Another day, another meeting.
Snow fell today and was falling on the way home from the church. Just enough snow to blanket white spaces and on cars. It was a good night to travel.
It was a busy day with hubby and I coming and going here and there. There is a Sociology Conference going on at Concordia. Hubby is presenting on Saturday afternoon. It will all be exciting. And I get to see Margaret after her presentation that is timed at the same time as hubby’s.
It seems the government wants to audit me !!! UGH So I have to send them some tax information for past filings. I’ve never NOT paid my taxes, even as a student. Hubby guarantees it will be painless and it will all be ok, so no worries here.
I met a friend around 7 for our transit across town for North End English tonight. We take the green line East to Berri and change to the orange line North to Laurier. And then take the 51 bus to the church. We did not have to wait long for trains because it was rush hour still.
We had a modest showing, all the seats were filled. We are almost at the end of As Bill Sees It. Our reading was about Criticism. And how Bill used good and bad criticism to help the movement – move along as it did.
I once heard a lady friend say at a meeting that she has an addiction to the “publish button.” And that she needed to practice not always hitting the publish button. And with that I have to agree.
Growing up in an alcoholic home predisposed me to criticism. Night and day, up and down, from birth parents who felt it necessary to berate and negate my existence for 21 years that I lived under their roof.
And coming out at a place that drag queens congregated predisposed me to the catty gay criticism that is prevalent in the gay community. There are some straight men in the program that I just cannot stomach. And in those instances, I just avoid them. However critical I am about them, I know better today to keep my mouth shut and walk away.
I’ve been critical on this medium and that cost me valuable relationships. But that is life I guess. I’ve noticed in hindsight that I’ve been critical of people, and I mentioned this a while ago here.
Last night I spoke to a lady friend about the stir up and she gave me some crucial critical advice. She told me not to take it lightly and that maybe I should shake up the rest of my sobriety ( read: sponsor) and I said that I was on a listening tour. At some point I will hear the next man who is to step on my path.
That’s why we are traveling to new meetings. To hear new voices and get to attend different meetings with new faces.
I am actively practicing Live and Let Live much closer to the heart than before.
It was a nice ride home via rail and bus.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God”
Stephen Colbert …
The view out of our 17th story windows…
2012 … Winter has come and gone. I have been marking time as I write each night and it seems to have come to an end. Another Winter in the books. It has gotten progressively warmer as the days have come. And today on March18th, we opened the windows for the first time since the beginning of Winter 2011.
And so we bid goodbye to the silence as we do every year. Here is my yearly Ode to the Silence …
This is my yearly Ode to the Silence Post… as seen earlier on the blog.
The weather has changed as of late. It got warmer over the last few days and so for now the first order of business is to take down the plastic on the windows and for the first time in six months, open those windows and let some much needed fresh air into the house. This is the view from our living room out to the West. There is a slight breeze blowing and the sky is clear.
My Ode to the Silence comes every year as we celebrate the opening to the world once again after a long and hard winter. So for a few moments we reflect on the silence that has wrapped us in her embrace for the last six months. If I look back at the date this was originally written, it was April 20th 2007. Today’s “Opening” came on April the 2nd 2010.
Silence, she is warm and inviting, she is womb like and soft. She brings with her soft breezes and the quiet that accompanies the first falling snow. There is wisdom on learns about when one welcomes the silence into ones life. I find that if one does not find their place within the silence one is truly lost to the elements and noise of the world around them.
This yearly “Ode” that is written to bless the silence and thank it for months of kindness and warmth, and bid it farewell for now until we meet again. This does not mean that one will not be able to seek the silence amid the business of the day or the noisiness of night. One must understand what worth lies amid the silence and how that silence can become ones mentor instead of ones enemy.
She teaches me that it is within the silence that one finds the breath. And when one finds the breath, one finds the heartbeat. For if you do not take time to honor the beating heart, then you have no life to be grateful for. Hence the need to always seek and respect the silence. In the business of the day we forget that silence is important to the management of ones life.
So we bid the silence adieu for now until we meet again in months to come. For now we must find a place within that we can reunite with the silence that has left us, and we can remember her warmth and care over the last six months of winter.
Farewell mother of the womb, until that day you greet us again…
If you could live forever, would you? Why or why not?
Even human science hasn’t cracked the code to live forever even if we tried. I’ve always maintained that if I could I would go backwards in time to relive some of the things I had from the past. Caveat, with the same people that were there as well, seeing most of those people are long since dead.
If I could live forever, would I? Yeah, I think I would. Who wouldn’t?
Why? I would want to see how far technology would progress, if we could all live forever that means that all of my friends would be here as well.
I’ve lived a good long life, longer than most doctors would have imagined for me, so that is a plus. Most of the good things that happened in my life are now in the past, so I don’t know how much life would change in the future from how it is going today.
The old are ignored and unwanted. In gay terms, I am already far over the hill, based on the current standards of gay viability. anything over thirty is over the hill. I am well into my 40′s now and marriage is a good thing, because I don’t know what I;d do if I was single at this age. Probably be like some of the odler men I see at meetings. Alone and lonely…
If I could live forever, then I would want technology to help me NOT age any further first off. And maybe technology could help us reverse the aging process and regain some of our youth, once again.
What would us old people contribute to society? Wisdom, thoughts, experience? What would we do in a bright new aging society? Something BIG and exciting would have to happen to really make living forever useful and fruitful.
I think that that exciting thing for me is coming in the next years time, that I am hopeful of. Sobriety has its perks.
That’s all I have for now.
more to come, stay tuned …
So often I ask myself “where am I going?”. It’s a question we all ask ourselves at some point in our lives. From the time we come into this life we are constantly being asked this question.
