Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Parliament Hill Ottawa. A Wordpress Production

Archive for July, 2013

A very Potter Birthday July 31

harry-potter-and-the-half-blood-prince-photo-3

Happy Birthday Harry …

Happy Birthday to me …

July 31 …


At some of these we balked …

tumblr_mppnptMdkW1rif6wao1_500 tgrade5

Courtesy: Tgrade5

Another week has begun. Full of people and places. Things are moving forwards and I am hopeful that in the coming days, the answers I need are going to come, seeing that tomorrow is the end date for cv’s to be turned in for a high end job that hubby applied for. His deadline was August 1st, do or die.

I was up and out early this afternoon for Trinity Memorial. I enjoy this meeting because of the quality of the men and women in residence. There was much discussion about ourselves and another meeting we all frequent. I go to certain meetings with certain people because they are my friends and they tell me what I must hear and challenge me to grow.

I made a choice to join Vendome Beginners this month as things are in flux and a move to a new location is imminent. Hopefully by months end, (August) we will have a new dedicated space that is more intimate than the room we now use. It’s not very conducive to welcoming and warm.

We read from the Big Book, and chapter 5 – How it works.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used
to be like, what happened, and what we are like now.
If you have decided you want what we have and are
willing to go to any length to get it—then you are
ready to take certain steps.
At some of these we balked. We thought we could
find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With
all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to
be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of
us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result
was nil until we let go absolutely.

Because we are a beginners meeting, we relate early sobriety to the newcomer so that they get what it takes to get sober, to stay stopped, and never have to drink again.

It was ordained then back in the day, the life I was coming to live here. And in time I learned how to live in this city, getting around, meeting people, and finding healthy relationships to know.

Having completed successfully, a geographic in sobriety, the plans were laid down and it all began again. It was good that I was hooked up early in sobriety with an aftercare counselor. I kept that sober commitment for more than two years. So on top of meetings and steps, I had someone that I was talking to on a regular basis that helped me integrate into the fellowship and the city at large.

I learned that I did not have to engage in other folks drama. That was a huge relief.  The one story I like to tell about early sobriety was this one:

I was situated at my home group and it was the holiday season in year one. I had not had a drink in almost a year. Working my ass off as it went. One of our men invited us to host a meeting in his grand mansion in Westmount. We were about 30 in attendance.

The discussion went around the room, and one of our men, long sober, so we thought, started to share, that he’s been sober since August ’96, and that he had this wall unit with up lights in the ceiling and he enjoyed his drink of cognac that was in a fine crystal bottle that would shine with the up lights behind it.

What … You say you are sober – how long ??? And you Drink ???

WTF is that ???

I started levitating out of my chair, and my voice started to rise, thankfully, several friends of mine kept me from blowing my top at this not so sober member. He has long stopped going to meetings, though I see him every once in a while in Westmount Square.

Some are sicker than others.

We hear why we must continue to go to meetings, work with others, do service and work our steps. We know what the consequences are if we don’t do these things. The treat of a slip is ever present, and watching people with little time and some with lots of time go out is perplexing.

But we don’t ever have to drink again.

It was good to see my friends and share a bit with some of them.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Pope Francis on gays: `Who am I to judge?’

_66686085_66686084

By John L. Allen Jr and Hada Messia

ABOARD THE PAPAL AIRPLANE (CNN) –Pope Francis said Monday that he will not “judge” gays and lesbians – including gay priests – signaling a shift from his predecessor and offering another sign that the new pope is committed to changing the church’s approach to historically marginalized groups.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said in a wide-ranging news conference aboard the papal plane.

Though he was answering a question about the so-called “gay lobby” at the Vatican, the pope indicated a change in tone, if not in teaching, in the church’s stance towards gays and lesbians more generally.

The pope was flying back to Rome from Brazil, where he spent the past week celebrating World Youth Day, an international Catholic event that drew millions.

Taking questions from reporters aboard the plane, the pope addressed nearly every hot-button issue facing the Roman Catholic Church: its alleged “gay lobby,” Vatican bank corruption, the role of women, abortion, homosexuality and his own personal security.

But it was the pope’s remarks on homosexuality – the fact that the head of a 1 billion-member church said that it’s not his place to judge gays – that caused the widest stir.

“Pope Francis’s brief comment on gays reveals great mercy,” said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at America, a Catholic magazine based in New York.

“Today Pope Francis has, once again, lived out the Gospel message of compassion for everyone,” Martin said.

The pontiff spoke  for an hour and a half in the back of the plane that was carrying him back to Italy after his first international trip as pope to Brazil, where he was greeted by massive, frenzied crowds at every turn.

