Can I tell you how “HOT” it is outside these past few days ! The heat and humidity have been the highest they have been this season. Thank God for air conditioning. But you know, a good thing never last for very long. There are storms in the offing overnight and into Tuesday.
The great tradition here in Quebec is in process, that is the tradition of “Moving Day.” It seems our building got the notice that if you don’t have to move, then DON’T … But June isn’t over just yet, and the First is Tuesday.
I haven’t seen much shit left on sidewalks like there was in years past. The warnings from the city have gone out to recycle where you can, and for God’s sake, negotiate if you have a pet, don’t toss them onto the street with no where to go.
Hopefully the weather will be kind and not rain on our parade this week. Ironic that it rained all over Ste. Jean Baptiste day last week. I was quietly applauding mother nature.
The end of the month week has been updated in several groups, so we have had repeat readings of traditions this week. Two passes at the same reading gets a second look and listening to more people talk about them, I see a bit more.
We had a good showing tonight. Meetings are hit and miss during Festival Season. The Franco-Folies, The Jazz Festival, and the International Fireworks Festival are all going on concurrently. Luckily, most of the entertainment is located down at Place des Arts and all points East. So it is not difficult to reach multiple events during the week.
Funny that my old sponsor came to the meeting tonight. I haven’t seen nor spoken to him in more than a year. But he came nonetheless. It was a bit awkward, people change, and it was a good moment.
Life is frenetic it seems as of late. I plan my days around who is in town and where they are on any given day, then I make my meetings, some are additions, and some are substitutions.
It’s good work, work that means something and means something to others as well. So that is a thing.
Another week begins.
Bring on the rain already …
More to come, stay tuned …
I learned of this offhandedly.
But all the same, make no life decisions during this period.
It has been an interesting week. Sunday I was setting up the hall, listening to some tunes, and my Skull Candy (Up Rock) phones dropped a channel. I’ve had them for 8 months, and I thought, because they are a flat wire operation that the threat of a line breakage would lessen. The music just stopped, I am not sure what I did, but my phone was in my pocket as usual. Oh Well.
So I had no tunes for my transit. F.M.L.
I came home and Monday I went to Target, where I bought them, and attempted to get an exchange, I actually had my original receipt, but they said NO. That I would have to contact Skull Candy directly, which I did on Monday, so I have to send them back for a return/new pair.
It was very easy to file a warranty claim online, then they give you a number and a printout for the claim and the address to mail them back.
Tuesday, I took the headphones that I got for Christmas, with their UBER long cord to the meeting, which worked well. That night I was sitting here at the computer, and I felt a little off. I knew something was not right, and the headphones were plugged into the tower on the side closest to the screen, instead of the back.
I got up and the cord wrapped around my foot and I yanked the plug in two, efficiently killing a second pair of headphones over two days.
I was like, Fuck Me!
I turned the box off and went to bed.
Someone is up there taking the piss…
Today, Wednesday, I got up early because I needed to go shop for another pair of headphones. They aren’t cheap. I had looked at Canadian Tire and they had a few, but I returned to Target for the purchase. This time I bought Sony’s.
I am hoping that Skull Candy gives me a new head set.
I went and did some Supermarket Safari and we have these points cards that we swipe every time we check out and we accrue points. Well I spent $30.00 on food, and I had $20 in credit accrued, so she asked me if I wanted to use my points, I said yes, so a basket of groceries cost me all of $9.00.
Take that Mercury !
I did three loads of laundry. And I took a long nap. Sleeping in freshly laundered sheets is the bomb …
Meanwhile, my emotional state is up in the air. I’ve been twisting and turning. And my sponsor says that I am in the right place at the right time, and that I just need to plod through it. That this 4th step process is turning more than myself upside down.
Then I get the news that Mercury is in retrograde …
Great, fantastic, just what I needed to hear.
That is why I am all fucked up this week. And it ain’t over yet …
Courtesy: free minded
So it rained today. God is up there taking the piss. And rained on the big party today. At least the community got a good day yesterday to do what they do.
With everything closed today, it was a hunt to grocery shop and find a restaurant that was open, ala Subway. I’ve been craving a burger and wanted one and woke up wanting one, and the burger joint across the street was CLOSED !!!
I didn’t feel like walking all the way to the mall for some Micky D’s so I settled for Subway, it is right up the street and convenient. Laundry will have to wait until tomorrow. And that is fine because it is an off day.
