A little “Inspiration!”
This post has been running through my head for a couple of days, and I have put up some thoughts here, only to take them down, for fear that they would be read by particular readers. I feel like a school boy as of late, because I put my hand out and invited a new friend into my life, and there is a ritual to introducing new people into my circle.
Coming Out is still a daunting experience, at age 40. Every time I sit to write this post I get tongue tied and skiddish. Classes start and you try to find commonality with your peers and eventually one or two people step out of the fray and it is like God saying, “here you go, you wanted to meet new friends, well here they are!”
Over the next few days one gravitates in the direction of said people in class and you start with pleasantries and speaking to each other after class, and eventually something clicks and a friendship is summarily born. But for me, in religion and now theology circles, I am still an outsider.
Having to “Come out” to new friends is always daunting because you never know how people are going to react to your interest in them. Why would someone like me make a concerted effort to get to know someone – I can answer that question simply by stating that in listening and participating in class, “commonality” is usually my first connection to any one new that I want to get to know.
So I invite new friends to come here and read. Over the last few days many of my historical posts have been accessed from the memory banks – someone is reading about my history. My stories about being diagnosed, my life story and my AA story and as well, my parental sins page. Someone is interested in who I am by way of what has happened to me over the last fifteen years.
I proposed the “getting to know you” in the form of an invitation to my blog to break new friends in, so that they have a full understanding of where I am coming from and possibly begin dialogue and further discussions. I also invite my friends to break bread. Sharing a meal with someone is, in my book, a very important part of friendship. Many of my present friends also feel that sharing a meal is an integral part of our relationships. Going for coffee or having a meal together is a logical step in “Christian community.”
Silence is deafening.
The weekend is upon us and I haven’t heard back from my fellows and I can’t help but wonder that I have freaked them out by assuming that someone would want to engage me because of certain differences in out respective lives. Maybe I have hit a sore nerve or maybe the fact that I am observant of people and situations and I listen to what things are shared in class and outside of class.
I’ve stayed away from posting to allow my fellows to have time to read and sit with what they have read, following the traffic patterns, it seems today that the past has not been accessed in over 24 hours. I wonder what will happen if the weekend goes by and those people I have invited into my community decide not to engage. Life goes on and we must accept what people decide to do with information they have been given.
I am powerless over people, places and things…
Knowing that we are all adults and it is 2007, I was sure that we could make friends with people without having to worry about judgments or moral issues. I can’t change what has already happened and who I am today. I guess the topics of Gay, AIDS and Homosexuality will make good fodder for discussion in my Christian Ethics course, seeing we all attend this class. Maybe this will be a learning situation for everyone involved.
We all want for people to like us for who we are and not be put off by factors of our lives that they might not find acceptable. I am making assumptions here, but ant good man with HIV knows how to read signs, body language and signs. It is a gift that we were given long ago by the creator so that by peoples actions and reactions, we could judge their character and know whether to cut them loose or bring them closer.
I don’t know…
I did not expect to be emotionally caught up in this new friendship. But I am only human. They say never assume, and maybe I did assume that commonality would outweigh difference, that as adults we could find commonality and discuss what may bother us or what is bothering us already. God puts people in our paths for a reason, I guess I will have to wait and see what transpires in the coming days.
Like I said the other night,
I will be heartbroken if my fellows do not rise to the mark.
In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24
Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on September 12, the first of Tishri. L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem — May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.
I also learned that there is more than one “New Year’s Day” in the Jewish calendar — sort of like we have a new fiscal year and a new school year in ours: “In Judaism, Nissan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and months on the calendar, Elul 1 (in August) is the new year for the tithing of animals, Shevat 15 (in February) is the new year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years (when we increase the year number. Sabbatical and Jubilee years begin at this time).” [From Judaism 101 website on the holiday]
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
Princess Diana’s Funeral Part 17: Earl Spencer’s Eulogy
I have much to say, but it being a full moon, I shall keep my counsel.
The draft is written, but I need to meditate on it for a while.
Once you speak the words you cannot take them back.
So I will hold my tongue for now.
I will give you my Battle Cry: Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Was I not surprised with tonight’s God’s Warriors part 3. The battle for the hearts, minds and souls of the people of the U.S. to bring back Religious Rule to an ever more secular society going to hell in a hand basket. And wasn’t I not surprised that for two hours I sat through preacher after preacher who gave their summation of the State of the Union based on the religious beliefs of their congregation.
So we have the issues on the table:
- The Sanctity of Human Life (Abortion)
- The Integrity of Marriage (Gay Marriage)
- The Teaching of Sexual abstinence to kids in School
- And Protecting the Environment for some
- Creationism -vs- Evolution
These arguments are well known in the Evangelical circles, and I know them all. I’ve studied all the arguments and I know about all the issues. So let me state my credentials, my beliefs and my Christian Testimony for you before I write any more.
- I am a Christian Man
- I am a Gay – Married Man
- I Believe in a woman’s right to choose
- I Qualify as a Christian Zionist because of my support of Israel
- I Believe that the U.S. has its issues with celebrity, materialism, violence and pornography, and lack of moral backbone – but NOT to the degree that I would become in any fashion an evangelical thumper
- I Believe there are lessons to be learned from the Evangelical Movement in the sense of rigidity, control, male domination and exclusion
- I Believe that there should be a separation of Church and State
- Like President Carter I believe that Faith and Politics should stay separate
- I Believe that Christianity has become Terribly Divisive and Exclusive and I share a message of Love, Compassion, Inclusion, Service, Justice and Humility, Peace and of Poverty.
In the United States we know the power of the Evangelical Vote, the power of the Evangelical Church to move people on Hot-Button Issues like Abortion, Gay Marriage, Gay Rights and Protection Issues (Hate Crimes Legislation), Creationism and Evolution. Having grown up in the South (Florida) for over 30 years, I watched the world change before my eyes. And now as a Gay Man with a voice I can tell you that the Evangelical Church has done more damage to the LGBTQ Community than anyone else.
The fact of the matter is this. I have read my bible and I have studied scripture and I have a University Degree behind me, 40 years of life and Seminary training to back every word I write here. I am Gay, and I am not going to convert for anyone just to get into heaven, because when I die, it will be God and ME having that life review. None of you are going to be there, I know my God. And that is what I have to say about that.
America believes that it is a nation of faith. That between Law and Religion, the Supreme Court is Ground Zero, and that the Evangelical Movement is still working to find appointed judges to sit on the highest court in the land so that they will affect such change that the laws will be changed in SUPPORT of the Evangelical Platform.
I have stated twice now, in my writing that I am a supporter of Israel. And tonight I can say that I rank in the group who call themselves Christian Zionists. I make no bones about that. Am I supportive of military mitigation for the threat of Nuclear conflict, I must say Yes I am. I had to carefully think about my answer here. There is enough data on the table from Iran and its leaders to have a stance of preemptive measures so that we do not find ourselves on the brink of nuclear conflict.
Yet, during the Judaism portion of the writing, many leaders including former president Jimmy Carter stated that the Jewish Settlements are in violation of treaties and that those settlements were the one thing that prevented peace from being reached. There are those who would like to see Judea wiped off the face of the earth in opt for an Islamic state upon the Holy Land. If this was allowed to happen, the world would suffer, not only the Jewish population. Countries who support Israel should be supportive of nuclear mitigation at any cost. War is never a solution …
I reprint these words for the three Monotheistic religions …
“What can we do to stop this trend of violence and hatred? Like I said last night the three monotheistic religions of the world are warring with their own and each other, and there is plenty of land to go around. There is always a solution if “ENLIGHTENED” political leaders would rise up and come to the table and negotiate a peaceful coexistent settlement.”
I’m not going to spend the rest of this post caterwauling about the repetitious nature of the Evangelical platform stating that America and the world at large has lost its moral compass, that Gay Marriage is a blight on the integrity of Marriage. Come On Don’t make me throw up! How many heterosexual marriages end up in divorce? You know Gays might just get it right. After growing up in the 70′s and 80′s all of my friends parents were either separated or divorced.
So please TELL ME just how much of an impact will gay men and women getting married make a difference in HOW YOU live your lives?
Explain this to me as if I were a 5th grader… (no please don’t!!)
I love the fact that Reverend Falwell reaches up from the grave to grace us with his judgment of the United States, Oh Mr. Falwell, thank God you are dead!! Because the age of the evangelical is coming to an end. It has peaked and will pass, as former president Jimmy Carter shared with viewers tonight. I love the discussion about the disagreement between Christians and Jews on just who the messiah is. And he says if the messiah came walking down the road that both the Jew and the Christian would have a huge theological adjustment to make…
The evangelicals tell us that they do not loose until they quit, America has lost its moral compass and the evangelical movement is going to change that sad state of affairs. Evangelicals argue that if Romans Chapter 1 is to be believed in the literal sense then why does the United States need to pass Hate Crimes Legislation to protect homosexuals from hate crimes? hmm.. let us think on this issue…
Romans Chapter 1: -
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
God’s Wrath Against Mankind
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
DOES THE WORD HOMOSEXUAL APPEAR IN THIS READING?
I do not know very many evil gay men and women, sinners, so to speak. Although I do know quite a bit of really good Christian gay men and women and some of them are clergy. I also know a fair amount of religious leaders, ministers, preachers and priests who would beg to differ with the hard line stance of religious extremist evangelicals. I know my husband and I are not sexually impure. Nor are we godless men, we are both faith filled men in good standing in our community. I don’t believe we are wicked either…
There is so much to say on religious evangelical beliefs. I am 40 years old and so I do know what everyone is talking about. Not a day goes by in my life today that I do not reflect on 40 years of wisdom, lessons and teachings. I am a Christian. And I live my calling every day. I could not lead anyone or help anyone else until I brought to Jesus what I needed to and I am “Right with my God” I maintain that Rightness daily through prayer and meditation. Through ministry and working with others. At this very moment I am listening to some contemporary Christian music as I write this. What I am is none of your business. That I am a man of faith should be your only consideration.
What I do in the privacy of my own home lies in the safe and capable hands of my husband, myself and our God. And we’d thank you very much for your acceptance of who we are rather than what we are. Christianity has become a special members only club of exclusion and judgment. I asked a certain blogger to write here and offer up his historical knowledge of the six sacred scripture that talk about homosexuality, telling me who wrote them, when the scripture was written, why those scriptures were written and to whom for what purpose. He has yet to do so, or any of the other people that are coming here from his blog to read this one.
Can you imagine that you would find me standing at an altar call after an intense Christian concert? That I would set foot near the cross and pray to God for forgiveness and his love? And you know, he’d give those things to me because I pray and I am just and compassionate and I live and love from the Right place in my heart. Can you imagine that when I was in high school, 10th grade to be exact, that I attended a One on One retreat and on that weekend I pledged my heart and soul to Jesus. I have pledged my heart and soul to Jesus every day that I live, in gratitude that I am still alive after living with AIDS for now 14 years. I am here, God is not done with me yet.
God, I offer myself to Thee–to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always!
Living with AIDS so many years I have seen, witnessed and been a victim of the scorn of the religious evangelical church. I watched you throw children out on the street when they got sick. I watched you fire people from jobs, I watched you stop being human and become animals, all for the glory of God’s name. Because AIDS was the scourge directly from God as a punishment for our sins and wickedness… Yes, I have heard every word of damnation from every corner of Christian America, and tell you to get You behind me because you are not of God, from God or blessed by God either.
