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Archive for March, 2010

Life is a Mystery …

Everyone must stand alone, I hear you call my name and it feels like….


It was pay day today. Hubby spent the afternoon running errands, getting pills and doing shopping for the house. Our toilet seat is broken, and if you hit it the wrong way, it slides right off the pot. I need to go buy a new one tomorrow. Maybe I will get a cushy toilet seat if they have them in stock.

I worked on my first presentation paper for my Ecclesiology and Hermeneutics class tonight. I have to say that this class has been a challenge. But from the outset our professor threw out the plan book and decided then that she would allow the spirit to move us in the direction he saw fit.

I have told you that the Theology Department is fighting a battle to save its own life. If secular interests get their way, we will loose our department. The powers that BE are trying to stop them from taking that away from us.

My professor is a truly remarkable woman with class and pride. We started class with some simple discussion about ecclesiology. She leads the class with the T.A. and we sit around the circle and talk when asked. It was a great first hour. Then we broke for coffee…

During the second hour we each presented our papers to the class for critique. Next week is our last class. We are having a symposium. The second hour turned out to be something absolutely random. There was no script to follow, and the roll call was also random. She went from one side of the circle to the other, and one by one, everyone spoke. One girl read some poetry, another cried when she spoke… Everyone was moved last week when Catherine sang the Exultet.

We were supposed to share a partial synthesis of our journaling that we have been doing each week this whole term. With each reading we had to write something. Tonight was the first run of our ideas and observations. She took notes and interjected when need be.

But everything changes as the spirit moves us.

With a class of 17, around a table, in the basement of the department, it is quite snug. There is no where to hide. Participation is a given. Over the term, we have all participated in honest dialogue. We are learning what it means to have discourse. Ecclesial and Civic.

Everybody was there tonight. And so was God. It was brilliant.

Everybody was moved to tears. Several of us had been gravely ill over the last month, and survived. The emotion in the room tonight was palpable. Like I said there was no plan, and the shares came one after another, in no certain order. But the way each person came in progression from one to the next was nothing more than miraculous.

The way we all spoke was incredibly moving, and my prof was besides herself with gratitude and pride. She threw away the plans from the get go and let god be God. Tonight she was rewarded for her efforts to make this class nothing short of miraculous.

I was the second to last person to share in hour two. When it came to me I spoke about Karl Barth, and Hans Urs Von Balthasar and Luther. I talked about last weeks entry about God speaking and Catehrines singing and what that meant to me.

This entire term for me has been trying. Trying to find my way in the grand scheme of things. And finally last week, God spoke to me after a good amount of on my knees praying. I’ve been reading studiously. I’ve been writing my journals and following along to the best of my ability. And my classmates have been learning along with me.

Lent has come and almost gone now. And I have learned a few things about myself. I know how to find God. Better yet, he knows where to find me.

We have another class next week, and my prof was going to go with a plan, but after tonight’s shares, she threw caution to the wind again and told us this…

“Do what you think you should do…”

So we have to write a 10 page Synthesis of our journaling, and if tonight was any indication of what she will be reading, this will be an easy grade, if we hit the mark correctly. No plans, just going with the feel of it. Could it be any easier?

There is a pay out when you trust God, really throwing it all out the window and saying, ok God, here ya go, do what you need to do…

It was spectacular. I love theology. I think.

If you had one day to live …?

I hate the end of the month. They say that if you run out of toilet paper before the end of the month, that you will run out of money just as well. Needless to say, we still have toilet paper in the bathroom. Tomorrow is pay-day. Thank God for pay-day. I ran out of pills three days ago and I need to pick them up tomorrow, the pharmacy ripped me off when they filled my last months prescriptions. Obviously, someone at the pharmacy cannot count. 31 days in a month means that you should have 31 days of pills in the bottle. It seems that I ran 3 days short this month. This has been happening over several months now. I need to rake someones ass over the coals.

Thank God for Easter Monday. I know, we aren’t there yet, but it has already paid off in that I was supposed to present my final paper for my Samuel class next Monday, but because of the Easter Monday holiday, the class got a weeks extension on our final projects. That means we have to have a make up class and that our final papers are not due until the 29th of April. YAY !!!

Ok that’s better … Music … 977 the 80′ channel playing …

I set off for the meeting this afternoon – it has been drizzly raining for two days and it has been miserably cold and windy as well. That same drizzle that makes you have to carry an umbrella but not have to use it. We had a good crowd for the 6:30 meeting. And a sparse showing for the 8:00 p.m.

We got the business meeting out-of-the-way and I am chairing for the month of April. I haven’t chaired a meeting at my home group in many months. It will be good to be in the chair once again.

Tonight’s topic …. If you had one day to live, knowing that you were going to die, would you drink???

Nobody in our meeting has faced this question in the way that I have. At least, not that I know if, having been here for the last 8 years. A few of our members have faced cancer and beat it and lived, but they all were never given the news that they were terminal or that they were going to die.

I, on the other hand, have had more than one doctor in my life, give me that line “kiss your ass goodbye because you’re gonna die.” Been there – done that.

Keep smiling keep shining knowing that you can always count on me …
That’s what friends are for…

On July the 8th 1994, at 12 noon in Fort Lauderdale Florida my doctor told me that I had at best 18 months to live and that I would die within that time limit. That I need to settle my affairs and prepare to die. A handful of my friends were sick and on their way to their respective graves. I was on the bus with them.