I headed out for my transit and that went well. I got to my connection and the buses were all sitting in the bay with drivers doing this and that. I could’ve skipped the transfer and walked, but I was like, it’s raining, and probably folks would be slow on the arrival. As WAS the case.
We had a small showing. We have a smattering of newbies, a few with time, then those of us with decades or more.
The chair read from a Grapevine and the reading was on “The Serenity Prayer.”
The topic went all over, and folks were talking all over each other. And I sat there for a while pondering prayer, and nothing was coming to mind.
I was totally blank.
I mean On my way back I prayed. When I came in, I heard the prayers and participated in the meetings, but it wasn’t like I was PRAYING overtly.
Those first few months when it came to meetings, I mean, I went, I was there, I hit massive amounts of meetings, but it was all a blur.
When I got here, I hung out, got connected. Found a sponsor. And I worked my steps that first year in. So I did the prayers from the book with my sponsor, and that was that. I had my issues coming in that had to be abandoned. And I learned a few things.
I went back to school. I studied Religion and Pastoral Ministry and Theology. So all that time, it was all about God in His many forms. I call that religious education. At the same time I was going to meetings, year in and year out.
I did what we all did. I would not say that I was paying lip service to my prayers, I mean I was praying, but I guess not hard enough. I got through and life panned out. I did whatever I was told to do, by people I trusted and respected.
But it all came to a head at the Roundup of 2013.
One of the speakers got up there and hammered the message home that “if you have lots of time, you should be able to rattle off the prayers from the book” right then and there. And like I have said before, we here in Montreal, where sobriety is concerned, we say ” Aw, we’ll do it tomorrow!” Nobody in the room could rattle off the prayers rote.
Then it hit me.
If I want what these guys are talking about and the lives that they are speaking about, I really need to step up my game. And that game began with prayer. Ardent, on your knees, pound the book, PRAYER !!!
Three, Seven and Eleven, morning, noon and night.
And so that is what I did, for months on top of months. I prayed as if my ass was on the line, and I meant it. And then I waited for the payoff.
I changed up my meetings. I spent lots of time with guys I really care about and meetings with people I love, and I did that for months on top of months.
Then a new sponsor came into my life. And we started my steps, of which I am amid today. I met a young man, whom I sponsor today. Then one night my second guy walked into my life and I took him on as well. And they are working their steps today. And just a little while ago, after a meeting a third guy wanted to connect, so three’s a charm.
The girls work New York Sobriety. And I wanted New York Sobriety. And I was going to find it no matter what I had to do to get it. Our girls here won’t sponsor guys, but they do in New York, So I had to wait for one to come to me.
I got to go to Vermont in May for a Men’s Intensive Weekend. And that was a watershed event in my life. I hit the 2014 Roundup a couple of weeks later, and that was mediocre at best. And that was the general consensus.
When I ponder prayer, over the long haul, I did it in the beginning. And it went as it went. I stayed sober. I used the Serenity Prayer all along. I’ve posted it, I spoke about it, I’ve shared about it.
It is a pervasive prayer that is said all over the place. In many forms. Long and short. Meeting after meeting. And you work your steps and as they pop up you say them when needed and then you let them go.
But I’ve learned that sober prayers, if said correctly, from the heart in the right direction can change your life, in ways you can’t imagine.
Until you DO IT.
Our young people, (read: newbies) come and they sit, yet they tell us that they don’t understand the steps or how to do them. I don’t throw Big Books at newbies. I’d rather they come for a while and sink into their chairs and get comfy in them.
It has to happen organically. You can’t force someone into a book. It just does not work very well that way. And I said as much tonight to them.
It has been a journey. And at different times, different things pop up onto the radar that we get to work on, and Prayer was the last real lesson that came in the past year that I worked on for an entire year. And that has helped me and my guys immensely.
I know who God is and I know who God is not.
Education does that for you. So it wasn’t a wasted opportunity.
Can you recite Three, Seven and Eleven from Memory?
If you can’t then maybe it is time for you to practice.
Time to eat. More to come, stay tuned …
Over my life, I have had omens appear throughout my life. I have had visitations from family members that have passed on to the other side. They not only have happened to me, but to other family members as well, thousands of miles apart happening at the same time. I cannot explain them as they happened.
The first one to appear was when I was a teenager. My grandfather (my father’s father) died on year and mysteriously a red headed woodpecker appeared at my bedroom window. And he pecked at the window. continuously …
It got very aggravating after while. The bird, the pecking and my parents besides themselves wondering what the hell was going on.
