By Dorothy H.
“Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown.”
~ Claude Bernard
To say that Saturday, October 18, 2014, was a stunning and shocking day would be akin to saying that if the earth spun off its axle it would be a bad day.
At 10:00 am, Pam W. called me in a controlled panic saying that she hadn’t spoken to Jonathon Goley, the third member of the We Agnostics and Free Thinkers (WAFT) International AA Convention (IAAC) steering committee, for over a week and was fearful. Pam went to his place to see if she could help Jonathon out of a possible depression. When she got there she saw that Jonathon’s smokes were on the porch, his car was in the garage and his condo neighbors had not seen him for over a week. Pam contacted his sister, Dorathy. Dorathy told Pam that he didn’t show up for his 62nd birthday party that they had for him a few days before.
Pam called the police.
I felt powerless.
Like many other things in my alcoholic life, I wanted to refuse the reality of life for my benefit.
I lived too far away to pack my hammers to go break into his condo myself. To prove to everyone he actually found the love of his life and flew away with him to a warm tropical island, where they were sitting on the beach by exquisite waterfalls.
Two hours later
Pam called back
Her voice was flat
She spoke slowly
“Dorothy… Jonathon has passed away. The police called me and said they found him in his home… the police said that there was no foul play, no evidence of an overdose or suicide. They are saying it’s natural causes.”
“No, no… NO!… WATERFALLS… Pam… WATERFALLS…”
I said as all that makes me who I am collapsed inside me…
“I know, I know, honey,” Pam said. “I want to remember him as the successful artist he was on the verge of becoming. The mural work he was doing, the recent art show awards he received, the freelance book illustrations, and how he was getting a new pension from the studios he worked for, and how that was going to pull him out of his financial troubles.”
“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”
Jonathon grounded me, loved me, supported me, opened his home to me, cooked for me, and explored the internal and external world with anyone who would take his hand in friendship.
I had known Jonathon since my third week of sobriety. He gave me my first year medallion and my birthday cakes.
From the first time I heard him speak at the meeting, I was impressed with him. He was thoughtful, insightful and gentle. Jonathon struggled with depression and childhood issues and had a history of drug use. He traveled the world. He loved Buddhism and was beginning to explore Druidism/Paganism and Taoism.
Often, when I was stressed or in a complaining mood, Jonathon would stop the conversation, point to the sky and ask me how many colors I saw in the sunset. He asked me if I could describe the colors to him. Then he asked me to breathe and watch the sunset with him.
Once, I was talking with Jonathon about my struggles to understand my role in the growing WAFT movement, and the world we live as he drove me to my commuter train. Jonathon gave me love and support, and at the end of it, he told me about the old movies and biographies of women he loved watching and reading. Jonathon said he admired and loved strong-willed, determined, fiery women and said not to give up on what I know what was right no matter what others think.
He hugged me and waved as the train left.
The Loss to the WAFT Movement
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
~ Pema Chödrön
Jonathon was an unsung hero in the WAFT movement. Unlike me, Jonathon was not someone who felt comfortable entering into the larger WAFT debates. To many in the global WAFT AA Fellowship, he was the anonymous steering committee member, but he was not like that to the LA WAFT groups.
To the LA WAFT groups, he was a community builder. He was known for throwing BBQs and potlucks where he brought the different WAFT groups together.
Jonathon made my transition into sobriety smoother. The parties brought us all together where we could relate to each other outside of the shares at meetings, but to one another in a daily human level.
It was Jonathon’s love of fellowship that inspired him to be a part of creating WAFT IAAC. Jonathon wanted to create a warm, loving, safe environment for all AAers at the convention and within global AA. He was hoping to incorporate an art show into the convention events. He was going to create all the signage for the days of the convention by hand. Jonathon helped design the WAFT IAAC logo and created the graphics for it. He also designed our fliers and traveled with me on various outreach trips around southern California. Jonathon, Pam W. and I all worked collaboratively on every decision the Steering Committee has made.
We NEED Your Help
“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.”
~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
Don’t worry; we are determined to follow through with the convention! The Los Angeles groups are closing ranks to help with the technical aspects of the convention and to love and support Pam W., each other and me through this difficult time.
WAFT IAAC was built on the belief in AA and the WAFT fellowship. The Steering Committee has always known, without the help of the international WAFT Fellowship at large, this event would not happen!
We are calling on our WAFT brothers and sisters for your love and patience with Pam W. and me, along with the Los Angeles WAFT groups. Organizing an international convention itself is a stressful and daunting undertaking, but it is a 100 times more daunting as we are trying to push through our grief in this process.
We may not be able to make updates to our site as quickly, emails may not be answered immediately, phone calls may not be return right away, and we might forget many other important details at the days of the convention. When we meet you in person we may not be as sociable as we may like to be.
In asking our WAFT brothers and sisters for love and support, we ask that when you arrive at the convention, if there is any way you see you can be of service to the convention, please don’t be shy. Move into service any and every possible opportunity you can humanly do so.
With you, we know we can continue the work that Jonathon and many other WAFTS have dedicated the last two years of their lives to.
Pam W. and I are working out the details for a memorial service for Jonathon at the convention. Once we have those details down, we will make an announcement about it.
If you are able to arrive to Santa Monica on Wednesday, we will be having a volunteer meeting at the Unitarian Universalist church where the convention will be held at 3 PM.
We are looking forward to meeting you in November!
Yours in Love and Service,
Chair/Founder of WAFT IAAC