It took me a few weeks of trying to kill myself with the drink, that I finally surrendered and quit drinking. August 24th 1994. I had started counting the days until I was supposed to die. Thank God I worked with my sponsor and his lover at the nightclub where many of the employees had AIDS.

I remember those days, like it was yesterday. I am really grateful that Todd kept me on a short leash, he kept me focused every day in living in the day, going to work, and his rule …. You have drama in your life, I know that, but when you come to work, you leave the drama at the door, you don’t bring it in here, you do what you are told and stay focused on ME and everything will take care of itself. My sponsor worked under the same roof, and I was going to meetings every day.

That was my life …

I kept counting the days until I dropped dead.
My Sponsor kept ripping up my calendars.
My Boss kept my life in his hands.
I lived…

In retrospect, that time in my life was entirely frenetic. I was so busy taking care of what I had to do every day that I did not have time to think about or even ponder about dying. Todd, like I said, kept me on a very short leash. I’ve told these stories several times over the years, but tonight I needed the reminder and the reflection.

Having that kind of focus knowing that you are going to die, that wisdom did not come instantly. And it did not come right then and there. It did not come for a long time. Hindsight is 20/20.

Quitting the drugs and alcohol at the point that I did was a shock. Had I kept drinking and drugging like I had been, the way I had been, at the time, I surely would have died. Todd was not having any of that shit from me. He took the time to be with me in my hour of need, when everybody else in my life walked away, the best thing I could do for him, was to listen to him and trust that he had my best interest in his hands.

I related tonight that I had reached the 540 day mark … 18 months later and I was not dead, I had a decision to make…

1. Was I going to wait to die or
2. Was I going to get on with living ???

That’s when clarity came to me.

In hindsight, I cannot explain what kind of clarity I am talking about, but it is perfectly clear, clarity, like white light. When you are staring at the light, waiting to die, you yearn for life, and you yearn for the power that is in that white light. When everything else around you is dark, there is but a pin point of white light, there is an energy that comes to you during this time, I knew I felt it, but it has taken me these many years to be able to explain what it means. It is a rush … Like being high, without the addiction. Todd’s voice was a drug, the sound of it, the tone of it, the look in his eyes. Whatever he had, he had given it to me. That’s another story.

Once you live down death, if you don’t find clarity, then it was a waste of time.

I was still alive. Whatever Todd told me to do, I did. Whatever the family (my bar family) needed, I did it. Whatever my sponsor told me to do, I did it. I had buried a number of my friends inside that 18 month period. I mourned a lot of dead people. Now that I had proved the doctors wrong, I found a doctor who would take me in and get me drugs that would extend my life. In those first 18 months, trying to find medication and money to pay for it was a real task. Thank God for Health Link, back then, they got me and many others, medications when we could not pay full price for them. Drug farms saved a lot of lives … including my own …

I did not drink. I went to meetings. I went to work, day in and day out. I did whatever Todd told me to do, without question. I learned very early on, during this time that complaining was useless. I learned that doing the tasks that I was given would save my ass in the long run. In the time that it took to complain, I could complete any task that I was assigned. All for 4 words …

“Good Job Little One …”

That was the payout. That’s what kept me in line, 4 little words.

There is clarity when you are forced to face ones mortality. Knowing that you are going to die, changes the game forever. People usually don’t live, when they face AIDS head on, not then. Maybe today, but not back then. Once they tack those 4 letters to your name, you are marked for life. Death is not far off.

Somebody up there must really love me, because after that first death date, I got it three more times in my life, and I lived each one of them down. Those first four years of my life with AIDS was a real nightmare. I was so sick, had Todd not stuck with me – I surely would have died. I had a good doctor who believed in me. I had meetings with people who cared about my life. I faced each day as it came. And clarity came.

But I had other plans…

That was then, this is now. I can’t change the past, and what happened. If it had not happened the way it did, I would not be where I am in this life at this time. I would never have made it back to the rooms, and I would not be here in Montreal, and I surely would not sober…

Nobody I know, in my home group, or from the other members that come to our meeting, nobody has faced down a death sentence. I think that it still freaks people out when I tell a story like this in an open meeting. I notice peoples mannerisms and what they do after I disclose personal stories. That’s another thing that people with AIDS learn how to do, we learn to read people at 50 paces. It is even harder when they are in the same space as you, and they tend to shrink back after a little disclosure.

So I know what it is like to know that I have only days to live. And yet I lived. I would not choose to drink again. Because I have this clarity that nobody can take from me, unless I allow that to happen. I have clarity that not many people I know have. I have a perspective on life that people could only wish to have.

I would want to go to my grave with sound and sober mind, knowing that I did it my way. And that’s the way I am going to go when the time comes.

On my terms…

Sometimes He speaks …

Last night I had a moment of insanity. I have been wrestling with where I am in the grand scheme of things. Whether or not I should stay in the M.A. program, and where I was supposed to be, because I have been feeling out of the loop for the past two months. I wrote two emails at 4:30 in the morning to two people. One went to Randall, out in Alberta for prayer. The other went to my Gnosticism prof, pleading for more time to finish my papers.

I got the answer from the department this afternoon. Which said that I have been granted a further extension until the 20th of April. Which was a great relief. I have these moments when i sit here in the middle of the night and I pray. Last night, was more like a crying out to God for a sign. I know that recently, God had been seen in a little church in Alberta. So that’s where I pointed my prayer last night, hoping that maybe Randall would send me something from Him.