The bird would follow me from the house to my bus stop at the end of our block every day. This went on for weeks and weeks. The bird would then follow around the house to whatever room I was in. I could open the window and tell ( AL ) to quit, and the bird would go. I could also stand outside and call ( AL ) and the bird would appear.
Soon after, my uncle Paul died, thousands of miles from Miami Florida. He lived and died in Connecticut. Where my family originated. One day my uncle John was black topping the driveway and a blue jay appeared on the lawn.
Now, Blue Jays are known for being ornery birds. But this one was different. Like the wood pecker, the blue jay followed my uncle around the house to whatever room he was in and would peck at the window. This went on for weeks and weeks.
There was discussion between Miami and Newington about this occurrence.
Two deaths, two birds, miles apart, but telling the same message.
After a while, our woodpecker decided to go. We did not see him again. A few weeks later, my uncle called us to tell us that a woodpecker had appeared at his window along with the blue jay. They stayed for some time together pecking at the windows and following people around the house and yard.
After some time, both birds disappeared. Never to be seen again.
When my grandmother, (my father’s mother) died, I brought home flowers from the funeral home and put them in my bedroom. That is when she began to appear in my bedroom. I always caught sight of her standing at the end of my bed. At first she freaked me out, but she returned nevertheless.
That took place over a period of time. But she was persistent.
Years later, I had moved to Fort Lauderdale Florida. I got sick and shit went down. I lived in a one bedroom apartment, with an ac unit in the bedroom. I always slept with the bedroom door closed.
That is when I began to notice things being moved or shifted.
Magazines on the living room table would fall to the floor. Pictures on the wall would be tilted. I could never explain it. But it happened over a period of weeks.
I was seeing a friend who was intuitive and a tarot card reader. I asked him to come over the house and tell me what was going on. We stepped into the apartment, and he said that a woman with red hair was in the apartment. And he also said that she told him to tell me not to sleep with the door closed.
It seemed that she could not get through the door, for whatever reason. But she could move things.
He did not know my grandmother, or that she was dead. I did not tell him anything about the situation, aside from the moved items. He explained the woman he saw down to a T. Yes, that was my grandmother. Early in her life she had red hair, she appeared as she had as a younger version of herself.
I never slept with the door closed ever again. And to this day, the bedroom door is always open.
Years later, when my grandmother (my mother’s mother) died, my mother forbade me to go to the funeral. God forbid someone see me in my sickly state.
For weeks after the funeral, Memere appeared to me. I would sit and write letters in her voice to my mother. In her handwriting. Signed with her name. As the letters were completed, I would mail them.
I am sure my mother kept them and never spoke about them, she probably thought I was going crazy and that it was me doing this stunt. She never mentioned the letters ever.
I moved to Canada in 2002. I worked very hard at a relationship with my family over two years time. I wrote every two weeks. A letter to get there took a week, and a return would take another week. I got no replies, ever.
The last thing my mother said to me in our final conversation was that if either she or my father died, nobody would call me, and I would not be told where they were buried. And that was that.
Fast forward to 2005…
One night, sometime after we got married I was in my bedroom, and I saw my mother appear standing in the room. She said she was sick, and that she was going to die. I attempted to prove this by calling, and got no response, in either case.
I cannot confirm nor deny that that actually happened. My father would never give me the satisfaction of that proof. He would continue punishing me for my adult decisions.
My Aunt Georgette was a Grey Nun, who I met when I first moved here. My mother, miraculously, gave me that introduction. So we met and began a relationship that lasted a number of years.
She ended up in the hospital after being diagnosed with inoperable Cancer. They had tried a surgery, but it was too far spread to help, so they closed her up and sorted her out into the intensive care unit.
On her last night of life, she was all hooked up to machines with bells and whistles. That scared her too much, so they turned them all off and hooked her up to a morphine drip that took her life. (cue assisted suicide).
I sat with her all night, reading the Tibetan Book of the dead, while she wasted away. At 3 a.m. she spoke her last words. She wanted a priest, said the devil was trying to take her and that she was afraid. I could not find a priest in the middle of the night, so I prayed with her. She closed her eyes and went off.
At 8 in the morning the nuns from the house came to her. The nurse cleaned her up and sorted her out. I said to her that I was going home and that I would return soon. I came home and showered and laid down for a nap.
As I was laying in bed, I felt her move through me. Like a wave or a breeze. I could actually smell her move past me. A little while later the phone rung and it was the hospital telling me that Sister Georgette was dead, and if I wanted to come up to see her, I told them I would see her at the Mother House.