“I’m happy. It has been a beautiful trip, spiritually speaking; it has been good to me. I’m tired enough but with a heart full of joy,” he said.

Here are the highlights from his press conference.

On the ‘gay lobby’ and homosexuality

The pope addressed the issue of an alleged “gay lobby” within the church. Hints that the Holy See contained a network of gay clergy surfaced last year in reports about a series of embarrassing leaks to Italian journalists.

The “Vatileaks” scandal factored in Benedict’s shocking decision to resign this year, according to some church experts, as it impressed upon the 86-year-old pontiff that the modern papacy requires a vigorous and watchful presence.

“There’s a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card!” Francis said.

“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency (to homosexuality) is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”

The problem, he said was, lobbies that work against the interest of the church.

In 2005, during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican issued directives barring from the priesthood men “who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called ‘gay culture.'”

Francis’ brief remarks seem to signal a sharp shift from that policy.


Sunday Sundries …

tumblr_m1d9o1rhkm1rnc14vo1_500 enoemos

Courtesy: Enoemos

As I was preparing to head out, then skies darkened and the storm was coming quick. I stepped out my door and received a text to chair the meeting. It seems two of us got the same text but we worked it out …

I made it all the way to the mall and it was just spitting rain a bit. Taking the tunnel route was right, because when I got to the far side exit on Greene the rain was pouring down. A friend was waiting outside the church in the rain for me as he was frantically texting me to hurry up. I can only walk so fast.

We sat a fair number and it being the last Sunday was a tradition. Tonight we were on Tradition Seven …

“Every group should be fully self supporting declining outside contributions. ”

Lots of things ended up on the table. Alcoholics and money don’t always go together. In the promises it says “Fear of people and of financial insecurity will leave us.”

We can’t seem to cut a break when it comes to financial security. We are heavily dependent on my inlaws and that is a bitter pill to swallow. The situation is rife and tedious. Not being able to pay bills on time, and not having enough money to cover necessities is a problem.

God will provide.

Do you know how much it costs to open a meeting in today’s dollars?

$320.00

 

And that initial donation to open a meeting came from the founders. Out of our pockets to provide a meeting to our community. And we are foundering. People are not showing up in numbers that I had hoped would materialize. And the month of August rent is going to partially be paid by the founders because we did not make rent for July. There are bills still outstanding to pay folks for what they purchased to open the meeting.

And we surely don’t have a prudent reserve in the kitty of three months rent, as we have been only open for three months now.

It is not or never mandated that you must give, but the basket goes around for those who can. It wasn’t a thought for me, when I got sober this time, my memory fails me here, but I put something in the basket, I think.

Now I try to put something in the basket at every meeting I go to, because if you go to a meeting regularly, one must invest. I’ve spoken about this before. And if you invest in the people, you also invest in the group. And in the thought, you put something in the basket, because that meeting you are at has helped you stay sober, so when you can, you give back.

As of late, cash is tight, and I have been riding on the grace of the meetings these past few weeks, I needed to be carried for a while. We have a change cup here on the desk that loose change goes into, so I usually have something to bring with me to a meeting.

I also home group at several meetings, and in that I buy milk and cookies for the meeting and so that $7.00 donation is what I give for the group. I don’t get that back from the 7th. I do it because I can.

Learning to become financially secure is tedious. It is a lesson we are still learning today. i wish I was rich, but enough to be able to pay bills on time and afford groceries and incidentals and pills all together.

A lesson for sure.

More to come, stay tuned …


The Shared Gift

tumblr_mpvoik5uP61sn3kp9o1_500 rainblowcloak69

Courtesy:Rainbowcloak69

It is the last Friday of the month. The weather has been very pleasant. And it was a good day to get out and see people. It was a good transit out and back, all the trains and buses were on time and working in an efficient manner.

It is usually advised to get to the meeting early, 1. to secure a seat at the table and 2. to spend time with your fellows before and after.

It was a full house. And the reading was a bit off at first, carrying the message and sharing the gift. At the end of the reading the chair spoke, saying that maybe we should skip this reading and go on the the next one because we were off …

“A.A. is more than a set of principles; it is a society of alcoholics in action. We must carry the message, else we ourselves can wither and those who haven’t been given the truth may die.”

ABSI…Service Manual P. 5

It didn’t take long for the momentum to build and people to start talking. We heard about the glories of being a woman in sobriety here and how hard and full they live their sober journey’s.

Fuck if we can’t all be women, we’d have it made in spades.

We also heard that we should have as many sponsees as we do in sober years, which means that I should be working with no less than 12 men. I’d go insane. Over the past almost 12 years, I sponsored 1 man. And temped a second.