“where are you going to University?”,
“where are you going to work?”,
“where are you going to live?”,
“where is your career heading?”,
“where is my big chance going to come from?”.
We are conditioned to be looking ahead. We walk with our eyes forward on the horizon. We focus on our goals and seek and strive to accomplish them.
There is a question we often neglect to ask ourselves and that is,
“Where am I now?”.
It pays to stop and smell the roses. Ambition is not a bad thing. Forward planning is not a bad thing, but how often do we stop to really appreciate what we have? How often to we simply stop on our way to work and look around.
Next time you find yourself stressing over that meeting your running late for or fighting the traffic on your way home stop for three seconds. The world won’t end, this I promise. Look up at the sky and notice how blue it is, feel the breeze on your face, smell a flower in the garden next to you and then go on your way again. Remind yourself that there is no other moment but here and now.
The future hasn’t happened yet.
The past is gone.
All that matters is now.
Where are you now?
“Socrates once said, “Embody what you teach, and teach only what you have embodied.”
I remember something Socrates had told me about the search for meaning.
“Better never begin – but once begun, better finish.”
“To really help people, you first need to understand them – but you can’t understand someone else until you understand yourself. Know yourself; prepare yourself; develop the clarity, the courage, and the sensitivity to exert the right leverage, in the right place, at the right time, Then Act.”
Oh Okay – A Poem
At least two people in this world love you so much they would die for you.
At least fifteen people in this world love you in some way.
The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.
A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don’t like you.
Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
You mean the world to someone.
If not for you, someone may not be living.
You are special and unique.
There is someone that you don’t even know exists, who loves you.
When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.
When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely
turned your back on the world.
When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won’t get it, but if you believe in yourself, probably, sooner or later, you will get it.
Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.
Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know.
If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.
“This year we mark and celebrate the founding of the Canadian state 400 years ago; from Champlain to today.”
From Celebrate Canada Day
It has been over six years since I moved to Montreal, and Canada the larger nation. And I thought that I would write a post about being a Canadian and why that is so important to me. Living in Canada as a gay, hiv positive man has done wonders for my life. I have achieved heights here I would never have been able to in the United States as the situation was in the past. Living hand to mouth, having to choose between bills and food, over medications was a real downer.
Moving from one BIG city to a truly Cosmopolitan BIG Candian city was remarkable. Montreal had a mystique all its own. There was so much to see and there still is so much to see here that I would never think of leaving this great city. I have grown up in this city in ways I never thought possible.
Living in Canada brought with it radical changes in the way I see the world from above the Northern Border. Learning where my loyalties lain was very important seeing that I was here as the Iraq war had begun, taking part in demonstrations against the war was life changing. Not knowing where to stand at one point of this journey, I had to take the time to learn about what I was feeling and where those loyalties laid. That took a while to figure out but when the map finally appeared before me, I was good to go.
Coming from the United States, knowing what I knew changed when the run up to the war took place. Everything I knew came into question. Everything I had grown up to believe was challenged. The very way I lived my life was on the line. I had one foot in the U.S. and one foot in Canada. And I was at odds with my self because I did not know where I stood on many issues. I had to find my way. That took some time. I eventually chose to place both feet firmly on Canadian soil and make my stand here. And that decision changed my life. I may hold dual citizenship but my soul is firmly a Canadian soul. I sewed Canadian flags on my backpack and I became one of many. My collective here in Canada.
Canada has grown as a country. Montreal has grown as a city. I have grown into the man I am. I have learned about the myriad of religious beliefs that reside here. I have met, studied and befriended many different people from all walks of life. Returning to University was the biggest decision I had made at one point in my journey. And now I hold a B.A. in Religious Studies which has changed the way I see religion today.
When Canada passed legislation on Same Sex marriage, Hubby and I were amongst the first ten couples in Montreal to get a marriage license. We eventually married in November of 2004, with friends and family in attendance. That was a big change in our lives to be recognized as a couple legally. Gay rights IS a big deal no matter where you live. And we have seen what kind of divisivness can come about from the discussion of Gay Marriage in the United States.
Being gay in Canada has changed the way we see the world around us. Because here in Canada we are afforded right according to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We have an entire neighborhood devoted to all things gay. We have a vibrant multicultural gay community, and a vibrant multicultural city, a mosaic of people, ethnicity and faith. Gay Pride is a daily way of life. We don’t have to hide in closets and in dark corners of neighborhoods. With the passage of gay rights and marriage rights here we move more fully into community and that is lacking in the United States. When will the United States realize that there are bigger fish to fry like impeaching the President and taking him the the Hague for War Crimes! When will gay move main stream and the people of an entire nation rise up and do the right thing for a change, instead of being led to slaughter like mindless sheep?
I tell you truly, that if you really want to see the world (The U.S. ) for what it is, then uproot your family, leave your sofas and beer cans and football games and move abroad for One Calendar year. See the United States from someplace else, like Canada, and I assure you that you will never see the U.S. the way you did before and forever after.
I became part of a church, I found my religious roots so to speak. With my religious studies my faith has changed. Everything I knew and loved about Catholicism was changed. Being gay and informed has truly changed the way I see Christianity and the way I practice my faith. I moved away from Holy Mother Church and into the Anglican communion and as a communion community here in Canada we came to agreement on the blessing of same sex couples in the last year. A change that has challenged the greater Anglican and Episcopal community at large.
As we see today that the Anglican community is more fractured than ever just because a Gay, now married man, The V. Rev. Gene Robinson is Bishop in New Hampshire. My views and practice of Christian faith has been tempered by the way other Christians live their lives. It is my belief that I practice an active true faith in Christ. I love my god with all my heart, soul and strength and I love my neighbor as myself. How much easier can Christianity be? My faith is so much richer for the opportunity to study religion in University. That has also changed my life for the better.