I went to bed last night, with my prayers said and words written that needed to be said because I needed to be honest with myself. I needed to be honest with my colleagues. And I was repaid in kindness.

We all met at the department for class. And Catherine brought a 4th century copy of the Exultet to class. And she not only printed the copy, she sang it to the class. It was heavenly. So that is how the night began. A prayer …

We have been reading Augustine’s Confessions this week, from book XIII. I have spent the past few days reading the text. Tonight we had to talk about what we drew from the reading. When Pamela called on me, I noted that from my translation [Trans. Edward B. Pusey D.D.] that I could not get past the fact that Augustine constantly repeated the creation story from Genesis. And that in scripture there is formation, and for Augustine there is a thought of re-formation. Out of all of my colleagues, I was the only one who picked up on this note.

Catherine was the last to share about her take on Augustine’s Confessions. And I quote her now… the answer to my prayer from last night…

“I am a 22 year old student working on my M.A. in Theology, and I am not quite sure where I fit into the grand scheme of things. I sort of feel restless and not sure where I am going (sound familiar?) She quoted Augustine: “The body by its own weight strives towards its own place. Weight makes not downward only, but to his own place. Fire tends upward, a stone downward. They are urged by their own weight, they seek their own places. Oil poured below water, is raised above the water; water poured upon oil, sinks below the oil. They are urged by their own weights and seek their own places. When out of order, they are restless; restored to order, they are at rest. My weight, is my love; thereby I am borne, withersoever I am borne…”

I heard from her mouth, the answer I was asking from God just a few hours before in prayer. And Pamela added that sometimes being restless is where we need to be for the moment. He never ceases to amaze me. So let us sing the Exultet, we will hear it once again at the Easter Vigil before the Easter Flame.

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,

that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
“The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy.”

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church’s solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

(For it is fed by the melting wax,
which the mother bee brought forth
to make this precious candle.)

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,

your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.



So I wrote my prof last night before I went to bed. I asked for an extension for my papers, and today they granted me just that. So my new deadline is April the 20th for final submission.

Wow, that is such a load off my shoulders, you can’t imagine…

Rigorous Honesty …

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest…”

Today was an ok day. The weather sucks, it is cold, wet, rainy and windy. The kind of rainy weather that demands you carry an umbrella, yet it doesn’t rain enough to open it. But not to carry an umbrella, by common sense, would make it rain much worse, so you carry it anyways.

Today, like every other Tuesday was the same by way of action and ritual. We have some new faces at our home group. That is a good sign, even if our numbers over the past few weeks has been light. Hopefully the weather will warm up and people will get active once again.

Today we talked about rigorous honesty. Something that is necessary in order to get sober and stay sober. It has been quite a few 24 hours since I got sober, and honesty is something that I do on a daily basis. It is something I have learned to do from the very start. Not only am I not lying to others, I am not lying to myself. On any given number of days in the last 8 years, I have been asked to be honest with what was going on in my life and what I was feeling, and learning how to deal with those feelings out in the open was a true blessing. All I had to do was be me. I did not fight the flow, I went with it.

And I remarked tonight, that over the last 8 years people have come and gone from our group. Some of them not so honest. Meetings are evolving entities. As people grow they may decide that they need to move on to bigger and better things and we don’t begrudge them their decisions. On the other hand there are those who have come and gone, because they could not be honest with us, nor could they be honest with themselves.” Those constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves…”

I can count a few of them. I see them in my minds eye when I set down chairs and I mention their names to God during my set up meditation. Those who have left, to date, I have never seen again in any room in the city. Maybe they are sober somewhere else. Or maybe they are still out there, fighting the flow.

There are some issues on my shoulders that I am pondering today. I don’t know what I want to do about them. I need to meet with my team first before I make any decisions. Suffice to say, nobody’s lying to anyone right now and feelings are a bit raw and on the surface. I guess we shall wait and see.

I have a deadline looming and I don’t know if I am going to make it.

I need to pray, I need to sit my ass down and do something, and I need to finish this project before next Wednesday. God help me. I have failed to keep on schedule with my coursework and I don’t want to admit failure, or that I have procrastinated over the last two months. UGH !!!

Let’s be honest. The M.A. is a pain in the ass. It’s a lot of work, and I don’t feel like I have been able to perform to the standard that is expected of me, yet I can make the grades. But it scares me to death. I totally bombed my presentation last night, even though  my prof told me I did ok. I still have to write that damned paper by next Monday. I have a brain, it just seems at times that it does not work properly when needed to.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad, world…

Pray for me …

US Congress passes landmark health care reform bill

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Democratic-controlled Congress handed President Barack Obama a huge victory Sunday night extending health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and cracking down on insurance company abuses, a climactic chapter in the century-long quest for near universal coverage.

Widely viewed as dead two months ago, the Senate-passed bill cleared the House on a 219-212 vote, with Republicans unanimous in opposition.

Congressional officials said they expected Obama to sign the bill as early as Tuesday. He was expected to make a statement following the vote.

The stakes could not have been higher for Obama’s presidency. Republicans hoped that by blocking the legislation, they would be able to thwart the president’s ambitious domestic agenda, including immigration reform and climate change legislation.

Obama watched the vote in the White House’s Roosevelt Room with Vice-President Joe Biden and about 40 staff aides. When the long sought 216th vote came in – the magic number needed for passage – the room burst into applause and hugs. An exultant president exchanged a high-five with his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

While national health care has been a goal of presidents stretching back decades, it has proved elusive, in part because self-reliance and suspicion of a strong central government remain strong in the U.S.

