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Archive for February, 2013

Introspection …

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Courtesy: BillyPazionis Flickr

It has been an eventful week. A snowstorm blew through Wednesday into Today, and nobody could agree on snowfall totals, And in the end, the storm petered out before it could dump anything substantial on the city. I guess that is a good thing.

Today hubby had another teaching opportunity. He bought himself a new wardrobe thanks to The Bay, new shoes from his father, and shiny new cuff links. The day was successful and he came home with stories and confidence.

Today the Pope resigned from his ministry, took a helicopter to Castel Gandolfo just outside of Rome. The Swiss Guard shut the gates of the Palace at 8 p.m. local time signifying that the seat of Peter is now vacant. Now we await the Conclave to elect the next Pope.

We shall see if they turn the cross atop Mount Royal Purple, signifying the “Interregnum,” The time between Popes. When John Paul II died the cross turned from white light to purple light. I don’t know what the precedent is for a pope who resigns his post.

I met my friend this evening to set out for St. Matthias. It was a full house. There are lots going on in the city over the next few months which is a good thing. Hopefully Spring is just around the corner.

I’ve heard our speaker from this evening before.

I’ve not heard anyone quite like him. Someone who is steeped in the Big Book, and in his disease. Everything hinges on knowing who you are in reference to the statements made questions in the Book.

A good amount of his share spoke about the Spiritual malady of soul, mind and spirit, and what the cure for that problem is. Connecting with a power greater than ourselves, and also spending time with the one who gives you breath.

Meaning do you spend ample time during your day connecting to God? Because if you don’t, nothing changes. And if you do, anything is possible.

The deeper you delve into the book, and turn the magnifying glass on yourself, through working the book, finishing the work, then taking someone else through the book, the better our lives get.

He spoke about the “shoe syndrome.” Newbies who come in only stare at your shoes, and not look into your eyes, because they are shattered human beings, but once they are shown the book, and they work their way through it, the eyes rise and you come face to face with a reborn spirit.

I remember when I first came in, I was a baseball cap, head down, young person, well, at my age that I came in. I spent a year doing meetings, seeing an aftercare therapist, and little by slowly, my head came up and my eyes brightened.

But that took time. In the end I was victorious.

Everybody had at least one take away from this share. And if we didn’t walk away from this evening wanting a deeper connection with our Higher Power, then it was a waste to sit and listen.

It was a good night. We took Caravan home, it was a clear journey, as there wasn’t much snow piled up on the streets.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Giving … 7th Tradition …

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When we speak it is experience, strength and hope. Not what we give from our pockets.

I’ve never heard someone share from the podium reference to putting anything in the basket. Never. If someone chooses to put money in the kitty it is their prerogative. And not ours to demand, or require, whatever the amount of time someone has. There are people who come to meetings (here) that never contribute to the kitty. And some folks don’t necessarily hear the words, “now it is time for the 7th tradition which states …” you know the rest,

I’ve never heard someone make an issue about giving to the kitty. It’s not our place to do so. If people give they give, and if they don’t they don’t.

I’ve got 11 years. And I contribute to the kitty at every meeting I go to. I also give back in service and speaking on occasion. But I would never drop a word about giving to the kitty, in ANY audience. You have to let people take things in their own time. In time they might begin to give, and maybe they won’t. Nobody is a freeloader if they don’t contribute. People come because they want to get well, and maybe that might mean that they don’t contribute. But it is not our place to place guilt or judgment that they don’t give and they ought to, as you say. What we ought to do is carry the message to the newcomer. What it was like, what happened and what it is like now. In that formula, there is no mention about the kitty in my book !

The 7th tradition is optional, not a requirement.

And if you came to a meeting and said that you believe as members who have gotten the message and come to meetings, and thereby obligating us to give because we have been freely given, I might say aside that it is not our place to say anything about contributions financial or otherwise. Every group ought to be fully self supporting declining outside contributions.

The traditions are there to guide the (groups). The steps are there to guide the (human).

If you feel strongly that long standing members always give to the kitty, i challenge you to pray about what you share from the podium. Why are you focusing on the kitty? And what are you not seeing in your own actions that you should? And does this have to do with other members of the group not giving to the kitty? What are your resentments and your character defects?

Humility – Honesty …

We don’t talk about money from the podium. Bill would never have done that. Go back to the books and read it. The 7th tradition was begun to make sure that meetings become autonomous and that we have enough money to buy books, material, pay rent, 3 months prudent reserve, coffee and (in our case: Cookies). The excess money goes to inter-group or the area or NYC.

The 7th tradition is spoken at some point in the meeting guide, and leave it at that. Be grateful for what the group makes. And not put it on the shoulders of ANY member to be obligated to give at any time. That’s an outside issue. Like I said the 7th is optional not a requirement.

Time to consult your Twelve and Twelve …


The Garden …

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Courtesy: Mauvo

We are sitting at (2c) at this hour. And a snowfall warning is in effect for tomorrow, they say 15 to 25 cm of snow will fall, which is pretty big for the month of March. If totals are high over the city on this round, we could see a repeat of piles of snow everywhere. Stay tuned on that front … it will be exciting.

The last week of the month has not been kind, and being a few days early and a few dollars short, I got another chance to practice humility and honesty. I don’t fear being honest, and having to ask for favors on the odd occasion.

The pharmacy fills my medications ahead of time, and they called today to say they were ready, but the $85.00 total was out of my budget and my hands today. Thankfully, my words is good, and I get another credit today so that I could get my meds and pay on Thursday.

The weather has been balmy the past couple of days, the calm before the storm, the sun even made an appearance for a while today. I set off for the church around 5, with stops on the way pegged my arrival around 5:30.