AND GOD WEPT…
to you all hearts are open
all desires known
and from you no secrets are hidden
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name
Through Christ our Lord, Amen….
Talk to me about Christian Charity and living a Christian life. Let’s talk about what I did to help my Christian brothers and sisters, when You did nothing… shall we…
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 Mater Todd. When the word was spoke, 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.
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.
We fed the hungry, and we housed the homeless, we cared for the sick and we buried the dead, when Christians from all walks, the evangelicals who condemned us said that we were being punished by God for our sins. I lived a Christian life and I continue to live it daily, because of your inability to Love as God Loved and serve as God served, I condemn every one of you who condemned or condemn us…
Moving on to Christianity and Catholicism and the Late Pontiff: Taken from my academic writing: Homosexuality, Sanctity and John Paul II. Donald Boisvert is my mentor, academic advisor and teaches religion at Concordia University in Montreal. I know this man, and have taken every course he has taught over the last four years. Academia was not wasted. I took full advantage of my time and I take my position here very seriously.
As a young man I idolized my Pontiff. He was a rock star Pope and he made certain impressions on millions of young people world wide. And as I grew up, I still respected the man for his station, because deep down, I loved the church. I loved my Pope. It was my goal as a young person to serve this man to my dying day, and pledge allegiance to his Church.
Just because I came out of the closet did not change the fact that John Paul was the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, because the men of faith I grew up with accepted me with all of my flaws and subsequent illness, so I was not affected by Rome on a local level. In University, I learned much about my Pontiff, and I grew to love him more, even if I am critical of his papacy. What Religion Scholar is not critical of their leaders? It is my job as a student to look at all sides of the topic and present my insight as a gay man to others who might need some education on what made John Paul tick, what and who influenced his papacy and in the end, what shaped the papacy and life of John Paul II.
There is so much more we could talk about, and I am moving away from my original topic, so let us return to our discussion and move forward into meditations on Gay Men’s spirituality, we will look at the writing of my mentor and friend, Donald Boisvert.
In Preface Donald quotes Ronald E. Long, “A gay man is one who recognizes and lives by the ‘sacrality’ of masculine beauty and homosex. And ‘coming out’ is a gay man’s refusal to live a life that belies the sacrality of what he holds sacred.” How we see ourselves as gay men, as Catholics and as men of God are as unique as we are individually. Donald believes that “Gay spirituality to be a form of religious expression and a manifestation of identity politics. For me, the two are not mutually exclusive.”
I have cultivated and worked on my gay spirituality for over a decade since I am reaching that point where I can safely say that I have been out and gay for half my life today. It has not been easy and the study of religion with professors that have encouraged me to think ‘outside the box’ has only helped me in my quest for spiritual truth. In further reading of ‘Out on Holy Ground’ Boisvert writes:
“Gay spirituality is characterized by a spirit of defiance. In asserting the truth and viability of the gay religious experience, and in creating the conditions that allow it to assume a meaningful and treasured place in the lives of gay men, gay spirituality situates itself squarely in opposition to the orthodox religious norm. Though some forms of gay spiritual life may be very much tied in with more established churches, gay spirituality, as a whole, is transnormative. It may borrow blatantly and deliberately from a universal storeroom of religious symbols and rituals, but it posits a radically different understanding of the human body and of human sexuality, on the one hand, and of human relationships with the holy or with the sacred, on the other.”
What is it we are called to be, men of faith, men of God, loved by the One who created us, in the face of disinformation and exclusion by Holy Mother Church. This is our ministry to reach out to those who find themselves outside the walls of holy Mother Church trying to find ones way into faith, by any route available. I believe that a faith component is integral to the life of every human being, gay or straight, male or female, young or old. To close out this episode of religious teaching I give you one last quote from ‘Out on Holy Ground,’ Boisvert writes:
“We return to our initial question: What is gay spirituality? In discussing its characteristics, we have examined how it consists of three elements in symbiosis: critical discourse, political action, and sexual affirmation. Gay spirituality reveals the ways by which gay men define, recognize, and assert themselves, not only as individuals having a religious dimension, but as beings whose very difference is the source of their spiritual and historical election.”.”
I BELIEVE I have stated my case succinctly and stated my beliefs and I have even offered some of my academic writings to defend my position in this community. There is not one Christian man or woman on earth, clergy or evangelical who owns the right to judge who I am, what I do or how I live my life. If you want to preach to me, please do not waste your time. I know enough about real Christian life so please save it for someone who needs to find Jesus. I know where he is in my life… And I don’t need your judgment…
No man knows Gods heart. No man Knows what God thinks about a straight man or a gay man. A well man and a man with AIDS. No one speaks for God and no one has spoken to God as far as I know. But I TALK to my God daily, and until he calls me home from this earth I will go on with my Christian life and ministry because at the end, I want to hear my God say to me “Well Done good and faithful servant…”
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…
Sadness… utter sadness… Knowing the nuns of Montreal is a true blessing, knowing of their tireless work for the poor and the sick is admirable and should be praised. Lord knows what possessed this man to do such a heinous thing to a sacred servant of God.
You never know when someone might snap under the pressure of being sick, being marginalized, being poor, being addicted and being homeless. There are so many, and who shall care for them all, less one soldier of God tonight. The nuns of Montreal are close to my heart, Every one lost to death – lessens their numbers, never to be replaced. They are beacons of Sacred hope in a world that is ever more profane.
The Lord knows. And he is weeping tonight. My heart weeps for her sacred life and I pray for the soul of the man who did this to her. May he find redemption in God.
May angels sing thee to thy rest…
Eternal Rest Grant this Servant of God and may Perpetual Light shine upon her for eternity
“She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard …”
Proverbs 31: 16.
From CBC News Online:
An elderly nun was found beaten to death in an east-end Montreal convent Monday morning, and the prime suspect is a troubled man she had been trying to help.
Sister Estel Lauzon, 81, belonged to the religious group Sisters of Providence.
Her body was found in the convent’s outreach centre, where she would likely have been trying to help the 31-year-old suspect.
“We know that the man probably has a history of psychiatric problems. He was arrested and is presently being interrogated by our police officers,” said police spokeswoman Lynne Labelle.
“We know there was no firearm used. It’s probably physical force, but we’re not sure at this time if an object was used to hurt her.”
Favio Paz, who worked with Sister Estel in the outreach centre, said she “was a nice lady who prayed and looked after everyone.”
Police have not released the name of the suspect.
It has not been a very good day. In fact, it has been a hard day for many of us who work with others. Last night, in the midst of dialysis, Karl’s father had a heart attack. We have worked over the last two years to help Karl grow into the man he is today. But family illness has dogged him for a long time. From addiction to illness, minor issues to major health crises. It has been a long haul for Karl to find himself standing where he is standing tonight.
Dad has had one foot in the grave and one foot on the proverbial banana peel for some time, and his strength has surprised the best of us who have walked people to the door many times. It seems he just won’t let go. And I wonder if that is a good thing? The end is imminent – imminent that it is close, but the road is foggy ahead, and a visual confirmation is not yet available.
This morning when I woke up there was a simple email, please call – it’s rather important. So I did, finally, after getting a hold of friends who are close to Karl as well, seeing he might have called Mike and Tom prior to calling me. We had a conversation about the news and I had some info to work with.
Karl and I have had many conversations about the “what if’s” and taking care of the kids and his role as man of the house should his father died. Knowing his mother’s propensity to turn to pills and the bottle, Karl must be prepared to be isolated in his dealing with everyone since he doesn’t have an ally there in Katy. I have done my best to prepare my friend for the inevitable.
There may come the day when we have to say “enough of this” it is time to let him go into his heavenly inheritance. I know that family will hold onto him until he is so tired that holding on becomes too much for him and he will die. Tomorrow an angio-gram will be performed and dialysis will continue. And I asked my friend, “at what point do you say this is enough?” he responded with – “that isn’t my decision to make!” I have spoken to Karl once this afternoon and again this evening, and all is well right now. Dad is stable and will have tests done tomorrow.
So we pray:
Oh God in whose merciful love
hear the prayers we ask of you
and in your wisdom make the way clear
bless those who are grieving and worrying
help those who are sick and heal those you can
We know the end is nigh for one we pray for and
we ask your mercies upon him that you would comfort
him and bless him and if it is your wisdom that you call
him home, be gracious with your hand
and carry your servant back into your healing presence
where there is no more pain and suffering.
We ask all these things in the name of Jesus Christ
your son, who lives and reigns with you in the union
of the Holy Spirit – One God forever and ever.
Yesterday evening I had dinner at the home of Jacob and Angela. It was a nice time to talk about projects and writing. I haven’t had the energy to do anything because I am not feeling all that hot tonight. UGH!! I went to bed early last night and spent the better part of today in bed sleeping. As long as I have the quiet time to myself, I am going to make the best of it.
I’ve been craving rest as of late. With all that is going on – I have to take care of me as well. Angela is going to help me produce a book of the writings that I commissioned for my birthday, the Tanka from Angela, the short story from Ben and the Totem writing of Cooper. I have to write the introduction and the back page, yet and as well, get my business cards finished. We had no agreed on what they would look like yet, although I did think about it today, and I think I have found the correct title for them.
We spoke yesterday about me applying for a position in the school board as an aide for kids with aspergers and autism. Each child gets a sum of money from the government each school year and I decided that I would like to offer my services to the school and to Jacob, that is why I have to get my CV and my business cards finished soon. You will find that I added new categories to my writing. We will be writing about aspergers and my work with Jacob so that others can come and read and maybe participate in my building a community here for my kids.
I spoke at long length with Chuck (he’s on the blog list) the other day about my work with Jacob and his wisdom on the subject is invaluable. So in the coming months we will be adding new medical content to our writings to include aspergers and autism. I encourage you, my readers to share this new information with those who might need to read it and hopefully we will begin building a resourceful list of information and contacts for people to utilize in their own lives.
I posted some news earlier today. I was touched on the report of the death of Merv Griffin. When I was a child, my maternal grandmother watched specific programs, The Price is Right, and Merv Griffin. Not to mention the soaps which were great tools to teach language. I guess I had some early education in French and English. For many years during my early childhood many Merv Griffin shows were part of the social lexicon of television, and as the years progressed at least one of his creations was on one tv or another in my house. Mr. Griffin did a lot for many with his shows and his time of television himself. He will be missed.
Eternal Rest Grant Him and may Perpetual Light Shine upon Him.
I know that there is at least one young man who reads this blog every day, so we have come to learn yesterday. So this is my advice for the day. It is ok to chill out and to relax, in fact, after a day of excitement I would spend some time thinking about the day and what I have learned. Spend some time talking to your mother about all that you did. Never let anger guide you, always keep it in check. Behave yourself and be good to your mother because she loves you and so do I.
Know that I think about you every day. And I pray for you as well. I work very hard to understand you and I want to help you SUCCEED and that we shall in time. There is no rush – and we have every opportunity to grow and to work together.
So my apprentice, be good to yourself and your mother.
Let us pray for Karl and his family, because they need our prayers tonight. Let us pray for those who minister to them, Michael and Tom, and the many we do not see in Texas, let us call on God to do what he needs to do in this very trying time.
May God bless us and keep us safe
Until the morrow…
until pen meets paper again,
I leave you with my prayers.
Have you ever seen God? Would you know what to look for, if you knew for a fact that He would show his face? Do you know for sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists?