*** *** *** ***
Now we are in 2014.
We live in a high rise apartment building. And there is a building to our right hand side that is not as tall as our building. There is a flock of about 30 pigeons that sit on the building side every day. I see them daily.
I’m laying in bed one morning, not long ago, and I hear cooing from outside the window, on the balcony. There on the balcony floor are TWO pigeons.
They stayed for a while.
We’ve never had pigeons come on to the balcony before. Ever.
But here they were. I did not think much of it, I thought that one pigeon was chasing the other one around and ended up on the balcony for some reason. So I dismissed the sighting. Thought it coincidence. And let it go.
The pigeons returned over a number of days. Always in the morning, while I was in my bed. And never during the day. (hmmm… strange).
They have not returned, however the pigeons still roost on the building next door. But none of them have come over to our balcony again.
Lately, I’ve been pondering the omens. And came to the conclusion that the visitation is truth and that the message is clear. Nobody called, yet something must have happened.
Because TWO pigeons appeared, not one. That is a solid message.
Me thinks not.
I’ve always thought about this happening and what I would do if I could confirm that my parents died and nobody called. (cue pent up anger and rage).
If I am a portal and that all these omens DID take place throughout my life, not only to me but other family members, then the omens speak and have spoken.
God help the person on the other end of rage if I ever get the news directly.
So that is my omen story.
Courtesy: The Worlds Havoc
The weather has been on our side as of late. It has been just beautiful here on our side of the country. However not so much out West. From Ice Bergs on the East Coast to Sun in the Center and finally rain and floods out West, it hasn’t been a cake walk for so many. We are keeping many in our thoughts and prayers.
I’ve had a jumble of thoughts running through my head as I work on my fourth step work, and as that work coincides with readings from literature, my brain has been on overdrive for a few days. And rather than sit here and drop verbal diarrhea, I have spent the past few days sitting on my thoughts, allowing them space, and trying to find the balance of feeling what is there on the surface, and then being cool with letting them go, and not hanging on to shit that has nothing to do with today.
It is one thing to speak to my guys and then my friends and giving them sound advice, it is quite another thing to listen and take my own advice on board. I am a work in progress.
My fears, guilt, and resentment lists are short, but what is on the lists is strong and potent. The past is just that, the past. It has no bearing on the present, or on the day.
Estrangement is a funny beast.
I have problems coping, as an Adult, with how another human being can just shut off one’s light off and plunge them into darkness as a punishment for sin or non-compliance.
How does one live with themselves when you intentionally place another human being in the DARK?
You silence their voice and kill their spirit.
How does one go on with life, knowing that your voice is not important, and that your life is not important in the grand scheme of things?
When we are born, we have family. Whether good or bad, it is out of our control.
We grow up and find our way into the world, on whatever path we take. I certainly went through my fuck up phase. I did my own damage. But in the same breath, damage was done to me as well.
Post fuck up phase, we move into our age of enlightenment. I got it once, and I got it a second time. I made my series of life decisions that were meant to keep me alive, fed and a roof over my head.
Family is supposed to be thicker than blood. Family is the most important part of our lives, either the one we came from, or the one we create on our own. I did not choose my family of origin. They are the ones who shut my light off.
Today, I have my family of choice. And that has worked for me.
The time had come for me to sever the connection with family of origin. Because that was a toxic situation. Today, I am guilty of many things. I made self serving choices. Self centered choices, that were necessary for my life to move forwards.
But that light switch is still off. And it will never get turned back on.
Some time ago, an omen came to me. It appeared and it happened more than once.
This omen has presented itself to me before. And always took place after a death. And I respect this omen as truth. But this time there was not one but two omens to appear. They came as a pair.
I blew it off as coincidence.
But the more I ponder them, the more it has become clear to me that it wasn’t just coincidence. They were sent. I had no part in the sending. But I was part to the appearance. I know what the omen means.
So that is a thing.
I know I can’t change what’s done. And I am coming to accept that I won’t ever get to speak my mind, as I think I need to. Because at this point, what is it going to matter? What good could come of it?
I made the shift. I had to make it. That was what had to happen, to guarantee my survival. People got bent. We are all adults. It is sad that as an adult, my decisions were seen as a slight and irreconcilable. How does that work?
Do you parents punish your kids when they make adult decisions? We all make decisions in life. And most likely, not everyone may be happy with the decisions we make, but I would have thought, maybe stupidly, that people would grow to respect and acknowledge our truth.
