The Calm Man who did his best at reporting
A photo from April of 1971 of the towers
The Man who changed us all
The Man who gave his life for his faith
I’ve changed the header again. I can’t seem to stay on one photograph. I was running through some images and I came back to this one, because I guess, I am missing that component of my life as it was lived so long ago.
I’m tired and all I really want to do right now is curl up in a pew, in the chapel, before God and his angels. The photo you see above is of the rear wall mural located inside the chapel of the Seminary of St. John Vianney in Miami. I approach the chapel from the residence hall close by. The glass doors open for me and I take that first step upon the flagstones that are paved throughout the chapel. To my right and my left are tall glass doors that shudder with the breeze blowing against them.
The lights are low, save for the sacrament candle hanging to the right of the mural. As I walk down the center aisle of the chapel, my footsteps echo off the walls and reverberate through the vast empty space. I approach the altar and genuflect to the altar and greet my God in his holy place. It is said that you can take a boy out of the church, but you can never take the church out of the boy.
As defiant I am against institution and my railings against all that is ‘christian’ It in these moments that I long to be before the almighty alone before the tabernacle of God. Listening to the Litany of the Saints as chanted by the monks, I reflect on all that is holy within me. I know His voic, He has more than once spoke my name. And funny, that I was able to hear it amid the din in my head. There was a time when I could fresh recall it at will, but now I have to look for it today.
I have visited some of the most important “Churches” in Christendom and though they are grand in scale, and pronounced for their place in the living of Catholicism, it is the sacred chapel where I consecrated myself to God that I return to in my minds eye.
We are all called, to a life of holiness, whether we choose to follow that call is up to us, save for the judgment of men who would either deem us able or disabled to follow. Which I think is my biggest resentment with “Church.” Walking on the path of God is a lonely path, because no one can walk the journey for you, you must walk it alone. Because when you hear the voice you have to choose, to walk towards or run from. I don’t think I have completely run away from it.
You can’t run from God, because He is always there. You can choose to walk off the path and do what you need to do, but eventually, you find that the path looks really good from where ever you are standing and when you take that first step back onto the path, there God is waiting for you to resume your journey. “I was waiting for you, you know, I can hear Him say to me!” “Why did you go away from me?” “You can deny me and ignore me, but you must admit that my voice draws you near to me, you long to hear me call your name.”
The chant continues…
Tantum Ergo III
I must admit that the silence is beautiful, the chant fills the space with such heavenly sacred sound. All voices praising God and his heaven. The Preacher man is apt to tell us about his chapel in the Rockies where he like to nap before God and his tabernacle in Crede. There are times in the life when I muse on the thought of just walking away from all of this and finding myself in an abbey somewhere out in the hills, just me, the monks and God. It’s not like I wouldn’t have far to travel, there are plenty of Holy Places in this city of light where God’s footprint can be seen on any given street anywhere in Montreal, because “here is where it all started.”
From my front door within a few minutes walk, you can find yourself transported to a place that is otherworldly, Godly in fact. So many churches – and not a moment to spare out of my busy day to find one open where I can be alone with my God. I guess that’s my fault, that because of my stubbornness and principles, I won’t walk into a church because of politics, and I know that God is not about politics. It is at the last of the night as I sit here in the quiet before the silence and I take a few moments to contemplate the Holiness of God and His majesty.
Have you ever felt the sublime majesty of God in his holy place? Have you ever felt what it feels like to raise your voice to God and sing his praises? Do you know what it feels like to have God wrap his arms around you and hold you to his breast as you weep for the grandeur of it all? God is perfect, He is mighty, He is sublime. There is nothing that I write here, right now that I do not know. Just that I don’t take enough time during my day to remember and reflect. I guess this post shows you that I can go from the Profane to the Sacred in a matter of hours. Sometime you just gotta say “#$&%!!!”
I never said I was perfect, I said that God was perfect. I never said that I was God either. Well, it is getting late and I am exhausted and I have things to do tomorrow, it’s my day off and my home group. Maybe I will find myself a quiet corner of a chapel tomorrow before I have to chair the meeting.
Stay tuned. I may visit God with you again soon.
Isn’t this an interesting journey? I leave you with Great Expectations…
The morning finds me here at heaven’s door
A place I’ve been so many times before
Familiar thoughts and phrases start to flow
And carry me to places that I know so well
But dare I go where I don’t understand
And do I dare remember where I am
I stand before the great eternal throne
The one that God Himself is seated on
And I, I’ve been invited as a son
Oh I, I’ve been invited to come and…
Believe the unbelievable
Receive the inconceivable
And see beyond my wildest imagination
Lord, I come with great expectations
So wake the hope that slumbers in my soul
Stir the fire inside and make it glow
I’m trusting in a love that has no end
The Savior of this world has called me friend
And I, I’ve been invited with the Son
Oh I, I’ve been invited to come and…
We’ve been invited with the Son
And we’ve been invited to come and…
Believe the unbelievable
Receive the inconceivable
And see beyond our wildest imagination
Lord, we come with great expectations
Krystalnacht – The Night of the Broken Glass…
The Beginning of The Holocaust
Work Makes You Free …
A Survivor from Buchenwald
Yad Vashem – Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial
Auschwitz – Concentration Camp
The Red Ribbon – Synonymous for AIDS
The Pride Flag – Proud Symbol for all things Gay
The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt – For all those who died from AIDS
My friends,My family, My brothers and sisters…
The JEW – The Star of David used during the Holocaust …
You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter
Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,
Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.
Survival in Auschwitz
The Homosexual – Also Used during the Holocaust …
A Young Man – Hungarian Jewish Boy -
From Fateless, the Motion Picture
The Label Chart Used By the Nazi Party within
the Death Camps and Concentration Camps to
Location, Ethnicity, Area, Orientation, Religious Affiliation
There weren’t only Jews in the Camps…
The ACT UP slogan for Gay and AIDS circa 1980
What Would Jesus Do???
This is my Label – I earned every hour of it, with Pride…
We Should Be Proud, but we should remember what labels have done to millions world wide over the Decades. I think it is time to move past them, to stop labeling and Outing people. I think we need to learn to live together PEACEFULLY in order to stop the killing of ALL people around the world…
THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER – SO THAT WE NEVER FORGET!!
Elton John & Ronan Keating – Your song
Originally found on: Steve’s Blog
“For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
I remember that night. It was a Sunday (August 31st 1997). I mean, it was late Saturday night going into Sunday morning, if memory serves. I was home, sitting in front of the television watching the late news when the report came across. I was stunned to say the least. For me, during those years, Diana was my champion, someone who knew me, who understood me, someone who would speak kindly of me, and those like me.
I got dressed and walked up to “Cheers” which was a bar around the corner from home that I used to party at over the years. I got into the DJ booth and we turned the SAT tv on to World News, the music stopped, drinks were dropped and everyone in the bar stood there watching the news as it came across live from World News Outlets like CNN and the BBC. The night never recovered.
My friend Annie, an ex-pat from the UK lived two doors down from me and we sat up all night watching the news. I had an outdoor area in front of my apartment where I set up a shrine to Diana – and everyone in my building stopped by the leave flowers and a candle.
I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.
Gustav Holst (1874-1934) – Cecil Spring-Rice (1859-1918)
We rose early on the morning of the funeral for Diana Princess of Wales. We wept and we sang sitting there in my apartment that morning. Diana, the People’s Princess will never be forgotten.
Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…
I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…
Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…
So it began…
At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Bosch would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.
The rule was set…
You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!
I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.
This is your life we are talking about…
The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.
When I got sober there was a man with AIDS named Larry, he was a drunk like me. But he was unique. He sat with a bottle on the table and a loaded revolver to shoot himself. He carried that gun with him and showed it to every one of us, and he told us relentlessly that he was going to kill himself. He got sober with the rest of us. Over the years following his spiritual awakening, he did something that no one else thought to do.
People with AIDS were being left in the streets. Mortuaries would not process sick people, they would not touch a body that had been infected with AIDS. Families would not bury their children. We did that. Larry opened his services to the community and he became another champion of the cause. I knew him. He eventually got rid of the gun, so I heard.
For a few minutes during transition, I would warm up the smoker, fire up the turntable and start the computer so that I could worship my God to the music of my soul. I did that every night. I worshiped whatever was going to save me.
I was servant to the men. I was servant to my Master. I was a slave for God, be he dressed or undressed. You never saw God until you witnessed true beauty of the soul in all its carnality. There is something sacredly profane about this part of my life. What went on inside the temple stayed in the temple. Many months would pass and I battled my demons of alcoholism before I finally fell into the pit of death, and there happen to be somebody watching from the sidelines.
Danny saved me that night. He was the man who cradled me in his arms, oxygen mask on my face and had called the paramedics to try and revive me. Danny took me home that night, and did not leave my apartment for a week. He fed me, bathed me and cared for me, under that watchful eye of my Master Todd. When the word was spoken, action was taken, and hell hath no fury if you did not jump when told to. Todd was very protective over his boys and men. Especially me…
We were reminded that Todd had lost love to AIDS. Bob was buried across the street in the cemetery that faced our building. It was hard – it was painful, and it was sacred. Kevin and Larry did things for me that no man ever did for me in the real world. We were the three musketeers. We were the team to beat in bar management and service. We ran a tight ship and we were accountable, respectable and reliable. We proved a mighty force against the odds we all faced.