Of all the meetings that I have been going to over the last five and a half years, there is one true location that God seems to make his presence known to people in attendance. That meeting would be Tuesday’s Beginners. St. Leon’s is a hallowed church in Westmount. And the members of our meeting never shy away from the spiritual and better yet, none of our members take for granted the fact that they can talk about God as they would any other subject.
Our meeting has been in existence for over 56 years. Several incarnations later and decades following we have seen people come, and go and come and go and come again… And I can tell you with certainty that I have seen God move throughout the room. There is just a feeling, a visual of light that comes from above (the church) and comes down through the ceiling and rests in the middle of the room.
People are having spiritual experiences, and we see it happen week in and week out. People remark that they feel so safe and comfortable in our room. And we find that slippers come back to us to restart their “journeys” after periods of further alcoholic experimentation. Another woman returned to us after a decade of struggle. Today’s topic was “what do you do to guarantee your sobriety?” Nothing guarantees our sobriety better than intensive work with another alcoholic.
My friend KEN came up from Toronto – one of my readers here at my blog. We met some weeks ago at the memorial service for his brother Craig, at St. James United. I had invited him to a meeting when he came to visit. He came to our meeting today, and what a joyous time we all had. We get visitors from all over the world – come to our meeting, and they all leave with a sense of calm and sober understanding.
The last visitor who came to our meeting and told us that God did not exist and that he was a confirmed Atheist, left that meeting and never returned! ‘Coincidence?’ I think not.
On the way home tonight I was walking with Louise and I told her about my perception of God’s power and light finding its way into the meeting and she said to me, “You aren’t the only one to say that, many people believe that God visits our meeting because we honor Him and we talk about Him and we pray to him unified and believing.
So many people have come through our room, and we are as constant as the North Star. We are a place of safety and love. We are always welcoming and spiritually centered, even when we run insane and crazy, the one true fact is that I believe that tonight, like may nights before, God came, saw and shown his light to those who were there.
A woman who had returned spoke of God to me after the meeting. And I told her “you saw the light, have you!” He was here; he is always here, because we seek him with sincere and humble hearts. We gather in his name, there is not one non-believer in the group. Yet we don’t push religion – or faith. But we speak boldly about a Higher Power, who just happens to be God for many of us.
I have seen him change hearts and heal lives and He has made people well, and sober. He has carried their burdens and held them when they wept. He has blessed so many with good things, and people come to express gratitude for all great things, and we all know that there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. People are put into our paths for specific reasons if you are able to divine those reasons as the need arises.
I see the face of God in the people I serve. I see the Christ in those who struggle and I see the spirit in those who have been renewed and healed. Look out into the trees and see his divine hand in creation, in the fall, see him paint the city in colors as bright as the sun. And in the Winter I wait for the silence, for that one true night when the clouds fall and the hush falls over the city as the first flake of winter snow falls, I rush outside and I welcome the voice of God as he whispers to the city… “I am here…”
I have seen him, and I know his voice…
And if you hear his voice today, Harden not your hearts.
“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
I never thought that doing something good for another would turn around and bite me in the ass. Christian ministry and emergent churches are the new faces of Christian worship and ministry. What I am is immaterial to Who I am. In the past few months as my degree was conferred to me by a University, I was thrust into a position of ministry leadership, not by my own choice, but by popular acclimation of the group who thought that I was the most logical person to lead them, in the wake of a colleague dying.
I have been working in my field here in Montreal for over five years. I work with the addicts, the alcoholics, the sick and the dying. I have probably spent more years in the ACTIVE practice of Christian Charity longer than most of you would even care to consider. When my friends were all dying of AIDS who do you think ministered to their souls, took care of their physical bodies, fed and bathed them and in the end buried them when parents of Christian faith walked out on them and left them in the streets to die alone!
My work was something that my peers and my supporters highly encouraged. I looked all over the world for the model that I would adopt to begin my work here. That church was RE:HOPE in Glasgow.
Let me stop for a moment and say this loud and clear. Just because I am a gay man, does not infer that any people I choose to support, or pray for, or attempt to raise funds for, speaks of the sexual orientation of anyone. There are straight writers on this blog and there are gay writers. They all have good messages and are people that I respect and admire. We all learn from each other.
So I know that RE:HOPE is trying to raise 12,000 GBP for their trip to the Holy Land this fall and I went OUT of my way to try and help them, because it was an easy choice and it was the right choice. I used the term “Partnered” and that has come back to me also.
You may not agree with some of my theology, and the obvious sane fact that I am a gay man of faith – speaks of just how much work I have done in 40 years of life to find my way through Christianity and Catholicism. I take what is good and I leave what is bad.’
Christianity isn’t perfect, and it is truly flawed. But Christ is perfect in his simplicity and direct in his message. People are flawed too in their beliefs and theology. People are imperfect yet God is perfect…
People have commented and Scott has commented about my choice of words and today he writes me to admonish me and to tell me about being careful of what I write, I got that.
What troubled me more – and to the point that – because I am a gay man in Ministry, some have gone as far as to question the sexual orientation of Scott Burns. I have to say that I am disgusted by this little piece of information. Don’t people have better things to do with their time than to wonder about the sexual orientation of people? Have we not grown past this little issue? Are we all adults here?
I’ve never met Scott, but I believe in his ministry. Enough to put my own reputation and this blog on the line in the sense of credibility and respect. So what, I am Gay and Scott is not? Does my support of his ministry automatically make him gay or make him suspect? Have we backtracked that much in the year 2007, that doing good Christian work comes with parameters and judgments by some? Of course it does, I should know that.
All of you out there are Christianity Majors and have decades of Christian study and worship under your belts, right? All of you have spent years in University studying Church history, Christian History and Christian Origins. right??? And all of you have spent time in a Catholic Seminary in the pursuit of priesthood as well, I suppose?
I do not make choices rashly or out of one side of my brain. You may not agree with my stance of Church, and you can question my “take” on Christian Theology. I have spent over 20 years of my life studying religion, in seminary and in University so I do know much more about church and Christianity, than the run of the mill lay person or arm chair Christian.
Living with AIDS – over 14 years now gives me certain understanding of what charity and forgiveness and true unconditional Christian love is. I know what doing the right thing is, if you lived with the threat of death every day of your life, knowing just what is going to kill you and how, you either do one of two things, you find FAITH fast or you give up and die.
I took the high road. Seeking ministers, priests and bishops who were accommodating and understanding. I am part of the Anglican faith now because I was told, unequivocally that the Montreal Diocese agrees with the blessing of Same Sex unions. I, in fact, am Married, and have been for now three years. We had a United Church wedding before God and our families.
So if you have a question about my Christian faith – You Ask Me! If you have a problem with me You Tell Me.
I cannot believe that trying to help another ministry would come back with questions, inferences and disagreements. I love it when people come to read, and many do each day. I reach out to millions with this blog, we have even saved a few lives here and there with the work that we do here.
All my kids and my peers and supporters who are part of this ministry are straight. One of them is in Seminary this fall. NONE of them question my ability to serve based on my sexual orientation. My exploration of faith has brought me to this point. And I will even go so far as to say that I probably have a better Christian practice than most of you out there, because you have to deal with doctrine, theology and teaching.
I study Theology and though I may not agree with it, and for the most part I do not agree with any church that limits its membership to those who believe and are straight from those who believe and are gay. I have struggled with this issue for the whole of my life. And I have made peace with it.
I CAN reconcile being Gay and Being Christian, IF You CANNOT then that is your issue, not mine.
I do what I am called to do. I serve where I am called to serve. And I love unconditionally because I am commanded TO! I read scripture too and those six references to same sex, homosexuality and sleeping with a man as to a woman are all scriptures that I have spent a great deal of time, during my studies, trying to understand. I don’t think that you have spent as much time studying scripture as I have in 25 years.
Nobody has the right to judge what kind of Christian I am – or question the ministry that I work with. The reason that we have emergent churches and church plants and Christian ministries popping up all over the world is in response to the way Christianity has played out over the centuries. Nobody is pleased or agrees with the model we have, so we set out and create our own. I have done that after reaching the conclusion after prayer, study and academic work to know that Church Christianity will not work for me – it never has.
I have been a Catholic all of my life, I spent a year in a Catholic Seminary as well and I left because I would not serve Man and also because I was not a pedophile and I was not going to spend another year keep secrets for my fellows and the Catholic administration.
The members of the Anglican faith, here in Montreal, have been planting seeds in my heart for a year. They allowed me to come and go as I please. And they loved me unconditionally. And now I have made a conscious choice to become part of the Anglican communion because the Bishop himself has given the LGBT community a green light in his church. I have already written about this.
Can a Gay Man be spiritually centered – Yes of course he can. Can a gay man lead a church, Many do, quietly. I can tell you how many gay priests we have in Montreal and how many are open about it and they still have parishes and communities. I can tell you that I know a handful of Christian Ministers who will speak on my behalf and tell you that I am as true to Christian faith as I can be.
I hook up with a church I see does good work and I try to style a ministry by its example, maybe partner wasn’t the right term but still, I pray for that community and I work for the betterment of that community and I work tirelessly trying to help them.
I write letters to my supporters on my time to help You, and I get a letter of “this weighs on my heart too much” ok, that’s your issue not mine. I was just trying to help you out of a situation that you placed yourself in, then you wrote about it and asked for help, how many of us listened to you and went out of their way to help you???
And I am admonished for doing something charitable and good. I am told that Some do not agree with my theology! That’s your issue not mine. Some do not agree that a Gay man can be a good example to the people he leads, because of the inherent problem with being gay!
I will tell you here and now that sexual practice in my marriage is between ME – MY GOD and My Husband, and nobody else. Go read my writings on the Sacred and the Profane. Maybe you will learn something about how much I respect the two states of grace. You cannot have the Sacred without the Profane, because they inform each other.
They are married in a coexistence of grace.
I would like to know from you, my readers just what objections you have to what I am, Who I am and what I choose to do for a living? I put those buttons on my blog because the ministries that are there need support either financially or Spiritually. I won’t make that mistake again…
I choose to support the needs of many and they should be grateful that a stranger would put himself out there to help another human being because he believes in the ministry of Christ. So until further notice I will remove all connection and fund raising for any ministry accept my own.
If you cannot understand what it really means to be a Christian and you can’t accept that maybe a Gay man with religious leanings, a full degree in Christian Religion Study and a further pursuance of a Pastoral Ministry Degree in Theology can lead and be a good example and a wise leader, then I invite you to be on your way.
Don’t waste another moment reading here and please, do us all a favor, do not return to this place, because we have no use for you either.
Yesterday I turned forty years old, and I had my own issues with faith, life and death, but to receive a letter of concern, admonishment and as I read it a separation in Theology and Christian faith practice insulted me. And to know that people who have come by here have questioned the dignity of another minister AND question his Sexual Orientation just because his visage and ministry appeared on the side bar of this blog made me sick to my stomach. I thought we were all adults here and that we were grown up enough to lay down our judgments and issues for the shared communion of Christianity. I guess I was mistaken.
Like I said, if you’ve got a problem with me, that is Your Problem not mine. If you don’t have the balls to approach me and state your case, that is also your problem not mine. If you question the way I practice my Christianity, that is also your problem, not mine.
If you do not know enough to understand that I have struggled with Christianity for the whole of my life and that I probably know MORE about the intricacies and minutiae of Christianity than you do – that’s not my problem.