After more than a year of political combat – certain to persist into the fall election campaign for control of Congress – debate on the House floor fell along predictable lines.

Immediately following the vote, Democrats turned back a Republican move to undo the bill by a vote of 219-212. Republicans argued the legislation would permit the use of federal money to pay for abortions.

“We will be joining those who established Social Security, Medicare and now, tonight, health care for all Americans,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the vote, referring the government’s pension program and health insurance for the elderly established nearly 50 years ago.

“This is the civil rights act of the 21st century,” added Rep. Jim Clyburn, the top-ranking black member of the House.

Republicans readily agreed the bill would affect everyone in America, but warned repeatedly of the burden imposed by more than $900 billion in tax increases and Medicare cuts combined.

“We have failed to listen to America,” said Rep. John Boehner, leader of a party that has vowed to carry the fight into November’s midterm elections for control of Congress.

Earlier in the day, the House argued its way through a thicket of Republican objections toward an evening vote on the bill to extend coverage to 32 million Americans who lack it, ban insurers from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and cut deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade.

A shouting band of protesters outside the Capitol dramatized their opposition, and one man stood up in the House visitor’s gallery shouting, “Kill the bill” before he was ushered out – evidence of the passions the yearlong debate over health care has stirred.

Obama lobbied by phone from the White House, then took the crucial step of issuing an executive order that satisfied a small group of Democrats who demanded that no federal funds be used for elective abortions.

Over and over, Democrats stressed the historic nature of the day. The measure represents the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare and Medicaid were enacted in 1965 during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration to provide government-funded health care coverage to the elderly and poor.

“Health care isn’t only a civil right, it’s a moral issue,” said Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy. He said his late father, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, had worked his entire career for nationwide health care, and President John F. Kennedy before him.

Obama has said often that presidents of both parties have tried without success to achieve national health insurance, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt early in the 20th century.

The 44th president’s quest to succeed where others have failed seemed at a dead end two months ago, when Republicans won a special election to fill Edward Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat, and with it, enough votes to prevent a final vote.

But the White House, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid soon came up with a rescue plan that required the House to approve the Senate-passed measure despite opposition to many of its provisions, then have both chambers pass a fix-it measure incorporating numerous changes.

Under the legislation, most Americans would be required to purchase insurance, and face penalties if they refused. Much of the money in the bill would be devoted to subsidies to help families at incomes of up to $88,000 a year pay their premiums.

The legislation would also usher in a significant expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor.

The insurance industry would come under new federal regulation. They would be forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and from cancelling policies when a policyholder becomes ill.

Parents would be able to keep older children on their coverage up to age 26. A new high-risk pool would offer coverage to uninsured people with medical problems until 2014, when the coverage expansion goes into high gear.

Once enacted, the two bills would create a series of so-called “insurance exchanges” beginning in 2014 where self-employed people and small businesses could pool together to shop for health care coverage.

To pay for the changes, the legislation includes more than $400 billion in higher taxes over a decade, roughly half of it from a new Medicare payroll tax on individuals with incomes over $200,000 and couples over $250,000.

Associated Press writers David Espo, Jim Kuhnhenn and Erica Werner contributed to this report.

Are we there yet???

We are halfway through the weekend, and I am still hacking and coughing. This cold is not going without a fight. I’ve been warned by my medical team to keep an eye out for fever. Haven’t had any of that yet. Just a lot of headaches and chest congestion.

Today I worked on David and Samuel. I got 6 pages written for my presentation and I have one more text to go through. Writing on the two David and Saul stories is very interesting. Each of the texts I have so far written on share different takes on the stories. I am supposed to stick with the text itself and not go outside (diachronic), I have to maintain a (synchronic) vision of the text.

The relationship between David and Saul is troubling. They are running after each other through hills, caves and fields. Saul wants to capture and kill David, and his minions want to help Saul do the deed, yet David continues to escape him by mere seconds and definite divine intervention.

Saul, on the other hand falls into the hands of David, not once but twice. And David is loathe to kill him because Saul is king and God’s anointed. David’s men step up and offer to kill Saul, yet David cautions them not to. There are conversations between David and Saul. The use of covenant language are apparent. It is all very tasking. Saul knows that pursuing David is wrong even if he keep on hunting him down. Then they meet, and David makes his pronouncements to Saul about being “anointed and king” and Saul weeps and humbles himself and repents of his evil ways and speaks wondrous words about David and they go their separate ways.

Both men have issues. Neither are perfect in the sight of God. Both have done dastardly things throughout the books of Samuel. But David will be king eventually, he may not be a perfect king, but king nonetheless. I wanted to share one perspective on the stories with you from my research.

The Open Rupture Between David and Saul.
The Forms of the Old Testament Literature. Vol. VII.
Antony F. Campbell, S.J.

Saul’s return to fight the Philistines is one of the few points in these stories, apart from his death, where we see him fulfilling his royal function. It also gives a momentary pause in the narrative, before the episode at the cave, in the wilderness of Engedi.

Early in any discussion reflection on the relationship between chapters 24 (the “cave in the daytime” story) and chapter 26 (the “camp in the nighttime” story) is unavoidable. There is widespread agreement that one tradition is coming to expression in both stories. That one tradition is present seems clear. Saul, in pursuit of David, is found in David’s power and is spared by the man whose life he seeks; full-bodied reconciliation ensues. More and more, commentators are agreeing that the interpreters task is to find a meaning for these stories in their context, rather than to debate their mutual dependence and age.