Let’s get it on…
Shift was begun at eight. The wells were filled the beer was stocked and the ice bins were full. Put your money in the drawer and let’s get the music thumping. Like clockwork at the strike of eight bells the first note hit the turntables. They were lined up around the building. Cars were parked all over the place. The temple worship had begun. Heaven was found amid the souls of suffering men who knew they were all marked for death, but for tonight, whatever you desired was fulfilled. You could drown away your sorrow and dip into the well of living water if you wished as well. You have never lived until you party like your dying with crowds of undulating flesh as far as they eye can see. The ghosts of those men now inhabit the fantasies and dreams I have still to this day.
One by one, two by two, they died in our arms. We held them until they took their last breaths. Memorialized in the careful and blood soaked threads of quilts, as the years went by, they started collecting by the dozen, then by the hundreds. If you’ve ever seen the entire quilt unfurled, all the men who were part of my life in those first years of my epidemic life, they are all together in death, as they were in life. Memorialized until the end of time. And we remember each of their names.
So many young boys torn from life before they knew what hit them. Men who infected them had died as well. Many of my friends were taken on trips that were detrimental to them, and just robbed them of life that was still left to live.
Todd saw to it that I would never go there…
You come to work, dress as you will, you obey me and do not waver from my eye, for I know your carnal desires and you are too young to tempt the devil with his dance. Because I surely did not know what could befall me if the right charmer enticed me into his web of desire, and they all knew I was fair bait. But in order to dine from my buffet, you needed explicit permission of my Master, who never allowed any man to defile me like many had been. I was off limits. I never crossed the line provided because that meant disrespect and I could never bear to break my Master’s heart with disobedience.
I loved Him, and He loved me – I had many problems. I was depressed and angry and resentful. I had the scars of traumatic visions of my dead lovers corpse in my head, and the words of his mother still ring in my ear today “I hope that every night until you die, that you see the corpse of my dead son in your field of vision.” That curse still lives with me and will go with me to the grave. Five day old corpses are not pretty. I had to identify the remains when all was said and done. Save that he was wearing jewelry that I could identify and part of him was still recognizable – God forgive me…
I remember that day, it was early afternoon the morgue called me from work to come and do the deed. I drove in and looked upon him in that room, I wept tears that burned into my soul forever. I just could not imagine – the pain was so hard to bear. I drove over to the bar. Bill was working behind the bar. I drank until I could not stand up on my own. I drank for a week, straight…
Todd and Bill needed to find me a solution and quick, because I was on the outs.
I started suicide therapy in a group setting that lasted 32 weeks. Nothing like rehashing death week after week, until the pain was purged from your soul, but is it ever? Months went by until I got my news.
But they cared for me in all my brokenness. A young angel would earn his wings back. Come hell or high water. In the end, when all was said and done, at the end of the day I survived, but so many did not. And each night I offer them prayers in hope that when I meet my death that all of them will be waiting for me in the Temple Of Earthly Desire in the promised land of the Kingdom of God, where the sacred and profane are mingled with the blood of the Almighty and the blood of my friends who have gone before me, on that day we will be cleansed of our sins.
And forgiven by God…
Goodnight angels of men
I was invited to a special unveiling of an exhibition at The Christ Church Cathedral today of art and information about The Primates World Relief and Development Fund. Directed at prevention and education about AIDS. A subject close to my heart, in fact, part of it as well. Below are photographs of the art on display for the next two weeks at the Cathedral.
Our Bishop, Barry B. Clarke, was on hand to open the exhibition and the chair of the Theology Department at Concordia University was there as well. They are looking for a few volunteers to show up and participate in the exhibition, if you have a spare hour or two, they could use your support.
It’s time to open our hands, hearts and minds to HIV and AIDS and respond with action, love and knowledge.
It’s time to stop the stigma and discrimination and act on God’s call to love one another, restore right relationships and ensure the dignity of every human being.
It’s time to break the silence and inaction and face a world with AIDS more holistically, more authentically and more compassionately.
It’s time to embrace all brothers and sisters as children of God without prejudice, judgment or fear.
This is the Altar piece from St, Michael’s Mission – artwork done by many artists. They represent different liturgical and seasonal scenes. The central panel is called “the life bearers,” to the left, “The Tree of Life,” and to the right, “beyond, what I see.”
The creator of this altar piece followed one of the artists home and this segment of photos is called “On the way home.” From St. Michael’s Mission.
What We Do
Development, Relief and Justice
PWRDF works in partnership with organizations in Canada and throughout the world to support people-centred development that improves the quality of daily life for vulnerable populations, promotes self-reliance, and addresses root causes of poverty and injustice. PWRDF is active in approximately 30 countries, and also accompanies Uprooted People – including victims of disasters, refugees, internally displaced people, and migrant workers. PWRDF partners are drawn from Anglican churches, ecumenical organizations and community-based groups. Partners address the root causes of problems and accompany communities as they move beyond survival into sustainable development.
The film, Babette’s Feast was a dichotomy of opposites. Those being, good and evil, rich and the poor, the sacred and the profane, of want and satisfaction what is right and what is wrong, and in the end it speaks of hope and redemption.
Babette, a once famous chef at the Café Englais comes to this seaside village having been sent there with nothing but the clothes on her back, from her riches she ends up poor like those she was sent to serve. The two sisters have a decision to make, they can either take Babette in or send her away, and with that decision, they must ponder that they will have to give from what meagre means they have to support and sustain Babette.
They decide together to take Babette in, and a relationship forms, with three women coming together to make ends meet, Babette moves from being a poor servant to becoming a woman of great richness, and in the beginning I don’t mean material or monetary richness, she cares for the sisters, she learns that her gift of cooking can make its presence known in this simple colony.
There is an expressed tension and trouble amongst the people who live in this religious colony of believers, who have next to nothing, but they have their faith, which at times is the only visible glue that holds this squabbling colony together.
There are more problems than solutions it seems. But through the vehicle of communion, sharing, music and a meal, the issues that seem to separate and confound, seem to fade away when the group is seated together focused on one goal, that of praising God or eating a meal at table.
I think that Babette looks forward to leaving her simple life to return to her rich past and the café where she worked and was famous. Alas, this does not come to pass, yet she receives a letter informing her of a great windfall of money from a lottery win.
Once again, she has a choice to make, she can either take the money and run, or she can make good use of her lottery win, to enhance the lives of the people and community she is now part of. She chooses the latter and sets out to cook a feast of her own choosing with her own money for the good and care of her community. This movie, for me was a vision of “right choices” and the importance of community unity.
This community of meagre means, of fish and gruel becomes a land of plenty with a feast provided by Babette. Babette becomes the teacher, a figure of salvation to those who are seated at her table. She becomes a point of memory and reconnection for some, and a provider for others. There is the speculation by the group that she is a temptress comes to force her sinful ways upon them at this meal, and the group sets out to “not pay attention” to their tongues, to remember the Lord and not be taken in by sinful food or drink.
Course by course Babette has planned out a gastronomic fantasy of food, texture and taste. Brought together are the many members of this colony and the general and his mother. Babette spends every penny she made in the lottery win to bring this feast to her friends.
It is a very selfless act, one of compassion and understanding, and for Babette it is her salvation. For she gives of herself without abandon to the community, who had seen her in bad light and as a temptation? In the beginning we see that she was a burden to her keepers, who had to portion more of what they had to feed another, and now, Babette has the means to repay that kindness ten fold.
She turns a simple kitchen into that of a Master Chef. She lives her past in her present in providing this feast for her guests. She imports food and drink to rival that of a feast fit for a king or queen. It is a remarkable vision to see this dinner set out for her guests, it is fantastic and almost orgasmic. Watching this feast being enjoyed by so many at table, you get caught up in the moments as they pass, and you partake in the amazement of taste and texture.
A transformation occurs through the means of this meal for the people at the table. The mood changes, the people are transformed and for a brief couple of hours, a well decorated general is taken back to another time in his life, when he recounts the story of a Master Chef who was a woman who once cooked the dinner that he was presently eating. Witnessing a spiritual transformation is salvific for the viewer, because it gives us a chance to partake in that saving feast.
In the end the people are grateful and thank their hostess, as the sisters wonder if Babette will return to Paris, and I think we are all surprised when she decides to stay amongst the colony, broke as they are, having spent her every penny on sharing that feast with them and their special guests. Everyone in the movie realize what are really important, life and the living of that life, and those you share that life with.
Not all the great food in the world and truly all the money in the world will not make one happy if one has lost their soul to material things of this world. Babette’s feast was a fantastic movie and has a wonderful moral message and spiritual truth. It speaks of transformation of lives and souls, namely that of Babette and the two sisters. Not to mention the other members of the religious colony.
I have asked this question of some of the ministers that write for our sphere. For many years I have searched for the “Perfect Church.” Growing up in a predominantly white, middle class neighborhood gave rise to attending church with my friends. And that served me very well for most of my young adult life.