God speaks to me – and he knows I am Gay, He also knows I am HIV positive, so do all my kids, my friends, my peers, and even my husband. They all love me just the same. God Loves me Unconditionally. There is no separation between God and Myself.
I don’t have time to sit here and write sermons like this and justify why I can practice Christian faith because of …. to you. I don’t need to. You can sit your happy ass down and write me and tell me of your concerns with my theology and practice and if I feel moved I will write you back, or even take the time to embarrass myself in front of you by writing a rant like this one again!
I know a lot more about Christian Theological issues than you might think. I have battled with the best and the brightest when it comes to theological and ministerial discussion. And we agree to disagree. The Catholic Church allows me access to the sacraments because it is a RITE of my Catholic upbringing, I was baptized into the church and in all my years only ONE priest saw fit to condemn me openly and with that condemnation he lost his parish and his people, they all left his church! In the Anglican faith I am in full communion with the Bishop’s church and it is high about time. God WEEPS at the intolerance and judgment of Christians all over the world. And we pray for them just the same.
I have studied Papal History and I continue “on my time” to further that theological education outside the classroom. I know all about the Churches laws and decrees, I have studied at great length – the life of John Paul II one of the most important Popes in Modern History second only to John XXIII. I don’t agree with all of his writing, especially about women, birth control, homosexuality and assorted other dimensions of his writing, but you must admit that in the hallowed darkness of his chapel the Pope begged God for forgiveness for some of what he did in public, forced to speak so many words at the consternation of the Holy See and those Bishops and Cardinals who were close to the See of Peter. So I know all of your arguments.
Christianity MUST evolve or else crumble in the ruins of its own intolerance and judgmentalism and condemnations. The Church must change to accommodate the many people who have grown up in a faith and as adults we are divided from the faith because of the stance of those conservative men in certain positions. The curret Pope Benedict will never earn my allegiance or respect, because he is a dog of a man. HE is responsible for much of what John Paul II wrote as he was the man in the position of keeper of the doctrine of the faith, now he is Pope, God help us all…
Faith for me as a gay HIV Positive man is cut and dry. You do good for others, and you love others and you maintain a humble presence in the world and you do no harm. I think that this simple theological model works. Don’t quote me mumbo jumbo theological ideas because all the theology in the world will not change the man I am today and what I choose to do with my life.
Theology is too wrapped up in rules and dogma. I am wrapped up in simple Christian faith for simple Christian people. Faith is simple. Talking the talk is one thing, Walking the Walk is surely another. I can do both – I can talk the talk and I do walk the walk. You ask any of my people about what I do day in and day out, and just how much of my time I spend helping others because I am called to do that and I am sure you would be pleasantly surprised. Men of faith should be this “giving” of their time and talent for the little pittance I make in return. I work my ass off to the bone day and night, I write, I work with others because work was done for me when I needed it to. Ministry is not just about preaching the Gospel to people, but getting down in the gutter with them. How many Christians get out there and really get their hands dirty? Not Many.
So I see a group that gets their hands dirty and I start talking them up and I pray for them and I try to raise funds for them. I do that for my group too. All is not words and bible, show me the money at the end of the day – I don’t make nearly enough to support my house yet, and I have another 18 months to go before I hit my Masters and Pastoral ordination, but I am in the field, I have been in the field for years.
I have been a Christian presence in my Gay Community since I was a young boy, And I was in the trenches when Christians were fleeing like in the exodus from infected sons, daughters and children. I stuck and stayed. I raised money, stood in picket lines and I was there through the worst time when Christians turned their back on men and women who were sick and dying. I WAS THERE! I cannot tell you the countless and thankless hours that I spent in service to my community because NOBODY else would dare touch us or help us. So speak to me about active Christian Ministry. Tell me you know from what people like me lived through in our own lives! Tell me you know the words that self righteous Christians used to condemn people and people lost their jobs, apartments, lovers, family and friends. Were you there?
I can tell you about Christian families that THREW their sons on the STREET, Churches who REFUSED to perform funerals, Christian men and women who worked in funeral homes that REFUSED to process AIDS infected dead boys and men.
This is a double sided issue. Men acted with one another. Men did what they did. Do we condemn them as well? They are all DEAD and I am still alive, so God in his wisdom still sees good in me to fill my lungs with air and gives me life each day. I know how I was infected. I was trying to help another sick soul who LIED to me and then killed himself and I found out After the fact!! So fuck me right? I got what was coming to me right? I was a sinner just like the others. So fuck us !!! right??
Good Christian men kept me alive when all I wanted to do was die already. They believed I had a place in God’s kingdom, even if we did not go to any certain church. I learned Christian Charity from the best. I learned what Jesus meant by Loving others as I loved myself the hard way. I had no choice because good upstanding self righteous Christians could not stomach the horror and filth – the sickness and death. Yet, they could walk into church on Sunday’s and quote scripture and condemn from their Holy Pulpits and pews, UGH it makes me SICK to think about the past…
I can tell you that some of us angry gay men who were Christians who went to school to become morticians so that they could start funeral parlors to give our friends proper burials and I know renegade priests who WOULD perform funerals for us and the minions of people who worked behind the scenes behind the Christian iron curtain who DID walk the walk when we needed it.
I can also tell you about cemetery workers who refused to dig graves and those religious men who stood in the way of us burying those people in hallowed graves. Shall I continue? I can tell you about ministers, Christian ministers TODAY who still condemn us. And you want me to follow their theology?
I think Not!!
And I know good Christian people who loved me when my parents disavowed me and wrote me off as infected goods. I was not immune to judgment and condemnation. I got it from my own family which speaks to the effect that my family has no role or place in my life today – and I am 40 years old and I am still here writing this story.
I was there with Jesus, changing diapers, cleaning up shit and puke and feeding people – And I sat with them until they died, while Christians all over the world sat on their tuffets condemning us and alienating and judging us and telling us that
“AIDS was God’s punishment for our sinful lifestyles.”
I SPIT on the people who did that and I will SPIT on whomever says that to me today.
And God WEPT!!!
Christians could learn from the ministerial work we did in the trenches when it really mattered. So nobody owns the right to judge or critique my Christian life, ministry, theology or practice. Because when I take my last breath – it will then be God and I in a discussion of life review and I know for sure that he will look at me and say:
“Well done, good and faithful servant!”
1 Corinthians Chapter 13:1-3
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Deuteronomy Chapter 6:4-7
Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one, and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. These words, which I command you this day, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
End of Sermon…
I got up this morning and My desktop had been changed to say Happy Birthday and that’s how it started. I showered and went to the Cathedral for Shirley’s memorial mass, which I asked to have said today. Louise showed up for mass today which was a treat and the Reverend Canon Joyce said mass. I thought that it would be good to honor God and Shirley, so I started this birthday with Mass and Prayer. To thank God for life and air and family and friends. This is the Cathedral by day!! Beautiful isn’t it!!
When it came time for the Eucharist, I went up to the dais and knelt and Rev. Joyce laid her hand on my head, she blessed me and prayed over me, as well she traced the sign of the cross on my forehead as she was praying. I almost fainted.
After the mass I went to the Diocesan bookstore to find something to honor my spirit. And I found this icon of the “Annunciation.” It is one of the most beautiful Marian Icons I have ever seen. So this was my spiritual gift to myself. I bought a book as well called “Discernment – Acquiring the Heart of God.”
I got home and I got the best gift in the world. Jacob had called me and so I called him back and he wished me happy birthday and he then told me that they were giving me the digital camera that Angela had loaned me to do some photography with Jacob. Now, I was like “Seriously? Seriously?” and he said “Seriously!!” I was totally overjoyed. It is a finepix S5200 Fuji film 5.1 mega pixel digital camera! O M G !!!
I had to call back and make sure I heard them right!
I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am today!
So I set off for coffee with Ms. Nikki and we had fun as usual. We went to set up the room for the meeting and we had a Birthday Party in the space, it was FUN!! Louise brought me the most beautiful Apple and Caramel cake drizzled with caramel, honey and chocolate. YUM!!! I got a book from Louise called “Discover Your Destiny with the Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma.
I got cards and gifts from friends. Ms. Nikki gave me a $100.00 gift certificate to Indigo Booksellers and other sundry items, like chocolate and grocery gift certificates. My friends are too generous. And I am totally grateful for the gifts. I did not expect such an amazing day that today turned out to be.
I came home after the meeting and now I am writing this. I have one more gift to open, so I am gonna go do that and get back to finish this. So Peter got me Dan Millman’s No Ordinary Moments and The Calendar Girls on DVD! Sweet!!
I have more to say – but not in the same post as this one. My head has been all over the place today and there are a hundred thoughts running through my head right now. So I will write more later on tonight.
This is the Ceiling over the Main Altar of the Church
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.
Mark Brian has just had his vicarage rebuilt by the community he serves, the little church of St. George in Kingcome. I just love this little story because it is one that keeps me grounded and reminds me why I am in this business called faith.
I had the afternoon to myself. And I usually sit here and write but I waited until the evening to write because of the upcoming event. I have been collecting music off the net and when I am alone I usually blast music for the entire time. I did not disappoint my neighbors. People come and go at odd hours, and they come home well after 3 a.m. sometimes. None of my neighbors say hello or even nod when we occupy the same elevator.
They are going to freak out whence Christmas comes. Because I go trey gay decorate the door Blinky freakish. Anyways, I digress…
We live in a very transient building. People are always coming and going, they don’t stay for more than a year. There is only one other tenant on this floor who has been here as long as we have, seven years. There are eight apartments on this floor. I think I am being way too observant of my neighbors. The quiet is sometimes unnerving, that’s why I like to blast some music now and then.
I was going to church by myself tonight because hubby was not going to “sit and sweat” like he did last year, he tells me. And he wasn’t back from the gym when I left. So I was ok to go it alone. Faith is my department, the gym and vanity are my husbands. I do the praying and sobriety for both of us, yes I know I can only get sober for myself. I just had to say that!
I set off on the metro and got there early, as is always my case. I will be early for my funeral, just wait and see. The church was still dark and the choir was in the loft and I headed into the vestry to find Rev. Joyce. She screamed when I got to her office and hugged me wildly. We are a team, Rev. Joyce and I. She is also a spiritual adviser for one of my best friends and one I have had since I got sober. She is also one of my spiritual advisers. We were really hoping to hear something good from the bishop. We were not disappointed, with her remark “I think we are in the clear!”
Live the Word – Breathe Prayer
I did pray today. I prayed while sitting in the church listening to the choir warm up. They sing so beautifully, and I have to say, that when properly warm myself, I keep a pretty good pitch and tone myself. I was keeping right up there with the tenors, I happen to be a tenor, thank you very much. I love to sing in church, I don’t know if I could occupy a seat in the choir. The Anglican mass gives new meaning to “singing in Church.” A beautiful space, wonderful people and a Bishop who is supportive, that means a lot to my Christian sensibilities. I know accepting Catholic priests in the city, but as a rule, politically, I can’t worship where I am not really welcome, yet some will allow me the ability to go to mass and nobody is none the wiser. I really want to find “Home” and I think I’ve found it.
One cannot live in the past, nor dwell on the past. What’s done is DONE. What’s said has been SAID. My father is apt to say … “Once you speak the words, you can’t take them back!” Well my parents sure said their words, and no they can’t take them back. But case in point: People change and People grow. Time heals all wounds if YOU are ready to face the future with a clean slate, because that is what God gives on a daily basis. Spiritual cleansing, just for the asking…
to you all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from you no secrets are hidden.