My newbies did not show up for set up. So much for accountability. I got the urns perking and jammed out setup before the 6:15 business meeting began. We gained another handful of members tonight, which brings us up to I think 25 members. I need to add them to our email member list.

We sat 50 people tonight. And the chair had us read from Came to Believe. The read comes from the back of the book, page 103, Changing Beliefs.

The quote that stood out to me was: “There is good in all of us. Seek it out, nurture it, tend it, and it will flourish.”

This passage touches on the Steps and most importantly, Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him. It also talks about “coming to believe.”

At the end of my drinking career, I was a lonely lone drinker, in a room of people who cared not that I was standing there. My self esteem was shot, and I was alone. And had I dropped off the face of the earth, prior to coming back in, nobody would have missed me. And that’s the truth.

I had nothing to loose when I came back. And thank God that people took me in and helped me begin to rebuild the life that I was living. I pulled a geographic in sobriety here. The only thing I did right was spending two weeks prior getting to know the city, find meetings and connect.

The journey began when I started doing meetings here. I needed someone to take me by the hand and show me how it was done here. And I got that from my sponsor at that time. The journey to learn about God began. Because I had to find the God of my understanding once again.

They told me to keep coming back, to stay in my day, to turn it over. It took me a long time to learn what these things meant. Akin to planting a new garden. I came here, and began to till the soil, so to speak.

I started going to meetings, I began to plant my seeds, THEN I had to give the garden time to grow. If you’ve never planted a garden, you can’t rush the growth cycle. It is going to grow on God’s time. I became willing to wait on my garden, when at first I thought I needed a full garden, RIGHT NOW !!!

Wrong …

Many people talked tonight about Coming to the rooms, Coming to, then Coming to believe. Notice the steps are gradual. Everybody is unique and it may take some time to come to believe. And that’s where willingness comes in.

The other thing I heard tonight is that what ever is going on in my head, the act “AS IF” works if you work it. Also, just suit up and show up, you never know how you will help someone by just showing up.

At one time we may have thought terrible and unreal things about ourselves, and when I came in to the rooms, like many others like me, the people in the rooms loved me and believed for me until I could love myself and believe for myself. The paradoxes of sobriety ring true.

Obviously we cannot transmit something that we don’t have ourselves.

Come to meetings, keep going to meetings. Learn about yourself and your fellows. Read the book. Work the Steps. Honesty, Willingness and Open mindedness is key. Stick around until the miracle occurs.

Give freely of what you have been given.

Plant your garden, and watch it grow. Patiently.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries …

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Courtesy: CameronJohn

The weekend is almost over. We have scrubbed, trashed and cleaned this apartment from top to bottom. Today I washed walls, and scrubbed kitchens and threw away more trash that has piled up …

For whatever it’s worth, they better not give us shit tomorrow, because I will cut a bitch … (jk)

It has been snowing all day, but nothing substantial is on the ground. It has been piddling all day long and is still falling at this hour. I did my supermarket safari on the way out because the Oscars pre-show is on as I type this.

I arrived at the church just after 5. Just on time so that our coffee guy was there first and he not cop a resentment because I got there too early. As it was the last Sunday of the month, we read from the Twelve and Twelve and tradition #2.

All I can say is that there is a God, and I am not He …

That’s all I got for now…

More to come, stay tuned …


Talks of Frocks …

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There is a reason I posted the prior article from the Daily Beast, because it resonated with me so vividly.

Let me tell you a story…

I graduated High School in 1985. I spent a year at the local junior college, but all the while, I was actively working at my home parish, I was an altar server, and a member of the youth group and later a Eucharistic minister.

In 1986, I applied to the Diocese of Miami – Minor Seminary in Miami. I took all the tests and passed, I guess. My parents were neither here nor there. It was because of my grandmother(s) that my passion for God was so strong.

All I wanted was to serve the church, And I did that without question during that year. I loved God with all my heart and all my soul. And I wanted to do right by my upbringing. But men at the seminary did not think that I was suited for ministry, that is why I only lasted a year.

You could say that when I was dismissed, God fell out of favor. I did not come out until I turned 21 and was well away from my family. What I didn’t know at 19 I should have in hindsight.

I was all of 19 years old. I had eyes for the church, and I was accepted into the minor seminary in the Fall of 1986 – thru – Spring 1987. I was a boy trying to find his way in a community of men who, in most cases, were older than me, also, (and this is purely hindsight observation) most of my peers knew who they were, as in sexual orientation.

There was a dichotomy of states I observed. I kept my nose clean, I did not make waves, I did my studies, went to chapel, participated in community, but still, I was an odd ball.

In hindsight, there were many things that I felt passionate about. A certain priest, had a problem with the drink. He would drink and find himself in the lodging hall and some of us took it upon ourselves to get him back to the rectory and into bed without incident. This happened more than once, and more than twice.

He eventually got sent away to dry out. And it was upon this campaign that I seized upon. I lobbied for him to be returned to us. Because he was a priest in a certain position of authority when he was sent away.

The priest who was installed as his replacement, was a Big Frock Priest. He loved his vestments, and you would have thought he had aspirations to the Vatican, by the way he held himself, marched through the chapel and wielded his limp fist. I did not like him. Because he had an ego of authority.

There were gay priests in residence at the seminary. It so happened that certain priests were taken out of their own churches because of personal issues that seemed as punishments for their transgressions. And were sent to live with us.

Among my fellows, there were surely young men who were gay. I did see them OUT in community, when I was asked to leave the community. Some of my fellows did end up being ordained. I have since seen them on televised masses on tv, and over the past years I have posted reports about the exploits of some of the priests that were in residence during my year.