Over the years we have seen many things change in Canada. The recognition of the past and apologies made to certain communities of people have changed Canada for the better. The head tax apology to the Chinese community was a big step in Asia Pacific understanding. And more recently the Truth and Reconciliation commission undertaking the huge step in repairing the sins of a Nation against the Native Peoples of Canada. The great apology from the Prime Minister to the native community just a little while ago was a big step in helping Canada and a peoples move forward from one of the darkest periods in Canadian history.
Canada is a great country to live in – Montreal is a wonderful city to be a part of. There is so much more freedom here than in the United States. My life is so much richer for being here. And I am more the man I was meant to be here. I work with my kids, I have great friends, and I have a great life. And I live. I have medical treatment here that is unheard of in the United States. I am in trials for new medications for people with Aids. I work every day to try to help find solutions for the sick and dying. That is my full time job here, to live and to make sure that as these meds come off the production line that they work so that you, out there can use them with the assurance that they really do work.
I am sober now seven years going on eight this Winter. I am committed to my home group and the ministry of AA in my community. I help others get sober and we teach them how to live in the moment and to stay in their days. So much has changed in sobriety. My life is so different from what it had been and I have everything to be grateful for in coming to Canada.
If you can dream it you can live it. Always fight for what you believe in, and if you can’t find it where you are, then come and find it elsewhere. There are always possibilities.
September 25th, 2010
It seems this post has been accessed by someone and I am reading this again tonight, having traveled farther down the journey here in Canada. Since that post was written, I have graduated from University with my BA in Religious studies, I have completed a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry in 2010. I am now studying languages and history at Dawson College here in Montreal. It truly has been a journey of a thousand steps all one day at a time.
I spent a year working on my M.A. in Theology and I found myself wanting more, I was not enjoying myself, and my papers were not what was necessary to keep up a GPA. I left the university with no way to continue my studies there, which sent me to Dawson, because unlike the U.S. you can get financial aide from the government to go to school at all levels of the educational ladder. And since I did not attend CeGep on the way up, I was able to continue my studies at that level. It’s all good.
Hubby has since completed a BA in English lit and a second BA in Sociology. And today he is working on his M.A. in Sociology at Concordia University. We are all so very proud of him, he has come a LONG way from the point that I wrote this first entry some years ago. We have been married now almost 6 years come November. He will have been sober almost eight years as well. We have traveled a thousand miles in our marriage. Life could not be better for either one of us today.
I am still alive, I have been testing HIV medications for the entire time that I have been here in Montreal, having a doctor who has treated patient zero, as my doctor has changed my life. Pills that were never available to the general public were made available because we tested them here in Montreal first. I tested them just for you, because you matter to the rest of us, every one of you. This year I crossed the 16 year mark living with aids. And I am doing very well, with the treatment that I have been on for more than three years now.
This calendar year, 2010 I will celebrate 9 years of sobriety on December the 9th. Sobriety has changed my life. Being in Canada has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined even when I wrote this original entry, I was no so far up the road, but far enough to root myself in Montreal.
I still maintain that if you want to see the world and the place you come from in a different light, you have to leave the comfort of home and move someplace else for at least a calendar year.
That is all for this update on Being Canadian…
John Powell a professor at Loyola University in Chicago writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy:Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith. That was the first day I first saw Tommy. My eyes and my mind both blinked. He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders.
It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long. I guess it was just coming into fashion then. I know in my mind that it isn’t what’s on your head but what’s in it that counts; but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions flipped.
I immediately filed Tommy under “S” for strange … very strange. Tommy turned out to be the “atheist in residence” in my Theology of Faith course. He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father-God. We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.
When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a slightly cynical tone: “Do you think I’ll ever find God?”
I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. “No!” I said very emphatically.
“Oh,” he responded, “I thought that was the product you were pushing.”
I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then called out: “Tommy! I don’t think you’ll ever find him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!” He shrugged a little and left my class and my life.
I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line: “He will find you!” At least I thought it was clever. Later I heard that Tommy had graduated and I was duly grateful.
Then a sad report, I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer. Before I could search him out, he came to see me. When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted, and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe. “Tommy, I’ve thought about you so often. I hear you are sick!” I blurted out.
“Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It’s a matter of weeks.”
“Can you talk about it, Tom?”
“Sure, what would you like to know?”
“What’s it like to be only twenty-four and dying?”
“Well, it could be worse.”
“Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real ‘biggies’ in life.”
I began to look through my mental file cabinet under “S” where I had filed Tommy as strange. (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification God sends back into my life to educate me.)
But what I really came to see you about,” Tom said, ” is something you said to me on the last day of class.” (He remembered!) He continued, “I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you said, ‘No!’ which surprised me. Then you said, ‘But he will find you.’ I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time. (My “clever” line. He thought about that a lot!) But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, then I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven.
But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened. Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success? You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying. And then you quit.
Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit. I decided that I didn’t really care … about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that. “I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable. I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: ‘The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them.’ “So I began with the hardest one: my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him.”
“Dad”. . .
“Yes, what?” he asked without lowering the newspaper.
“Dad, I would like to talk with you.”
“I mean. .. It’s really important.”
The newspaper came down three slow inches. “What is it?”
“Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that.” Tom smiled at me and said with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him: “The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me.
And we talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me. “It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years. I was only sorry about one thing: that I had waited so long. Here I was just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.
“Then, one day I turned around and God was there. He didn’t come to me when I pleaded with him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, ‘C’mon, jump through.’ ‘C’mon, I’ll give you three days .. .three weeks.’ Apparently God does things in his own way and at his own hour. “But the important thing is that he was there. He found me.
You were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for him.”