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
So I had brought Mark Brian with me to mass, along with my beads, which I always carry in my pocket. And a few minutes before mass I settled down with my beads and I started the ritual. I usually follow the prescribed prayers for my Anglican Beads, like a rosary but a little different route. They are pictured above – rose colored beads with black cruciform beads with a Celtic Cross to balance the energy. They are truly beautiful. They can be found at the Solitaries of DeKoven, A Vigeat Radix Hermitage in Texas. They are hand made and the prayers of the one who made the beads sends them with their prayers. In turn, the owner of the beads offers a prayer each day for the person who made them in return.
Tonight I was praying for specific people and I knew at one point that there was someone else sitting in the pew with me at one point. I felt it, it made me stop singing and I wept. There were people sitting a few rows behind me from London Ontario – that wasn’t a coincidence. The woman who was sitting with her husband, they were both Anglican clerics, were singing louder than I was, and i was trying to keep up with them.
I was winded by the end of mass, I thought…”Jesus, I feel like I just ran an Anglican marathon!” What with all the singing the entire hymn – stanza after stanza !! OY!! Have you ever sat through a high Anglican mass??? Oh My Goodness. The music, the responsorials and the song after song!! I was exhausted !! But in a good way. Nothing like good honest worship of God with prayer and song, not to mention the Eucharist.
It’s 3:21 in the morning and I am still here editing and adding to this post. My nightly prayer time to think and write. I think it is important that I take this time each night to offer my thoughts and prayers for the day – gratitude for a wonderful day and night, prayers for my friends and family, and most important prayers for you my readers. I got a wonderful comment tonight, on this post on its first incarnation:
“In a sea of phobic madness claiming to be Christianity, it is fab to read your blog – thanks, and God Bless” from Kristin… Thank you so much… I hope she comes back to read. She is also a “member!” woo hoo!!!
My prayer candle is lit and I offer my gratitude to the fire that my prayers would rise with the smoke to the heavens above, that God might hear them and grant them as He sees fit to grant them unto me. I miss school. I wish Summer was over, so I could get back to doing what I love, studying!! I’m tired of vacation. I have work to keep me busy and a ministry to run as well, so it’s not like I am bored or anything of the sort. Getting an appointment with me is wonderful – and I would love to see everyone and I will this week.
Please pray for our Ministry – we call it “The Common Ground.” I haven’t heard from my girls at all this week, which is strange. Everyone is busy with work and summer school. I finished first session long ago. And I missed my friends at mass tonight, some of them did not make it, they must be out of town.
If you like what you read, please, by all means let us know. It is always nice to hear from my readers. I am not your “run of the mill” Christian, but quite the opposite.
I just do what I am called to do
I help where I am directed to
and I love because I am commanded to
And from the Old Testament I remind of these most important words:
“The most vital commandment in the Old Testament is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deut. 6:5…
I finished the book at 4:00 a.m. Monday morning.
With that said, and hours of reading behind me, there is Definitely MORE to be written.
As a “Secret Keeper” I will not talk about the book until such time as it is possible or necessary. I’m sure there are people still reading. I was not disappointed.
Next Stop – July 31st … Harry’s and MY birthday!!!
A candle is lit, Quiet time commences. We reflect on the Psalmist’s words:
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart: I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult you; I will sing praise to your name, O most high.” Ps. 9
Tuesdays are always a challenge because I never know what is going to appear before me or who will show up at the table of gratitude. My day to replenish the stores after a week of work is always good – that is why Tuesday has been reserved for me for now over five years. I haven’t been very vigilant about my mornings – and that has to change.
I heard wisdom spoken today at a meeting: “That upon waking before we have that first conscious thought, we should fall to our knees and greet the creator and start with gratitude on our lips and praise for our God.” Truer words were never spoken.
The single candle burns – my thoughts and prayers rise to the heavens as I remember my friends and fellows in prayer. The meeting today was packed – 50 chairs set out, almost none of them empty. A soul for each chair. We spoke of the third Step, I was right in line, I was ready to preach from my seat. Many people come and go, and if you don’t get a word in at the right time – you might miss an opportunity to minister to someone who might need it.
“God, I offer myself to Thee–to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always…
I got up and grabbed a 12 and 12 to read from – Ah, Willingness. I spoke of willingness and how difficult willingness was to me in the beginning. It took me a year to learn how to be willing, to release my will and Let go and Let God. To stay in my day and keep it simple. Some people just roll their eyes – they are not ready for the message, but my “people” were there. The ones I have not seen in over a fortnight. I was pleased and overjoyed.
I grabbed my Big Book and paged to the Third Step – on page 63 of the Big Book and I raised my hand because second shares are frowned upon. I spoke up anyways. Never stop a member from sharing something pertinent or when in difficulty. So I stood up and grabbed my Big Book, as if it were my bible and I read the prayer – in the basement of St. Leon’s I said the Third Step Prayer for me, for them, for whomever was listening. At that point everyone was grabbing for change for the basket. but we try at least to send them home with something to hang on to.
I took the long way home after walking Louise home on the way, and fingered my rosary the rest of the way. I carry it with me when I leave the house, and at any time I can reach into my pocket and connect with my God. I guess my prayers came at a time of need.
The phone was flashing when I came in so I changed out and sat down to listen to the message, which was from one of my “people” announcing glad tidings that the Kahuna man was hired at the University. And I was the first person she called with the news. I am blessed to have such friends in my life. There is not enough gratitude in my heart ot express it. We have been to hell and back, and today we rejoiced. Which leads back to the Psalm at the top of the page:
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart”
I made a phone call to connect and had glad conversation. And as soon as it was over, the circus started.
“Email and Ebay, Big Brother OH MY…. Email and Ebay, Big Brother Oh MY!!!”
Can I tell you how much I HATE Big Brother!! Thank God I am a silent husband and do the bidding of my mate and tape such crap and insanity. Have you ever seen a bunch of eighth graders fight in a school yard? Can you think back that far and remember how stupid it was? That just set me off on a tone that took me straight to hell!! Insanity I tell you. Utter Insanity! Then to have to sit through it again, when he got home from school!
Please help me!!
Being overwhelmed at any point of the day for a person in recovery at any stage of the game is not good. I went into my head, which is a “place that angels fear to tread!” I forgot the silence and I entertained insanity for a few hours. Woe is me. After a round of angry bitch writing the phone rang at 11 p.m. There are angels in Montreal I believe that.
The soothing and calming voice of my ministry partner calling to take me to task, asking her questions yet, searching for the answers – forgive me for being an ass I asked her!! We talked for an hour about Common Ground, and decided that it was better not to act until we had an act. Keep it simple stupid… I should have known better. It is good for someone to keep us honest and help to to remember our accountability and our spirit.
That’s why at the end of the day – when all is said and done I can come to the silence and the lit candle and I can ask the Lord most high to forgive me, and He does.
“At the end of the day when we fall to our knees to make an accounting of our day, it remains us and the Most high and no one else. As it will be on the last day – God and they who stand before him.”
Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.
V. Panem de coelo praestitisti eis.
R. Omne delectamentum in se habentem.
Oremus: Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili, passionis tuae memoriamreliquisti: tribue, quaesumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui sacramysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuae fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus.Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.
The header above will change with my mood as I become religiously creative and display my new found ability to work with Photo Shop, a few photos courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope and some time on my hands. I mean how much closer can you get to God, than to sail upon starlight unto the great unknown!
I have been collecting Hubble Images for some time and I have never had a use for them but as pretty post companions when talking about all things space. Funny how Space is now translated as Cosmos, therefore Cosmos must mean “Creator.” Let’s talk scripture shall we.
The Light of the Body
“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.”
This scripture jumped off the pages of my bible as I sit here and write. I thought that I would write some scripture and talk about it a little – a reflection of the day and the welcome into night. This scripture comes between the subjects of blessedness, which we will talk about next, and the sign of Jonah and the people of Nineveh.
We are speaking of signs, Jonah took the log way round’ and we all know where he ended up because of his thoughts and his actions. The lighting of the lamp, is universal. In Judaic tradition we find the lighting of the lamp or (candle) or (vessel of oil) to be of great meaning, a marking of celebration, of trial and of victory. In Christianity, the visual of “light” is taken and used in many allegorical and metaphorical terms. Not to mention the one true “Light of the World.” Jesus the Christ, the one born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Candles play a specific role in the celebration of Christian worship. Light, Music and Song and Scripture, all together set us up for proper ritual. And I think that lighting the candle is in itself a very personal ritual when taken on a more personal level.
Luke’s emphasis on “Light” is important. What we do with that light is also important. Do we hide our light underneath the bushel, or as the scripture warns us not to, place it in the cellar. The eyes are the windows to the soul. Here we find the teaching that the eyes are also the lamp of the body. Funny, how important it is to us when we speak to others, that we see them visually and we connect in that very simple medium. When I pray, I light a candle to mark the coming of light into my life and to illumine the darkness and to honor my prayer to God.
When we visit a church, especially here in Montreal, we find rack after rack, in the big Cathedrals mostly, of candles, big and small, short and tall. When I go to Notre Dame Cathedral I usually head for the same spot every time, the grotto to the left of the altar where there are huge candles, the kind that are used for the blessed sacrament lights in all the Catholic Churches.
They will burn until the wax all melts, and that could take a while. So as I pray and I light that candle I know that that candle is going to burn with my prayer to God, well after I have left the church and come home on the train. Until of course the sacristan blows them out or they get replaced. The lighted candle is an extra guarantee that we “really did pray!” That we made the effort to come to church to “light our lamp for God.” I find candle light in a church to be most beautiful.
So Lamps and Light, what can we take away from this? We must be lights to the world, to our fellows, to our community. We must not hide the light that burns within. Because if we hide that light, WHO is going to see it? God wishes for us to share the light and be the light. For in the light there is goodness, gladness and joy. When your eyes are bright then your whole body is light. So tomorrow when you go about your day, take a moment to remember to reflect on the “Light.”
“While he was saying this [Luke is speaking about unclean spirits prior to this scripture passage,] a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!’ But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Luke 11: 27-28
We close with chant of the Blessed Sacrament: Tantum Ergo
Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.
V. Panem de coelo praestitisti eis.
R. Omne delectamentum in se habentem.
Oremus: Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili, passionis tuae memoriamreliquisti: tribue, quaesumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui sacramysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuae fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus.Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.
by The Associated PressPosted: July 12, 2007
(Beverly Hills, California) Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt reveled in Sen. David Vitter’s admission of a “very serious sin” involving an escort service and said Wednesday he’s got leads on embarrassing sexual activities involving other members of Congress.
Vitter, R-La. issued the public statement Monday after Flynt’s magazine contacted him and said phone records linked him to a Washington, D.C., service that federal prosecutors say was a prostitution ring. (story)
Flynt said he was indignant over what he called hypocrisy represented by Vitter, 46, a social conservative.
“I don’t want a man like that legislating for me, especially in the areas of morality,” he said.
Flynt has offered to pay $1 million to anyone who can show he or she had a sexual encounter with a member of Congress or a high-ranking government official. He said the offer has produced promising tips.
“We’ve got 20-some investigations that all look good,” Flynt said during a news conference at his Beverly Hills office.
“We have got some high-ranking Republican and Democratic members of the Senate and the House,” he told reporters. “If I get just a couple of those phonies out of there, maybe it will be a step forward.”