I can tell you that YES there are gay priests in churches. And It would not phase me one bit to know that there are gay priests ensconced in the Vatican. It does not shock me to read items such that I have posted here.

One of the priests, whom I know was gay at the time, when I was in seminary, studied at the Vatican during his formation years. So it is not a stretch that there are homosexuals in the highest echelons of Holy Mother Church.

I will defend some men. Because although they may be gay, many of the priests I have come to know in all my years, are good upstanding priests who serve their communities without fail. They don’t run around in the shadows and act out as we have read below.

Some I will not defend.I do draw a line in certain situations.

As a young man, at that time, I had not come to any realization about my sexual orientation. And I must ponder how I would have turned out, had I remained in seminary and eventually ordained like some of my fellows. I don’t know how that would have turned out.

There were gay men in my formation class. Some were upperclassmen, some from other countries. We had a good population of seminarians from other parts of the Latin world. And it was apparent that some of them were terribly gay.

It was a bit off putting. We had orientation weekends when new prospects would come to visit the school, and for some, would be followed by coming online with us. One particular boy who came after me, brought along his trunk with his assorted speedos and colorful underwear. Which he wasn’t shy about showing off to us as he unpacked.

He did not last very long. He came and went in less than a season.

The rector of the seminary … Big Frock Priest … was a character. I would name him, but I won’t because that would bring me too much grief. I imagine that in hindsight, as an older man myself, today, that he was a priest with a flair for the dramatic.

You know when you stand in church and a priest raises his right hand to offer a blessing to the people, there is the regular way a priest would hold out his hand to offer that blessing. Then there was Big Frock Priest, who, like I said, had aspirations of higher office, his pointed blessings with hand held high in mock of a bishop or the pope. I can see it in my minds eye.

We’ve talked about Gay priests … and If they are the problem?

We cannot discount the countless men of faith who have abused their positions in the church to abuse children. Actions that are morally and ethically deplorable. I cannot condone these men.

You come to serve the church, and you come to serve God first and foremost. With that in mind, if you desire to abuse children, then renounce your ministry and be on your way.

I have known a handful of men in ministry. Many of them straight. But since my coming to Canada, and being educated here, my affiliation with the Catholic and Anglican Churches has introduced me to a group of saintly Gay Clergy in both the Catholic and Anglican faiths.

One of them is one of my best friends, is to be ordained later on this year.

There are gays in Catholic ministry. That I can confirm. It is not a stretch to think that there are gay priests in the Vatican. This whole gay black male situation in Rome is perplexing. But it would not surprise me if these allegations are true. There are priests, then there are those men who over step their roles and bring shame upon themselves and to us by their actions.

It’s kind of repugnant.

But what do you do with all that pent up frustration of ministry work day in and day out. having to perform for the masses and the bishops, cardinals and the many who pass through the gates of Holy Mother Church?

The gay priests I knew, who were schooled in Rome, were certainly members of a particular community, and surely there were others there are well. This is not just a North American Phenomena. Gays come from most civilized countries.

Pope Benedict XVI was always known as the bulldog, for his strict stance on Church doctrine. The late Pope John II appointed him to his position for the Doctrine of the faith, because he was so learned and highly educated and well known for his smarts and clerical knowledge.

With this kind of cleric in the highest office of Holy Mother Church, I don’t think for one moment that he did not know what was going on in his church? A watchdog of this caliber had to have eyes in the community.

But what was an 85 year old frail pontiff going to do about these men? What recourse was he to take, and what punishment could he enact? Who ever wins the next conclave is going to have quite the mess to clean up, in addition to all the scandals that are rocking the church from the inside.

Some gay men have good character and are good men.

Some gay men are characters and give us all a bad name.

Some gay clergy are priests first and human second.

Some gay clergy have blurred the lines between the sacred and the profane.

But what is the answer to these situations? Do we punish all the clergy for the transgressions of some? Do you defrock those priests who have been implicated in these tawdry accusations? Do you close every sauna in Rome and take into custody all those gay men who (the reports say) have damning evidence on those so called (transgression priests)?

What will unfold, and what is truth and what is false?

I guess we shall see.

I’ve stood in St. Peter’s Basilica, I have climbed to the top of the cupola and looked down into the papal gardens, and I have visited the tomb of St. Peter.

I don’t understand how men of faith could spit upon the church and their vocations by doing such stupid and repugnant things…

Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.

God is perfect; yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

I can’t imagine what God is thinking about these things.

I would offer that he isn’t terribly pleased.


Did a Cross-Dressing Priest Sex Ring Bring Down Benedict XVI?

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By Barbie Latza Nadeau | The Daily Beast – Fri, 22 Feb, 2013

Of all the rumors floating around about just why Pope Benedict XVI is hanging up his camauro, one has taken on a life of its own. According to several well-placed vaticanisti—or Vatican experts—in Rome, Benedict is resigning after being handed a secret red-covered dossier that included details about a network of gay priests who work inside the Vatican, but who play in secular Rome. The priests, it seems, are allegedly being blackmailed by a network of male prostitutes who worked at a sauna in Rome’s Quarto Miglio district, a health spa in the city center, and a private residence once entrusted to a prominent archbishop. The evidence reportedly includes compromising photos and videos of the prelates—sometimes caught on film in drag, and, in some cases, caught “in the act.”

Revelations about the alleged network are the basis of a 300-page report supposedly delivered to Benedict on December 17 by Cardinals Julian Herranz, Joseph Tomko, and Salvatore De Giorgi. According to the press reports, it was on that day that Benedict XVI decided once and for all to retire, after toying with the idea for months. He reportedly closed the dossier and locked it away in the pontifical apartment safe to be handed to his successor to deal with. According to reports originally printed by La Repubblica newspaper and the newsweekly Panorama (and followed up across the gamut of the Italian media), the crimes the cardinals uncovered involved breaking the commandments “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the latter of which has been used in Vatican-speak to also refer to homosexual relations instead of the traditional reference to infidelity.