Labels had not been applied to us in this period of our lives so we were free to worship wherever we chose to. And in most cases our parents followed along, because the church was not only a religious landmark, but also housed Youth Ministry that everyone was part of for several years through high school and junior college and even for myself, Seminary.
After leaving seminary with a bad taste in my mouth for Catholicism, and Church, I walked away from God and his church. I thought that I had been slighted by clergy and I was pushed against the “choose us or get out” wall. It took me many years dealing with the truth to walk back into church.
This was always my childhood home, the Church I called home. It was the place that God and I communed. And after my leaving seminary – this was the church that I returned to many years later, as a weary, AIDS suffering sinner. I was sick, and I had been away, and I met a man who changed my life when I saw him say mass in this space with his crutches and MS. I vowed never again to complain about things in my life. And I have kept that word so many years later.
Being Gay, had its issues with Church. But not to the men who led this church forward. I was a part of this church and this is where I would find prayer, support and salvation.
As I grew into my 30′s I hit several questions in my life about faith, recovery and living with AIDS. I’d like to say that I found all my answers in “church” but that would be false. I was living in an area of town that did not afford me the ability to get to church any more. So I was not attending “church” where I had been for so many years. It was just logistically impossible to get there in time for mass.
During my second recovery, I was seeing a therapist and I had friends who were talking care of me at the time. I was having my visions and spiritual experiences outside the church I may have left the church “physically” but not emotionally and spiritually.
Faith is like a garden. Each one of us inhabits the garden of our own making. We tend that garden daily. In the morning we walk through misty, dew covered flowers and plants, and as the day wares on the sun tracks across the sky as we sit in that garden. I believe that everyone is born into some kind of spiritual tradition, more than most may speak of but nonetheless, someone puts the seed of faith within us at some point.
If you were like me, you were baptized, first communion ed and confirmed in the Catholic faith. Some were baptized in the baptist faith and others were raised in the faith of their parents or extended families. But we all carry that seed within us.
For many, being Gay and Christian or Being Gay and Catholic was something we battled with because of the politics of the church. Now in my 40′s I can tell you that I will not walk into, better yet worship in a space that does not welcome me fully into communion. I used to compromise my ethics and my politics because I was attached to the Catholic faith by an unbreakable umbilical cord that still exists today.
When I got sick, the priests told me to come to church and I did because they were 21st century men in an archaic world of Catholicism. That lasted as long as it had to to keep my in line with my faith and connected TO my faith. God was in the church, praying with others took place in the church. Mass took place within the church. And I was ok with that way of life.
When I got sober in 2001 I was filled with questions. My faith was strong because I KNEW who God Was and who god Is still. I did not need the physical building to give me what I had created and cultivated internally over many many years of spiritual exploration. You see, faith is not something you feed once a week in a worship service. Faith is not something you partake on any given Sunday.
I was sober a four months when I came to visit Montreal in the Spring of 2002. It was Ash Wednesday when I arrived. I celebrated Easter here and I loved it. This is such a rich religious city. Later I would meet a Jesuit priest who would give me the same puzzle piece he gave all the other boys I later met on the path later on.
This is where it all starts…
I had a reason to come here and I knew after two weeks of being here, that I needed to stay here. I went back to Florida, packed all that I could and I left, never to return. Lies my mother told facilitated my move out of the United States.
I started my journey of faith in the Church Basilica of Notre Dame. It took me weeks to start putting the faith puzzle together. and now six years later, I can tell you that there are still pieces of the puzzle missing.
I had to get used to living in Montreal, Pre-Iraq War. I had to find my place in the greater scheme of things. And that took a long time. I had my citizenship on February 17th 2003, and I was sober 14 months. I decided that I would go back to school. My chosen major in the beginning was Psychology, that quickly changed to Religion.
These were the years that demonstrations were taking place in the streets and Americans were being warned to sew Canadian flags on our backpacks, so as not to acquire the ire of Canadians in Montreal, because protests against the war were daily occurrences. I did that and I participated in those demonstrations. But eventually I would hit several crises points in my life, ONE would be “where do I fit in?” I had to find my place in the community and that took two years upon beginning University. I remember sitting in Donald’s office asking the all important question: “I don’t know where I fit in and I have one foot in the South and one foot in the North – I don’t know where I should be?”
He was always apt to tell me these key words:
“If you find yourself in between and you can’t decide where to go or move, then sit where you are and survey all that you see before you. FEEL your feelings and get in touch with your dis-ease with where you are. Consult your map and ask your questions of the people on the path, then when you are ready, plot your next step, but not before you are sure of your footing.”
I met a man of faith in the Chaplaincy office. I was a man of faith and I was sure in my faith as any other man or woman was. The one difference? I was a sure gay man living with AIDS. I made no excuses and expected no special treatment, just love and acceptance, which I found in Fr. Ray Lafontaine. Still to this day, as a fellow Christian and Catholic priest in my life, he challenges me in my faith to find the answers for myself.
I attended his church at Loyola on Sunday evenings. And that worked for me because there were others like me in the church and we were all accepted.
That haze of Summer lasted for two years. In that time I started working on my religious beliefs. And I maintained my sobriety by attending meetings in the basements of many of Montreal’s most beautiful churches. When Father Ray was moved to St. Monica’s church and new priestly blood was flushed into the chapel, I met my faith match…
Having been singled out over my marriage to my husband and the vile words shared with me by the existing chaplain of the University, I walked away from Church once and for all. Although when Fr. Ray and Fr. Paul said mass, I would always attend.
Having studied religion for so many years of my life, and having lived with AIDS for so many years, I knew several things. 1. I knew who God was. 2. I knew who God is not. and 3. I knew who I trusted to support me in my faith journey.
I have been separated from Church for a long time now. It took the invitation of friends to attend a mass said by the Very Reverend Gene Robinson in the Summer of 2006 at Christ Church Cathedral to seriously contemplate a return to Church. In 2003 I was married in the very Catholic Space at Loyal, much to the consternation of Georges Pelletier. We did it just to make a statement of faith, because the entire Loyola community was there to stand with us and profess our faith and love before our families, friends and God himself.
The only time I ever walked into a church, during my time in the field, was with my Great Aunt Georgette, may she rest in peace… I would pray in the mother house chapel with her and I would attend mass there as well. The last time I attended mass in the Mother House Chapel was the day we buried her in August of 2006.
I would never walk into another Catholic Church after her funeral. Although I still maintain a working relationship with men of Catholic faith, I don’t go to mass in the Catholic Church. The other day that marked a change in my Catholic belief system was the day that the Late Pontiff John Paul II died, and I attended mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
You see, while I was studying Religion in university, I was studying my past, making peace with it and learning why things happened the way they did for me, and I was afforded this historical review because of the professors that I studied with for the last four years. I polished my religious skills and I mastered my Christian faith.
I was getting sober in church basements and I was ministering to people in the field. I never walked away from God again. I knew better, and he would always wait for me to find Him. Some of you know about the last five years. Some of you sought me out from the field for spiritual guidance. And I was there for you without question.
I always knew where God resided within me. I knew where to find God, outside myself. I can walk into any church in the city and talk to God. And I can talk to God at any given moment of my day or night, because I have built a temple of God within me.
We are all temples of the spirit of God. Most of us do not know this truth. So I share it with you now. We are all created in the image of God, and therefore we carry the image of God within us. We are walking talking miracles of God’s love and grace. My garden of faith is Eden within me. And I share that garden with anyone who wants to come and walk amongst the flowers. I do not need a building or the perfect church to settle my restless heart.
I’ve spent the last five years searching for God in the sacred churches of Montreal. He was always there where ever I looked for Him. As for the perfect church? You will never find it, because of the true nature of men and women. Humans are imperfect sinners who need to be taught what is right from wrong. And those who come to church already have their preconceived notions of who their God is, and what they will be willing to accept, in the way of Christian teachings, dogma and practice.
So take a church full of imperfect humans and ask them to build for you the perfect church! With all the heads buzzing in the church, each with their notions of church and God, and what do you have? A room full of buzzing heads, who could not agree on what they would call church, and I am sure that their conception will not be what you had in mind either. The perfect church does not and will never exist…
Where did Jesus do his best work? In the field, over dinner in sinners houses. Working with the homeless and the poor and sick. How many times does Jesus step into a church in biblical writing? And what does he say about the ‘church?’ What would he say about all of the terrible incarnations of Church we have today – in the world?
I do believe that God and Jesus weep at the way Christianity is lived out in the millions of lives of people around the globe. We know the scripture, we know the reason yet we can’t see past the noses on our faces and we cannot take the plank out of our own eyes before we try to help another, so what does that say about active Christianity???
I’ve been in the process of Spiritual direction for some time now, ever since coming to Montreal many years ago. I have sought the advice of many people over the years. And I work with others “in the field” every day…
Where is my “Church?” If I had to give you an address, that would be the Christ Church Cathedral because the bishop has said to the LGBT community that we are just as important to the church as any one else. That he supports us and wants us to participate in community and be active participants in our own faith. I am 40 now, and I have my morals, beliefs and values, and if I choose to leave the Catholic faith based on principle I can do that today, because of the certainty of WHO I am and What my faith means to me, because I am ‘out of communion’ with Benedict’s Church, and I can live with that today.