Flynt provided no names or details about the investigations. His comments conflicted with a press release issued by the magazine that put the number of investigations at “several.”
Vitter, meanwhile, stayed out of sight Wednesday. For a second straight day, the Louisiana Republican was a no-show in the Capitol, missing votes on Iraq policy and leaving colleagues unsure of his whereabouts or his return.
On Tuesday he missed a committee hearing and a lunch for GOP senators attended by Vice President Dick Cheney.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s gone all week,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
A knock went unanswered at Vitter’s home in Metairie, a New Orleans suburb, and telephone calls and an e-mail seeking comment were not returned.
Flynt said he was outraged over years of government investigations into his own life, and time he had spent in prison.
“This is payback time,” he said. “I’m not exposing anyone’s sex life. … I’m only exposing the hypocrisy.”
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
“You brought to many comfort
True shepherd of your flock.
Hallmarks of your wisdom shone
With kindness entwined -
A loving knot.
So many on our planet loved
Your charity of ways.
Your path through life
Showed us well -
How not to fall astray.
Let’s take the teachings from your reign
Let’s not forget the lessons.
Let’s ever remember your inspirations
Came directly from -
Our Father in Heaven.”
Prayer by Susan Kramer
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars…
The Moon was Full over Montreal, and I sat on my Lanai and took pictures for over an hour. This is my second photo essay of the night. These photos are colorized and just some hue and saturation adjustments to bring out the clouds in the sky were made. They aren’t the best photos – but I think they are good for a novice. It was quite a meditation as one waited for the clouds to pass by to get the right shot. Amazing… Enjoy!!!
Before it falls behind the mountain. The sky wasn’t this dramatic tonight, but the sun was setting as the meeting let out and Louise and I were on our way, I just happen to look up at that right moment where the sun was blazing orange-red and was just atop the mountain looking towards the North. Between the trees, the church steeple and the mountain in front of us, Louise said to others standing outside the church
“Come quick and see the sun set, and for a brief moment, stop what you are doing and enjoy the moment.”
This is actually a photograph of a Montreal sunset.
The negative, petulant energy that has been so pervasive at our meeting has passed on and we had a clear night to navigate the wonders of sobriety. Aside from dogs in the church we didn’t have any other pressing issues to discuss at the business meeting, thank the Living Christ.
One of my boys was actually early tonight and we there to help us set up, which was a noted change from his usual pattern of fly in and fly out and stay distant. Tonight it was as if God has opened the little door into his heart and he sat and shared with us like never before which was fantastic. We have exorcised the bad juju from the room.
Interesting that a new crop of newbies are coming around. A woman shared tonight that she was diagnosed with cancer and that someone told her to “come to us” that we would help her – and that struck me. She actually said, amid the insanity of doctors and not drinking someone actually said to her, GO to Tuesday Beginners and share, and they will help you. I guess we are doing something right? A number of our women have been diagnosed and been through surgery, chemo and radiation so we have a very good group of strong women who can help each other and that support each other so well.
You never know who is going to walk down those steps on any given Tuesday. It seems that our work in the community has brought us some new blood and some new life and people to serve, albeit through a cup of coffee and some cookies and a kind word. A lot of people showed up for our “Meeting before the Meeting” which is nice, it is a time for us to get to know new people and talk amongst ourselves on the business of the week, how we are all doing, what we are all struggling with at the moment and we have some added time to share with members who might be in a rough spot. Our little practice of caring about others – having compassion is spreading.
Isn’t that one of the ways we stay sober? To show up and do service and to understand that sobriety doesn’t come on our time but on God’s time, and all we have to do is show up every week and open the door and build it, and they will come…
- All my boys showed up tonight
- We were able to help someone through just being there
- That everyone is well, and safe and serene
- I was able to share experience, strength and hope
- That new blood has been infused into our community
- That people come to us because they know they will find help
- The business meeting wasn’t a fiasco this week
- There is food in the fridge
- There is a roof over my head (I forgot that last night)
- and I have a warm bed to sleep in
- And we saw a beautiful sunset on the way home
- Being sober one can admire, observe and participate in the solitude and beauty of the seasons, the changing leaves, the whispering wind, the beautiful warmth of Summer
That’s all for now…
The unassuming building hides among the homes that line the street where my former High School is located, Palmetto Senior High. You’d never know such a church exists until you happen upon it driving down 120th street. Since many years there are tall sentinel palm trees that line the streets adjacent to the church grounds. This most peculiar “space ship” looking church would gather thousands upon thousands of parishoners over the years.
This would become home for many, and later a place of education for students. An aspiration that was the brainchild of one Rev. Father James Fetscher. The leader of a rag tag bunch of men who knew their faith and led us through life with their wisdom, faith and love. Many of us came to know God here, and many young people came to know the love and forgiveness and most importantly the “acceptance” of Jesus, no matter who we were or what road we traveled.
The landscaping around the Church and school site lends to the natural beauty of the plants and trees and also accents the neighborhood and this oasis of spiritual life is an amazing retreat away from the world outside not far away.
We would walk up the street from the High school and have lunch on the grounds every day during the school year. The proximity of sacred space to the profane world of life and school lent to the fostering of a spiritual life and practice. As long as one kept their minds and hearts on the life of Jesus once could not go wrong.
Looking from the West end of the courtyard and the (then) Religious Education and Youth Ministry offices this is the courtyard of St. Louis Catholic church. I spent many a day and night sitting in this courtyard with my friends, with ministry leaders and fellow parishioner’s who attended mass in this amazing church. The architecture is unlike any church many had ever seen. It’s modern lines and circular and dome themes are prevalent all over the church campus.
There is a noticed departure from sharp lines and corners, the builders of this space, moved away from the “square – box” method of church building when the new sanctuary was built. All the outdoor accents and seating have curved edges which invites people to sit and linger. To gather and converse. To the right of the photo you see a raised seating area, where many of us met to travel around the city on ministry projects and retreats all over the world.
We celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Church outside in this square when I was a teen ager. Imagine the congregation being seated in the square and the celebration of Holy Eucharist in the open air, it was quite an amazing time in our church history.
The Great Doors – each door with its own religious themes replaces wooden doors over the years. Under the most amazing domed reception area outside the main sanctuary and chapel and Blessed Sacrament Chapel which is open twenty four hours a day with someone always praying before the Blessed Sacrament.
Inside these doors sits a baptismal fount / fountain which gurgles with the flow of blessed water for the worshipers in the church as they come to mass. A very holy “oasis” amid the architectural masterpiece that is the main sanctuary of St. Louis.
A very special anecdote: The battle of the aspersorium (L), aspergill (Eng). When the four horsemen where together on the altar, Fr’s Fetscher, Kish, McGowan and Fr. Radloff, on certain holy days when the blessing of the people with holy water would take place, it was a battle of the men to see who would drown the other in Holy Water. As each High Holy Mass was celebrated, the ‘main’ celebrant would usually change. So each would have his turn in dowsing the other with massive amounts of Holy water from the aspergill. It was a hoot to sit on the altar and watch this little ‘in house’ competition progress over the years.
This is the main sanctuary. The most amazing Holy Space ever to be built. Built in the spirit of the Roman Amphitheater style, there is not one bad sight line in the entire space. With the sanctuary in the “round” and banked as the amphitheaters of antiquity, the worshipers are witness to the theatrics of the Holy Mass.
To the right and left of the brick altar area are large blank walls, as I began to attend church here, there was the move from hand held lectionaries-missals and song books to a more multi-media savvy congregation. With hands free worship there wasn’t the need to take the focus away from the action going on – on the altar or within the sacred space.
All of the spoken words, prayers, responses and music and as well, audio visual accompaniment for the mass are projected onto the walls (left and right) of the altar. This audio visual lends to the complete participation of everyone in the worship space. No one is preoccupied with looking down into some book or missal. All eyes are front and center, participating in the rites of Holy Mass and the celebration of Eucharist.
Lighting is a very important component to worship in this space. As you notice in this photograph, light is concentrated on the altar itself, and the congregation is darkened to bring lighted accent to the location of celebration, the ‘focal point’ of the Eucharist, the altar and the main celebrant. Over to the far right of the altar, located off screen is the band pit where the light controls are located. As mass progresses from start to finish, the lighting in the entire sanctuary moves. Lighting is the indicator of movement, and in this space with the wood accents and white walls, light and shadow play off each other as mass is presented each weekend.
Tucked in between the levels of the aisles, are the entrance doors, for entry and exit and also to the left of the altar stones in the funerary doors which allow access for the caskets of the deceased to be brought into the sanctuary for blessed rites of Christian burial. The immense size of the main sanctuary lends to fantastical processions on high holy days and the procession of ministers on any given Sunday.
A wedding procession of a bride through the space to meet her husband at the central point directly in front of the altar bricks is just an amazing vision. Circular lines of the space lend to the flowing of people and ministers throughout the space. There are no sharp corners or the interruption of the flow of people and holiness.
The lighting moves from the main sanctuary to the celebratory area, where the celebrant, lectors and the cantor take their places during mass. Above and behind the main altar you notice the gold colored wall which houses a projection room above and behind the altar space. This back lit screen also adds audio visual accompaniment to the mass.
On any given Sunday you will see the liturgical theme of the day, the liturgical color of the Christian Liturgical season and also progressive slide shows during High Holy Days and celebrations. The ‘Easter Vigil’ is the highest liturgical celebration in this space. Mass on Holy Saturday is the most cosmic and most amazing presentation of high mass theatrical worship I have ever witnessed. The sacred space decorated with the most beautiful of trees, flowers and religious items is just amazing.
If you notice high above the altar upwards towards the ceiling, a notch, following with straight architectural lines of the building, there is yet another space for liturgical decoration. You see the yellow fabric behind the very large cross that hangs behind and above the altar. At the uppermost area of the sanctuary is the highest point of access in the sacred space.
During Advent and the Christmas season, you will see Christmas trees there, high above the altar, as they are also decorated aside the altar proper on the ground level. As you must ponder, with the wide open spaces here in the main sanctuary the eyes are drawn to multiple locations in the sanctuary, as there is much to see. It is a veritable feast for the eyes on any given Sunday.
As the ceiling is formed in wood in circular patterns the cement architecture is in round forms as it encircles the whole of the uppermost sanctuary ceiling. As one looks up at the spectacle of the most beautiful wood form, during the Christmas holidays, you might find an angel hanging over the sacred space, trumpet in hand, announcing the coming of the Christ child. She is a most beautiful angel.
The cross that you see hanging above the altar once stood on the altar during lent. There were years when the passion play was performed on Good Friday, and one of our members, we used to say, “he looked like Jesus,” would play his part. And one would swear that with the lighting technology and the meaning of the mass, that he was actually crucified on that very cross. I remember sitting in my pew weeping for Jesus on that most Holy of days.
The architecture of the sacred space, the interplay of light and shadow and the music of the season and the additional choirs and congregants inside the space made worshiping God and the celebration of the Eucharist an amazing weekly mass event. There has never been another Catholic Church, that I have ever seen built nor operated as this unique church has for so many decades.
To the right of the altar space is the lectern for the cantor or music minister and farther to the right you will see the seating area for the elderly and the handicapped. They are situated right close to the altar which is very important to those who come to hear the word and celebrate in the Eucharist. There is also a cry room, which is located to the upper far left of the frame. There is an old anecdote of the Rev Fr. Fetscher.
