Stepping Stones: A Bucket List Trip

“Most of us feel we need look no further for Utopia.  We have it with us right here and now.  Each day my friend’s simple talk in our kitchen multiplies itself in a widening circle of peace on earth and good will to men.” ~ Bill Wilson

Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and his wife Lois, lived the remaining years of their lives after Bill got sober, here at Stepping Stones, a historic home in Westchester County, New York.

Just up the hill is Bill’s writing studio, which Lois named Wit’s End, and where he penned several books and articles, most notably, Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as The Big Book.

Dear friends and I walked these grounds and toured the buildings one week ago today.  For anyone in recovery, you’ll understand the power of stepping across the same floorboards that Bill and many other alcoholics once did.

Nearly all of us, whether in active recovery or not, has been touched by the disease of alcoholism and it’s my hope that you’ll pick up a smidgeon of appreciation for the reverence with which we spent our time at Stepping Stones.

Bill’s quote

In the above quote, Bill mentions a friend and their “simple talk in our kitchen.”  That friend was an old school pal of Bill’s named Ebby Thatcher who showed up on Bill’s doorstep one day and as we say, “12-stepped” Bill.  You see, Bill was still on the insane merry-go-round of drinking and Ebby was glowingly sober and had come to tell Bill all about it.

The talk didn’t take place at Stepping Stones but it did occur at the small formica table and chairs that was moved to this kitchen.  When I sat at the table, I was in awe of Bill’s reference to the “widening circle of peace on earth and good will to men” thanks to the humble beginning of the conversation between Bill and Ebby.

One hand, one heart, one mind reaching out to a similar heart in need.  One singular talk between two old friends, rearranged the course of their lives and laid a path for millions of others for generations to come.

Do you think there was some divine providence involved?

The impact of a singular action

While many people within the fellowship place Bill on a pedestal for his part in creating AA, I’m of the belief that the birth of the movement was purely God-inspired and God-led.  Bill expressed a certain amount of willingness to serve as a vessel for the message, as we each do when we surrender control of what we think is best for us.

The impact of letting go, of taking an action and trusting its outcome to God always creates change.  That was one of my takeaways from time spent at Stepping Stones.

Because there is no big or small to God, the change that arrives through an action of forgiveness carries the same weight as the birth of a great social movement.  Each time you let go, each singular action creates a shift.

Your shift is like the proverbial flap of a butterfly’s wings that blows a breeze halfway around the world.

You just never know.  Ebby didn’t.  Bill didn’t.  You and I certainly don’t.

Be mindful with your singular actions and wait to be blown away.  Like Bill, and like me, you may find that you need look no further for Utopia.

For more information about touring Stepping Stones, please visit
Stepping Stones Photo courtesy of Daniel Case

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  1. Hi Beth,

    What a powerful experience! Love this line – “The impact of letting go, of taking an action and trusting its outcome to God always creates change.” So true that when we surrender, we can then face the reality of our life and change begins. Great picture of you sitting a the formica table.

  2. Beth says:

    Hi Cathy, it was powerful! So many impressions while we were there, too. Tom H. was with us and he had told us about being fascinated with Lois’ influence at Stepping Stones. Makes sense since she lived there much longer than Bill. She must have been quite a woman to “surrender” Bill to the fellowship. Her hand is everywhere there. The next time you’re in New York, it would be well worth your trip.

    Best to you this holiday season!

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