But I don’t need a building to worship God. I don’t need the perfect church to teach me God’s word. I don’t need the perfect minister to keep me on the path of Godly living. Why, you ask? Because I can do all these things on my own. I celebrate my Christianity every day through prayer, word and action. I live my faith – therefore it is in front of me every day for all to see. I practice my faith. I talk the talk and I walk the walk, daily…
This is not a task I ask you to ponder on your own and it is not for the feint of heart either. But in order to build your inner church, you must start with a foundation, a garden. Mark out the space in your heart. Till the soil and plant your seeds. Give them plenty of water and sunlight and then pray over them…
We each have the capability to till our own gardens of faith within us. Because until you have a strong garden of faith within you, will you be able to find a church that will serve you, because without the understanding and cultivation of your own garden, do you remove the judgments within your heart of men and ministry.
If you are looking for the perfect minister of Christ, he will not appear, save Christ himself. We are flawed human beings, and therefore we must understand that and with that knowledge we can better serve the community at large, and if we able to serve the community at large, we can then see God for ourselves where ever we go, and in whatever church we visit.
The best work of the field is done in the most imperfect churches, because most people know that perfection is unattainable. Your Heavenly Father is perfect, so we have every ability to be as perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. But that will take a lifetime to achieve.
In order to find church outside of you, you must first build church within yourself. You must find your definition of God, you must let your faith garden grow. You must be strong in your faith because without strong inner faith, you will not have strong outer faith for community. Without using the gardening tools that God has given you, how can you practice your faith? You must find Sacred Space within yourself, and you must build sacred space for yourself, while you are in the field.
Because, what good would looking for the perfect Church do for you, if you do not have a handle on your own inner faith to begin with??? Build your inner church and invite God to inhabit your sacred space. Get to know this God of your own understanding. There are certain things a Christian must do every day…
- Read Scripture every day
- You must Pray every day
- You must Meditate every day
- You must Actively Practice your Faith every day
Because the simple act of prayer – asking God for those things that weigh heavily on our hearts, must be followed up with a period of silent “Listening” for God’s voice to speak to you. Because sometimes we get the answer… ‘keep praying, not today, NO!’ Cookie cutter Christianity is too easy. You must live your faith actively in community, that is one sure way to find Jesus in the field.
Start with your garden
Plant it, Till it, and let it grow
Listen to your heart song
and share it with the world
Take off the blinders on your eyes
and see the world in its imperfect state
Find Christ in the field and walk with Him
talk the talk and walk the walk
practice your faith in ACTION
in time your heart will soften
and you will see God
and you will find that
‘Perfect Union with Christ’
A church will find its way to you
Because you will be ready to serve…
Here it is: The Anthem of my Life… Jimmy Somerville with the Communards Circa, it was early 1989 and I had turned 21 the summer before my move to Orlando. I’ve moved out of the house and away from my family to be a gay boy. Mark and Patrick have taken me to the Parliament House:
For my “Indoctrination Ceremony.” We pay our cover and walk through the piano bar into the FootLight Theatre, a path I could walk blindly if necessary…
Carmella Marcella Garcia is doing “Under the Boardwalk” by Bette Midler, Rusty Faucett is doing “Fancy” by Reba McIntyre and I have just attended my first drag show in my life in the Footlights Theatre. Jimmy Johnson has done “Ain’t No Mountain Higher!” I am smitten with him. I loved him so. He brought me roses once. I am now a draglett…
We advance into the disco with Patrick on my arm. The lights are flashing, young gay boys are dancing to the beat, and I am out of my mind Drunk on the scene alone. If Heaven had a name then it would be Patrick! This song comes on and Patrick pulls me onto the dance floor and I am caught up in the music. He holds me close and then, like magic, he kissed me and for a brief moment I saw the light …
That memory is 19 years old. I have come so far. And I LIVED…
If I could have a drink, and One night to do it, with the people who were there just as it had happened then, this IS the night I would choose.
Writing along the lines starting at my last post, “Custodians of a Living Earth,” we take a more serious look at the past for guidance for the future. With all the wars in the world and all the conflict in many areas of the world like the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Iraq and Afghanistan:
“We have Failed to Remember and We have Failed in Never letting this Happen Again.”
I have updated my header with images from that period of time. I happen to have spent an entire semester last Fall 2006 studying the Holocaust. We watched film after film, looking at raw data and Nazi history. I read “Night” by Elie Wiesel and “Survival in Auschwitz” by Primo Levi and I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum here in Montreal and these numbers come from research notes from our class. My goal here is to remind you that we may not call it Holocaust today, Some use the term “Genocide” and millions of people are dying all over the world by war, conflict, division, famine, disasters and so forth and so on…
It Falls to Us to make a Difference, I Wonder if We are Able???
And do We care to even Try? We Must DO there is no Try !!!
The largest Nazi extermination camp.
- Location: Oswiecim, Poland
- Established: May 26th1940
- Liberation: January 27th, 1945, by the Soviet Army.
- Estimated number of victims: 2,1 to 2,5 million (This estimated number of death is considered by historians as a strict minimum. The real number of death is unknown but probably much higher, maybe 4 millions)
From march 1942 until early 1943, it is estimated that about 600,000 Jews were murdered in Belzec extermination camp.
Chelmno, also known as Kulmhof, was a small town roughly 50 miles from the city of Lodz, Poland. It was here that the first mass killings of Jews by gas took place as part of the ‘Final Solution’.
The killing operations began in Majdanek in April 1942 and ended in July 1944. Majdanek also provided slave labor for munitions works and Steyr-Daimler- Puch weapons factory. The estimated number of deaths is 360,000, including Jews, Soviet POWs and Poles.
Sobibor was the second extermination camp to come into operation in the Aktion Reinhard program. Estimated number of deaths: 250,000, the majority being Jews.
Opening for “business” on July 23, 1942, with the beginning of the evacuation of the Warsaw ghetto, some 245,000 Warsaw Jews and 112,000 Jews from other places in the Warsaw district were murdered in Treblinka by September 21. 337,000 Jews from the Radom district, 35,000 from the Lublin district and 107,000 from the Bialystok district also met their death in Treblinka with 738,000 Jews who had been residents of the General Gouvernement. From outside Poland many thousands of Jews were transported to and killed in Treblinka: 7.000 from Slovakia, 8,000 from Theresienstadt concentration camp, 4,000 Jews from Greece, and 7,000 Jews from the Macedonia portion of Bulgaria. In addition to the Jews, some 2,000 gypsies were killed in Treblinka.
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Pictured here is the Very Reverend Gene Robinson preaching at the Out Mass at the Christ Church Cathedral last year. Seated behind him to the left in the presider’s chair, is The Very Rev. Bishop Barry B. Clarke, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal and our preacher for tonight’s Out Mass which was held earlier this evening.
I was amazed, astounded, overjoyed and very pleased to hear this blessed man tell the entire congregation without skipping a beat, that his church is moving forwards, that ALL are welcome in his church, man or woman, child and elder. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans gendered. He also said the words we were waiting to hear from a leader of the church, that in his opinion, NOT to respect and bless same sex unions was troublesome.
He talked about the Anglican Church at large and he set his staff in the ground and said that he welcomes everyone into his church, for what would Jesus do? Following his example, he stated emphatically that he 100% supports the blessing of same sex unions even if the church at large is still wrestling with the issue.
The church is ever more blessed for the diversity that finds comfort and truth under its roof. It is diversity that makes Montreal a truly special city. For what did Jesus do? He sat with the poor, he ate with them, he healed the sick and he loved those on the periphery, those on the margins of community.
In some churches you find that some are marginalized and kept out and away. But in Bishop Barry Clarke’s church everybody is welcome and everyone is free to pray, to worship and to come to the Lord. He told us to persevere, to be persistent in our prayers. Eventually, that door will open. And prayerfully and with a right heart we shall approach it when it does.
He said that the persistent man is rewarded. From the Gospel passage from the book of Luke Chapter 11:1-13
Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation
Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
“Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
This is the teaching that he shared with us tonight. To keep praying, to keep coming to church because everyone is part of the church, everyone, not just some. We shall be persistent in our prayers and consistent in our Christianity. We will keep knocking until that door is opened to us. It was a wonderful mass, the choir was heavenly, the music, once again, lifted me out of my body.
I had my prayer beads in my hand during the communion hymn and I was thinking about Shirley and for a moment, I was praying for her soul, and I felt her – I knew it was her because of the energy and the feeling of maternal love. After mass I talked to our celebrant, the Reverend Joyce and she is going to say a mass for Shirley on Tuesday, July 31st – My Birthday at noon. I will start my birthday with mass for both of us and then go to coffee and celebrate at a meeting. How much better can life get???