That did not happen.
And that is a thing.
One day, thanks to social media, and the progress of communication, the people who need to find me, when they get to make that decision, will. I am hoping that one day we will all find the pieces.
Because like Troy Dunn says, “You can’t find peace, until you find all the pieces.”
My puzzle is in pieces.
So that is a thing.
There is a storm blowing about, and I am in the eye of the storm, so to speak. As long as I stay in the center, eventually it will all work out.
You can either get stuck in the storm or you can navigate around it. I hope with my time (in) that I have learned how to navigate.
So that is a thing.
More to come, stay tuned …
I remember sitting outside in the middle of the bush in north west Sydney. I was surrounded by people I loved who stood in a ring around a raging campfire. I was at a youth weekend. The same youth weekend I had attended since I was a teenager. We were singing loudly into the night, to a God we loved.
We sang the words – “There is a God, he is alive, in him we live and we survive.” Words I could’ve sang in my sleep, written backwards, and a melody I knew four part harmonies too. But did I really understand what I was singing? Did I understand what it meant to have a God who was alive?
There is a couple of traditions in the church that adhere to the idea that guitars are the devils instrument and shouldn’t be used in the church. A tiny part of that sect of thought have come to the conclusion that, there is no proof in the new testament that the early church used instruments, in fact some verses refer to the strings of our heart, so we should just sing. With our voices.
I have also stood in a circle of lovely people, a tight knit group, who, with only a guitar as accompaniment, awkwardly stood around. Kind of singing, kind of into it. But not really. I spoke later to one of them who confessed, they couldn’t get into worship unless the music was loud.
Somehow, the guitar stood in the way of worship. Either because it was considered of the devil, or without it, we are in shock.
Amongst all of this tho, I have stood in groups, passionately loving the lord through song in the midst of a huge, well orchestrated band, and I have stood around awkwardly looking at my feet singing accapella. So what are we missing? If it has nothing to do with the music, then it must have something to do with the lyrics.
Have you ever sang words in a song that your heart passionately belts out but your logical brain is just like …. “what does shekinah mean? What does hosanna mean again?” But your whole heart is in it. You know deep down that what you are singing is good, but you don’t know why. Do we need to know the why? If worship is just between me and God, and the depths of my soul knows I’m praising, then words are irrelevant. In the same way that tongues is our heart praying prayers that our brain doesn’t understand, can our souls not sing also?
But when we worship as a group, is it different? Or is it merely solo worship in a room of people? If you took most of my corporate worship sessions and putt them in a graph, 99 per cent of them would’ve looked no different had I been in a large room or my own bedroom by myself. And I feel there is a disconnect there. We are the community of God, and as echos of the trinity shouldn’t we be connecting together like the trinity?
I heard a one liner this week that made me stop and think – If in worship your not listening and hearing God and your only thinking and singing about and too God, then it is no longer a relationship but you are stalking God.
Let me reword that – If you don’t let God speak in worship you stalk him. Have you ever stopped in the middle of worship and just listened? And some songs are written from Gods perspective, so I suppose that counts. But sometimes I feel like we need to give God more room to move.
I tried to experiment with this once. We were camping, in the middle of the bush and we circled up. I started playing my guitar and then I stopped. “Today I’m going to just play a soundtrack.
I have songs to play, but I don’t need to play them. If God puts a song in your heart, if God prompts you to speak out to the group, if God wants you to pray over someone – DO IT. Irrelevant of what I’m doing, I play this guitar more as a back track to improvise off” The next 40 minutes God broke a lot of freedom over our group.
Some things were prayed and sung out that would echo powerfully through out the next 7 weeks and beyond. We gave God the room and he used it. We saw this again two weeks ago at our national leaders meeting. And again even more recently in a worship time on base. We gave God room to move and he did.
I feel like the guitar stands in the way of God moving. If worship isn’t about the music, and its not about the words (necessarily – tbc) then its about US and GOD. And us and God can relate off the back of anything. In Uganda they don’t have guitars as much, but they do have drums and amazing voices. So we would worship for ages on beats alone. In India it was synth, in Ukraine it was a mixture of Korean, Russian, English and Danish – we related amongst different language. But when we put stipulations on worship we limit God.
– It has to have guitar
-it has to have no instruments
-it has to be thee and thous
-it can’t have slang words.
-It has to be the lyrics of the people
-it can’t be too loud or too quiet
-it has to have flute.
My relationship with my father is liberated from stipulations. I love him, we converse a lot. And he doesn’t need to be playing guitar.