The version in chapter 26 is ready-made for performance. It is night. David and Abishai penetrate Saul’s camp and stand over Saul’s sleeping body. One spear thrust will kill him. David takes the spear, disappears into the night, and cries out from across the intervening valley. The version in chapter 24 requires a lot more work on the part of the storyteller; there is not a close fit between the deed and the drama. Saul has three thousand men with him as he pops into the cave – surely in daytime.

Why use a cave if it was night? David emerges from the cave, a bit behind Saul, and cries out to him. the storyteller has to make two aspects plausible. Saul, in broad daylight, asks the nighttime question: “Is this your voice, my son David?”

David in broad daylight, is not seized by the three thousand who are out hunting for him. A storyteller would have to have David slip out of the cave unseen and gain a vantage point where he could not be trapped and would not be visible. After has Saul “blinded with tears” ; but in the text the weeping comes after wards, at the end of the verse, and the three thousand are still there to be dealt with. (Alter) wrestles with the three thousand earlier, the text does not attend to them. The biblical text reveals faithfully where it has come from; Alter reveals brilliantly where it might be taken.

Inside the cave, there is a pointer to the complexity in the telling that again leaves options open for the storyteller. David’s men in the rear of the cave, seeing Saul in the light at the mouth of the cave, urge David to seize this God-given opportunity to do to his enemy Saul as it seems good to David – in a word, kill him! According to the text, David crept up sneakily and “cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak” The next verse is odd: “Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak.”

This is stretching credulity a but far. The guerrilla chief has remorse over a bit of royal garment snipping. Appeal to royal mystique and the sacredness of all that is associated with the king is a distraction; the central issue is life or death, to kill or to spare. Later David will wave the corner of the cloak at Saul as proof of his goodness.

The remorse is badly out of place in this context. But worse is to come. Having spared Saul’s life and cut the corner of his cloak off instead, David is portrayed berating his men for their wickedness in wanting to attack Saul. If Joab were present with a speaking role in this story he might well have pointed out to David that the heroics were in place before the garment snipping; they were completely out of place after it. So there is more to this scene than meets the eye. Storytellers, start your imaginations! Was there a version with no incitement to kill expressed in the cave? Was the incitement to kill Saul an extra option offered by the text?

There is little point in looking for a relationship of dependence between the two tellings. It is enough that there are two tellings of one tradition, each quite capable of standing on its own. As will be emphasized under “meaning” the involvement of both traditions in this narrative heightens the intensity of Saul’s enmity toward David and maked David’s move into exile utterly inevitable.

Exile among the Philistines is dangerous for David’s reputation as a loyal Israelite. We will look at this in treating chapters 28-31. For Davidic supporters, it is important that David had absolutely no choice and was forced into this exile. Reconciliation with Saul could not be trusted.

As to the episode in the cave, it is storytelling and popular storytelling at that. Such storytelling requires plausibility; it is unlikely that a performance had all David’s band lurking in the cave or conducting a noisy debate followed by a voice vote on the issue of killing Saul or snipping his cloak. As noted above, the implausibility inside the cave lies with David’s reproach to his men after he himself has done the deed for which he later takes moral credit. Outside the cave, the storyteller has to deal with the major difficulty that David peaceably discourses with Saul as though the three thousand chosen troops had never been mobilized.


In chapter 24: As told, this story moves a stage beyond its predecessors. The introduction sets up the preliminaries. Brought information, Saul’s force camps in the area where David is reported to be (“on the hill of Hachilah,”) We do not know exactly where David was (“in the wilderness”) apparently David did not know exactly where Saul was, but he was aware of Saul’s arrival.

The story proper starts with David sending out spies, moving in on Saul’s camp, and even observing precisely where Saul was sleeping. This information was is repeated in vv.5 and 7; v.7 specifies that it was night and that Saul was asleep. A storyteller might stress that, before night fell, what David saw in v.5 was the layout of the camp, the “place” where Saul slept, with the army camped around him.

The story moves in two stages: inside Saul’s camp and outside it. The first allows for the demonstration of David’s refusal to kill the Lords anointed. The second allows for both an insistence on David’s innocence and for Saul;s final commendation and blessing of David.

The story holds a challenge for both its hearers or readers and for its storytellers. The parallel story in chapter 24 in quite different. There Saul walked in on David territory. There. following the present text, David’s men urged him against Saul. David approached Saul stealthily, and then David was stricken to the heart. The problem at issue were discussed in chapter 24 and need not be repeated here. That Saul walking in on David’s territory is unproblematic. That David was “stricken to the heart” is equally clear, but its context is quite uncertain. The present text says because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. The context suggests because he had entertained the thought of killing Saul.

The story of chapter 26 is quite different. David intrudes on Saul’s territory, his camp. No mention whatsoever is made of David being repentant or “stricken to the heart.” The challenge of the story: Why did David risk his life penetrating Saul’s camp by night and putting himself at risk in the middle of Saul’s army? Certainly not with a view to killing Saul. That may have been Abishai’s intention; in the story, it certainly cannot be David’s, for two reasons.

First, the narrative so far has been insistent that Saul is the aggressor and David the innocent victim. Second, and paramount for the telling of the story, we know and all Israel knew that Saul died in a battle on Mount Gilboa. Why then did the story have David risk his life entering Saul’s camp at night? Certainly not to kill Saul. instead it has David risk his life to demonstrate his innocence and, within the story, to receive Saul’s blessing and commendation. The challenge of this story is to make this plausible.