After mass I was talking to Rev Canon Joyce, and she asked me how I liked the sermon and I was just smiling, and she looked at me and said “I think we are in the clear!” After that prophetic and positive statement from the church, by the Bishop, unequivocally stating his support of the LGBT community and that of his support in blessing same sex unions, that when the day comes when the church finally catches up to us, we will have same sex blessings in our church, in our diocese, in our community. That the Montreal Anglican diocese does not agree with the stance of some bishops after the
This is the exterior of the Christ Church Cathedral…
I’m reading again, “I Heard the Owl Call My Name” and I am in the mindset to write about the custodianship of the living earth. The earth is in a shift, I think we can all agree on that – and attention is now on prevention and maintenance of the earth as it exists today. I have written recently about the fact that many people in my own community are not “Being Maintained” by anyone, they are lost among the crowd, banished to sidewalks, doorways and shelters. What can I do to change that? Write…
What if the governments of the world decided to stop warring and fighting amongst themselves? How much money would we have to spend on other things like food, shelter and water? I heard a comment on late night radio last night that
“There will be wars fought over drinking water!”
I am sure that there are some who think about the Order who seek to bring down the number of earths inhabitants by the millions. There is a surplus in population in certain areas of the world, and for some that is too much, and they would rather see them eradicated than to house and feed them.
The earth is sputtering on its axis. Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Hurricane, Oceanic changes to salinity and food source and the cooling of warm water fisheries all over the globe are causing catastrophic changes to major areas of the worlds oceans. How many more signs do we need from Mother Earth to tell us that something is wrong? And if we don’t stop with our preoccupation with war, division, killing and ignorance, that when “IT” happens we will not survive whatever IT will unleash.
I know better than to sit in my what if’s and coulda, woulda, shoulda! I can look out my windows from here and see trees and grass and the mountain off to the North. We can look out at our world and know that there are forests and people and animals who live amongst that forest. Forests are burning – trees are dying – infestations of beetles are killing swaths of forest across Canada, borne on the winds moving West to East. But I wonder what haven’t we done as custodians of the earth to try and mitigate these things from happening.
What if, The Almighty came down from heaven and told warring factions to lay down their arms, and those in power were removed and power was granted to the masses to govern themselves and the wars stopped all over the earth, not just in certain areas. All the warring areas on the globe. What if we heard from on high that “they” believe that wars fought over ideologies and factions needed to end today, right now, for us to stop killing each other and become custodians to one another. How would that change the face of the earth?
Is there a way for the world to get up and state unanimously that the wars should end? Can we impeach presidents around the world, in countries that are sponsoring, funding and are waging wars on other peoples? Do you see what I am asking here?
We truly need to depose several key world leaders, and the American President AND his entire cabinet need to be removed from office, sooner than later. Because America has been hijacked and “Nazi Control” is becoming an adjective to explain George W. Bush.
Mr. Bush, we are not With you -
And We Stand Against You!! It is time to leave Office…
DO WE want to maintain another Hitler in office? Do we want this man making law and imposing unconstitutional amendments upon his people and the world? Because if he does it – the world is watching and you know, the only reason Hitler was so successful at what he did in the Holocaust, was because the people listened to him, and if the American President can do what he is doing, that gives free reign to other leaders to do the same!!! Bush still has the ears of many world leaders, who are not MAN or WOMAN enough to say NO! We will not follow you. So what do we do?
There are some in power who would see people determined to be locked down and subjugated. That is already happening all over the globe, in many countries. Darfur, Sudan and in other areas of Africa, people are corralled into camps, with no water, electricity or better yet SHELTER. People are being slaughtered by militia men. We need to stop them and the killing needs to end. Genocide is happening in OUR time once again, and on many fronts, we must stop the genocide because:
“We Have Failed to Remember
and We Have Failed to Never
Let It Happen Again”
In the Middle East, the most contentious area of the globe, not to mention Iraq and the Fertile Crescent area of the world including Afghanistan, the militias and the Taliban are trying to eradicate (on a mass scale) entire peoples akin to the likes of Adolf Hitler. If we prayed for the savior to come again and save us, this would be the time and the place.
We must now act, decisively and verbally. We need to lobby those who are in power to do the right thing. We need to Impeach the President. We need to stop the killing in Darfur, we need to stop the wars in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan. We need people on the ground who can be trusted to help reconcile the factions that are fighting with each other and those factions who have fighting going on within themselves. We need ambassadors to get in the game and negotiations must be made to end the worlds strife and wars. If we don’t start this now, WHO is going to take our place later to hold those in office accountable for
“Crimes Against Humanity”
It’s not about who – but What is in this photo, read on…
There are too many people around the globe, being ignored. There are entire continents and nations of people that need to be cared for, not to forget those people in warring countries who need to be fed, re-housed and repatriated back to where they came from, those who had to flee to save their own lives. Rich countries sit back and say “we are doing all we can for those inside our borders.”
Yet on the European continent we know for a fact that there are disenfranchised peoples, in the millions, who are not being cared for properly because of the arrogance of status, ethnic superiority and ignorance to accept everyone for who they are not what form of dress or religious affiliation they identify with.
It comes down to the people to start the tide of Anarchy and Dissension. It is time to take back our land and our government from those who have taken it from us. They have been poor stewards of the land, the environment and of peoples. We must stop this – there is too much conflict in the world, so much that any “other” needs are being ignored at the expense of the whole, for a chosen few.
It Is Time to:
Bring the Soldiers Home – Stop the Wars. You either follow certain prescriptions here: (1) You bring ALL warring leaders to Justice, (2) Let them kill each other and save us the headache, or (3) You bring ‘Just’ Diplomatic Solutions to Warring Factions and Areas – and Sit Down and HAMMER out Peace Agreements and Co-Existence Clauses.
Isn’t it time to sit down and think and come to the realization that what war has done for the last 4 years has NOT worked, so let’s allow the Diplomats to work on Peace.
The Mission is NOT Accomplished.
Peace and Democracy has not been attained and WON’T be attained with the present course of action. WAR does not create Democracy – it Breeds Contempt, Rancor, Hatred and brings Division instead of creating Unity.
In Stopping Wars, Governments Agree to Equal care to all Soldiers repatriated home and for their families. And Agree to Rebuild war torn areas with the funds used to carry out war, and Care for those most affected by the war in their Respective regions.
This applies to Canada and the United States and All Countries involved in wars worldwide. It is NOT Unpatriotic to stand against WAR!! It is NOT Unpatriotic to stand against a President or a sitting Prime Minister.
Democracy is built on the premise of government for the people by the people !! Well People need to start speaking out for Change…
The ‘People’ are being AND have been hugely ignored, save those who support the puppet in office and his cronies he protects. The Ship is Sinking – and is Going down. Who is going to save us? It comes down to us, those of us who are writing around the world, to speak up and ask each and every one of our readers to join this movement. To call your leaders and rulers to task, to make them accountable not only to you the citizens of the country that you reside in, but also to the immigrants who have resettled there as well. Leaders need to be accountable to the earth as well.
Or We Shall Pay when Catastrophe Occurs
We cannot remain self absorbed and self centered. We must step beyond the borders of nationalism and ethnic superiority. We all must be made equal, in that we must begin to love and take care of each other and to become custodians of the world at large, and it begins with me. It begins with you. It continues with US. We must, with a resounding voice say “we have had enough of this…” It is time to end this.
Before We Kill Each Other Trying to create Peace !!!
We must become better custodians to the earth. If we stop the raping and pillaging of the land, we must stop the wars, we must stop the killing of innocents. We must stop the tide of suicide bombers. West and East must come together. The West and The East must agree NEVER to wage war again, however possible that is… We must find peaceful and RIGHT means to the future sustaining of the worlds populations. We MUST find an earthly solution, if we must, a heavenly solution.
“We Have Failed to Remember
and We Have Failed to Never
Let It Happen Again”
You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter
Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,
Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.
Survival in Auschwitz
Love Boat Theme
Callie I loved him, knew him, Mourned him
Carl was sick, and he died.
All the men in this quad were from the bar
Jorge, Ricky and I worked in Reservations at(then-RCCL)
on Dodge Island.
Pedro Zamora – Activist, The Real World
Dennis Johnson, the bar owners lover – is spoken
of in my memoirs from the Patti Labelle Concert
at the James L. Knight Center – Before he died.
Where were you on July 4th, 1994?
We you with your family and friends celebrating the July 4th Holiday? Did you BBQ in the back yard, or maybe someone else’s home? Did you see the fireworks, like many of us did?
That was 13 years ago…
I should be dead and buried already.
Over in the Pages under “History” you can read all about it, or re-live it if you wish. To remind all of my readers why my header image is what it is right now, to remind me where I have been and to keep me vigilant of where I am and grateful for being able to look ahead to the future.
Because doctors believed that I would live – That I had that “spark of life” not to mention a different strain than the rest, that something “other” than AIDS that killed all of my friends.
Those are my flowers on his quilt – he visited many displays
when it came to Miami
Globe and Mail Update
June 26, 2007 at 12:16 PM EDT
Canada’s only Anglican bishop to authorize the blessing of homosexual unions says the refusal by his fellow bishops to approve the rite for the national church is the product of institutional inertia rooted in homophobia
Bishop Michael Ingham of the Vancouver-area diocese of New Westminster says homophobia, hiding behind interpretations of scripture, remains an acceptable prejudice in Canadian Anglicanism.
“There are members of our church who staunchly defend that. In my view, [it] is a total misreading of scripture and a misuse of the Bible to oppress people. But they clearly want to continue to do that.”
