“Each member of AA is but a small part of a great whole. AA must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.” - Long form of Tradition One
“For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as God may express Itself (Him/Herself) in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.” - Tradition Two
“Final responsibility and ultimate authority for AA world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole Fellowship.” - Concept of Service One
“AA has been called an upside-down organization because the ultimate responsibility and final authority for … world services” resides with the groups – rather than with the trustees of the General Service Board or the General Service Office in New York.”
- The Twelve Concepts for World Service Illustrated
As individual members are to the groups, the groups are to the whole of AA.
AA trustees do not govern the organization; rather, the individual groups form "God's voice" which guides the trustees.
At the group level, leaders are "trusted servants of the individual members."
At the broader levels, leaders are the "trusted servants" of the groups.
All AA groups are one part of a great whole.
A circle is defined as the infinite set of points equidistant from one point. Each individual, each group, is a point on the circumference of a circle.
What is represented by the "central point?"
PART A: Opening
Friends and family, thank you all for coming! We have been invited to share in and witness the exchange of marriage vows between Gabrielle and Andrew.
We know that we are here on Earth to love God with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our strength and to love one another as ourselves. We also know that love is just as recognizable as a full moon in a cloudless night sky.
Through terrible trials and great joys, Gabrielle and Andrew’s love for one another has matured and grown, leading to the decision to unify their lives in marriage today, the 15th of April, 2018.
Do you, (parents' names) bless and support your children in this marriage?
PART B: Thoughts for the Couple
Gabrielle and Andrew, two sentences of the vows you have written distinguish your words from others I have heard. You are on the brink of pledging:
I promise above all else to live in truth with you
And to communicate fully and fearlessly,
I give you my hand and my heart
As a sanctuary of warmth and peace.
“From my experience of you, I believe you have the inner strength and generosity to love and live in truth with one another, to know when to speak up and when to stay quiet.
Today, in front of so many witnesses, you are committing to a lifetime together. Gabby's uncle Freddy guided me with these words and would surely say them to you, “Just have an experience together. Take it one day at a time, one moment at a time.”
To do that, I invite you to envision a triangle, the strongest of all shapes, with God at the top, each of you at the other two corners. Each of you maintains a heart connection to the other and to God. With an understanding of this sacred triangle, many marriages endure through the most challenging trials, be they sickness, differences of opinion, inevitable self-centeredness, or drives home after tiring events.
Your love has already endured through the severest of trials, having lost your beautiful son, Greyson, who was unable to live a full life but his spirit surely watches over the priceless gift of love you have, and will remind you always to remember it is a true sanctuary or warmth, peace, and unity.”
We will now have a sand ceremony to symbolize that unity.
Part C: Exchange of Rings
We are now here at the exchange of rings.
The circular shape of the ring can represent many concepts and ideas.
The circle might represent the world. It is said that marriage, the family, is the cornerstone of society, a liberating sanctuary that frees each member to go out and, as Ghandi said, “be the change we want to see in the world.”
The circle can represent zero, nothing. Where there is nothing, there is potentiality: an empty womb receives new life, an empty tomb heralded ever-lasting life, a lost job means the opportunity for a new one, an empty mind invites the next creative thought.
A circle also represents infinity, what never ends. We heard it said, “Love never ends.” The ring reminds us to clear away what is blocking us from the truth of God’s infinite love, be it anger, fear, jealousy, pride. Get back to communication in truth and love.
Part D: Vows and Closing
Gabrielle and Andrew, are you ready to pledge to the unity of this marriage?
Gabrielle and Andrew: Yes. (Daniel and Josh give rings and the couple puts them on each other.)
Repeat after me.
May God bless your marriage and protect it powerfully from all evil. In the name of Almighty God, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss one another!
Meditating on the symbol helps me to keep in alignment with the loving God the 12 steps brought me into a relationship with. To clarify again, this is not the God I was raised with but rather Yahweh, Elohim, the Father, Mother, "I Am," God of the Bible - and the Higher Power, Realm of Spirit, Creative Intelligence, Power, Employer, God of the Big Book. The symbol of Alcoholics Anonymous is a circle with an equilateral triangle inscribed within so that each vertex of the triangle touches the circle's circumference. The symbol itself can be interpreted in many ways. I offer one interpretation below.
The symbol centers me.
First Leg on the Left:
Am in fellowship with others on the path?
enjoying honest friendships?
Second Leg on the Bottom:
Am I l engaged in shared and truthful self-examination?
in prayer and meditation, of service?
Third Leg on the Right:
Am I passing forward the message?
Am I practicing the principles in all my affairs?
This symbol can also represent
"the maintenance steps of 10-12."
Steps 10 and 12 require fellowship.
Steps 10 and 11 require self examination, prayer, amends, and meditation.
Step 12 requires service and practicing the principles.
"Each day, my friend's simple talk in our kitchen multiplies itself in a widening circle of peace on earth and good will to men." (BB page 16)
"It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in..." (Isaiah 40:22)