe and Charlie Big
Book meeting in the workshop in back of
John Stark's house on Genessee
The Tuesday night meeting at the little
house on Genessee, with John Stark's
motorcycle in the foreground
John still used the workshop behind
his house for woodworking when it was
not being used for meetings
John in 2009 at Key Largo, five miles
off the southern tip of Florida
John said, "My first sponsor Ed Kennedy suggested to me that at the start of every day I should humbly, on my knees, say God, Thy Will, not mine be done (Step 11). I was instructed to pray for nothing, more or less, than to do God's will and to incorporate pages 86, 87 and 88 from the book Alcoholics Anonymous into my morning prayer and meditation."
"The few simple daily actions I was asked to do slowly changed my attitude and my whole life. I cannot not think my way out of alcoholism, but if I become willing to do a few simple daily actions, eventually a Power greater than me will manifest itself in my life and change my thinking."
"Only later did I discovered that those actions, without my knowledge or permission, had allowed a power greater than myself to manifest itself in my life, in such a way that I knew beyond any doubt it was there -- a spiritual force was there and I had no idea when or how it got there."
"Ed Kennedy told me 'These simple daily actions have worked, for every person who ever did them, and the only ones who fail are the ones who fail to do the simple actions!' He further said, 'I have good news and bad news for you, the good news is that these simple actions are the solution to your alcoholism, addiction and whatever else is wrong with you, but the bad news is, you must do them every day, one day at time, for the rest of your life, or suffer you bastard, suffer.'"
"I have come to believe that the God of my understanding speaks to me through people -- if I will but listen. Once sober, my mentors became the voice of God and they showed me a path that led from darkness towards the light."
"Eventually I realized that the others around me in AA had found their peace, spiritual harmony and serenity by doing God's will for them, and I decided if it worked for them, it might work for me too. To do His will, they said, was to know peace, and not doing His will led to a hell on earth. My main problem in the beginning was learning that I was the problem. My life sucked because I was getting the fruits of my wrong, self-centered, selfish, dishonest and fearful actions. My first sponsor promised that, if I did some different daily actions, my life would get better and it eventually did. I'm grateful to have discovered that truth because there could be no solution if anybody other than me was the problem."
"I am powerless over people, places and things in this world. I'm powerless over everything except my daily actions. I have the power to get on my knees and humbly say, God, Thy Will not mine be done, I have the power to shower and to wash my face, I have the power to practice daily meditation and read a daily meditation book, eat something before I leave the house, do the next right thing, help others who still suffer, and be grateful to a God for having removed my grinding obsession for alcohol and drugs. That horrible mental obsession for alcohol and drugs controlled everything I did or didn't do. Everything else in this wonderful world is under the rule of a mysterious power greater than me who is almighty, numinous, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent."
"To my mind, the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said it best. He said that alcoholism is but a symptom of a greater malady that is spiritual in nature, which means that alcoholism requires a spiritual solution. And drug addiction requires the same."
"Most of the people I sponsor, when they begin have resentments against God and/or religion but it's not my job to convince anybody that God exists -- that's their Higher Power's job -- I don't go there. I simply promise them if they do these simple daily actions, eventually some mysterious unseen power will manifest itself in their lives in such a way that they will know itís there."
One of the people John sponsored explained how he passed that message on to him: "He asked me if I was willing to do a few simple things each morning. I was asked to get on my knees each morning and say God, Thy will, not mine be done. Take a shower and wash my face and my butt, read pages 86 to 88 in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, read a daily meditation book, eat something, spend some time meditating and go to work. Do the next right thing, carry the message to others and say thanks at the end of the day. If you do these simple things you will stay sober."
READ WHEN YOU GET UP EVERY MORNING
Step Eleven Prayer and Meditation
Pages 86 to 88 in the Big Book
of Alcoholics Anonymous
When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.
On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.
In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.
What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.
We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems. We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that and it doesn't work. You can easily see why.
If circumstances warrant, we ask our wives or friends to join us in morning meditation. If we belong to a religious denomination which requires a definite morning devotion, we attend to that also. If not members of religious bodies, we sometimes select and memorize a few set prayers which emphasize the principles we have been discussing. There are many helpful books also. Suggestions about these may be obtained from one's priest, minister, or rabbi. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer.
As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day "Thy will be done." We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.
It works -- it really does.
We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined.
But this is not all. There is action and more action. "Faith without works is dead."