“Tommy,” I practically gasped, “I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize. To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love. You know, the Apostle John said that. He said God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.’ Tom, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now. Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me? If I told them the same thing it wouldn’t be half as effective as if you were to tell them.”
“Oooh . . . I was ready for you, but I don’t know if I’m ready for your class.”
“Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call.” In a few days Tommy called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me. So we scheduled a date. However, he never made it.
He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed.
He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined.
Before he died, we talked one last time. “I’m not going to make it to your class,” he said.
“I know, Tom.”
“Will you tell them for me? Will you . . . tell the whole world for me?”
“I will, Tom. I’ll tell them. I’ll do my best.”
So, to all of you who have been kind enough to hear this simple statement about love, thank you for listening. And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven: “
I told them, Tommy . … …as best I could.”
I meant to write this post earlier, but time escaped me. In reading the Foster text, Life with God, I started following some of his suggestions about my Bible reading. So I have started on the Book of Proverbs, of Solomon son of David, King of Israel. This first proverb is so beautiful there is so much to think about as I read it over and over again and pray with the text. Join me…
Proverbs Chapter 1.
Prologue: Purpose and Theme
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
for attaining wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words of insight;
for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young-
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance-
for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Exhortations to Embrace Wisdom
Warning Against Enticement
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They will be a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
My son, if sinners entice you,
do not give in to them.
If they say, “Come along with us;
let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood,
let’s waylay some harmless soul;
let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;
throw in your lot with us,
and we will share a common purse”-
my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;
for their feet rush into sin,
they are swift to shed blood.
How useless to spread a net
in full view of all the birds!
These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they waylay only themselves!
Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the lives of those who get it.
Warning Against Rejecting Wisdom
Wisdom calls aloud in the street,
she raises her voice in the public squares;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out,
in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:
“How long will you simple ones love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
If you had responded to my rebuke,
I would have poured out my heart to you
and made my thoughts known to you.
But since you rejected me when I called
and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand,
since you ignored all my advice
and would not accept my rebuke,
I in turn will laugh at your disaster;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you-
when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
“Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me.
Since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the LORD,
since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,
they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
Brother Brandon Preaching the Good News and his message of Love and Hope.
A reading from the Gospel of Mark: 10:17-27
The Rich Young Man
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
What is it that man can judge another man? There is a lot to be said about Pride. For Pride cometh before the fall. I am very careful in writing here because I know that every word that is written here is scrutinized by a chosen few men and women who seem to think that it is their job to judge me.
I’ve never been one to sit on pride. I’ve never been one to be prideful to the extent that I have committed a sin or sinned against anyone that I know. A person in recovery knows that pride is one of those sins that can take someone down faster than most. So let us review the seven deadly sins and let us explore together how we avoid them and why we talk about them today.
There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
The Seven Deadly Sins are: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride.
It was brought to my attention today by a commenter that I was Prideful and that I should read my own posts to see that truth. I beg to differ. I take pride in the fact that I hold a B.A. in Religious Studies and a second Certificate in Pastoral Ministry. And if I am not reminded daily that I am a sinner and that I have fallen short of the Glory of God, that would be a sin.
I have no need to be
(1) Lustful because I own the love I have for another and he for me. So I think I have cleared lust off my list of sins. I am not a
(2) Glutton, in fact I believe that I am just the opposite. I’ve never been a big fan of
(3) Greed because what does greed get you but pain? It does not get you further in the game nor does it bode well to be a greedy human being.
(4) Sloth, I have not been in the pit of misery for many years. This sin has been called the sin of sadness and despair. It had been in the early years of Christianity characterized by what modern writers would now describe as melancholy: apathy, depression, and joylessness — the last being viewed as being a refusal to enjoy the goodness of God and the world he created.
I do enjoy every day that God gives me because lets face it living with AIDS you never know when your card is going to pop up on the dashboard of God’s choosing.
(5) Wrath, Wrath (or anger) may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. These feelings can manifest as vehement denial of the truth, both to others and in the form of self -denial, impatience with the procedure of law, and the desire to seek revenge outside of the workings of the justice system (such as engaging in vigilantism and generally wishing to do evil or harm to others.
Well I think I have my own truth. And I know God’s truth. And I do work every day to live in that truth. My truth may not be your truth and what a bore it would be if I owned your truth. I don’t believe that my brand of Christianity is any better than the next and I do preach my truth with precision and here I am covering all the bases just to make sure that no one can say I have spoken wrongly.Envy, for sure, I don’t envy anyone in my social circle. Like greed,
(6) Envy is characterized by an insatiable desire; they differ, however, for two main reasons. First, greed is largely associated with material goods, whereas envy may apply more generally. Second, those who commit the sin of envy desire something that someone else has which they perceive themselves as lacking.
I really don’t desire anything that anyone I know owns or has. And i don’t think I am lacking in any of the creature comforts of house and home, my spiritual life is in tact and is very well thank you. So let us talk about the last deadly sin, PRIDE.
(7) Pride In almost every list Pride ( or hubris or vanity) is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to give compliments to others though they may be deserving of them, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God).
Dante’s definition was “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbor.” Pride is the deadliest of all the sins and leads directly to the damnation of the titulary famed Parisian doctor. In perhaps the best-known example, the story of Lucifer, pride was what caused his fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan. Vanity and narcissism are prime examples of this sin. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the penitent were forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on their backs in order to induce feelings of humility.
Hubris, that was the word that my commenter used this morning… If you think that I am as vain as some seem to think, I believe you are sadly mistaken. I do not and never have desired to be better than anyone else, I don’t believe that I set myself above anyone, lest I really sin against God.