The trio of cardinals who authored the report, known in the Italian press as the “007 Priests,” were commissioned by Benedict to dig into the Vatileaks scandal that rocked the Holy See last fall when the pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was convicted of stealing secret papal documents and leaking them to the press. The sleuthing cardinals ran a parallel investigation to the Vatican tribunal’s criminal case against the butler, but theirs was far more covert and focused not on the mechanics of the leaks, but on who within the Roman Curia might be the brains behind them. And, according to the leaked reports, what the “007 Priests” found went far beyond the pope’s private desk. “What’s coming out is very detailed X-ray of the Roman Curia that does not spare even the closest collaborators of the Pope,” wrote respected Vatican expert Ignazio Ingrao in Panorama. “The Pope was no stranger to the intrigues, but he probably did not know that under his pontificate there was such a complex network and such intricate chains of personal interests and unmentionable relationships.”

The existence of a gay-priest network outside the fortified walls of Vatican City is hardly news, and many are wondering if it is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of sex scandals. In 2010, investigative journalist Carmello Abbate went undercover with a hidden camera to write a shocking exposé called “Good Nights Out for Gay Priests”.

Abbate caught the priests on hidden camera dirty dancing at private parties and engaging in sex acts with male escorts on church property. He also caught them emerging from dark bedrooms just in time to celebrate mass. In one postcoital scene, a priest parades around seminaked, wearing only his clerical vestments. “This is not about homosexuality,” Abbate told The Daily Beast when he published the exposé. “This is about private vices and public virtues. This is about serious hypocrisy in the Catholic Church.”

Because so much of the secret lives of gay priests is actually not so secret thanks to Abbate’s exposé and subsequent book, Sex and the Vatican, many are wondering what else could be hidden in the alleged red-covered dossier. Vatican elite have also been loosely tied to a number of other secular scandals during Benedict’s tenure, including the ultra-tawdry affair between former Lazio governor Piero Marrazzo and several transvestite prostitutes, including one named “Brenda” who was found burned to death in 2009.  At the time that Marrazzo’s relationships with the transvestites were discovered, his driver reportedly told investigators that several high-ranking priests and even cardinals were customers of Rome’s elite transsexual circuit, though no proof was ever provided and no one has ever been arrested tied to the transsexual prostitution circuit. Nor has anyone mentioned whether reference to these crimes might also be in the dossier. But Marrazzo was whisked off to the Vatican-owned Monte Cassino abbey south of Rome to do his penance, and he even wrote a letter to Vatican Secretary of State Tarciso Bertone asking for Pope Benedict XVI’s forgiveness.

Whatever secrets the red binders supposedly hold will have to remain just that until the next pope is elected. But Ingrao believes its contents are so important that the dossier will be like the 118th cardinal in the conclave. “Many new skeletons from the closets of the cardinals could come out until the beginning of the conclave,” says Ingrao. “Many voters know or claim to know the secrets of their brothers, but it is already clear that the new pope who leaves the Sistine Chapel will have to be scandal-free in order to proceed with cleaning up [what] Ratzinger has left for his successor.”


Jiffy Maid Friday …

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Courtesy: Everythingsmagic

The sun came out today and it was pleasant outside, but as they say, this is the calm before the storm. Come Saturday we are on tap for 5 to 10 cm of snow !!!

I’ve been sorting through bags and boxes of things that we have collected over the last few years. Since there is limited storage – the two closets we have are full to the brim with clothes and Christmas decorations, we had stuffed “stuff” behind the sofa and under the dining room table.

I trashed everything that we haven’t touched in months. Hubby has a pillow that is a gift the keeps on giving … the stuffing leaks out every time he carries it from the bedroom to the sofa. There were stuffing balls scattered all over the apartment. If it were up to me I would have tossed it long ago, but it is a keepsake so I can’t toss it.

Last night I scrubbed the bathroom, on my hands and knees, and today my back is killing me. That room is done. This afternoon, like I said, I did lots of trash. I wiped down all the shelves in the living room, and the knick knacks that we have collected over the years.

What little kitchen we have was gone over with a scrub brush and cleaning solutions. And finally I vacuumed the apartment. I’m not sure what to expect from this inspection … Maybe they will take notice that our bathroom ceiling needs to be fixed, since every time we brought it to someones attention, they did nothing.

We took an afternoon power nap for a few hours. And now the usual tv and late night radio. John B. is hosting Coast to Coast, I enjoy him.

The Oscars are Sunday … Who’s your favorite to win? We’ll see how well Seth McFarland does as host. Will he rise to the occasion and do a good job, or will he be a miserable failure?

There will be more to come, I just wanted to write something…


Spiritual Beings …

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Courtesy: Christopher Jordan

It was a fair day, and not so bad for travel this evening. We are sitting at (-6c/-12c w.c.) at this hour. It is a little later than usual for this entry, I’ve been working my butt off cleaning and throwing away garbage and sorting things into recycling since this afternoon.

We have been advised by the rental company that our apartments are going to be inspected beginning on Monday. This is the first time in memory that anyone has done this in all the years I have lived here. They have not given us a reason as to why we are being inspected, so we will be ready for them.

I met a friend just after 7 to make the journey to St. Matthias, it was a good crowd. Lots of visitors from far away. We sat all the seats put out. And our speaker came from the St. Matthias family.

For the past year we have been participating in prayer circles and sending cards and good wishes to one of our dear members who got very sick last fall and was in need for a liver transplant because of  long standing liver disease. Something our lady ignored for a long time, and in time it almost took her.