When we worship God, we unite with our brothers and sisters through a common wording of a song. And God uses ALL to speak words over each other.
So some questions –
could you passionately worship God in a room full of people you love without any music?
Could you passionately worship God with 6 people and a ukelele?
Could you passionately worship and converse with God to hymns? To New songs with only 8 words in it? Dancing, kneeling, with no words?
Can you give God space?
Or is the guitar a security blanket? Because if it is, maybe we should set them all on fire.
A thought before I end…
I have now been working with young people for two years directly discipling and empowering. And the amount of time I hear this statement is saddening “I can’t be a worship leader because I can’t play guitar”
Stop believing in limitations that aren’t from God.
God frees us to be what HE CREATED.
GET OUT OF HIS WAY!
Courtesy: Alex Stoddard (Archives)
The weather is looking up for the next few days. It could stay like this for the Summer as far as I am concerned.
The long goodbye continued tonight. My guys are coming to the end of their time with us, and our little community is growing smaller. We said goodbye to one of my guys at the Metro station, tomorrow is move day and Saturday he will depart for the rest of the Summer. Hopefully, he takes with him all the he has learned over the past four months. Canada Wide Calling is going to be very useful.
I departed for the church and met with my other guy for set up. He is going to be a much harder goodbye because he is moving from the city in the coming weeks. I will get to see him on his off days throughout camp weeks.
Again, we have filled him with everything we have got to give.
We read from Daily Reflections, Fear and Faith.
We carry one similar trait. Most of us carry a modicum of fear from our lives into recovery. And in life, a modicum of fear is a good thing, if only to remind us that we are human, and do feel.
There was a great deal of fear in my childhood. A lot of violence heaped upon a small child, if only because he had been born to a father who did not want him. And spent the better part of a decade trying to bring about the end of said child.
What do you do when you are drilled with fear, because you are unwanted, or better yet, being told that you were a mistake. Only to grow up and see the proverbial writing on the wall, and come to know your adversity.
And your destiny …
Then with time, one grows up and has made a life proclamation only then to be branded an abomination. That only adds to the fear of being “other.”
I never made the connection, in my drinking history early on, that I was drinking out of fear. I never blamed anyone for my drinking. I was taught that to be part of that we drank. So that is what I did. To fit in.
I was young and impressionable. I seemed to “fit in” I had all the right friends and drinking buddies. I was part of a greater “Whole.” A Community of sorts. The men I called friends took care of me and cared about me, seriously. They are all long dead now. For what it was worth, I would not have changed one bit of it.
Nobody said stop.
Life threw its curves, and I got sick. It was at this point that I began to drink out of fear. Fear of misery, fear of pain, fear of pain, and most importantly, fear of Death.
I thought it would be better to do myself in before the misery, to save me from what I was seeing in my friends lives. What do you do when a doctor hands you a death sentence and actually tells you when you are going to die?
Thankfully, Todd did for me what I could not do for myself.
He kept me close. He allayed my fears. He gave me a purpose and helped me deal with my fears with practical life lessons that paid off in spades.
I lived …
Most people I know, that means, most of YOU out there, probably never think about your deaths or the end. And you usually don’t think about death until it happens to you within family or friends.
For some of us, that came in spades. What do you fear, after surviving your death date? What could be worse than facing down your own death and surviving???
Everything else after that pales in comparison.
Yes, I went out and returned. The blip on my life radar.
I made certain choices and arrived here. I really did not fear the future because I had all my bases covered. I made sure, this time, that I was going to do it right, from the get go. And I did that.
There has been fear. But I managed. We managed.
I was never alone, at any point in my journey. I worked on my fear, resentment and guilt list on this fourth. All three lists are very short.
I am powerless over people, places and things.
I won’t ever get my day to state my case to certain people. I will never get to defend my life choices to state my case for becoming a grown adult man who is successful, despite the past and the way I was treated by some.
And I have to be ok with that.
I won’t ever get to say goodbye to certain people, if only because they set the rules and I have been forced to comply, not that I haven’t tried to assert myself. People die and I am here and they are there. What do you do when you don’t get to say goodbye? You go on with your life.
When people show you who they are the first time, Believe them.
I should have heard this lesson many years ago. It would have made it so much easier.
And I have to be ok with that.
I don’t fear my death any longer. When it gets here eventually, it will come on my terms, when I am ready to go. After I have fought death to the bitter end.
We choose when we will die. When we at last release our spirits from this life, in the hope of the life after. I’ve earned that choice.
