The following took place in the hospital room of Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.
His hands clasped the foot of the bed. But how? How? The alcohol had already killed his mind, his will, and his spirit. It was only a matter of time before it would kill his body. Yet at this moment, with the last vestige of pride, the last vestige of obstinacy crushed out of him, still he knew he wanted to live.
His fingers relaxed a little on the foot of his bed, his arms slowly reached out and up ‘I want’, he said aloud. ‘I want.’ Ever since infancy, they said, he’d been reaching out this way, arms up, fingers spread, and as far back as he could remember he’d been saying just that. But always before it had been an unfinished sentence. Now it had an ending. He wanted to live. He would do anything, anything, to be allowed to go on living. ‘Oh God,’ he cried, and it was the sound not of a man, but of a trapped and crippled animal. ‘If there is a God, show me, show me. Give me some sign.’
As he formed the words, in that every instant he was aware first of a light, a great white light that filled the room. Then he suddenly seemed caught up in a kind of joy, an ecstasy such as he could never find words to describe. It was as though he was standing high on a mountaintop, and a strong clear wind blew against him, around him and through him. It seemed a wind not of air, but of spirit – and as this happened he had the feeling that he was stepping into another world.
This happened, and it happened as suddenly and as definitely as one may receive a shock from an electrode, or feel heat when a hand is placed close to a flame. Bill never knew whether this was a matter of minutes or much longer, because he was beyond any reckoning of time. When it passed, when the light slowly dimmed, the sense of a Presence was still there about him and within him. And with it there was still another sense, a sense of rightness. No matter how wrong things seemed to be, they were as they were meant to be. There could be no doubt of ultimate order in the Universe. The Universe was not dead matter, but a part of the living Presence, just as he was part of it.
Now, in place of the light, the exaltation, he was filled with a peace such as he had never known.
From that time on Bill Wilson never took another drink. This account is excerpted with permission from his biography, “Bill W” by Robert Thomsen, Perennial Library, 1975. This excerpt originally appeared in the book, “Beyond the Final Frontier”, used with kind permission.
The true story of Bill Wilson is included, with kind permission, in the free e-book BEYOND THE FINAL FRONTIER which includes 27 similar true stories, and may be freely read and downloaded from this web site.