On any given Sunday, the good father would be preaching, as he walked around the sanctuary, a child would begin to wail, as the acoustics of the room lends to the reverberation of sound throughout the domed wooden structure, like a divining rod, the good father’s hand would rise as he continued to speak to the congregation, until he zeroed in to the exact location of the wailing child, as the parents attempted to quiet them or move as quickly as possible to the cry room, or out of the church completely, so as not to interrupt the train of the good father’s thought on the topic he was preaching on at the moment.
What is lacking in this new architecture is the lack of ‘old church’ visuals. The absence of statues, a tabernacle and candles as we would see in any given sanctuary in Montreal, in the Gothic and cathedral style church in this historical city of faith. The tabernacle was located in the chapel, then as I see in the photographs to follow, it must have been relocated into the Blessed Sacrament Chapel located in another area of the building.
You will see candles in use during mass and also during Advent. But there are no standing candles in open space within the sanctuary. Fire and soot from candles burning does not lend to the wood building of the sanctuary and the clean lines of the white washed walls.
I have served on this altar as an altar boy, a seminarian, lector and Eucharistic minister. It is a most beautiful vision to stand upon the altar and look out at the massive community of worshipers there to celebrate Holy Eucharist.
The Chapel of St. Louis Catholic Church. These are the stained glass windows that bank the rear wall of the chapel and looks out to the parking lot and new covenant school. Each of the windows has origins in biblical scripture. I want to say that, if memory serves, but don’t quote me on this, but these are images from the book of Revelation.
Somewhere in my mind is a memory of this being mentioned to me at some point of time. In the chapel is where morning masses are held along with the recitation of the Holy Rosary. Funerals are also held in the space, there have been musical accompaniment in this space. This is the space where we buried my paternal grandparents, when Roger and Paul were still music ministers at the Church.
This is the Sacred Space altar and lectern in the chapel. This chapel is also situated in ‘the round.’ the theme of circular space is repeated in all the main buildings in this specific building housing the main sanctuary, chapel and sacristy. There is a logical progression of ever changing architecture on the site moving from the primary sanctuary location which housed religious education, to this sanctuary space which is themed in the circular domed spaces.
As I look at this photo, observing the interplay of light and shadow, you have three elements. The light above the crucifix, the shadow on the walls to either side, and the light that streams in the windows in front of the altar space looking on. With circular space and the accent of internal lighting and the addition of natural light in the chapel and in the hallways of the building, the ‘drama of the spaces’ is made even deeper.
Different from the box – cathedral type church spaces we have here in Montreal, streaming light travels in one direction and towards the floor in our churches. With more rounded buildings such as these, light bends across, down and around the spaces, which brings movement and action to a quiet and sedate space. You do not see modern ‘churches in the round’ in a city steeped in architectural history.
As on kneels before Christ on the cross – you can imagine that – He is there, in the flesh, as you look upon his face, more than once, I imagine in my minds eye, that he is there alive, and beckons us to see Him in his most powerful state, that liminal space between life and death, where we are called to pray and believe that He will rise again on the third day. The crucifix sculpture is one of the most striking images of Christ I have ever seen.
The tabernacle was once located behind the altar beneath the most beautiful crucifix I have ever seen. This most lifelike representation of Christ on the Cross is amazingly detailed in size and scope. To the left of the crucifix is a painting of the Blessed Mother and child. In this sacred space you will find more conventional ‘church’ representations of religious artifacts. It is a most beautiful room to sit and pray, by ones self and ‘in community.’
When I was seeing Fr. Jeff for spiritual direction, some years ago, I would meet the daily group of people who attended the morning mass and we would recite the scriptural rosary every morning. It was an amazing way to star ones day, as the sun rose out of the east, the light would filter in the stained glass windows and illuminate the chapel, those seated in the chapel and as the light changed and light and shadow played off each other to lend such dramatic mood to the sacred space.
So this concludes a tour of my home parish of St. Louis Catholic Church in Miami Florida. I will be adding some more spiritual stories from this place to my ‘pages’ in the coming weeks as I compile my spiritual stories for my next publishing project.
Cue the Music, smoke the room, Deborah Cox is in da house!!!
Several people comment that the gay community has changed. It has. I can remember how difficult it was to be gay when I was 21. Men were a dime a dozen and if you wanted to stake your claim, you had to play the games that the boys played. Back stabbing was a fine art in the gay community – as it has for as long as I can remember. The art of Catty Queens was something one learned from the finest drag queens in the show world. But the one thing they taught me was to stand up for myself and to be proud.
When at one point I was dating the man I was with at one time in my young life, he was a user and a cheat and an asshole. I fell for some real “hum dingers” as a young man. I didn’t know any better – but I learned as I went along. The best friends a young gay boy had were the drag queens he met, loved and knew. Carmella Marcella Garcia, Cheena Kelly, Ms. P and Jimmie Johnson, Toni Rose and Rusty Faucett, and Dana Manchester.
I was dating a man who was itchy. We had moved into a new apartment together and what I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me right? Wrong! It was New Years Eve at the Parliament house, we rented the tux’s and reserved the tables, it was a six top in the show bar. Carmella and Ms. P and Jimmy were there. We were all getting sloshed. Midnight came around and my supposed boyfriend was MIA. Everyone got their kiss except me. So my friends went looking for him, and they found him in the disco against the side wall in the dark with his mouth fixed on his ex’s dick! They came to get me to witness the ultimate embarrassment. Needless to say, I didn’t go home that night. I spent the night at a friends house crying like an idiot.
The next day I went home to the apartment and it was EMPTY!
All the furniture was gone, the clothes and all were gone – moved out over night. I never saw that man again. Good riddance. So I knew what back stabbing was early on. My friends were young gay boys with ice water for blood. They did not think twice about sleeping with another’s boyfriend. Single men were a dime a dozen, but a couple involved was prime meat for the taking. And Monogamy and Honor were nowhere to be seen.
That stared the cavalcade of losers through my life. I was so stupid. But Nobody was there to say No, Don’t do this. I was a boy on a mission to find love, and SEX! I had one sexual buddy during those years whom I really loved. His name was Charlie. Charlie and I had sex whenever – but we weren’t a couple in the formal terms. That was the only good part of that period of my life. He would call and ask, Bottle or Blender? I knew then that sex was immanent. Daiquiri’s and Mary Poppins… Get drunk singing Chim Chim Cheree and then let’s get to the business at hand, it was fabulous.
Over the years I grew up, however slowly. I did not learn my lesson, until it was too late. My nine lives were drying up and I had that scarlet letter on my dress. Going out bar hopping was a business for those who poured the drink and those of us who paid big money for it – not to mention the money many spent on drugs as well. I could not be bothered by drugs because they were too expensive and I’d rather drink myself sick than to buy drugs, and also, my mother was a pharmacist and I knew her scorn.
When I moved to Ft. Lauderdale and met James and we cohabitated and he did what he did to me in cheating and lying then taking the easy route out by suicide, I was finished playing games. Todd kept me on a short leash, then I got sick. I started the death clock on July the 8th 1994 at 12 noon. I had 18 months to plan and wait for my death, which never came. Getting sober in a Gay Room of AA was a task. People were betting on my sobriety and that hurt me terribly. My sponsor helped me stay sober when the catty sober queens tried their best to get me to drink. At the end of the year I got my first medallion and I stood up there in front of them all and told the whole lot of them to fuck off and die.
When AIDS hit me personally and I got involved I saw the devastation that gay men could unleash on their own. I watched lovers of considerable time THROW their lovers and all their belongings onto the street and across the yards and change the locks after finding out their partners were sick. I watched families throw their sons out of the house and disown them. I watched employers punish sick men, fire them from their jobs. I watched civilized people become uncivilized. I watched friends turn their backs on us. It happened to me, so I do know from personal experience.
The only solace I found was inside the walls of The Stud and the family that Todd built, protected and cared for. After I was diagnosed and spent a long time getting used to my scarlet letter I was bar tending one night and this boy spent a a great deal of time at my bar drinking beer and chatting me up. This was my first contact after diagnosis. After my shift we went to the COPA and had some more alcohol and danced for a while. We then set off for his house in separate cars mind you. He was all over me trying to get my clothes off of me before we got into the front door. I was like, “Whoa man, I can’t move that fast and I was worried about sex at that point because of my scarlet letter.” I said I need to say something before we go any further, THAT was the biggest mistake. I told him what time it was and what I had.
I’ve never seen a man put his clothes on so fast before in my life. In the past it was that they couldn’t get undressed fast enough. This was fast forward in record time. He asked me to leave and he slammed the door in my face. I walked to my car and went home. I was devastated. THAT BOY continued to come to my bar and drink but he never looked at me nor did he ever speak to me again after that, even though I worked at that bar.
I told the story of my friends who left me on my own – the family who blindsided me with disgust and abhorrence. It was truly the most incredibly painful experience of my life. But Gay men, over the years, I have come to learn, are the first people to eat their own. When I lived in Miami, men were ruthless and arrogant. They were petty and petulant. If you did not have a buff body, or did designer drugs or drove a fancy car or partied with the fancy queens, then you were not worthy of even a conversation. I could not believe how hard it was to meet men.
I went to a POZ support group for a while on Miami Beach and that was a meat market. Everyone in the group slept with each other, and dated each other and fell out of love and would come to the group with the new conquest in front of their ex’s just to be spiteful. It was terrible. The only man I fell in love with there, his name was Steven. He was the man who would not marry me. He was self destructive and I wanted him terribly, alas, that never happened. He eventually would take me to the airport to come to Canada. We said goodbye that day and that was that.
When I was diagnosed sick gay men relied on other sick gay men for support and for life. There were very few healthy gay men who stuck around to help us. Although there were a few angels in my life, so for that I am grateful. I met a “few good men” during those years. Most of the care came from women because healthy gay men had to get on with the art of fine living with healthy boyfriends who didn’t have baggage – who could have sex without illness passing or baggage. It was perverted.
I slipped and slipped big, into a pit of hell that cost me everything that I owned and almost my life, had not an angel who knew where I was had not saved me from the hell I had fallen into. After my safe extrication with only what I could carry and thirty days in a safe house healing from the severe beating that I received from my ex, I went back to Miami in 2000. I drank until December of 2001 when I got sober a second time.
Troy took me to my first meeting of gay men on South Beach. I sat in the back of the room and not one gay man said one word to me except Troy. I stood there outside the room afterwards and not one gay man introduced themselves to me or asked me about my life, this spoke volumes to me. I waited outside that room for the next meeting and I met Fonda, who saw me there alone, she hugged me and asked me out for coffee and she took me to the next meeting at 10 p.m. That group became my home group. I got sober in a straight room of AA. I had no desire to be sober with gay men. They were spiteful when I drank and they were even more spiteful when they were trying to get sober.
When I worked at the tragic queendom, spite was rampant. Boys took their worst out on each other. Bar hopping alcoholic boys were evil. They did not think twice about taking what was yours or embarrassing you in front of others. It was demeaning. I never knew who to trust early on because gay boys were just evil. I had no street smarts like I said. I did not know what it was to be gay – I did not know it would be all out warfare for boyfriends and sex. Those early years on in my life were painful to say the least.
