Beauty in the Wreckage


A beacon on a pile of garbage, an alcoholic metaphor.

Blackstrap Mountain is a small mountain near Saskatoon.

It may be the highest point in Saskatchewan, a notoriously flat province of Canada. And it is one of the few man-made ski hills in the world. The skiing operations are closed, but for years the good folks of Saskatchewan had their ski area. There was a chairlift, and you could ski both night and day. At night people skied under the lights, and at the top of the hill, a thousand-watt beacon shone forth, advertising skiing in Saskatchewan with the promise of fresh air, exercise, and health.

Interestingly, it was built on garbage. The hill was built with garbage collected from the City of Saskatoon — that, and dirt from a man-made lake at the foot of the mountain. The mountain is a vertical landfill site. At least, that’s the story.

The legend that Blackstrap Mountain is a pile of garbage with a beacon light at the top, promising fresh air, exercise, and happy family skiing, is an excellent analogy for this week’s blog; for members of AA are beacons of hope, joy, and freedom on top of a mountain of garbage.

AAs are attractive examples of recovery and sobriety, shining lights on a hill for those oppressed and put upon by alcoholism, calling them to a life of recovery and joy.

The faces of AAs in the rooms are fresh, clean, and attractive, but our lives are piles of wreckage.

Looking around the room, we see former malcontents and misfits, histories of ruined careers, families, and relationships. We hear a litany of criminal records and broken promises. Our stories are the detritus of alcoholic lives.

These stories are our personal Mount Blackstraps, piles of garbage.

But we are recovered and on top of our mountains; we are thousand-watt lights, beacons of hope for suffering alcoholics. We are the former self-centered miscreants and malcontents who are now bright-eyed and passionate about helping others.

Our Big Book promises that our worst defects and most horrific stories become our greatest strengths. Like the garbage under Mount Blackstrap, elevating a beacon, our defects and stories elevate us so we can be seen.

We are an attractive recovery beacon on a mountain of garbage. The legend of Mount Blackstrap is a perfect AA analog.



Andy Crooks writing as Andy C

For Andy C, not drinking was the first spiritual awakening. He’s been blessed with subsequent spiritual awakenings as the results of the 12 steps.