Miracles happen for us when we come to this organization. After being told the operation would happen, there was a blood scare and all transplants were put on hold. And she had to wait. Then they found cancer in the liver and things got dicey. The donor – who was on deaths door – did not die – for a while. But thankfully, the door was reopened and the operation did take place, and for the last 5 months we have been waiting for our lady to make it to a meeting.

A few weeks ago she showed up at our Tuesday meeting, quietly sitting in the back away from prying eyes. We were so happy to see her alive and well. It seems the operation was a success and she is alive and well to tell the tale of how she came to today.

In her own words … “Everything that has happened up to today has been preordained.” And “everything happens for a reason.”

She spoke words that I have never heard before. But they resonated within me as I sat there listening tonight. “We” she spoke, are born close to a spiritual being. We are different from any other person, by the way we come into the world, and find ourselves in the predicament that many alcoholics find themselves.

It is near to the image that when a baby is born, they are close to the being of God. From the womb they come new and unharmed and they come unblemished and innocent. A true spiritual being.

But as time passes by, we grow up, and we grow apart from the spiritual being. If you’ve ever heard the story about the little boy who sits in his new born sisters crib asking her “what does God look like?” If only we knew the answer…

Make no mistake. Alcoholism is patient and waits for us. From the very beginning it is there. And many of us got caught up in the drink for far too long and shit happens, very few succeed in getting sober, many come, but few make it until they have been licked and torn down to nothingness.

And it is by the Grace of God that we find the rooms. And for those of us who come and stay, we get to learn about ourselves, and we, in time, come to understand that we are spiritual beings. Coming out of the fog of alcoholism and drug addiction, the people who suffer the most, are those we have hurt the most. Family, friends, children and spouses.

We may go to our graves sober, but those we leave behind will carry what we have done inside them till they take their last breath. And now we get to clean up the wreckage of our pasts, to make good on relationships, and get back to the living of life.

The two things that are the most important in this life, as recovering alcoholics are Acceptance and Gratitude. For many, coming to the rooms is a first step, but as we read in the book “Acceptance is the key to all my problems.”

We must come to realize that we are not in control, and for many, giving up that control is a tooth and nail battle. How many people have we seen come in, sit around, listen to the words, and read the book and get to this passage and say “oh, give up control, I don’t think so… Not Now … and they go out and drink.

“But there is one who has all power, that one is God, may you find him now…”

We come in broken and bruised. And today I know that there are many of us who are suffering. The winds are blowing, and the tide is against many a folk today and watching them founder is not fun. This is when one might say “time to let go, and let God.” The sooner you get here the better you will feel.

Gratitude is, for me, a default setting. For a long time, I would joke that I have hit many a meeting in the past eleven years, that I go to a meeting that a topic must be chosen, and when a topic isn’t chosen, it usually falls to gratitude.

But gratitude is something we may take for granted. And it is something that should be recognized as crucial to good sober living. We made it here. We are alive. So many have died in the throes… Many folks are stuck in the revolving door of the drink.

The one take away from this is that life is too short. For many, we fail to recognize just what a gift sobriety is. For some, this is a one shot deal. You never know how much another is suffering when they come in the door. But God knows what we need, even before we ask the questions.

I live with a terminal illness myself. And I should have died a long time ago, but I survived and I am still here. If I had not met the men I did, when I did, at that specific moment, that God stepped in and gave me a way out, I would have died.

This is my second kick at the can, and I am not screwing around with my sobriety, I will do whatever it takes to stay sober and do what I am told, and take to heart every word I hear from every person I hear speak.

Like a friend shares … “We should have hands of sand and feet of clay.”

We were all grateful to hear our lady speak tonight and share this message with us. It was a great night. We took caravan home which was nice.

All’s well that ends well.

More to come, stay tuned…


Tuesday Thoughts …

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Courtesy: Korybalski

The snow began to fall this evening, We are sitting at (-4c/-6c w.c.) And more snow is on the way. Thankfully we are not in the major snow event zone this time.

I am not feeling quite myself today. A cold is coming on and I am feeling a bit wonky, so on the way out I did my supermarket safari and stopped at the pharmacy for some cold/flu pills.

It was a good meeting. We sat almost 50 folks. And we read from Living Sober, number #20, “Remembering your last Drunk.”

I picked this reading on purpose and the person I wanted to participate in this reading did not show up for the meeting tonight. UGH !!!

I got to the church about 5:30, and folks were waiting since 5. Set up went quickly one of our newbies is on coffee which freed me up to do tables and the girls did chairs. Then they paired off to read their books for an hour.

They say that the farther you are away from your last drink, the closer you are to your next drink. People tend to forget their last drink as they get sober, so today’s reading was a good reminder for many.

“We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it…”

We heard a bunch of good advice regarding the reading. Old timers share that with remembering the past, and being able to recall the past, when working with others, can use their experience to help others coming along the path.

For me, I don’t remember my last drink. But I do remember my last drunk. At the end of my drinking, I was an all or nothing binge drinker. My Saturday nights were reserved for getting pretty and going to the club (Salvation) and partying it up with all the buff boys, that I so badly wanted to be part of.

And the first hour I drank to excess, and at 1 a.m. religiously, they would blast a tank of liquid nitrogen and that would chill the crowd, and it was then that the shirts would come off and the music would pound because everybody was fairly buzzed or fairly high, and the night continued.

I kept drinking like I always had. I knew I was coming to the end of my drinking because I kept praying for the hangover of death to come. And for that to occur, I had to drink to the point that would trigger such an event.

