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Kevin Melvin brought this First Word to the meeting on May 27, 2012.

A Year of Changes

I have been attending West hills friends almost every week for a little over a year now. When I first started coming to church, I was newly sober and a bit raw around the edges.

I had no friends and my family life was in shambles. I was a mess, to say the least. What I did have was desire; the desire to improve upon my condition, to be a better man, husband and stepfather. That desire sent me to AA. One of the meetings that I began to attend regularly and still attend regularly is a meditation meeting every Tuesday. The meeting is held in our community building. If it was not for this meeting I never would have known that West Hills Friends existed. If it were not for that meeting I would not be standing here today, delivering this first word. I am grateful for that meeting just as I am grateful that our church provides the space for it. As a part of recovery, it is recommended that people explore their spirituality. Knowing something about the Society of Friends from my love of history as a child, I knew that they were famous for their acceptance and tolerance of others and that I might have a chance of being accepted, even if I were a bit raw around the edges. That knowledge gave me the courage to start my spiritual exploration here.

I must say my friends, I was not disappointed. From the very first day, I was welcomed with open arms and have felt at home here. I found a refuge as I struggled to find my way both in my sobriety and in my spirituality. For when I first came here, I was bereft of a sense of spirituality. I had spent my time as an adult using my intellect and reasoning every detail out. It was time spent looking for logical explanations for everything, time spent denying my emotions. I listened to the world around me with my head, and all I knew was emptiness. God gave me a great gift when I was steered to West Hills; and in the last year, you my friends, have given me so much more. You have given me a wonderful gift as more and more I am learning from you to listen with my heart - and oh what stories my heart tells. It tells me that God is where you look for her. In the surf and the sand or the chickens next door, in the faces of friends and the cycles of the seasons and the generations. God can be found in the breaking of bread and in the faces of the children during the Christmas pageant, found in the explorations of sacred spaces and in ourselves. My heart tells me that God is where you listen for him; during first words and queries; during meditation and joys and concerns; during those quiet moments in the day once deemed empty, but now replete with the fullness of the hearts voice. Born of the habit of listening, looking for meaning in the world that surrounds us all. Where once was emptiness and despair, now is fulfillment and joy. By listening with my heart I have found gratitude, I have found a sense of community I have never know. I have found a calmness and a centerdness I thought was beyond my grasp. I have rediscovered a love of life. I have rediscovered the joy I felt in childhood.

Most of important of all by listening with my heart I have rediscovered my awareness of God and my relationship to God.

Thank you all for helping me on my journey. I am forever in your debt. This world is truly a wonder and I am truly blessed.