A recent motion before the church’s triennial general synod — or governing body — to allow individual dioceses to permit blessings of same-sex unions was approved by clergy and laity, but vetoed by a slim majority of bishops, who voted 21-19 against it.
Earlier, however, the bishops had voted by the same margin in favour of a resolution stating that the blessings were not in conflict with the church’s “core doctrine.”
Bishop Ingham has kindly agreed to take questions from the readers of globeandmail.com this week on the issue.
Your questions and Bishop Ingham’s answers will appear at the bottom of this page no later than Friday.
globeandmail.com has also invited a bishop who voted against the motion to approve the blessing of same-sex unions to take your questions.
The Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham has been bishop of the diocese of New Westminster since January 1994. Before that, he was Dean of New Westminster and Rector of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver.
He was born in Yorkshire, England in 1949. He studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, receiving an M.A. in Politics and Philosophy and a B.D. (First Class) in Theology.
Before being ordained, he did postgraduate work at Harvard University where he studied contemporary American theology. He also spent a semester at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem studying Judaism.
Bishop Ingham was ordained as a priest in Ottawa in 1974 and has served in parishes in Ottawa, Burnaby and West Vancouver. From 1989 to 1992, he was the principal secretary to the Primate of Canada in Toronto, and in that capacity travelled widely throughout the Anglican Communion.
He is the author of two books. Rites For A New Age, an introduction to the Book of Alternative Services, which was published in 1986, and Mansions Of The Spirit, an introduction to inter-faith dialogue, which first appeared in 1997.
Bishop Ingham is married to Gwen and they have two daughters.
It has been a quiet day. The weather has cooperated and it is nice out tonight. But they say that it may rain. I told a friend tonight that a prayer or intention put out in the morning, must be followed up with gratitude. The completion of an intention sent out to the universe must be followed up with thanks and gratitude at the end of the day.
I got to spend a few hours with my mentor this evening. We laugh we giggle and we talk about spiritual things. She says she admires me, I am just me. When you are given a gift by the creator you must use it. And if people or situations are put in your path, you must pay attention to them, for they are there for a reason. That is where discernment comes into play. Why are people put on the path and why are certain situations coming to pass for us right now?
Well, I muse, that each of us have potential. And if we are spiritually prepared and we have sent intention out to the creator, if He thinks we are ready, then the law of return dictates that we will get an answer, and sometimes quicker than we expect. When people are put on our path, we must figure out why. We must never ignore someone who has joined our journey, because they might have wisdom to impart or lessons to teach us. So pay attention.
Discernment also helps us to help others by optimizing our efforts and that voice speaks to us and keeps us focused to make sure that we are helping and not making things worse for those who might be in difficulty. We can’t save everybody, because let’s face it, sometimes people don’t want to be saved or helped. That is when we must let go of those who are wasting our resources and gifts. To commit to helping others – you must decide that you are either willing to walk with them or you are not. But if you commit, you must complete the journey you committed to.
To love selflessly. To love unconditionally. To serve completely. To serve willingly.
It is no longer what about me – but now it becomes what about you?
I got a wonderful letter from Ben tonight. I love men my British friends because they are so beautifully eloquent and cheery. HELLO BEN!!
I have a project to work on for myself. I will be putting together my writings that I want to publish, and to work them into specific groupings by genre, topic and grouping by community and I have to work on my introduction letters and research publishers who will be listed to send my prospectus to in the coming months. I have two weeks to finish this research project and work on my inquiry letters. I am happy to have someone who is helping me keep on track in this writing sphere. I have work to do and a time limit to get it done. This little publishing project just might happen.
snowy field – the in-between
I try to reconcile
the darkness of this long night -
I have great friends
I have work to get done
I have a job that I love to do
I have food in my fridge
I have money in the bank
I can sleep in if I want to
I have finished classes for the summer
That my friends trust me – that I am trustworthy
That I have guidance from my mentors
Today I helped at least one person
That I can write a gratitude list
That I am sober today
I got new poetry as a gift (above)
I got mail from BEN!!!!!!!!!!
This first Article appears on Best Gay Blogs under The Evolution According to Jeremy, under staff blogs. My editor is looking over the copy before it posts.
This being my first article, I thought that I would talk about Growing up Gay – and My Thoughts on Pride. Much has changed over the last 40 years, in terms of ‘LGBT Rights’ and how we as ‘LGBT peoples’ live our lives. This is the first post for the Evolution According to Jeremiah. From the perspective of an almost 40, Gay, clean and sober man living with HIV some 13 years now.
When I was a young boy, growing up in my home, I was very well versed on what my parents abhorred and what was unacceptable. My parents were homophobic, they were also racist and to a degree they believed that they had ‘arrived’ and became elitist. I don’t know how middle class American folk become elitist and better than others, but that is what my father thought.
I knew enough about sexuality before I had even hit puberty and in that time, I became aware of what my parents thought about homosexuality. When I hit puberty, my father took me on the all important “birds and the bees dinner” to talk about any questions or concerns that I might have. But by then I had already done enough ‘homework’ and I had begin to explore those needs myself.
When I hit junior high school, everything changed. I knew on the first day of school that I was different. The first day I set foot in the boy’s locker room, I knew that something was different. Over the next three years I would have many friends and I would participate in sports like soccer, wrestling and swimming. My fascination with boys had begun. But I had to play the game. (I know that today) I didn’t know that then. I had a girlfriend and I dated girls throughout school. But I remained a virgin because Catholic boys followed the church teachings, and my family was staunchly Catholic and feared God.
My mother was working in the pharmaceutical field and also in home health care services for patients who were discharged from hospital yet they were still on medical supervision at home. Some of my mother’s patients, on her daily run, were gay and had AIDS. Many nights after work, she would come home with her boss and coworkers and they would sit and drink beer and talk about the ‘faggots’ and that she hated serving them and that she wished they would die already and stop wasting her time and money.
It was comments like these during my formative years that dictated how I was going to make my way into the world and just what I was going to disclose and when. My step mother had gay friends that she would invite to dinner. And when my family attended dinners at my step mom’s house, my father would get crazy because his son was getting along better with the ‘fags’ than he did with his own father.
For 21 years my father beat me and told me that I was a mistake and said that I should never have been born, so can you blame me? Those gay men I had met became my teachers and my mentors into the world of ‘Gay.’ I loved these men because they treated me with dignity and respect, far better treatment than my father had ever given me. When we would come home from these dinners my father would decide that beating the experience with them out of me was far better than allowing anything these men said to me to take root within me.
My step mother knew that I had issues and today I know that these dinner parties was her way of giving me access to people who she knew would help me because my father would never allow me to expand my life to the places I wanted to go.
In Miami circa the 1980’s there was a dedicated locale where the gay community lived, and that was Coconut Grove. It was a specific locale that one could go to, to meet other gays, and go bar hopping and shop in gay stores in a local community setting. I don’t remember ever hearing about gay rights then, maybe because I was too young to understand what that meant. I didn’t start bar hopping until I was old enough to drink.
My first gay experience happened during the summer of my 19th year. My mother had been feuding with her sister, yet I was still on good terms with all of my family. I always believed that blood was thicker than water; this is where my parent failed miserably to rise to the challenge of maintaining family and as well, extended family.
I met a man at my aunt’s house, we got ripped on alcohol and I hid his keys so that he would not drive home that night, because we were all sauced beyond comprehension. Not to mention I wanted him, (Like I knew what that was at 19); I guess I did because my little plan worked and we had sex that night. I never told a soul that secret after it happened. I sat on that secret for two years, when amid a discussion with some women that were there who had made remarks about wanting to have sex with the same man, I offered that I had! It was such a revelation for me…
I never came out to my parents. And I started seeing a shrink – who happened to be one of the men who attended my step mom’s dinners. I was getting to the age of consent and I was urged to begin the exploration into gay life, but to do that I would have to find a way in. That was through “Uncle Charlie’s” a bar that I later became one most valuable customers. I was told to go to the bar, sit at the bar and have a drink and see what happened.
I was a teenage alcoholic. This order later in my life only fostered the need to drink more alcohol, because what does a 21 year old boy with cheek of tan do with his spare time? Drink, have his cake and eat it too…
The Christmas after my 21st birthday, I was on a cruise to the Bahamas with my best friend Matt. There was another gay couple sitting near us at dinner on the ship who thought “we” were a couple and they propositioned Matt. He wasn’t gay, but he thought I was. So they conspired to get me out of the closet that weekend. Well, after a night of debauchery I proposed my undying love and adoration to my best friend. That changed everything.
We never spoke again after that vacation, until much later in life.
In 1989, I moved away from home that following spring. I followed the couple who were on that cruise to Orlando, where I officially came out at the Parliament House on Orange Blossom Trail. If you are a gay boy in Florida, the place to come out was AT the Parliament House and you worked at the “Tragic Queendom!” I did both.
I moved away to be gay, to explore all that I could be. I was a pretty young gay boy, I loved drag queens, and in fact, they became the most important people in my life and would remain guideposts in my life through most of my adult life.
Being gay was all you could do in the community that I lived in. We all slept around, we drank until we were all unconscious. We did terribly stupid things as kids. I moved away without any street smarts. I didn’t have ANY idea what responsibility to take care of house home and car meant. I couldn’t pay bills or my rent or even worse my car payments because I was too wrapped up in drinking and partying. Who knew about responsibility? I sure as hell didn’t. I was a mess. And I ended up in some serious jackpots with serious losers.