And that they say was that.

I hear newcomers who come to meetings and say that they don’t like everyone in the meeting and that also, they have already taken our inventories for us and have deemed most of us un-respectable and un-trustworthy.

So we are damned to begin with.

I go to the same meetings week in and week out. I have changed up my Tuesday routine because the men at Vendome are engaged with me personally, some of them. Who really care that I am ok, and that I can call in a pinch.

There are suffering newcomers at the Friday meeting. Some who can’t get past 18 months of sobriety without taking a drink. Who think that all we are are a bunch of bullshitters and fakes. That all of this is meaningless for them.

I don’t know what to say to that. I don’t know what to say to newcomers who think that I can’t be trusted or respected. I am at a loss there, and there is no way past Fort Knox.

I am present. I do what I can. I do service and I participate in everyone’s life that I count as friends.

A handful of members on both the women and men’s side share concern when I am down. And I appreciate that. But I still wonder, where does a queer man living with AIDS and alcoholism find commonality, I mean there are gay members all over, but everyone I know is spoken for.

I just don’t know what else to do to perk up my program.

Because it is surely not about me.

I don’t go out looking for fresh meat at a meeting like the women do. But it is a challenge to find people who want to work with me for any reason.

Oh well. time to eat. gotta go.

More to come, stay tuned.


All men of faith have Courage …

tumblr_lvv0bkeh6J1r6unwso1_500

“The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear.”

Page 68 Big Book

Thursday. Location: Montreal. 18c with clear skies

The weather has been very amenable. It was cool enough last night to open the windows for a bit. The month is quickly coming to an end. When I was much younger and quite more stupid, the run up to my birthday usually began one week out. The barhopping and drinking in earnest would begin. And each night all the way up through my birthday would entail much, much more booze.

And we all know how that ended…

July is always a tough month. But it the most important month of the year. It is not only the month of my birth, but the month that I learned that my mortality is on the line.

July 8th comes and goes every year. And I mark it with respect and dignity. People seem perplexed that I would mark an event like this openly. At a meeting not long ago, I shared this piece of info in community and got stares and questions afterwards.

In the beginning I had to learn how to live one day at a time. In fact, I had to learn this lesson more than once. Both instances were based on certain factors in my life.

I would string a few days together. And mark a week. And if I lived a week, I would mark two. And at the end of a month, I would be brave and mark another month. Such is the case when doctors give you your actual “End Date.” And tell you to go home and settle your affairs because death is imminent.

This year I kept to myself mostly. But with Pride every year, come the memorial public television shows like We Were Here and Milk. Many people I assume who have lived through the dark times of the 80’s and 90’s may have book collections that mark the tribulations in print.

Paul Monette is the consummate author of the AIDS years, having lived, loved and died from the disease. I have all his books in my library. And for the most part, I keep them as memorials. To remember how bad it was and to be ever mindful that I may go the same way.

I spent the past week of nights reading “Living on Borrowed Time.” The book details with great pain the months and years that comprised the life and relationship that Paul had with his husband/partner Roger.

It is difficult to read but important for me to pay homage to the men who were there when it all began, who died well before I came along with AIDS. But times were not much different in the early 90’s – there were dedicated drugs, nor doctors to treat us. We were treated like hazmat patients. We would be quarantined in space capsules in rooms away from general population and doctors and nurses would gown up like martian hunters to come near us.

The Christians called it God’s revenge for homosexuality.

Employers fired us. Landlords threw us out on the street. Family and friends and lovers left us because we were sick. Mortuaries would not process nor bury the sick.

But we did. All of it.

Every year I live is a great big Fuck You to the Christian Right. For all those people who left me on the roadside including my family I can only say I lived and I have lived well. I am the man I wanted to be.

Because men of faith took me in and gave me life when you turned your backs on me. And hence the thousands of men who were sick and went to their graves with what little dignity they had in their souls.

I lived … And I am still alive.

Tonight;s reading speaks about God, and no apologies. Courage and fear.

To live with a disease that is going to take your life one day is courage. Not taking a drink one day at a time, is courage. Learning how to live knowing you are going to die with certainty of a disease that is ugly and dirty is harrowing.

AIDS is not pretty. But neither is alcoholism. Both are takers.

But in today’s day and age, both are treatable and manageable.

After 19 year living this way, the fear of dying still exists in the back of my head. But every day I take my pills I earn a day of life. It is my job to take pills every day, if I do nothing during my day, the two actions I make are to take my pills.

I do what I need to do every day, every week and every month to stave off the drink. I don’t know how else to stave off dying. But I don’t fixate on dying, because if I do, I will only hasten the end for which I have been avoiding for more than a decade and almost two.