Life is good. Life is as life is.
I have everything I need. And I am ok with that. I have ENOUGH…
I am working with some new folks as of tonight. We’ll see how that turns out.
It is trues that if a number isn’t used within the first 48 hours, it will never be used.
That is why we require a call every day. I am required to call every day, for my own sanity and sobriety.
When you know, Teach. When you have, Give.
There are always people waiting in the wings for someone to reach out and say, “I think you are important.” So let’s begin.
And so we have.
Pray for my guys. They need our faith and prayers.
More to come, stay tuned …
It is very late as I pen these words. I have been very busy as of late trying to be as present as I can for the communities I serve. Which means traveling from one end of the city to another, hitting meetings that I don’t usually hit, but I have added them nonetheless, on nights when I am usually dark for that evening.
It is good right now to be who I am and where I am. All those hours doing “The Work” are paying off in spades. Working with others is a true blessing. And there is nothing that I would do differently than what I am doing right now.
Sunday’s are full on High Throttle days as of late.
I had to go shopping on the way out for coffee, and didn’t realize until I hit the cash that the coffee I bought was NOT on sale ! FML … But we needed it and I had the cash. I cranked out set up and one of my guys met me to make coffee.
Tonight was a very special occasion. Today June 15th 1962, is the 52nd anniversary of our Sunday Nighter’s Group. We are amid Gratitude Week in the Fellowship. We are marking the meeting of Bill W. and Dr. Bob. And we thank the esteemed Henrietta Sieberling for the introduction.
As it was a special night, we read an excerpt from the story of the Who’s, What’s, Where’s and How’s of the first meeting of Bill and Dr. Bob.
Dr. Bob had a drinking problem and the Oxford group was trying to help him, and Henrietta made the initial introduction of Bill to Dr. Bob. From the outset it looked like Dr. Bob would be difficult when upon meeting he informed Bill that he could only give our man 5 minutes of his time.
The story goes that 6 hours later, they were still talking.
One alcoholic talking to another.
We then shared on the topic of gratitude and the reading.
Fresh on my slip, I knew the end was near, and when I got there I prayed. I did not go looking for a room, or people, I prayed that God would bring them to me.
And He did.
That young man who walked into my life at just the right moment, using just the right words “I did not drink today” was the line he fed me for over a month before I broke my anonymity with him and he took me to my second “First Meeting.”
The rest they say is history.
I had been living in Montreal from May 2002 onwards. I was going to Sunday Nighter’s regularly. Along with Tuesday Beginners and Foundations, a Sunday afternoon gathering that met in the St. Leon’s space. where Sunday Nighter’s is today.
Back then, 13 years ago, they were across town on the East side of Downtown at St. James United Church.
This is how the story goes.
It was nearing my anniversary, in December. I was 11 months and a couple weeks sober. And I passed a young bright man in the doorway of St. Leon’s Church. In that passing moment, I knew I was going to marry him. It was 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon.
That evening, it rained. And that young man I saw, ended up at St. James United that night, and we had our first conversation. We talked about angels and spiritual experiences. He had one. And I was amid one. We connected.
It was also the holiday season, and in those days Sunday Nighter’s used to host a fantabulous Holiday Dinner for the folks and the homeless there. it was THE event of the season to attend. We would eventually attend many of those dinners over the first few years.
I was 11 months and some weeks sober. He was sober just weeks. But Sunday Nighter’s and a few other meetings solidified our relationship. We did not look back, and we have been together since that first day we set eyes on each other.
Sunday Nighter’s has been a constant friend to me and to many over the past fifty two years. Few original members exist to this day. Many have died or moved away. But it has been a great run.
St. Leon’s church has been very good to us, to all the meetings that call that church basement home.
We are very grateful.
It was a great night. And tomorrow will be even better.
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: Hike Now Nyiragongo Volcano
“… The newcomer feels like they have struck something better than gold. They may not see at once that they have barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of their lives and insist on giving away the entire product.”
It rained again today. But the skies were dry during the outing this evening. And the rails were running efficiently and on time. There was no sign of yesterdays tragedy in the Metro when I got there.
The above reading is truncated. But the thought that I want to use comes from this portion of the passage. the visual of “mining for Gold.”
Some felt this passage in its entirety was lacking, because it doesn’t tell you how to begin. That from day one, we have to pick up the pick axe. And over time to begin excavating our own mine for the wealth promised by recovery.