I wish that some people who come to read this blog were stricken with a terrible disease that is fatal and that they try to live within that space for a period of time to see just what it feels like. As a person living with AIDS I can tell you that vanity and hubris went out the window years ago.
A fatal disease removes all these sins from you in ways that you the normal well reader could never imagine. I don’t know what you believe if you think that disease has not taken its toll on my physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and I find it incredible that someone would have the desire to point out that I have sinned in the way I live my life, what I do with this life and what I chose to print on this blog. Because I am damn well sure that You do not know me and I have no earthly desire to know you or believe like you.
I will say this again… I don’t have to prove myself or justify myself to anyone and you don’t have to agree with me or my spiritual practice. You may not agree with my brand of Christian belief, and that is your problem, not mine.
They say in recovery that IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ANYONE THEN YOU NEED TO LOOK INTO YOUR OWN SELF AND FIND THAT WHICH IS THE PROBLEM WITHIN YOURSELF. Then you must change that which is within yourself.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
We continue on our journey through historical Islam and we are going to look at a number of thoughts in this section of the text, as it covers 50 pages to the end of Chapter 2. We begin tonight’s lesson with the 5 Pillars of Islam. Muslims believe that there are Five Pillars of Islam, which are the fundamental principles that make up the most basic requirements for life as a Muslim:
- Shahada (“Witness”) This is the declaration that all Muslims must make: “I testify that there is no god but one God, and that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.”
- Salat (“Prayers”) All Muslims must pray five times daily, facing Mecca.
- Zakat (“Almsgiving”) Muslims must give a certain percentage of their yearly income to the poor and needy.
- Sawm (“Fasting”) During the holy month of Ramadan, all Muslims must fast every day from sunrise to sunset.
- Hajj (“Pilgrimage”) A pilgrimage to Mecca, the location of the holiest place in Islam, must be performed by every Muslim, if possible, once in his or her lifetime.
Our writer makes certain statements in this text that she believes will bring together the fighting factions of Islam to a peaceful resolution. Stated here: “It is my firm belief that until Muslims revert to the traditional interpretation of Islam – in which “you shall have your religion, and I shall have mine” is respected and adhered to – the factional strife within Muslim countries will continue. Indeed, until quranic tolerance is reestablished, the key Muslim countries of pakistan and Iraq will not only continue to weaken them but will continue to threaten to spread inflexible and extremist interpretations elsewhere in the Muslim world.
Those who teach the killing of adherents of other sects or religions are damaging Muslim societies as well as threatening non-Muslim societies.
On Seeking Knowledge:
The Prophet remarked on the importance of seeking knowledge throughout life: “Seek knowledge by even going to China, for seeking knowledge is incumbent on every Muslim.” The Prophet placed the utmost importance on seeking knowledge, instructing humans to go to extraordinary lengths to gain not just religious knowledge but all knowledge.
The past is used too frequently to define modern Muslims, especially when evaluating their receptivity to democracy. We don’t define Judaism by the brutality of the conquest of the tribes of Canaan or by the pain and suffering of the plagues on Egypt. We don’t define Christianity by the barbarism of the Dark Ages or by the persecution of the Inquisition.
When analysts look at the receptivity of modern Muslim communities to democracy, they too often look to Islamic texts and interpretations, as well as to the kind of social structure of the first community of Muslims. This construct, labeled “Muslim exceptionalism,” is based on the view that the norms of the Muslim community of the past must necessarily define the Muslim community of the present. It assumes that Muslim thought and Muslim society have not evolved, adapted, or changed over time. Some feel that “the character of Muslim societies has been determined by a specific and remote period in their past during which the social and political order that continues to guide them was established.
The scholar is referring to Prophet Mohammad’s early community of Muslims in seventh-century Arabia. This theory is predicated on the bizarre belief that they strength of the past continues to hold on to the psyche of Muslim society, blocking progress in political and other fields, including human rights and technological and economic development.
Morals and Beliefs:
The Qu’ran provides broad beliefs and morals by which to live. The specifics were left to be interpreted in light of the proper historical context. “The text is silent. We have to hear its voice. In order to hear, we need presuppositions. In order to have presuppositions, we need the knowledge of the age. In order to have the knowledge of the age, we have to surrender to change.
Equally important to the context of interpretation of the Qu’ran is who interprets it. Some Muslims, especially those belonging to theocratic regimes, try to assert that only a select few can interpret the Qu’ran. This is not the case. Interpretation of the Qu’ran is not limited to any one person or committee. The Qu’ran did not establish a specific institution or group of leaders as its sole interpreters. Any Muslim is free to interpret the Qu’ran. All Muslims are guaranteed the right to interpret the Qu’ran (ijtihad) Thus even the approach to interpretation of the Qu’ran is embedded with democratic values.
Indeed, Muslims are told that each person is accountable for his or her individual behavior. No relative, teacher, or other can intervene for a Muslim of the Day of Judgment.
Every interpretation needs to be based on the context in which it is undertaken. In the modern world, modern interpretations need to be made while respecting the underlying principles of the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran, while the word of God, is a text that is historically rooted in the time of its revelation. There is no explicit mention of democracy in the Qu’ran because it was not a word used in the seventh-century Arabia. However, the principles of consultation and consensus among the people, which are found in the Qu’ran, are the bases of democracy. Moreover, the principles of equality, justice, and law, which are the underlying foundations of democracy, are repeatedly stressed in the Qu’ran.
Our author continues with her beliefs as she states:
For Muslims like me, who believe in democracy, Islam is about consent and people’s participation. Islam and democracy are compatible. Radwan Masmoudi agrees that contemporary interpretations need to continue to be made; he asserts that it is better than “the doors of ijtihad – closed for some 500 years – be reopened.”