I was a gay boy on a destructive path that led me on an odyssey of pain and heartache for over a decade. There were several severe mistakes I made as a young gay boy, because nobody knew how to help me, nor wanted to take the time to give a shit that I was in self destruct mode. My parent’s did not want to know me because by then they knew about me, yet I had never told them.
I had to return to my father’s house after ending up on the street and I went out one night and brought someone home to my father’s house and the next morning, my father went ballistic. (Note to you: Never bring a boy home to your parent’s house to have sex!)
That was the one of the nails I drove into my father’s proverbial casket.
I moved in with a friend whom I abused emotionally and monetarily. I was a raging alcoholic and I abused the gifts given to me – like the roof over my head and a bed to sleep in. I hurt one of the most important people in my life at that time. That, I regret to this day.
Geographical cures were the norm to try and stop the cycles of self abuse that I had been in as a young gay man. I didn’t have anyone who took the time to talk to me or teach me the ways of the world – this is why we write to you today, so that you know where to find us.
I made another geographic for supposed love. This theme repeats itself over and over again. I met a boy and fell in love. He was a con artist and I fell for his lies, until he told one too many and I caught on. He became suicidal and eventually killed himself. A year later I was diagnosed with AIDS and given 18 months to live. That was in 1994.
I had been hooked into a Gay Community, the Leather Community of Ft. Lauderdale. I was working at a bar. I met my Master, my Mentor, my Guide and my Father, the man who would save me. It is by the grace of God and the love of that man that I am alive today and writing to you in this community.
I learned what Gay Pride was, because I was part of a selective and marginalized community. That community was the leather community, the AIDS community and Gay’s in general. I was attending funerals because all of my friends were dropping like flies. People were being thrown out of their houses by families and lovers. The gay community was trying to build infrastructure to take care of our own. In South Florida, gay communities had begun to find themselves. We ‘found’ specific communities like Ft. Lauderdale proper and the Five Corners area, in Miami areas like South Beach and all points north.
Gay Pride was important because men, women and children were dying from AIDS and this disease was no longer a Gay disease, but became a world disease. It wasn’t a localized issue but a world wide epidemic. I stared attending Gay Pride Festivals in Ft. Lauderdale after my diagnosis, because life became important and staying alive was the goal.
Gay Pride is an important time in all of our lives. Gay Pride has changed over the decades, because the AIDS epidemic has changed. The festival of living was an honoring of the dead. We came together to celebrate life, for our friends who were dead. The atmosphere was so different than it is today, probably because I live in Canada now and my observations and my life have changed so much since 1994.
I lived, when hundreds of people I knew, friends that I loved and drag queens who were my rock have also died since then. The gay rights issues in the United States had begun to grow. The call for equal rights and treatment of People with AIDS was growing. I was barely surviving on the disability that I was on. I had to decide monthly on paying for my medications, pay rent or buy food. Life was terribly difficult as a man with AIDS living in Miami in 2000 and 2001.
I got sober in December of 2001. And the gay community where I was living was falling apart. The safe club scene became a dog eat dog world. The world I came out into had changed so drastically in six short years that I could not rely on anyone like I had been doing for the last six years prior.
I had been sober for a few months and I decided to make a move out of the country. And I did that and a new chapter in my life had begun. I was 34 years old when I got sober this second time; I had been living with AIDS for seven years. I moved to Montreal and began to build a home. Gay life in a foreign country is very different than gay life in the United States because Canada has grown in many ways where other countries have not.
Since 2002 when I moved, I got situated and became a Canadian Citizen because of my birthright, because my mother was still a Canadian when I was born in 1967. I met a boy, I fell in love and I got married. From the time that hubby and I met, the gay marriage and gay rights legislation made its way through Parliament and received assent. I remember the night that the news reported that the Gay Marriage Legislation had been passed into law. That was a few months before hubby and I eventually got married in 2004.
Over the years Gay Pride has changed. The weekly end of July escapade has been changed to the beginning of August 5 day event. We attended Gay Pride events here in Montreal for years. But as of the last two years, we did not attend any functions. Gay Pride has become more political and divisive to the point that we don’t participate because the spirit of Pride has changed drastically from what it used to mean, and has become a point of political and community contention.
When hubby and I first met, we used to do the ‘gay things’ because we had not settled into married and University life yet, so we did all those party events and bar hopped week in and week out. But once he had his nervous breakdown and I started University in 2003, everything changed. Our priorities changed. Life changed, we changed. We grew up.
Today at age 40, I have certain views on living with AIDS and Pride and Sobriety. Not to mention being married and having learned all those lessons that took an entire lifetime to collect and now we teach those lessons to others.
Gay Pride is important. It is important because many men and women went to their deaths fighting for the privileges that some of you have today. Millions of men, women and children went to their deaths from the scourge of AIDS since the 1980’s. Many Gay Rights activists were jailed and persecuted and some were killed for their convictions and their lives. Gay Pride should be celebrated to make sure we remember those who came and went before us. Gay Pride should be celebrated as a “Life Celebration” and to remember those words,
“We are here, we are Queer, Get used to it!”
If we forget those who laid the foundations for Gay Pride so many years and decades ago, then PRIDE is a waste of time. We should not be arguing over politics within our own ranks. We should not be fractioned by language or religion, creed or political affiliation. PRIDE should be a gathering of the many celebrating the one important fact of Life, That we are here and that we survived, because so many did not.
What do I know at age 40 that you need to know? You can come by my blog and read my pages and participate in our community. Do not be afraid of the spiritual slant of my blog. I am still a Gay Man who has wisdom to share with anyone who wants to learn. There is more to being gay today for me than looking twenty one and bar hopping and drinking until I fall down or do something stupid. That’s why today I am sober and clean and I am alive. It has been 13 years since I was diagnosed with AIDS – and I have lived to tell the tale.
I remind you all, as you celebrate Pride that You Celebrate for the RIGHT reasons and not the WRONG reasons. That you remember why we celebrate Pride and why ‘Stonewall’ is so incredibly important to us as LGBT peoples.
Be Proud. Be Visible and FIGHT for what is right – For the Right reasons.
Blessings on Your Heads.
The ladder of the Monks calls for Reading, Praying, Meditating and finally Contemplation. I have been working on my spiritual journey over the last few months. The added component to this ladder is ‘action.’
I wrote to a few sober members about last nights awakening, none of them responded. So I am either crazy or they don’t have to time to participate in this forum. Their loss… I did not go into this decision without prayer and meditation.
I went to bed with Paulo and some more reading on The Pilgrimage. He writes of his spiritual journey and the meditation practices his guide employs for him. I have started working with these meditations. I love reading books with substance and power.
Today we had our mid term exam in Theology and we had two essays to write on. I chose to write on The nature of prayer and ritual communally and personally. This experience I draw from my seminary time and the years afterwards in coming to know God on a more personal level. Going to mass, being part of community in seminary and in life. I also talked about my desire to be alone with my God. That was the one real dig that the rector of the seminary had for me. Because I was not “one of the boys!” No, I wasn’t hurting anyone or had I sexually identified at that time as a gay man who was out to party and be drunk and irresponsible.
I was a young man in seminary. Who wanted to serve the church and God as I felt called to do, so I stayed away from community because they made me feel like an outsider. So I didn’t fit in. So be it.
Anyways, I digress…
So over the lat 15 years I have searched for seed for my garden and I have planted them and now they are beginning to come to full flower. Some seeds sat in the ground for a long time, until the right time to bloom. I like my personal spirituality. And I can get into communal practice as well. There is a great Wednesday Christian meditation right near here that I will be attending when school gets out.
The second question was on the contemplative practice. I spoke about the Jesuit teaching that I have followed since I got out of Seminary. I have entertained the path of Ignatius. This process of discernment was the path I walked into seminary. And it is the practice that many young men follow at the Ignatian Center here in Montreal.
At the major Seminary just up the street from home is the reflection pool behind the building with a walking path around it which I have walked countless times over the past few years. There is also the Labyrinth that is always a wonderful experience. Contemplative prayer asks us to get quiet but also to listen for the voice of discernment.
I rocked on the essay questions, and with those writings today, I feel much better about the decision and the spiritual awakening that has taken place. I am not resentful or angry, I am over the fed up today because it is not about me. But I feel misled, used and disrespected, because I have worked so hard to create a safe space for newbies and that safe space has been defiled and I can’t be a supporter of a group that works against the grain. So that’s that…
The journey calls us to commit to our beliefs and convictions. The journey takes from us that which is useless to us and asks us to step on a path with what we have and to trust that God will provide. Sometimes we must walk alone. Sometimes we must be pruned in order to grow. I am through with doing all the work for everybody for free…
For that was what I was called to do. And I did it gratefully and thankfully. But for the last month I have been feeling a knot in my stomach every time I went to that church, now I know why. My gut was trying to show me something. Finally the message came through loud and clear. The bees are disappearing. So are my friends I wanted to know why, I asked the universe and in a matter of hours, I had my answers.