Our little men’s group is holding its own. We get the by and by visitor to come, but for the most part, it is a conversation between friends in a familiar space.

Do you have courage? How do you live it every day?

More to come, stay tuned…

 


Is there life after the drink? wait for it …

tumblr_mpzr99vIQ01r8z1gdo1_500 rockthesox

Courtesy: Rockthesox

They say it is gonna rain. However I made my trip out and back without issue. But it was rather humid and a little sweaty … We are under a severe thunderstorm watch this evening.

It was a regular Tuesday night, all my friends were accounted for at the meeting, and the chair was out of town, a friend stepped up to chair, and he handed me the Big Book and asked me to find a topic for the evening.

Since we are reading from the book at another meeting, and over the last month, the same topics have been given to discuss, I was tiring of hearing the same lines over and over, (although some would say that we need that repetition to get it in our heads), I chose to go with something hopeful and encouraging.

“We have shown how to get out from under. You say, “Yes, I’m willing. But am I to be consigned to a life where I shall be stupid, boring and glum, like some righteous people I see? I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I? Have you a sufficient substitute?”

Yes, There is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in A.A. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.

“How is that to come about?” you ask. “Where am I to find these people?”

You are going to meet these new friends in your own community. Near you, alcoholics are dying helplessly like people in a sinking ship. If you live in a large place, there are hundreds. High and low, rich and poor, these are the future fellows a A.A.

Among them you will make lifelong friends. You will be bound to them with new and wonderful ties, for you will escape disaster together and you will commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey.

Then you will know what it means to give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life. You will learn the full meaning of:

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

*** *** *** ***

This was an interesting topic. Because it elicited a good amount of silence around the table. It is difficult for our newcomers to be given such hope so early. They are still getting used to coming, and learning and doing and learning how to “BE.” To become a human being instead of a human doing.

We’ve discussed over and over ad nauseum the problem, the solution, the problem and the solution. I thought it would be good to hear a major promise …

“The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead…”

That is a major promise. And we get it inside the first 164 pages of the book, in the lead up to the Vision for You statement.

We read previous to this passage on pages 152-153 that “he cannot picture life without alcohol. Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it. Then he will know loneliness such as few do. He will be at the jumping off place. He will wish for the end…

Going from the insanity of the drink and life being in the tank, to the hope of finding out about the problem and finding the solution, and then learning that the best years are to come is massive in the life of the hopeless and downtrodden.

We are learning how to live within the book, because within those pages is hope and identity. Over the past few weeks the roller coaster has been running at full speed and I have been challenged like no other time in my relationship. Enough that I almost ended it. Save for wisdom from meetings and friends.

I have to hang on to the hope that the most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. I have to stay out of my head and keep the hamster off the wheel, because if I engage in insane thinking, insanity ensues, I will go crazy.

This is what happens when you try to get sober for two instead of one. UGH !!!

It was a good day. We are all hopeful.

More to come, stay tuned …


Kate, Will, and the new Prince

1dbd051e-cc6c-4233-a608-bc9be0589623_174291022

42b29557-4e79-49f8-a759-66050a79aca7_04765880

185ce488-160f-46a9-a89a-985d4eae8519_04765897

cac340fb-76ec-4a51-a180-5c080d99b1d8_174291049


Royal baby: Kate gives birth to boy

_68890946_68891476

Courtesy: BBC News online

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a baby boy, Kensington Palace has announced.

The baby was delivered at 16:24 BST at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London, weighing 8lb 6oz.

The Duke of Cambridge said in a statement the couple “could not be happier”. He and the duchess will remain in the hospital overnight.

The news has been displayed on an easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace in line with tradition.

A bulletin – signed by the Queen’s gynaecologist Marcus Setchell, who led the medical team that delivered the baby – was taken by a royal aide from St Mary’s to the palace under police escort.

The document said: “Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4.24pm today.

“Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.”

When the news was announced, a large cheer went up from well-wishers and journalists outside the hospital while a large crowd greeted the posting of the bulletin outside Buckingham Palace.

The Kensington Palace press release said the Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth of his son, who will be known as the Prince of Cambridge and who is third in line to the throne.

“The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and members of both families have been informed and are delighted with the news,” it said.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said the names of the baby – who was delivered in the private Lindo Wing of St Mary’s – would be announced in due course.

The Prince of Wales, in a separate statement, said he and the Duchess of Cornwall were “overjoyed at the arrival of my first grandchild.

“It is an incredibly special moment for William and Catherine and we are so thrilled for them on the birth of their baby boy,” he added.