In the context of Chapters 24 and 26, we need to recognize how inauspicious a start to royal reign it would have been to have killed a king who crept quietly into a cave, urged by a need of nature. How much more inauspicious to pin the sleeping monarch to the ground with his own spear in his own camp – not in battle but in bed. Neither matter, since Saul was to die on Mount Gilboa. Neither is likely to have been told at the royal court of Saul’s heir, King Ishbosheth (2 Sam 2:8-10a), or at the hearth of the last known claimant to Saul’s throne, the crippled Mephisbosheth (cf. 2Sam 9:16:3)

Oh Boy it’s 4 a.m. I’ve been typing for a long time…

More to come, stay tuned…

Living at the mercy of my T-Cells…

March is surely going to go down, but not without a fight. In true fashion, I got the flu from somewhere. I am not sure where, but Monday night I knew it was coming and today is Thursday and I am hyped up on extra strength flu pills trying to sleep off this bug.

I skipped class on Wednesday night, and that’s not going to make my prof very happy, but I live at the mercy of my t-cells. March is usually the month where I fall off the pedestal of good health. It is the usual cycle. I can plot this cycle back years and years. It doesn’t matter how high my t-cells were on  my last draw, this bug has a nasty side to it and no matter where I got it, it isn’t going away very quietly.

I haven’t done any work this week since Monday because my head is too foggy and the pain in my throat is intense and I’ve been wheezing and coughing up a storm. I need to get my presentation finished this weekend. I know what I have to do and I have all of my notes in my folder so it shouldn’t be that bad.

That’s all for now.
More to come, stay tuned…

Someone hand me a tissue …

Last night, I was feeling a little bit light headed and I knew that a cold was coming on quickly. With my delicate constitution, I get a few days notice before my body gives into infection. This is not really a good time to start feeling sick, with all the work I have to complete in the next two weeks.

I took school to the meeting with me today to get a jump on tomorrows class, a little introduction to Augustine’s Confessions and books 10, 11, 12 … We will be reading book 13 next week. However she gave us the chore of looking up the text last week, which tells me that we should already be reading it for tomorrow night’s class. Which then means, that tomorrow I will be reading all afternoon and writing my reflection before I leave for the department.

The meetings were light at both ends. The discussion went all over the place between faith and family, and powerlessness over people. I spoke for a bit on topic, but I don’t want to regurgitate my family history again. Suffice to say that at my age, I know what is possible and what is not. I can’t change people. And I can’t bring back the past, however hard I pray for those times now and then.

People are going to do what they do regardless of how I feel or what I have done with my life in the last 15 years, or what I think, it’s human nature. I can’t be bothered to care about people no longer in my life, or care about people who don’t bring LIGHT into my life. I don’t have the time or inclination.

All I can do is take care of me, and remember that I am powerless and that as soon as I forget that, I am in trouble. So I stay out of trouble. To the best of my abilities.

I enjoyed the speaker tonight. His story was compelling and honest. I was hyped on flu pills the entire night and now they are waning, and I am going to hit the sack soon. I think a good nights sleep will do me good.

Good night from Montreal.

3 a.m. Train …

It has been quite a day today. Monday was Monday. Over the weekend I finished the first of three assignments due this month, my book review, which I turned in today. I am hoping that it meets with approval because I am not doing it again.

I spent the afternoon studying to start writing my Sophia paper, there is a book sitting by my bedside that I should be reading right now, but I am still here farting around.

We had class tonight, my Samuel (Old Testament) seminar. We ran through chapters 13,14, and 15. When you take apart a text to its bare essentials and you break up all the groups and you characterize the text by groups and location you learn a great deal about the text.

While the 4 students, and 1 RA do the breakdown, my prof is sitting with her Hebrew Bible following us. You learn that the Bible is written in pieces and edited together over time. When you strip a text down to its oldest literary strata you begin to see who wrote what and when it was written. It is all very interesting. You even figure out what is original, what is redacted and how the chapters fit together, or not together. It has happened that we find that some chapters were written before others then edited together, it is all quite fascinating.

Next Monday is my turn to present my texts that would be 1 Samuel chapters 24 and 26. I have all my notes that I have been working on and my books to do my narrative programs. I can tell from here that my chapters are easy compared to what we have been doing in class. I have to find a way to pump out 10 pages of text for my presentation, because I don’t think I will have that many. And failure is not an option.

I have two weeks to finish Sophia. God Help Me … I also have to finish Origen, but hubby is helping me on that one. I need to sit with him and see what he comes up with for my rewrite. My adviser is adamant that I keep to the rewrite schedule and if need be I should extend either OT or Hermeneutics and I don’t want to do that. I want to finish my classes on schedule this term and hopefully all of my work will be acceptable the first run through.

Nobody said that M.A. Studies would be a breeze.

I spoke to my friend Louise in Florida this afternoon. Her double mastectomy surgery is scheduled for April the 9th at 2 p.m. She will have a 4 to 6 week recovery with reconstruction being done in that time period. She sounded really good today, her spirits were high and she was on the ball. We should all keep her in our prayers.

Tomorrow is Tuesday and I have to pick up coffee and sugar for the meeting on the way out before I set up the meeting. I will have more for you tomorrow.

I should get to bed.
More to come, stay tuned…

Winning gold medal helps Brian McKeever remembers why he keeps racing


WHISTLER, B.C. – Brian McKeever will never forget his Olympic disappointment, but the Paralympic gold medal he won Monday helped remind him why he keeps racing.