Even the conservative Pakistani Islamist leader Khurshid Ahmad conceded that “God has revealed only broad principles and has endowed man with the freedom to apply them in every age in the way suited to the spirit and conditions of that age. It is through ijtihad that people of every age try to implement and apply divine guidance to the problems of their times.”
We are moving into more current events and places in this portion of the reading and I reiterate the following text because it is important for Westerners and others to understand what is bubbling just beneath the surface and why there is wide spread war around the globe.
Islam proclaims that the earth belongs to “Khalq e Khuda,” the people of God. We are all God’s creatures. The earth is given to us in trust by God. We the people are the agents of God in this world. We are to govern the earth as a sacred trust and as trustees of the responsibility to pass it on the future generations. The right to declare who is a “good Muslim” and who is a “bad Muslim” is a right that belongs only to God.
Those who say that we on earth must determine who is a good Muslim and who is a bad Muslim are in many ways responsible for the political legacy of murder, mayhem, sectarian warfare, and oppression of women and minorities we see in the Muslim world. These extremists are destroying the Muslim world by pitting Muslim against Muslim.
The militants seethe with anger, but their anger is always tied to their political agenda.
- First they were angry and the West had abandoned three million Afghan refugees and stopped all assistance to them after the Soviets left Afghanistan.
- Second, they are angry that their offer to the government of Pakistan to send one hundred battle hardened mujahideen to help in the Kashmir uprising on 1989 was rejected.
- Third, they wanted King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to turn to the “battle hardened mujahideen” to protect Saudi Arabia after Iraqi president Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. He refused.
- Fourth, they went off to fight in Bosnia when the region was engulfed in war (from 1993 to 1996, I lobbied President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister John Major, and other European leaders to intervene to bring the conflict to an end.)
- Fifth, they tried to exploit the Chechen nationalist movement.
- Sixth, with the fall of my government they turned their attention to Kashmir and tried to take over the nationalist Kashmiri movement from 1997 onward.
Muslim extremists systematically targeted historical nationalist movements to gain credibility and launch themselves into the Muslim heartland with a view to piggybacking off nationalist movements to advance their agenda. However, most Muslims were suspicious and not welcoming of their extreme interpretation of Islam. Thus is was only in Afghanistan, already softened by years of resistance by Afghan mujahideen, that Muslim extremists were able to establish the Taliban dictatorship.
Driven out of Afghanistan after the September 2001 attacks on the United States, they returned to Pakistan, where the journey had begun with General Zia-ul-Haq in 1980.
After the United States invaded Iraq, these same extremists turned their attention to that country. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi went off to fight in Iraq. Presumably others did, too. Again they used religious propaganda to kill, maim, and effectively divide one of the richest Muslim countries, Iraq, into a land of carnage and bloodshed.
Sunnis and Shias, who had lived peacefully side by side for centuries, began to kill each other, and Iraq began to fall apart. It is quite easy (and typical) for Muslim Extremists to blame the Americans for the sectarian civil war that rages in Iraq today, when actually it is a long standing tension between Muslim communities that has been exacerbated and militarized to create chaos under which extremists thrive.
Iraq is not the only goal of the extremists. Pakistan too is in great danger. Pro-Taliban forces have taken over tribal areas of Pakistan. They occupy the Swat Valley. They have been ceded Waziristan by the Musharraf regime. They are moving into the settled areas of Pakistan. Their apparent next goal is the cities of my country, including our capital, Islamabad. They thrive on dictatorship; they thrive on terror; they provoke chaos to exploit chaos.
I (Bhutto) returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, with the goal of moving my country from dictatorship to democracy. I hoped that this transition could take place during the scheduled elections of 2008. I feared that otherwise the extremists would march towards Islamabad. Islamabad is near the town of Kahuta, where Pakistan’s nuclear program is being carried out.
It is my fear that unless extremism is eliminated, the people of Pakistan could find themselves in a contrived conflict deliberately triggered by militants (or other “Islamists”) who now threaten to take over Pakistan’s nuclear assets.
Having a large Muslim nation fall into chaos would be catastrophic. My people could end up being bombed, their homes destroyed, and their children orphaned simply because a dictator has focused all his attention all off the nations resources on containing democrats instead of containing extremists, and then has used the crisis that he has created to justify the same policies that caused the crisis. It may sound convoluted, but there is certainly method to madness.
And in closing this discussion:
Islam was sent a message of liberation. The challenge for modern-day Muslims is to rescue this message from the fanatics, the bigots, and the forces of dictatorship. It is to give Muslims back the freedom God ordained for humankind to live in peace, in justice, in equality, in a system that is answerable to the people on this earth accepting that is it God who will judge us on the Day of Judgment.
It is by accepting that temporal and spiritual accountability are two separate issues that we can provide peace, tranquility, and opportunity. There are two judgments: the judgment of God’s creatures in this world through a democratic system and the judgment by God when we leave this world.
The extremists and militants who seek to hijack Islam aim to make their own judgments. In their failure lies the future of all Muslims and the reconciliation of Islam to the West.
When things in your life seem almost to much to handle, when 24 hours in a
day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar……and the beer.
A Professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front
of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and
empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then
asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
So the Professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the
jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas
between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was
full. They agreed it was.
The Professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of
course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar
was full. The students responded with an unanimous “Yes.”
The Professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and
poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty
space between the sand. The students laughed.
“Now,” said the Professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to
recognize that this jar represents your life.
The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your
health, your friends, your favorite passions – things that if everything
else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house,
your car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.”
“If you put the sand into the jar first”, he continued, “there is no room
for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all
your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the
things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are
critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get
medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There
will always be time to clean the house, and fix the disposal. Take care of
the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities.
The rest is just sand.”