“Grandparenthood is a unique moment in anyone’s life, as countless kind people have told me in recent months, so I am enormously proud and happy to be a grandfather for the first time and we are eagerly looking forward to seeing the baby in the near future.”

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said the duke and duchess spent time bonding with their son before they told the family their news.

Royal doctor Mr Setchell described the new arrival as “wonderful baby, beautiful baby”, our correspondent added.

Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking outside Downing Street, hailed the “wonderful news”.

“It is an important moment in the life of our nation but I suppose, above all, it’s a wonderful moment for a warm and loving couple who’ve got a brand new baby boy,” he added.

He said the Royal Family could “know that a proud nation is celebrating with a very proud and happy couple tonight”.

May God bless this family with love, health and happiness in their shared life ahead”

Archbishop of Canterbury

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: “I am sure that people across Scotland will be absolutely thrilled to hear the news of the birth of a baby boy to the Royal couple and will want to join me in wishing the proud parents many congratulations.”

And Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones congratulated the couple “on behalf of the people of Wales” as “they enter their journey into parenthood”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, meanwhile, said he was “delighted to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the arrival of their baby boy”.

“Along with millions here and around the world, I share in their joy at this special time,” he added.

“May God bless this family with love, health and happiness in their shared life ahead.”

Catherine and Prince William had arrived at the hospital at 06:00 BST ahead of a Kensington Palace announcement that she was in the early stages of labour.

The world’s media had been camped outside St Mary’s for days in anticipation of the birth.


The Last Chapter

man-on-bed

It is Sunday. And the weather has cooled off a great deal from what it was just a couple of days ago. Blue skies and 21c out, it was cool and breezy out and back tonight.

For some reason, I was a bit off today. I was napping and kept pushing back my alarm clock, oblivious that I had to be somewhere soon. I overslept by 15 minutes and then rushed myself into the shower and out the door.

I opted to take the overland route instead of the tunnel, hoping that it would buy me a little more time to set up, and a couple of friends were waiting outside the church when I got there, to help set up so I could get the coffee on.

It was nice to see one of my friends and get to talk to him about how things have transpired over the last week. There are key people who play into how I navigated the week as it happened. People I can count on in a pinch.

It was a fair gathering – the last week of reading from the Big Book, as next week will be the last Sunday, which is a Traditions meeting.

We began reading chapter 11 – A Vision for You. The last chapter comprising the “meat and potatoes” of the Big Book and the first 164 pages of required reading to complete the work of getting sober.

And in the first seven pages of this chapter we get to read about two of three of the penultimate vignettes that take place to cement the story of how the fellowship came to be.

First, is the visual and story of Bill going on a business trip, and it went badly for him and we find him in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel, betwixt and between choices of either going to the bar, or phoning someone to help keep him sober.

Just a few months sober, he was on the bubble. What would he do? Go to the bar and drink, or safeguard his sobriety by finding someone to work with?

This decision changed his life, and penultimately the beginning of A.A. had begun.

For indeed he went to the phone book and started calling people from the phone book that was provided him, and it took many tried to get someone on the phone,

And I heard tonight, from a friend, that he would have stopped at two, if not having made that contact, saying fuck it and going to drink.

But Bill was steadfast. And finally he got Henrietta on the phone and eventually met with Dr. Bob. And that ever important relationship began.

The second vignette we get is the image above … Bill and Dr. Bob meeting with Anonymous number one in the hospital. This is the photograph that is the ultimate image of the fellowship, the “man on the bed.”

It is found in many places, and is hanging in the office at Inter group where the office and phone bank for the Montreal fellowship resides.

This chapter brings to mind the thought of choices. By this time, in the book, we have studied the steps and heard the promises, have been introduced to the spiritual experience, and spent time learning how to deal with ourselves, our employers, our wives and how to help those people directly involved with drunks like us.

The third vignette that is important to the sober journey is when the book paints the picture of Bill sitting in the kitchen with a long sober friend, and later, Bill has his own spiritual experience. These are the three most important stories we get about the founders of our fellowship.

*** *** *** ***

By now we should be steeped in the book. And if we have done it correctly, we would have landed a sponsor to help us with our steps, and found a home group to connect with to do service and hopefully we have landed and began building our foundations in sobriety.

The first 164 pages of the book are the work pages. It all comes to a head soon where we hear the famous Vision for You statement.

VISION FOR YOU

Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.

Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

May God bless you and keep you — until then.

*** *** *** ***

This is how the chapter ends, and it is an invitation to maintain the journey and with all we know now about ourselves and our fellow drunks, we have embarked on a journey that can only get better if we stick close to the program and each other.