McKeever’s victory in the 20-kilometre cross-country ski race for the visually impaired gave Canada its first gold medal of the Winter Paralympics. The win came in an event where McKeever had finished second in his two previous Paralympics.

“That meant a lot,” said McKeever, who was almost 42 seconds faster than the second-place finisher. “That was the one we were waiting to win.

“It’s been eight years in the making. That’s the one we really wanted.”

Monday also saw Canada earn gold and bronze in alpine skiing.

Lauren Woolstencroft won the women’s standing slalom, while Karolina Wisniewska was third.

Woolstencroft, of North Vancouver, B.C., had a two-run combined time of 1:51.97 seconds, putting her almost seven seconds ahead of Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss.

Vancouver’s Wisniewska was timed in 1:58.84

Woolstencroft, 28, was born without legs below the knee and no left arm below the elbow. She started skiing at age four and racing at 14.

He qualified for the Canadian Olympic team in January and was poised to become the first winter sport athlete to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

But the Winter Games ended in heartbreak for McKeever after the Canadian coaching staff decided not to start him in his event, the gruelling 50 kilometres.

“It makes it a lot easier,” McKeever said of Monday’s gold. “We are never going to forget what happened but this helps us move on.

“We still have more racing to go and more things to look ahead to.”

McKeever and his brother Robin, who acts as his guide, finished the race in 51 minutes 14.7 seconds. Nikolay Polukhin of Russia was second in 51:55.6 while Vasiki Shaptsiaboi of Belarus was third in 52:22.5.

Hearing the cheers of a hometown crowd made the gold even more special.

“Friends and family are here,” McKeever said. “A home crowd supported us through this whole journey. Right through the Olympics they were behind us and really supporting us.

“It’s a way we can give back for all the support we had.”

Canada was also victorious in wheelchair curling Monday after hammering Japan 13-2.

The victory pushed Canada’s record to 4-0 with a game against Sweden scheduled for later in the day.

So far Canada has won six medals (two gold, three silver, one bronze) at the Paralympics.

Canada’s goal is to finish among the top three countries in gold medals won. The International Paralympic Committee ranks countries on the basis of gold medals.

The McKeever brothers, who are both fighting colds, made a hard race look easy. They took the lead on the second lap of the four-lap race.

“You are never sure if you are going to get it until it’s all over,” said Brian McKeever. “You have to push right through.

“It was hard but we had a good plan. We stuck to the pace we wanted to do. It made the difference today.”

McKeever has become the face of these Paralympics. His race drew a large, vocal crowd and the most media of any event so far at the cross-country venue.

The 30-year-old from Canmore, Alta., understands part of the attention is because of what he didn’t do as much as for what he’s done.

“At least the attention is here at the Paralympics,” he said. “This is what we wanted. We wanted to raise the profile of the Paralympics. We wanted to bridge the gap between the Olympics and the Paralympics.

“I think we are doing that. This is going to help the Paralympics grow and that is going to help this competition get stronger for many years to come.”

McKeever hasn’t given up the dream of racing at both the Olympics and Paralympics in 2014 at Sochi.

“We will be trying,” he said. “I want another shot at the Olympics for sure.

“We are already starting the plans to see how we get there, making sure the training will be right and making sure we can work together for Sochi.”

John Furlong, head of the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee, called McKeever’s victory perfect.

“It means the laws of natural justice are prevailing and things are unfolding the way they should,” said Furlong, who attended the race.

“Given what happened during the Olympic Games it couldn’t fall to a more worthy person than him to be the first gold medallist for us. It’s the perfect story, really.”

McKeever has Stargaard’s disease, a genetic disease that has reduced his vision to about 10 per cent, all of which is peripheral.

This is the third Paralympics for McKeever. He has won a total of five gold, two silver and a bronze.

Robin McKeever called the win “extremely satisfying.”

“I towed Brian as hard as I could in Salt Lake and we were silver,” he said. “In Turin I was sick for the 20-K and couldn’t guide Brian to my fullest. He missed the gold by about nine seconds.

“Coming in here, I feel we skied really well as a team and I feel really happy about it.”

Brian McKeever finished sixth in his first Paralympic race Saturday, the three-kilometre biathlon pursuit.

The brothers have three races left. The plan is to win least two more gold.

“We are not fully healthy,” said Brian. “Every day we are getting a little stronger.”

Saturday Night Follies …

The Midnight hour is upon us. Saturday Night Live is on teevee and I am sitting here trying to write something interesting.

Hubby was out all day, well into the evening, which allowed me to sleep in with lots of peace and quiet. I got up early in the afternoon and began working on my final book review of  “What is Gnosticism” by Karen L. King.

I did not do a good job on the first review so I had to do it again, which meant that I had to read the book AGAIN, which I did – and try to zero in on something specific, which I did this time. I found it difficult to talk about most of the book because of the language and terminology. There are some books you read that just seem written way above ones head, unless you are a biblical scholar.

Hopefully I did what I was supposed to do. This would be the first of three assignments that have to be done by the end of the month. I still have a paper to write about Sophia. That is coming along.

I am also working on my characterizations of Samuel chapters 24 and 26, the two stories about David and Saul. I had an appointment with my Prof yesterday and she gave me some helpful advice. She mainly said that I should have a full presentation ready and that I should take this assignment and have fun with it. So that’s what I am doing.