When he had finished, there was a profound silence. Then one of the
students raised her hand and with a puzzled expression, inquired what the
The Professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no
matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of
At an airport I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her plane’s departure and standing near the door, he said to his daughter, “I love you, I wish you enough.”
She said, “Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy.” They kissed good-bye and she left.
He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?” “Yes, I have,” I replied.
Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me. So I knew what this man was experiencing.
“Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?” I asked.
“I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, her next trip back will be for my funeral, ” he said.
“When you were saying good-bye I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?”
He began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more.
“When we said ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with enough good things to sustain them,” he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.
“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Good-bye.”
He then began to sob and walked away.
… The world will tell you that success is achieving what you set out to do. It will tell you that success is winning, that the finding recognition and/or prosperity are essential ingredients in any success. All or some of the above are usually by-products of success, but they are not success.
The conventional notion of success is concerned with the outcome of what you do. Some say that success is the result of a combination of hard work and luck, or determination and talent, or being in the right place at the right time.
While any of these may be determinations of success, they are not its essence. What the world doesn’t tell you — because it doesn’t know — is that you cannot BECOME successful. You can only BE successful. Don’t let the mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment. And what is that?
There is a sense of quality in what you do, even in the most simple action. Quality implies care and attention, which come with awareness. Quality requires your Presence…
Not What you do, but HOW you do what you do determines whether you are fulfilling your destiny. And how you do what you do is determined by your state of consciousness.
So what have we learned in this reading of A New Earth:
- That we must transcend our Ego’s
- That we must remember that This Too Shall Pass
- That we must live in the Present Moment
- That what we do in the Now dictates how we will do it
- That the old must pass away
- There is a universal existence within us and we must find that in the breath, in the heartbeat, and in the precise moment of the Now
- That man or woman can transcend the ego and the mind and become enlightened beings by recognizing the present moment as the most important moment to do what is needed to be done in that present moment as moments occur in front of us
- That we can recover from all those egoic ideas, That we can recover from addictions and that God can be found within ourselves if we just stop and BE
- Being ONE with the Breath and ONE with God can transform us and lead us to transcendence.
- This is not new material, It has been passed down through the centuries
Beyond the realm of simple and verifiable facts, the certainty that “I am right and you are wrong” is a dangerous thing in personal relationships as well as interactions between nations, tribes, religions and so on.
But if the belief “I am right; you are wrong” is one of the ways in which the ego strengthens itself, if making yourself right and others wrong is a mental dysfunction that perpetuates separation and conflict between human beings, does that mean that there is no such thing as right or wrong behavior, action, or BELIEF? And wouldn’t that be the moral relativism that some contemporary Christian teachings see as the great evil of our times?
The history of Christianity is, of course, a prime example of how the belief that you are in sole possession of the truth, that is to say, right, can corrupt your actions and behavior to the point of insanity.
The Catholic and other churches are actually correct when they identify relativism, the belief that there is no absolute truth to guide human behavior, as one of the evils of our times; but you won’t find absolute truth if you look for it where it cannot be found; in doctrine, ideologies, sets of rules or stories. What do all these have in common? They are made up of thought.
ALL RELIGIONS ARE EQUALLY FALSE AND EQUALLY TRUE, DEPENDING ON HOW YOU USE THEM. You can use them in the service of the ego, or you can use them in the service of the Truth.
If you believe that your religion is the truth, you are using it in the service of the ego. Used in such a way, religion becomes ideology and creates an illusory sense of superiority as well as division and conflict between people.
In the service of the Truth, religious teachings represent signposts or maps left behind by awakened human beings to assist you in spiritual awakening, that is to say, in becoming free of identification with form.
There is ONLY ONE ABSOLUTE TRUTH, and all other truth emanate from it. When you find that Truth, your actions will be in alignment with it. Human action can reflect the Truth, or it can reflect illusion. Can the Truth be put into words? Yes, but the words are, of course, not it. They only point to it.
A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle, pgs. 69-71 excerpts…
We begin with a reading from the Gospel according to Mark Chapter 5:24-34
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.
She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?”
And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
It is my firm belief that God can heal us, if we have this kind of faith. This happens to be one of my most favorite bible passages from the Gospel of Mark. The woman did not seek to touch Christ or to be touched by Christ, her faith in Christ leads her to know for sure that even if she touches the hem of his garment that she will be made well.
But in Jesus’ fashion, he knew that healing power went out from him and so he stops in the crowd to address the woman who fell to her knees before him, and she confessed that it was she who reached out for him. And in Jesus’ fashion, he says “Daughter your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
How many of us have this kind of faith? And do we take our faith for granted? Do we only call upon it when it is necessary or when needed, or do we hold it close to our hearts and like the lamp, placed on a lamp stand for all to see, as they approach?
“None of you lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead you put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”
As an HIV positive man, I have been a stoic man, and pitiful man, a needy man and after so many years, I believe I am a healed man. I have prayed the prayers of a dying man more than once, yet I lived. I have prayed the prayers of a grateful man, because I must. I have prayed the prayers of a servant of God, because I am. And I have prayed the prayers of a fellow in Christ, because I pray for each and every one of you. I believe that I have faith, because people I know and even people I have never met in person have faith in me. And that is powerful. Prayer is powerful, thought is powerful.
One of the most important lessons a sick person can learn is this: You can spend hours, days, weeks, months and years being angry at people, doctors, the system, each other and even yourself. What are you doing sitting on all that negative energy? I know it made me sick and bitter and almost killed me, until a teacher taught me the lesson about turning negative anger into positive healing energy.
Imagine what kind of personal power we have over ourselves and our situations if we turned our anger, resentment, depression and bitterness into 100% power house kind of personal energy. Imagine the healing and restorative power that negative energy turned inwards as positive energy could do for us. It did for me. And I think that is one of the ideas that helped me turn the tide in my fight against AIDS.