A good night was had by all. July is coming to an end. And August is just around the corner. Nest week is Tradition Seven and then my birthday falls on the 31st, and we look forwards to the beginning of seasons change into Fall in a few weeks.

Fall happens to be my favorite time of year.

More to come, stay tuned …


Pride and Humility

tumblr_lvv0bkeh6J1r6unwso1_500

Today the skies opened up once again and thunder and lightening came and drenched the city in rain. For the second day in a row, severe storms wreaked havoc on the city. Just before getting ready to go it was raining cats and dogs and storming.

But they say, if you don’t like the weather wait twenty minutes.

So it was. I got in the shower and the storm was moving past. It seemed that what was going on at home was being mirrored in the skies. I decided to brave the weather and take myself to the Friday night meeting. It was a smaller crowd, which meant that an intimate gathering was on hand.

The topic from As Bill Sees It … Seeking Fools Gold.

The reading speaks of Pride and Humility.

These are two key words in life as well in sobriety. The other word that came to mind as we read the passage was ego.

Pride going overboard is never good. But as some spoke tonight, a little pride in ones achievements, like staying clean and sober, is an achievement. I think pride taken in small doses – and managing to keep it in check is the way it should go.

Then I heard one of my friends say that when he drank, it was all about himself and his pride and self seeking. It was the same way for me. What I wanted and what I believed deep down, what I wanted from the drink. In my case, there was nobody to take me to task over my drinking, no warnings from friends or family.

When I came in the second time, I have said that I was ashamed and humiliated. And it took time to regain some self esteem. I had to get past my shame because I knew, at some point, I would meet my friends who were, then, long sober since my going back out. I had to begin again.

I try, each day to stay away from Pride. However long I am sober, it was something I had to do for myself. It had nothing to do with pride. And all that came afterwards was icing on the cake. Those promises, the book speaks about come after you do the work. Because once we stay stopped and get back to living, life happens.

Am I proud of what I have achieved? Yes I am. Kept in a tremulous balance and not a drop overflowing. It doesn’t go to my head, and I am no better than anyone else. I am a member of a community. I do my share, and I am present. And I invest.

There is no ego to bruise. Because I am not all that special. And we learn not to take ourselves too seriously.

Humility is something that is learned. And the best way to humble ones self is to get on ones knees twice a day to say our prayers. The act of getting on ones knees before God means we humble ourselves before God.

Being humble of spirit is also something we learn. I would say that everybody would do to learn these truths, it would make the world a better place.

Over the past few weeks, we have been in a funk. And I have not felt this conflicted in a long time. And so while hubby sits at home doing his thing, I go to my meetings and listen and think and pray.

And finally tonight, while I sat in the meeting tonight, God opened the door in my head and posed me a truth. An answer to a feeling that I have been trying to name, and I saw light. And all the way home, I thought about what the answer was.

I came home and said my piece.

Hubby is hopeful about the future and I had given him an ultimatum because our marriage is on the line. It is a stark truth when one gives voice to the words, I don’t want to be married any more. And if you don’t fix things I am going to leave.

It was a load off my shoulders. And promises were made. So we shall see.

The storms have passed, in the sky and here at home. And I am praying that resolution comes quickly.

Wau Lam

That is all

More to come, stay tuned…


Spiritual Experience

John Paul in Chapel

If you know anything about the Late Pontiff John Paul II, then you would know that this is the place he spent a great deal of his time – the apostolic Chapel in the pope’s private residence in the papal apartments.

I bring this up because we read from Appendix II in the back of the Big Book, “Spiritual Experience.”

I’ve been in a “right state” these past few days. And my friends have been on top of things making sure I don’t crack up. That’s why I am friends with certain people, because they invest in my life. And there are times, when we talk, that I am sure that God is present amongst us.

As Spiritual Experiences go, I have had a few in  my life, and the most important ones came well before I ever hit the room of A.A.

My presentation to God by my Grandmother comes to mind when I was a child.

The two appearances of my friend David after his death when I was in seminary.

Going to Rome, getting to see John Paul II in person twice in a years time.

Visiting the Vatican, touring the catacombs, and climbing the staircase to the top of the cupola of the Vatican looking down over St. Peter’s Square and the Papal Gardens. And attending mass IN the Vatican, how many people can claim a visit like this to the Vatican?

As I drank my way across Europe as a young man, I had this sober experience of God, in one of the most hallowed locations in Christendom.

For the whole of my young life I knew God. And He knew who I was. We were close for a very long time, and I believe now that it was God and faith that contributed to my surviving my life as it was lived.

After my expulsion from Seminary, I turned on God, thinking that He had turned on me. But now I know that the men who spoke for God, were egos and attitudes and men who, later on, fell from grace, in their own time.