Tomorrow is the annual St. Patty’s Day Parade. The green line is painted all the way down Ste. Catherine’s Street and the barricades are on the corners and I noticed that they put up a slew of no parking signs up on the street we live on, because the parade steps off on our street up from the tunnel on the next block down. It will be mayhem down there all day tomorrow, thank God I did all my shopping today, so we won’t have to deal with the crowds and the barricades.

That’s all I have for you tonight.

More to come, stay tuned …

He said what ???

It was an early day today. I had to be at the clinic at 9:20 in the morning, I got there at 10 past nine. They put me in an exam room and I sat and I waited. I waited more than an hour. Then they moved me to another exam room, and I waited some more. It’s not enough that they reschedule people for the god awful morning, then the doctor comes to work late and I could have slept in later instead of getting up at 8:30 in the morning.

So I got a clean bill of health. The numbers are all fantastic.

Viral Load: 49 copies… undetectable.
CD4% …43%
CD4 1462

So the trend is as follows:

19 May 09: cd4 1312
30 Jun 09: cd4 1612
29 Sep 09: cd4 1312
17 Feb 10: cd4 1462

All the other numbers like cholesterol and such are good. I hit all mu numbers that I needed to all except my weight. I got the “YOU”RE FAT” lecture again today. I rolled my eyes and said yeah, yeah, yeah. What should I do, stop fucking eating? I was more diplomatic than that.

That was all he said. And I came home and went back to bed until this afternoon, when I went to class.

That is all…

Letting Go …

The snow is quickly melting and green grass is starting to sprout up in yards and in the green spaces. It looks like the sun will shine for the next few days. But we have been warned not to get ahead of ourselves until the beginning of April.

It was a good day. I got a good chunk of reading done today. We are reading Martin Luther and Hans Urs Von Balthasar. I finished up Luther before the meeting and started into Balthasar, which I will finish up later tonight.

We had a good meeting night. The usual suspects showed up  for the early meeting and only a sparse handful of people for the later speaker meeting.

We spoke about Letting Go and knowing when to engage situations and knowing when NOT to engage. Getting sober is a selfish program. We have to always take care of ourselves first. And I can add to this thought that if I don’t take care of me, I can’t help take care of you. Because we need to remember that we can’t give away what we don’t have. But in order to keep it, we must give it away. One must learn the fine art of balance and knowing when enough is enough, and when to Live and Let Live.

This is going to be a short entry because I need to get to bed early because I have an early morning tomorrow.

More to come, stay tuned…

Cranked …

Did I tell you that our modem died a very slow and painful death? The weekend was frought with intermittent signals from our modem to the central ISP, and our signal went up and down all weekend long. On Thursday they shipped us a new modem overnight and we were supposed to get it on Friday morning. Well, Friday morning came and went and no modem.

NOTE TO SELF… Canada Post does not know how to do overnight shipping.

Hubby was quite miffed at that and he fought the ISP to make sure that we were not going to pay the extra $40.00 for overnight post, when we did not get our package. (That came this morning).

Hubby hooked up the new box and ran the phone cable splitters and it seemed to work well all day long until earlier tonight when it dropped the signal, and hubby was cranked again. He called the ISP and we troubleshooted the issue and finally the signal came back. And we have had a steady signal since.

I spent the weekend at the library, hunting down books for my papers that I am working on. It will take me two trips to carry back all the books on my dining room table. I had to rewrite my bibliography and add more sources to it. That seems to be a theme of mine this term … REWRITE…

So that’s what I did. Who knew I’d be throat deep in books at this point. I did a lot of reading and I am zeroing in on my themes for my Samuel paper. We learned to night in class that presentations have been extended another week, which means I don’t have to present my paper until the 22nd. Gives me more time to work on it. I am finding my motivation lacking this term. Which is something I need to change. There is no turning back now. I am committed to finishing out the term. Then all bets are off…

I have to finish my rewrites of Sophia and Origen for the end of the month. I have a timetable on my board over the computer so I stick to schedule and I finish on time.

Tomorrow is Tuesday and I will have time to make my meeting and spend some time with my friends. On Wednesday I have a doctors appointment at 9:20 in the morning. I don’t DO 9:20 in the morning ever… I called to see if I could push it back later in the day, but that was impossible. So I get my new numbers then, I will keep you posted on those.

Tonight I bottomed out after class. I was feeling a little light headed and clammy walking out of the department, so I stopped off at the closest coffee shop for a hit of sugar and downed a can of pop in less than a block. So I stopped off at a pizza shop for another can of pop and a slice of pizza further on my walk home. In our neighborhood there are coffee shops and pizza places on every corner in the campus core. There are 12 coffee shops within walking distance of the main campus building and several coffee shops within the main campus building. We drink a lot of coffee …

Feast your eyes on my newest acquisition, AXO Prime Boots in black. These boots retail for $247.00 off the shelf. Waaay to expensive for my wallet. I happened upon these on EBAY the other night and the starting bid was $60.00, now you know I can’t pass up a good deal and occasionally I will gamble on an auction. The Buy it now price was $120.00. Still, a steep savings on them, seeing that they are so expensive off the shelf.

I bid on them instead of paying the $120.00. I posted my bid at $60.00 with a $30.00 pad which kept my bid under $100.00 in any case. That bid remained unchallenged for three days. So I got a $247.00 pair of boots for $60.00. The additional shipping to Montreal was $44.00 which I expected. All in all I think I scored a sweet deal. Sometimes you roll and you win.

Well that’s about it for now. I need to sleep.

More to come, stay tuned …