Something is happening, and I must follow the spirit and the voice.
So the Pilgrimage continues.
Thus begins my series on “The Pilgrimage” by Paulo Coelho, in preparation for my trip to Spain in May of 2009. We start with prayer, meditation, reflection and a lot of walking. I ask you for your prayers for this very special Pilgrimage and if you want to join me on this very special trip, please, let me know.
“First, I want to tell you something,” said Father Jordi. “The Jacobean route is only one of four roads. It is the Road of the Spades, and it may give you power, but that is not enough.”
“What are the other three?”
“You know at least two others: the Road to Jerusalem, which is the Road of the Hearts, or of the Grail, and which endows you with the ability to perform miracles; and the Road to Rome, which is the Road of Clubs; it allows you to communicate with other worlds.”
“So what’s missing is the road of the Diamonds to complete the four suits of the deck,” I joked. And the father laughed.
“Exactly. That is the secret Road. If you take it someday you won’t be helped by anybody. For now, let us leave that one aside. Where are your scallop shells?”
I opened my knapsack and took out the shells on which stood the image of Our Lady of the Visitation. He put the figure on the table…
Pagan influences can still be seen along the Way; indeed, some of the modern-day pilgrims declare themselves more attracted to the pagan legends associated with the Way than to the Christian ones. One legend holds that walking the route was a pagan fertility ritual; this is one explanation for the scallop shell being a symbol of the pilgrimage. An alternative interpretation is that the scallop, which resembles the setting sun, was the focus of pre-Christian Celtic rituals of the area.
That is to say, the pre-Christian origin of the Way of St. James was a Celtic death journey, westwards towards the setting sun, terminating at the End of the World (Finisterra) on the “Coast of Death” (Costa de Morta) and the “Sea of Darkness” (that is, the Abyss of Death, the Mare Tenebrosum, Latin for the Atlantic Ocean, itself named after the Dying Civilization of Atlantis).
The reference to St. James rescuing a “knight covered in scallops” is therefore a reference to St. James healing, or resurrecting, a dying (setting sun) knight. Note also that the knight obviously would have had to be “under the waters of death” for quite some time for shellfish to have grown over him.
Similarly, the notion of the “Sea of Darkness” (Atlantic Ocean) disgorging St. James’ body, so that his relics are (allegedly) buried at Santiago de Compostella on the coast, is itself a metaphor for “rising up out of Death”, that is, resurrection.
On Tonight’s Democratic Debate from New Hampshire, questions were asked about Darfur and ending the genocide. The answers were interesting. ONE major suggestion from the panel was to BOYCOTT the Summer Olympics in Beijing China and force the Chinese to stop doing business with Sudan. Since they obtain large amounts of oil from Sudan, this is an important issue. China has repeatedly been called on their record of Human Rights Abuses.
Democratic leaders feel that China could get involved in the issues of Darfur/Sudan and stop the Genocide – by ending their huge demands and their use of huge amounts of Sudanese Oil. They are not the only country who could do something today about Darfur, the world needs to sort out its priorities.
Should we (the World) take that great step and Boycott Beijing in 2008? For more than one reason?
SHOULD the WORLD BOYCOTT
The Olympics in Beijing, China
The Games of the XXIX Olympiad…
Summer 2008 to stop the genocide in Darfur?
Should we hold China accountable as a World Participant
and should we as well, hold world leaders accountable
for their inability to stop World Genocides
all over the Earth!!!
I’ve been in a strange mood the past few days. I can’t sleep at night. I’ve got so much on my mind as of late. The full moon is approaching, I can tell that this is going to be a low cycle instead of a high cycle. Issues at hand have depressed my desires and my emotions.
But I am praying and meditating. I’ve been praying about pilgrimage, and I’ve decided that yes I am going to make this trip. That I am worthy of this and that this sabbatical will be useful to me spiritually. The other note to mention is that I have also been praying about a pilgrimage partner. Who would I most want to take with me? That answer came over the past few days. So I called Beverly today and asked her to tell Sam to come and read. I also sent him a written invitation to pilgrimage.
I think that with this much time until Spring 2009, that we can raise the funds for pilgrimage through the spiritual communities we both belong to. I am sure that people in our respective church communities would love to sponsor someone on a pilgrimage of this great an adventure.
I am taking this opportunity to say Yes to pilgrimage, and Yes to my feelings that I think this might be the most important journey I will make in the coming years, not to say that life has not been an incredible journey, but I think Sam and I will make a great team. It would take him into new heights and give him an incredible experience, and it will give he and I some great one on one time. I think he’d enjoy the trip immensely…
I’ve made some decisions regarding my ministry. I have always been very hard on myself. And I am not used to recognizing that I have abilities. Yet I know I have abilities. I have known this for many years beginning with my tarot teaching and my visionary empathic abilities. Having a gift is a curse and a blessing. I don’t usually operate on the assumption that I am using all of my gifts properly and when necessary. My bad…
I do have a spirituality that is specifically my own. I have cultivated my garden very carefully over the last 15 years. My beliefs may not be the same of your beliefs, but my life experience and my Religious Experience, has definitely impacted my desire to try and find my place in the grand scheme of things.
Now that I have achieved the greatest achievement in my life, that of completing a four year degree in Religious Studies, I know more now, than I did years ago. My understanding of Religion has helped me redefine my own beliefs and practices. Now it is time to put that well earned knowledge into practice professionally. This has been a long hard fight to admit that I have earned this and that I am worthy of great things and that I truly have something to offer the men, women and young people I work with.
I have continued to work with young people in any capacity that I can. I believe that having a mentor to help one along the path is better than traveling it alone. I have decided that I can take what I have learned and what I have lived and try to help some new young people today. I have been working with my gifts and adding to my education over the years in the ways of academia and as well, in studies on my own. I have a wealth of spiritual knowledge that came by way of the hundreds of books I have read over the years, studying the spiritual journeys of many men who desired to find answers to their questions. I know all of this stuff. I have knowledge of the spiritual path, I also have knowledge of the Religious path.
This knowledge is a very important component when working with others. Because I can appreciate different religious beliefs and I can also appreciate the Christian journey and how important a component that is for so many people. I can give support, I can share love and I can teach what I know – because what I know is tangible.
I think about sabbatical – and pilgrimage and I ponder what it would be like to be on that journey and the first logical thought that came to mind today was that Sam and I need to do this. What an incredible experience it would be for both of us to walk the journey and how bringing someone along with me is going to be so kewl!!
So I am working on Acceptance.
Acceptance that I am worth it
Acceptance that I am worthy
Acceptance that I can do whatever I set my mind to
Acceptance that I can work for a living
That what I know is useful and that I can help people
Acceptance that there are people who want to help me
Acceptance that I can be helped because I help them
Ok, I need to work on my Acceptance totally !!
This evening I went to a lecture about El Camino – Santiago De Compostela by a member of the United Theological College here in Montreal. I have to say that I have been interested in this topic for some time. I have had friends walk part of the journey and bring me back mementos from their journeys.
Our guide began his journey in St. Jean Pied De Port – A little farther East of Pamplona on the French side of the mountains…
On the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains climbing Westwards into Spain. This is a six week journey, about 40 to 45 days.
St. Jean Pied De Port. This quite an exhaustive journey and many make the pilgrimage for many reasons. I have often thought in the past to make this journey. I spoke to our host this evening about making the journey being HIV positive. He said if my doctor would clear me to make the journey, that he didn’t see why I could not do it. He also told us that there might be a group returning to Compostela in 2009, and I would have to be not only physically prepared, but mentally and spiritually prepared as well.
He had a preparatory plan in his mind which he shared with us, the few that were there and were honestly interested in finding out more about this pilgrimage. He spoke about this pilgrimage as a journey. Every ounce you carry – may keep you from making it to the end. Leaving every comfort of home behind and not carrying what you don’t have to is crucial. Every day you walk, as the sun rises. I cannot recall everything he said verbatim, but the thoughts come to me as this: If you can live with very little, carrying only that which you need, and if you can make the journey with no expectations, and if you can make the journey “not knowing everything” you could complete the pilgrimage.
He told us about people he met on his journey and some of the issues that they were dealing with, to give us insight to how it went for him. Ms. New Jersey who carried a suitcase on her back, and had to jettison items as she walked because they were holding her back. Those who were not prepared for the sacrifice of the journey and those who had serious medical issues along the way.
I know that there is a journey still left in me, I just don’t know which one it will be. But this is now, several times I have crossed paths with Compostela. This is where I begin to pray for discernment. I know that I want to make a pilgrimage because I feel for me, religiously and spiritually, that I am meant to make one pilgrimage that I will pray to find my way into.
I guess this is an invitation to you my readers who might be inclined to take a journey of this magnitude. We are setting our sights towards a Spring 2009, (May – June) departure.
I know that hubby would never make this journey with me. He told me on the way out that he was (Patsy) of Edina and Patsy. That he would ride along side in a car eating bon bons and cheering me on. He is not inclined to make a spiritual pilgrimage because he is not as “spiritual” in that sense as I am. But he’d support me going. So this is where I put it out there and ask you to pray for me and maybe someone out there would decide to walk with me as well…
Where there’s a will – there’s a way…