God cleared the score, so to speak.

I can’t tell you that I was steeped in the Book the first time I got sober, but I did read at meetings and with my sponsor, but like I have said before, there were other matters on the table that took precedence over life, like survival…

When I came in the second time, the book was presented to us, as were the steps, prior to my coming to Montreal. And at the end of my first year of sobriety I worked my steps in a Step group the First time.

That is when I read “There is a solution” and in that chapter we are introduced to Appendix II and Spiritual Experience.

The book actually refers you to this reading, AS you read the book. It appears in the first few chapters almost inviting you to partake. But how many people, at that point in early sobriety, are ready to take that leap of faith and understand and accept a religious axiom or religious concept.

The out there is Genius. Bill W gives us his explanation.

“GOD as WE understood Him.”

Have I experienced Spiritual Experiences in Sobriety? Yes.

It took some time, going to the same meetings, in the same space, for a period of time that I grew able to recognize them in others, and not necessarily in myself.

My sober theorem states:

In life, where ever we are, we carry, above our heads, a blinking sign. That sign flashes what is going on in our hearts and heads.

We cannot see the sign, but others can.

I have proved this theorem at my home group, the space called St. Leon’s Church.

You come to the doors outside. And you come down 12 steps. How providential.

I grew able to see the signs of all the folks who came to our meeting, and later ALL the meetings that I attend in that room, over the past twelve years. Newly sober people have varied signs. Saying many things.

And as you return, over and over, those signs change. As people get sober and change, so does the sign.

Today, I go to meetings with my friends. I admit that I pick and chose who I choose to spend my time with. Since the Round Up, I have grown picky in my choice of those I share my life with. My friends are intuitive. They are smart, and they invest in our lives of each other. And I appreciate this so much, because I know my friends have my back.

You can’t go to a meeting and not invest. I mean you can, it’s been done. Folks who come to a meeting and warm a chair, but do not engage or invest. And that is a terrible things. But it is to be expected in early sobriety. Newly sober people cannot invest in others, until they stop existing in their heads making everything about themselves. While the ego is in motion, folks are unapproachable.

You can’t get sober and keep your ego…

For me, every meeting has the potential to be a spiritual experience. Because you never know what someone else is going to say on varied topics we speak about at meetings, be it from the book, a topic or an open discussion.

Over the past twelve years, almost, I have seen countless people come to their first spiritual experience. Sitting in a group in St. Leon’s hall, someone realizes something BIG, when the elevator rises to the top of the tower and the light goes on, and the experience takes place.

I can tell you that God favors that hall. Because I have seen Him move amongst the people many times. And to be blessed to be able to see with those eyes, God move in a room, is a blessing. And that doesn’t come over night, it comes over years.

I am eternally grateful for my friends in the rooms tonight. A few in particular who went out of their way to be with me over the past few days. To be in places that I might travel in hopes of speaking to me in private – outside the room.

We hosted a small group, but we went the entire hour.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Indulgences

tumblr_mq45jul6dU1qzgghfo2_1280

tumblr_mq45jul6dU1qzgghfo1_1280This topic is moving around social media tonight. You can follow Pope Francis @Pontifex

I wonder if indulgences are conditional on sexual orientation???


Benefactor

A French soldiers lies on his mattress in a hangar at the Malian army air base in Bamako

Courtesy: Spoonsdammit

The drama of life continues. Where it is going, the jury is still out. The day began with lots of sunshine and humid air. This is as steamy as it gets here. And thankfully, steamy won’t be around for much longer. We can count the days until August begins.

Our fairy godmother – or so I assume – sent another gift to hubby.

For when I got up this morning, there was ample money sitting in my bank account.

We live in such a tight ship that everything we use is rationed and portioned. And things are so well tuned that everything runs out all at the same time. The soap bar disappears, we run out of medication, the fridge is bare and so are the cupboards.

An old wives tale says, as long as you never run out of toilet paper, money will follow. So needless to say we have a stock of T.P. in the bathroom.

I spent the early afternoon running errands. I ventured out to the village, someplace I never go unless I need something specific. So I did.

Then I went by the pharmacy to sort out my medications and get them ordered so I can pick them up tomorrow on the way to the meeting. However I forgot all the little things I needed and came home empty. UGH, I hate when that happens.

Finally I made a stop at Provigo for groceries. Did you know that a box of Rice Krispies costs almost $7.00 !!! And Ice cream runs almost $6.00, that’s for a small tub of Hagen Dazs. A pile of groceries for a weeks time cost me almost $45.00.