I don’t remember taking my last drink, nor how I got home, who poured me into a cab, and how I got through two locked secure doors, into my apartment. I do remember that I got terribly sick and on my knees paid homage to the porcelain god.

I never usually got sick. I would always come home on that Sunday morning from the bar, turn on the tv and sink into sleep with a movie playing on the VCR. I worked a Sunday – Wednesday schedule, so I would get a little sleep in order to be at work by noon on Sunday.

I prayed for that hangover.

The second prayer I said was for God to put an alcoholic in my path, which actually did happen, within days of uttering that prayer. That person eventually took me back to my first meeting.

I sat through a Gay meeting of A.A. but did not connect with anyone, nor did anyone notice me coming or going. So I waited outside for the next meeting which was at 10, and that’s when I met Fonda and Ed and a bevy of other alcoholics, who hugged and welcomed me. I sat with them and got sober with them, and we are still friends to this day, however far apart we are, thanks to Facebook, we are just a short note away from each other.

Consequently, that bar I used to drink in (Salvation) soon closed and never reopened. And I joke that the best drunk left the building so they had to close. I had to walk past that building to get to the Sober on South Beach Group.

What I remember from that time after my last drunk, was the feelings of shame and demoralization I felt. And how long it took me to come to see myself in better light. When I went out, I left my handful of friends with no explanation nor warning that I was skipping town. I did not tell anyone what I was up to, except for the woman who was moving away as well, because we shared a moving truck.

When I returned to Miami and got sober, I hid on the beach, hoping that I would NOT run into my old friends because I felt so ashamed at the major jackpot I found myself in and kicking myself that I did that to myself with no way out, it was total insanity.

But news travels fast in certain circles. And the folks on the mainland found out that I was getting sober on the beach, and it was Christmas Eve 2001, that we met in the Poinciana meeting one night. I got lots of hugs, but I could not escape the looks of sorrow on the faces of folks, because I was at a bottom, and was working my way back.

I am sober today – in spite of myself. Because of the goodness of God and the members who took me in when I most needed it. I remember those times fondly, because many folks broke bread with me, shared their homes with me and helped me regain my dignity and for that I will always be grateful.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Sunday Sundries … How It Works …

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Courtesy: Wrestlingisbest

It is Sunday. And it was bitterly cold out. We are sitting at (-11c/-21c w.c.) It has been cold all weekend, but today the winds whipped up and brought a new chill to the air.

Today was one of those days where I was bored off my rocker. I can only sit in front of this box and twitter my thumbs, for so long.  I check my mail, I visit my reads, not many of them post on a Sunday, so that is a bust. I don’t usually Tumble during the day, I save that for my nighttime schedule.

I tried to nap on and off and that did not go very well. Hubby has been wheezing and puffing for the last couple of days, and I am trying to avoid catching whatever he has…

Finally around 3 I decided to take a shower and get dressed which put me ready to roll well before I needed to go. And I left the house around twenty to five which put me at the church early. I beat our coffee man – when he came in I was sorting out chairs and tables. And we had the room ready to go by 5:15.

We sat a full house and then some. I heard through the grapevine that the 2:30 meeting was packed as well today, because when I got there, they had left out stacks of chairs which I turned around for tonight’s meeting.

Tonight was began reading Chapter 5 from the Big Book, titled, “How it Works.”

From our first days in the program we hear this reading read at almost every meeting that we go to. But how many of us really pay attention to the words as they are read from the podium? Most meetings start out with the Serenity Prayer then move into How It Works … during the preamble of most meetings.

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path …”

In the historical stories about A.A and of Bill Wilson, The one word that they would have changed from this reading would have been RARELY… And the new word would have been “NEVER.” But cooler heads prevailed and the word rarely stuck.

The preceding chapters of the Big Book, cover Steps One and Two. Squarely setting us up to move into Step 3. How It Works is the lead up to the text covering Step 3 …

I heard something interesting at the meeting tonight that How it works is just that, it isn’t “why” it works, but How it Works. Much of tonight’s discussion centered around letting go and turning it over.

“Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood him. Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?

The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success.”

God as we understood Him. Who is that, why is it God and do I have to believe in God to begin with? Finding a power greater than ourselves is a personal choice. There is no direct mandate that we direct our prayers to God. But in reading How It Works … The text reads: Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power – that One is God. May you find him now…

That spiritual experience is what we hope you will experience in one shape or another once you come to the meeting and you eventually Come To, and eventually Come To Believe.

How may times have I heard this reading at a meeting? And how often do we let the words, as they are read, to pass in one ear and out the other, without really allowing the words to work their way into our consciousness?  How it Works is the guide to staying sober. And every time I hear this read, I am reminded of How it works, not why it works, but How.

It outlines who we are, and what it takes to get sober, in step form. How It Works outlines what we do when we stand in front of a room of alcoholics, and share our experience, strength and hope … Simply … What it was like, what happened and what it is like now.

The reading also tells us, “If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.”

Over the years I have worked my steps a number of times. My 4’s and 5’s have not been perfect. They were adequate. I shared these things with my sponsor. A few months ago, I worked through my steps again, for a refresh.

Since I came to this city sober, I left the baggage of my past in another country. Sobriety is not a perfect ride for any of us. And that goes for me as well.

A big mistake I made in early sobriety was that I felt entitled, and I thought that expectations were part of the deal, I mean, I had them, I needed them and I felt like God should grant me them.

How wrong I was.

I also know that I work my steps to the best of my ability. And once again, I must admit that sometimes I feel like I have been sober more than a decade now, and I often think that long term sobriety should become all that is. In my mind I say to myself that I’ve been sober a long time, and that because I’ve been sober that long time, that sobriety should change those things in my life that I have no control over … Like other people.

