Can you spot them? The most important person in the room???
I used to think it was the person who had pulled up in the flashiest car, or the person with the best hair, or the person with the craziest stories to tell, or the person who was dressed to the nines, or the person with the most successful business or the person who had the most friends around them…
Last night I was at an AA meeting with a great friend of mine and the welcome was lovely as ever – The person who is designated the role of ‘Greeter’ at an AA meeting has a vital role in my book as its their warmth and welcome that relaxes me when I enter any meeting. Are they perhaps the most important person in the room? As I was offered tea or coffee and a nice piece of cake I started to feel really part of the meeting – Is the person who organises and serves the tea with a smile and a handshake the most important person in the room? After catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, by the time the meeting started I was already in great spirits. The meeting was opened up and handed over to the lady who was kindly sharing her experience, strength and hope with us that night. Ah, now she is definitely the most important person in the room??? Only, she didn’t seem to think so.
Sat there right at the front row was a figure, rigid but somehow shrunken, hopeful but somehow hopeless, here but somehow definitely there….. At first glance they appeared to have nothing to offer, nothing to gain, nothing important about them at all. But the voice from the table directed the following words right into their soul and they were so powerful they instantly touched mine. She said “Welcome to your first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. You are the most important person in this room tonight and I want you to know you are no longer alone. You are not sitting in the chair of an Alcoholic, you are sitting in the chair of someone who is here to be informed. You have your own stories to tell and I have mine, there will be differences, there will be similarities but in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous we are all in this together and we can love you until you are able to love yourself”.
Over the next two hours this amazing lady skillfully focussed the entire meeting on the newcomer. Speaking directly to them she painfully described the desperate state she was in when she found AA and illustrated beautifully how her life had been transformed through the love of the people and the power of the programme. Through words and laughter she wrapped a blanket around this lonely figure and kept them safe for a while.
If ever I care to wonder again who the most important person in a room is I will know exactly where to look.