All of that negative shit that I was carrying around with me for so long, all that bulky, heavy, samsonite luggage was weighing me down in my present. Over the years I have prayed away that luggage. And I have prayed away my resentments and negative thoughts, and today I practice the fine art of energy transformation. Whatever I can cast outwards in energy, I can doubly redirect inwards. And viola, I have an unending supply of positive restorative energy at my disposal. And add to that my Christian faith and spirituality … “oh if I could only touch the hem of his garment, I would be healed…”
I went to mass today to celebrate the Eucharist with the Revered Canon at the Cathedral, and I also went to the Cathedral because I needed to light a candle. For me, in my spiritual exercises, visiting a church as often as possible is necessary to connect to the Sacred outside the four walls of home. To pray, to meditate, and to contemplate.
The act of lighting a candle, an archaic activity borne in the days of old holy mother church was something you did as devotion and practice, because many old churches still allow candles to burn in their sanctuaries. Places like the Oratory and Notre Dame Cathedral in Old Montreal, and even at the Cathedral downtown.
I approach the candle area with my prayers on my lips and in my heart. I light my candle and I step back, I find a pew to sit in and I begin my prayers. The fire burns, the candle consumes itself, as the fire burns the flame moves upwards, carrying my prayers to God in the heavens. It is the same with incense. Incense burns carrying the prayers of the people of the church towards the heavens.
To kneel before God is a humbling action. A bowing to the creator, a gesture of respect for the Divine and the fact that each day we should get on our knees and present ourself to God, it keeps us mindful of our humanity and shows respect for Divinity.
Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
Because the massman will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.
In the calm cater of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you
when you see the silent candle burning.
Now you are no longer caught
in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making
sweeps you upward.
Distance does not make you falter,
now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven’t experienced
this; to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest
on the dark earth.
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “The Holy Longing”
Israel worshiped a God who could grow angry, who changed his mind, a God involved in history, who cared so much about one group of people that their apostasies drove him to fits of impatience. The greatest philosophers of Greece spoke of an unchanging divine principle, far removed from our world, without emotion, unaffected by anything beyond itself.
Improbably enough, Christian theology came to identify these two as the same God; this may be the single most remarkable thing to have happened in Western intellectual history.
Plato discusses his theory of recollection:
“Our souls have passed through a long cycle of rebirths, he explained, and in knowing the forms we only recollect what we knew in a previous existence where, untrammeled by the body and its limitations, our souls knew the forms directly. Therefore, in searching for knowledge, we ought to turn away from the senses and try to recover the truth that lies within our souls; in turning away from the passions and distractions of our bodies and the physical world, we will also purify our selves.”
Now we turn to the thoughts of the Stoics:
“All one can control, the Stoics said, are the attitudes with which one faces the inevitable. A tyrant may kill us, but we can face death bravely. We may have a frustrating life, but we still can do our duty. We cannot control whether we will have a pleasurable life, but we can control whether we will lead a virtuous life, and we must seek virtue by learning to accept our destiny.
Indeed, many Stoics said, if we really understood the interrelatedness of things, we would realize that even our pains and troubles serve a higher good. As the Stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius put it; Nothing is injurious to the part, if it is for the advantage of the whole…Everything harmonizes with me which is harmonious to thee, O Universe. Nothing for me is too early or too late, which is in due time for thee.
The Stoics thought that a rational principle guides the whole universe, and that each of us contains, within our reason, a spark or seed of that cosmic rationality which they often called the Logos, the “Word,” Thus they valued the “natural,” which is in tune with the Logos; and they emphasized, in a world where many still dismissed foreigners as less than fully human, the relatedness of all human beings, for we all share in the same universal Logos.”
When in our lives have we had to adopt a stoic attitude towards circumstance and situation? I know that at one time, When faced with certain truth, I had no choice but to approach my imminent death with a Stoic approach…
And Lastly we are going to look at Origen, The next great writer from the school of Alexandria. He was clearly intellectually superior to Clement of Alexandria. Indeed he was one of the greatest minds in the history of Christianity. Origen, who lived from about 185 to about 254, was not the sort of man about whom people feel neutral. He feuded with many of his contemporaries and was denounced as a heretic after his death, but no one has ever exerted more influence on Greek speaking Christianity. As a teenager, Origen had seen his father dragged off to martyrdom and had to be restrained from following.
Origen caused trouble by pursuing the inner meanings of scripture all his life. Partly [perhaps Gnostic influence was at work here] he suspected that the deepest truth always remains hidden at first and reveals itself only to long reflection. Often, though, Origen looked for a hidden meaning simply because it seemed that the obvious meaning could not be true.
“What man of intelligence will believe that the first and the second and the third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without the sun and moon and stars?… And who is so silly as to believe that Go, after the manner of a farmer, “planted a paradise eastward in Eden.” … And when God is said to “walk in the paradise in the cool of the day”… I do not think anyone will doubt that these are figurative expressions which indicate certain mysteries through a semblance of history and not through actual events.”
According to Origen, all souls must have started out equal — otherwise God would be unfair. God gave these souls freedom, however, and that means they could misuse God’s gifts. In varying degrees they did so, and they suffer the consequences of their actions, being born and reborn in various bodies, living various existences, as they get the sort of life they earned the last time around. In all of this, however, God is at work. Without depriving any of us of freedom, he guides history so that everything turns out for the best.
“God … in providing for the salvation of his entire creation … has so ordered every that each spirit or soul … should not be compelled by force against its free choice to any action except that to which the motions of its own mind lead it … and at the same time that the motions of their wills should work suitably and usefully together to produce the harmony of a single world.”