This is an inside project the longer you stay sober and I must also remember that I am not God, because as soon as I assume God’s authority, I have lost conscious contact with my God.

My sobriety will never be perfect. And that is something that I battle with. I want so bad for a certain sector of my life to be healed, BUT I am powerless over people, places and things. And going into my head – a place an alcoholic should never go alone – I want to get up on a soapbox and rattle some cages and yell at the top of my lungs that “HEY I am sober, Don’t you see me? Love me, be part of me, but this is where I loose my mind on occasion.

I cannot change people. I can only change me. And I am not in control.

How it works … I need to hear this reading at as many meetings as possible. Because I need to be reminded that it is progress rather than perfection.

We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

We are all wounded people. In one way or another. I drank like many of my fellows and came to the point of incomprehensible demoralization. There was no way out but through the meetings.

The Big Book was simply written, by simple men, who like us, found that they could not drink like normal men. So they set out to write a book in which we would find commonality, conviviality, comradery, and identity.

And in these pages we would read How They Did It. And for more than seventy years, they have been doing it the same way, with the same words, and the same steps, both men and women alike. If we, just for a moment, believe that like they, we could learn how it works for ourselves.

In time we learn what it means to “Turn it over” and to “Let go and Let God.” it doesn’t come overnight, but the sooner you learn this the lighter the burden gets, when we can step up to prayer and meditation and ask God to take from our shoulders the burden we carry and to help us stay sober one day at a time.

Hundreds of Thousands of alcoholics all over the world have read this book. And they got it and found sobriety. And it all begins with How it Works.

I am human, therefore I am an imperfect being. God is perfect.

In all things. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

In scripture it is written, “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect!” I don’t know if I will ever be that perfect.

But this thought keeps us on the path.

To be able to begin ones day with prayer. Allowing God control, and to turn it over, and be at peace with that is a tall order. To be of service to my fellows, here at home, at a meeting, on the phone, and with myself, is something I have to practice on a daily basis.

Watching our women get sober and work their steps is amazing. They really get down to the nitty gritty of How It Works. There are no half measures for them. It is true that there is no comparison to how our women do it. Every day, from sun up to sun down. Talking to their sponsors every day, spot checking when necessary, 4’s and 5’s on a regular basis. 6, 7, 8 on a daily basis. 9’s and amends when called for. 10th step every night. And living 11 and 12 on a daily basis.

Our women exude How It Works. They live and breathe these steps.

If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps…

How many of us men are ready and willing to let go and let God and allow the steps into our lives, without hemming and hawing, and huffing and puffing and making things harder than they need to be?

Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Even getting sober, alcoholism is that entity that sits in the parking lot doing pushups, waiting for us to come outside.

Old Timers tell us these simple words … Don’t Drink, Go to Meetings, and Keep coming back. Because if we stop going to meetings that rat will get back on the wheel and start spinning. Meetings are one way to keep that rat off the wheel.

Watching others get sober, and spending quality time with those people, we get to see how it works come to life in our fellows lives. That is why it is such a grace watching folks get sober. Spend ten plus years in the same rooms, week in and week out, eventually you will witness spiritual experiences. And if you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of God, by the by.

What it was like, What happened, and What it is like now.

I love my life. I have everything I need. My needs list is very short. I don’t expect from God, but I listen for God. I’ve learned how to do that over the last eleven years. I have good friends. People are happy to share the same space with me.

Today, case in point, one of my friends, came up to me and gave me the biggest hug I have had in a long time. That is a gift of the program.

I don’t know why it works, But I can tell you that it does work. Sobriety is give and take. In order to reap the rewards of sobriety, you have to give up the life you had, in opt for the life you can have if you trust in How It Works.

Life, is a journey. We need meetings like we need water. We must give up our ego in opt for Godliness. We must sacrifice all those things we thought we needed and realize that in God’s time and goodness, we will get everything that we need.

And always end the day with some gratitude.

Because you won’t be truly happy until you can learn to be grateful for something every day. As long as we stay on the path, the only way is up.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sobriety in a Rambling sort of way …Valentines Day Edition…

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Courtesy: Heath at IHeefz

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours. I hope you all got candy, cards and flowers. I did my VDay shopping yesterday, however hard I didn’t feel like leaving the house for some strange reason, but I got it done.

It was a cold day and into the night.

We exchanged cards and candy today, so that was a good thing.

We are sitting at (0c) at this hour. And snow is on tap overnight and into tomorrow. I met a friend to meet the 104 to go to St. Matthias tonight. It was a bit chilly walking up there.

It was a smaller crowd than usual tonight. Not sure what else was going on that people not show up, but we were missing a fair number of familiar faces.

Sometimes small and intimate is nice.

Our speaker came from a field, with 22 years of sobriety. He lives local now, but he used to own a farm up North. So his share was a little here and a little there, rambling and brambling in a round about sort of way.

Like most young men, we took to the drink early, and it made us feel great, at the beginning, but add some drugs and shady lifestyles, and things, in their own way, become tedious.

After a short stint in meetings, and some time away, he found his way into the rooms after hitting that invisible door in the soul that something had to be done, and the first thing was to put down the drink.

He spoke of how hard it was to achieve months at a time, and then finally his first year sober. And he spoke about the “Carrot at the end of the stick” that folks w0uld dangle in front of him encouraging him to keep going.

And after that trek – over months and months, he reached his year. And in hindsight he said that he would never drink again, after suffering all those months to gain time.

I know what that is like – the first time I got sober, how hard I had to work to get to that first year. And in the end it was like a big Fuck You to the men and queers who made my life miserable that first year.

Then we come to increments of time, the first five years, then ten and the following ten, and how life began to open up to him and just how much he learned about himself and his life in sobriety.

