In the backwoods of rural north Georgia, members of an A.A. group listened respectfully as old John told his story once again. They had heard the story many times before, but each time "Jaw-un" retold it, something special seemed to happen in the ancient shack that housed the meeting.
Wrinkled, wizened, dirt permanently embedded in the cracks in his hands, teeth stained with tobacco, John slowly shook his head as his face softened into a smile that still harbored a tinge of pain. "Back when I was drinking," he began in his accustomed fashion, "I used to think that I knew everything." Glancing at each face in the group of people sitting on the rickety chairs surrounding the old picnic table, he rested on their gentle smiles as tears welled up in his own eyes. "A.A.'s great gift to me," he continued, "what you people gave to me . . ." John searched for the words for a moment and then gently struck the table with his large, gnarled hand. "Well, dammit, you helped me be . . . you made me . . . teachable."
"Teachable," he repeated again and again, and with each repetition, old John struck the table with the palm of that work-ravaged hand, softly but firmly, as if to drive home the point.
Silently, as always, the group waited. Finally, as always, it came: "Thank you," John concluded. "Thank you."