When I went to Pride at the Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center – it was safe. We were all gonna die and we knew it. So we loved hard and cared even harder. What we had we were grateful for. Who we had was terribly important. Pride meant more than a drug induced alcoholic inebriated circuit party. We upheld the memory of those at Stonewall and the sainted men who had died from AIDS over the last decade. Pride meant to Live, Pride meant to Support, Pride meant to Love unconditionally.
After I moved out of the states in 2002, I attended Pride here in Montreal a couple times, I was involved by the Winter of 2002 and we were both getting sober, so bar hopping was not something we did all the time, if ever. Because Peter got sick after the holidays and he was down for a year – so I was busy taking care of him day in and day out, night after night. But when we did get out our observations did not fail us. The events for pride centered around the “All Mighty Circuit Party” and who looked the prettiest.
I think the fact that we got sober together and we were building our lives together took us out of the main frame of gay life because we were becoming “other!” We had coupled and were waiting for that marriage legislation to ascend in Parliament so we could get married. I have one set of married friends. Our marriage set us apart. We went to Pride the year following our marriage to support gay marriage legislation with people in from other provinces who had gotten married as well. But our lives had changed so much since 2002 that Pride had become a spectacle. It was political and let’s face it, getting old has its disadvantages. We cannot compete with the pretty people any more, no matter how hard we try.
We also became academics. We both went back to school. So our gay community consisted of those we knew at school, friends and professors who mentored us both. Quitting the drink and the drugs, and then eventually cigarettes, life became distant from what we once were. Priorities changed. Life changed, shit happened… Shit that we were powerless to change.
We were going to a gay sober meeting here in the city on Friday nights. In 2003 it was just before Christmas and at this particular meeting there were a number of sick men who were POZ a hell of a lot longer than I was and I was dying to find out how they got there so I could fight to live and stay sober. I had tried to get into the HIV community here and I interviewed at several groups to work and get services, and they all turned me away nobody would hire me to work because they said I was uneducated and did not have experience in the HIV field? WTF??? I was like I’ve been poz almost 10 years now and you say I am unqualified??? Oh My Sweet Jesus…
One of the men who was on one of those groups board of directors used to come to that Friday night meeting and he was pissy, miserable and wanted to die. He used to tell us about his death wishes. That night I was besides myself. I got up and grabbed him by the throat and screamed at him “Shut the hell up. You wanna die, let me push you out this second story window or better yet give me your gun and I will shoot you myself, you miserable fuck!” We never went back to that meeting.
Peter’s sponsor and his lover went to that meeting as well. When he had his nervous breakdown and ended up flat on his back for that year, NOT ONE gay man, his sponsor or anyone else called us to check on him or offer us any kind of support or assistance. So you can tell that I have certain views of the gay community here in Montreal and why I am so judgmental.
I had one gay friend in this city who cared to help me, and outside the University community he remains my only gay friend in this god forsaken city.
When did things change? When we lost site of the prize. When love became disposable. When sickness became divisive. When the gay community turned its collective backs on those who were sick and suffering because you know “The Party Must Go On!” Unabated and without skipping a beat. Because there is alcohol to consume, drugs to push and sell and sex to be had until our nuts are blue and falling off…
Gay became material. Gay became designer kitsch. “Live fast, Die young and leave a good looking corpse.” If you aren’t pretty or you aren’t a PNP boy then don’t waste your time. The gift givers and bug chasers were having private parties trying to seek out disease intentionally. And now in Europe we read about GAY MEN with HIV are drugging, raping and INTENTIONALLY Infecting negative MEN to create a POZ sex community.
The morals of the gay community world wide has GONE TO HELL!!!
Designer duds, drugs, alcohol and beautiful buff men who can be catty, ridiculous and mean are the mainstay of the gay community. The community as a whole has fractured to the point of self destruction because we have lost our way. And the labels are killing us from the outside and we are killing each other from the inside. If the world does not do us in with religious intolerance and indignity and homophobia, we will all be dead in a generation because of immoral and stupid gay men and women in this lifetime. We would rather be discordant and differentiated and fractured rather than building bridges, loving each other and caring for one another like we should. If we don’t love ourselves, who will?
So let’s all bend over and kiss our proverbial asses goodbye. Because I don’t believe that we can maintain this life for very much longer. Gay rights is coming and going. All these gay folks in the U.S. want equal rights and marriage rights. SURE as SHIT!!
But we keep living this destructive life and gay men around the world are shooting themselves in the feet by doing such immoral and unforgivable acts of savagery to their own and the politicos of the U.S. are watching all this transpire. Gay men and women cannot find peace within their own community and we continue on this self destructive path, and YOU THINK that Gay rights and Marriage rights are going to pass across the U.S. like a knife through warm butter, THINK AGAIN….
Unless we begin to BEHAVE our way to Success there will be NO success…
If we cannot lead ourselves, how can we lead anyone else. And if we don’t or can’t take care of ourselves and each other, who is going to take care of us, when the world slams the door on us? NOBODY!!!
We need to get right,
We need to rise up,
We need to start in our own communities loving and caring for each other
We need to stop complaining and bitching about not having our cake and eating it too because the Gay Communities are, them, themselves responsible for what the nation thinks of them. You did it to yourself.
Do you want to be right OR Do you want to be happy? You cannot have your cake and eat it too and expect to get any farther. Something’s gotta give. Because if government has its way they will repeal rights back to the 1970′s and we will have another Anita Bryant fiasco. The religious right is trying to beat us into submission, we cannot allow that to happen. Grow Up and Get Up and Begin Building – not destroying any longer…
I am sad, I am confused, I am human, and I am far from perfect. I finished my final exam this morning in record time, which surprised me that I knew ALL the answers to all the questions AND I rocked on the two essays we had to write on. BooGah!!!
I picked up my gown yesterday and I was a bit emotional to ponder the thought that in a few days I will complete an entire journey in University and I did quite well for a man my age, with the issues I deal with on a daily basis. My friends are all happy and proud of me and that feels nice. I don’t know, still how I feel about completing this section of the journey because the journey just continued into the Summer and today is the last day of classes for me for the Summer. Woo Hoo!!
I finished my term paper days early so that I could turn it in tonight and take the rest of the week to prepare for Monday. I need a day of beauty and some coiffing before I strut across the stage. I kinda want to do a ‘Patch Adams’ and march across the stage butt ass naked and do the happy dance. But no we must be proper and demure. UGH!!
Yesterday was very emotional. I did not sleep most of Monday night into Tuesday and I was up with the birds – do you know that the sun rises between 4 and 4:30 a.m. here!! WTF. If you are lying in bed and you hear the birds start to sing, it is a forgone conclusion that you will not get back to sleep – or to sleep because once the birds start singing the noise from the ground level starts to rise. The trucks start revving and the air conditioner tower on the college next door starts to run loudly and the hotel delivery trucks start their morning runs next door – so you get that annoying ‘beep – beep – beep’ drive the damned truck forwards for Christ’s sake… The sirens, the traffic, the noise…
“Calgon – take me away…”
I had all my plans prepared for termination of my position at my home group because I was angry and resentful that someone would do what I was told was done to people I work with on a weekly basis. I went to have coffee with Ms. Nikki and told her my intentions and she sobbed and cried that I would think to leave. I was heart broken. We went to set up and as certain folk arrived I spoke to my mentors and they gave me sound advice. I listened to every word and weighed my decision heavily.
Ms. Nikki lobbed a prayer up to God and within minutes it was answered. God was communicating directly and succinctly. My boys all came to the meeting and we had a serious discussion before hand, and I clarified the truth from fiction. I admit I was wrong and that I got caught up in drama that was not mine and that certain folks have issues that I did not carefully weigh into the conversation as it happened in the last week. Like I said “always, never, forget to check your references.”
The meeting was great. I sit here conflicted emotionally because I know where my heart lies and who are important to me. I can’t walk away from my people because certain people have issues and grudges. I should have never entertained the insanity factor that started this whole issue to begin with, I should have left it well alone. But, I am human and I listened to the pied piper because he sang this silver tune that drew me into the web of deceit and insanity, and I didn’t see the fall before it was there.
Before the meeting started I had said to Ms. Nikki that I wasn’t going anywhere and after the meeting I cried all the way home. The avalanche of emotions was just too much to bear at that moment. Thanks God I was with Ms. Louise to talk me through it before I dropped her at her building up the street from home. We all live in the same neighborhood.
I came home and was awash in emotions. I wrote a little. I created a few more header images for my blog. It is very calming to be creative and work with crafting images and colors and sizing and templates. I quite enjoy that work – This new header image, at the top of the Blog, is one of my latest creations. I quite like it. I have several new images with different themes and colors with specific images that have some meaning to my life and journey.
I watched some tv last night, we are in re-run hell now but there are a few shows I enjoy watching like So You Think You Can Dance and Canadian Idol starts up again so we will have certain entertainment.
After Peter went to bed I checked my email and got the obituary notice for Shirley, and I sat here and cried again. I meant to call my friend last night when I got home, but the little voice inside me said to wait – so I did. It was after 1 a.m. when I got the email, and as I was typing into my blog and trying to reply – the freaking modem went down at the main frame of my internet service provider. I was like WTF??? So I did not get back onto the main frame until almost 2 a.m. I wasn’t going to bed with unfinished business on my desk.
I am sad today – because my friend is exhausted and has been through so much since Christmas that I can’t even begin to imagine where she is today, and what do you say to try and comfort someone without sounding trite quoting platitude after saucy platitude. Ugh, I wanna throw up. I care and I am here and she knows that. So I guess, between friends, sometimes, words are unnecessary, that just being together is more important than trying to find words of comfort that are just going to come out and sound rehearsed and stupid. I’ve never buried a parent, but I mourned their passing out of my life and I buried them spiritually in order to continue living my life. But the only burial experience I have is my grandparents and they were closer to me than my own parents. Go figure!!
I can only imagine the sense of loss in loosing both parents within months of each other after long bouts of illness and suffering. I just can’t imagine the pain, but I can identify with the loss. Where practical experience fails me I must draw on spiritual teaching and what I have experiences to try and make sense of things like this. I imagine myself standing at Shelby’s casket quoting Annelle:
“When things like this happen I try to make sense of it, and I for one am glad that Shelby is with her King, where the is no more suffering and no more pain, and that Shelby will always be young, she will always be beautiful and she will always be an angel and I for one am glad to know that there is someone up there on my side…”
“Well, you just go on Annelle, I’d rather have her here!”
“I’m fine, I’m fine, I’M FIIIIINE…. I can run to Texas and back but my Shelby can’t. I want to know WHYYYYYY, I want to know if her son will ever know how special his mother was….”
“Go on hit her, Knock her lights out, Chickapin Parish take out their eye teeth out to take a WHACK at Wheezer!!! Go on, Smack her.” Clairee, have you gone insane???”
You gotta have some levity and laughter at a moment like this, things were getting too tense, we needed to laugh. Clairee, you are too twisted for color Tv, get your roots done.
So this afternoon I see my doctor to start these new medications, finally !!! So I will have updates coming in the next few days and weeks. I have lost some serious weight, which is a very good thing, my doc will be happy for that, since he thought I was getting way too chunky for his liking. And this evening I have my Theology Abstract presentation and the handing in of my final paper and I am done with school for the Summer!!
EDIT:Update – New meds are on hold until my doc gets approval from the government on meds that I need, since my genotype shows that I can’t use some of the meds, so we need to clear some more for On Deck treatment. Stay tuned for further updates.
We pray for Shirley
Eternal Rest Grant Her and may Perpetual Light Shine Upon Her