Fresh fruit, milk, cereal, lunch for two, ice cream, etc …

I came home and we made lunch and took our afternoon nap. Hubby is out at a Trayvon Martin vigil as I write this. Hopefully the cops aren’t in the arresting mode tonight and things go off peacefully.

Tomorrow is Thursday. The end of the week is coming. And a few days closer to the end of the month and MY birthday on the 31st.

YAY…

More to come, stay tuned …


The Great Obsession …

tumblr_mpwvrcAplh1qkkjlco1_500

It is a sad day in the recovery community. But is it really? Millions of people each day die from the effects of alcohol or drugs. For the most part we just let that fact go in one ear and out the other. But we should be alarmed and concerned that addiction takes far too many people in any given year.

Cory Monteith – it was confirmed today, died of an overdose of heroine and alcohol.

It is a tragic loss of such a young life, to addiction. Smack is a killer. But so is alcohol, and when mixed becomes a lethal concoction.

My friend Alex asked this question the other day …

“Did he know that Saturday was going to be his last day on earth?” And “What was going on in his head that he could not just say NO???”

We talked about this subject before the meeting. And the topic came from the Big Book – More about alcoholism… And the great obsession, that one day, we would be able to drink like normal people…

How do you get sober in Hollywood and stay sober, when everybody parties and bar hops and lives life to the fullest. Why deprive ones self the social aspect of living with your costars and friends?

Just a few months out of rehab, that is the most dicey period of a sober persons journey. If you don’t sink into the program right away, your success at staying stopped diminishes by the day and the hour.

Well, I can go to a bar and not drink, but when it comes to mad hatter smack, I just can’t say NO. How many people do I know, or knew, that have died from such an addiction in my life? MANY …

And we say in closing:

“Eternal rest grant him and may perpetual light shine upon him.”

It is just sad.

I’ve seen big names get sober. I’ve met them in meetings, here and in other places. Most of them have succeeded in staying stopped and are successful at their craft. But we will never get to see this now dead, young person, succeed in his craft, because of heroine and alcohol.

Today … for me … the thought of a drink or a drug is far from my mind. My greatest obsession is that one day I would be able to do anything like a normal person.

But what is normal ?

I don’t know what normal is.

Another friend spoke today about having things and being happy … he writes:

I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.

~ Pablo Picasso
I recall a Peanuts comic in which Linus announced that when he grew up he wanted to be very successful, very famous and very humble. Successful, famous, humble. Charlie Brown just walked away muttering, “Good luck with that.”
Living in the monastery for thirty years taught me how to live as a poor man … with lots of money. I didn’t have much in the way of cash, no personal bank account or credit card, no car of my own and such. On the other hand, I had incredible amounts of security — great health insurance, a car available to me almost any time, a guaranteed roof over my head and three square meals a day, a graduate-level education, plenty of work I enjoyed and the freedom to arrange my own work schedule most of the time.

Not sure that I have a point here. Just that peace of mind does not depend on having a lot of money, but it sure is connected to how safe one feels and how much one feels in control of one’s life. And we keep searching for the thing that will give us control — money, weapons, power. None of that works. A wise and experienced nun told me once that she had come to realize that life was all about letting go. We live in a culture where life seems to be mostly about grabbing on.

Let go. Breathe. Smile.

Being poor in today’s world is the great fear of many people. Not having food in the fridge or money in your pocket is an obsession. Worrying about where your next meal is coming from or when you will have money to purchase things you need, when at the moment you have none, is my problem.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

It was far more important for my hubby to sit here week in and week out watching that goddamned George Zimmerman trial, night and day, around the clock, rather than spend that time using his efforts in finding a job, which he has failed to do as of yet. But we said those vows.

In sickness and in health for richer or for poorer. Till death do us part.

So I am stuck in a situation that I did not create. But maybe I did, maybe I should have been a cast iron bitch and become bitter and controlling. Shooting my mouth off and loosing my temper.

In as many years in sobriety, I have only lost my temper, truly, twice in twelve tears. And never at home.

Yes, I am disappointed. And over dinner the other night, I voiced my displeasure and I let it go at that. I had to, because if I didn’t let it go, the hamster would get on the wheel and the obsession would take hold and I would end up insane and crazy and wanting something to cut the edge off.

It is good that when I got up this morning and things were in the tank, I picked up my phone and called a friend, who carted me to and from the meeting tonight. It is good that at the meeting I go to on Tuesday nights, are other men my age who I can talk to and a couple of men with serious sober time who are wise and tell me how it is and what I need to do to change things.

I can’t get that same advice in a room full of women. I just don’t think pissing and moaning in a room full of women is going to do me any good. Not at the moment.

So I am winging it . one day at a time . one moment at a time .

That is all.

More to come, stay tuned …