Working the steps, going to Big Book Meetings, and getting down to brass tacks because it was in sobriety that his resentments almost got the best of him, but he worked his way through and finally took responsibility for his life and the things he had done, and what role he played in the grand scheme of things.

Realizations came to him years into the program. Things he missed in the early years, like how the steps work and that little thing many of us like to ignore, the “God” thing.

Prayer and meditation for many is a tried and true path. It just doesn’t come over night – but takes years of practice and work. It is so important to attain and maintain that conscious contact with a power greater than ourselves.

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Getting sober is a day at a time process. Our man met a few old timers that made an impression on him, and how they helped and challenged him to stay sober. And the memory of the first year, I think, only reinforced his desire to stay sober.

No matter where you go – there you are. And our man traveled all over the world and he stayed sober. He faced terrible illness and a liver transplant and he survived to tell the tale, so that is a good thing.

The take away … Every day is a chance to better your sobriety. And not to take for granted any day, because today could be your last day, when you have surmounted and conquered disease(s).

The other take away is … LOVE … Love is the most important part of the program. We come to, and we learn what those words mean, words like Love, Respect, Dignity and Peace. Finally in time, we learn that we can love ourselves and love others as well. Family, Friends and Fellows.

We can come to and if we are lucky, we begin to feel these wonderful feelings and know exactly what they mean to us.

I want to leave you with this thought from a fellow Beaver …

“And you shall know it … You shouldn’t make somebody your priority who considers you one of their options…”

A good night was had by all. Happy Valentines Day and Good night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Telephone Therapy …

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Courtesy:NiqBailey

We are sitting at (0c) at this hour, and a little snow is falling over the city.

We have been trying to stir things up at T.B.’s … To get some new folks into rotation with jobs and responsibility. I departed home a few minutes past five, with two stops en route. I arrived close to 5:30 and opened the church.

A handful of women must have been waiting for me in the wings, because I got there later than usual, but I was hoping that some of my new hires would show up to learn the ropes. And I was rewarded with one, and a handful of women come to read their books, so I got our youngster on coffee and kitchen duty, while I pounded out tables and chairs.

With a group of people, it takes very little time to crank out set up.

I was in the chair this and next week. And we read from Living Sober. Tonight’s topic was : Telephone therapy.

They tell us, over and over again that we need to go to meetings, show up early and leave late, join a home group, do service, and get phone numbers. Because when push comes to shove and you are sitting in a place that a drink is near, picking up that phone just might save your life.

We heard tonight many people share of just WHY they cannot bring themselves to pick up the phone. Some folks get on the rat wheel before even picking up the phone by engaging in inner dialogue with themselves about what the other person (whom they are about to call) will say to them before they say it !!!

There are hundreds of excuses why we cannot pick up the phone. For newcomers, that phone weighs 2000 pounds. It was suggested that if we give a phone number – get one back, so that if in over 48 hours that call doesn’t come, that we ourselves have a number to call and check on them.

I have a bunch of phone numbers on my phone. And I use the phone on a regular basis. I enjoy conversation and the back and forth. But it comes to pass that I am the one who always makes the Out Call. Very rarely does anyone call me even though my number is out there.

And I resolved this year that I wasn’t going to chase people to be friends. I see my fellows at meetings, and I have a lot of friends, in the meetings, but back at home, I don’t ever talk to many of them, many of my friends are women, and they stick with their own. They guys it is a bit harder to get them on the phone, but I did give out my number tonight to a newbie. He’s got a little over a month in and he does coffee for our Sunday meeting.

Reluctant sponsee came to the meeting tonight. With two days under his belt the topic was apropos, and I asked him to read the Steps, which he choked over. Hopefully he will heed direction this time around and really take suggestions and do what is asked of him, because if he doesn’t – he will drink again …

We sat a full compliment tonight, as one of our direct competitor meetings was shut for the night so we carried a good number from that meeting. Many of our attendees have days, some weeks, and many with less than a year sober. And with such a full room, we didn’t get all the way around to give everyone time to share, however I remind folks to be brief, I usually will never interrupt someone when they are speaking. Unless of course some (go on and on and on …)

A good night was had by all.

Next week, Remembering Your Last Drunk, Living Sober #20.

More to come, stay tuned …


Celestine V …

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Back on April 29, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI did something rather striking, but which went largely unnoticed.

He stopped off in Aquila, Italy, and visited the tomb of an obscure medieval Pope named St. Celestine V (1215-1296). After a brief prayer, he left his pallium, the symbol of his own episcopal authority as Bishop of Rome, on top of Celestine’s tomb!

Fifteen months later, on July 4, 2010, Benedict went out of his way again, this time to visit and pray in the cathedral of Sulmona, near Rome, before the relics of this same saint, Celestine V.

Few people, however, noticed at the time.

Only now, we may be gaining a better understanding of what it meant. These actions were probably more than pious acts. More likely, they were profound and symbolic gestures of a very personal nature, which conveyed a message that a Pope can hardly deliver any other way.

In the year 1294, this man (Fr. Pietro Angelerio), known by all as a devout and holy priest, was elected Pope, somewhat against his will, shortly before his 80th birthday (Ratzinger was 78 when he was elected Pope in 2005). Just five months later, after issuing a formal decree allowing popes to resign (or abdicate, like other rulers), Pope Celestine V exercised that right.

And now Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to follow in the footsteps of this venerable model.


Vatican’s Next Top Pope

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I saw this on Tumblr and had to post it for you.

Enjoy !!!

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After the Pope made his announcement, Lightening hit the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica…


DECLARATIO

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Courtesy: Vatican Holy See Direct Link

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.  I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.

However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects.  And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013