I’ve spoken before about “the chair” and what that means. It took me over a decade to realize this piece of wisdom. It isn’t about us, or me.
We come in and find our chair. It is custom where ever you go, if you hit the same meetings continually, people always sit in the same chair, where ever it is in the room. I find that people usually sit in their comfort zones, either up front “at the table” or more to the back of the room.
We listen from our chair, we share from our chair, and over time we learn that where ever we go, there is a chair for us, any place in the world. Over time we learn from our chair, and in time, when it will come, we speak from our chair, and you never know when something we/you say, will impact another soul, by identification and in that moment a life may be changed.
Do we have to go to meetings for the rest of our lives? Yes, if we want the long term rewards of this mining process. Alcoholism never leaves, we are never really cured, or recovered. It is a one day at a time effort.
And serenity comes when we maintain our spiritual condition. Sobriety is contingent based on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. The outside world doesn’t change. We have good days and bad days, but the good news is that we don’t ever have to drink again.
And we begin to learn the wisdom of “The Work.”
It took me a long time to get the message that my life could change in even bigger and better ways if I undertook “The Work.” In the beginning when I first got sober I did a round of work, and I coasted. In years past, I did another round of work, and let it go. I coasted for a long time, upwards into my 11th year of sobriety.
I thought I had learned all that I could. Boy was I WRONG !!!
Coming out of year ten into eleven I met a group of women who pounded “The Work” with their girls. They were passionate and committed. And over time, I realized that I wanted that passion and commitment as well.
The Roundup of 2013 came and I heard the message loud and clear.
There was more Mining to do. This was year twelve and into this year.
I picked up my pick axe and started working. I dug deeper and deeper, it seemed for months and months. I dug with reckless abandon. A new sponsor came and I hit another round of “The Work.” Then sponsees came into my life. After years of meetings, making coffee, sharing and learning, the time came for me to give back what I had mined to another alcoholic.
In order to keep it you must give it away. Hence the fact of the above passage, “We insist on giving away the entire product.” The gold isn’t ours to keep or hoard. We don’t get to keep the gold, we get the gold, we bring it inside ourselves, we learn and integrate, then we have to give it back to the source.
We must freely give what has been freely given to us.
When we work with others, we hand them their own pick axes. And we encourage them to start digging themselves. And they get to experience their process and one day they too will give it back when they get to the point that they get to work with others in their lives.
There is wisdom in the book. And as each person is able and willing, we hand them the book and we read it with them, side by side.
In the beginning for many, warming a chair is all that they can do for a time, until they get their feet wet, and find their way into the fellowship.
There is Gold in them thar hills. Go find it. But be reminded, you can’t keep even an ounce. You must give it back.
The only thing they tell you must change when we get clean and sober is Everything. And that this is an inside job.
If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.
Eventually you will find that there can be life without the drinking and drugging. And there are plenty of people to participate with you. Find them.
Come on in, the waters fine, Leave on shore your troubled mind. We don’t care where you’ve been just so long as you come on in …
And old song we used to sing on retreat weekend in school.
More to come, stay tuned …
… And somebody jumped on the rail this evening.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard a crack in my head. Well, I felt the crack and then the toothache came. It came and went, and it came BACK and it went. A little toothache turned into an abscess.
We had to find the money for me to be able to get to see a dentist. The dentist is NOT covered, unless you are on welfare, and we are not that destitute. But an extra hundred dollars doesn’t fall from the money tree very often.
I knew there was a dentist at the old clinic space, she is there for a bit longer, but I learned today that they are cutting her loose soon, so I better get while the getting is good, she said.
MEMORY … Have YOU ever seen Bill Cosby Live, it’s an old show from ages ago, a stand up routine that he talks about his kids, and chocolate cake, and then he tells a story about going to the dentist!
I did not have a small problem to take care of, NO it went much farther than that. After my disastrous event of getting my wisdom teeth taken out some 14 or so years ago, I swore I’d never go to the dentist again. They did not pull 4 teeth, they had to pull 8 ! The wisdom tooth and the tooth in front of it. Uppers and lowers.
That was a sedation operation, on both visits. It was not pretty. That’s the only time that I consented and really needed high powered pain killers afterwards.
It took major pain to get me to rescind my ban on dentistry.
Last week I called the NEW clinic to get the special number for the dentist at the OLD clinic. Two days of phone tag later, I got an appointment for this morning.
It rained all day. Not a good omen.
I arrived on time, and not a minute before, because my nerves were shot.
I really like Dr. Fletcher. She is a stout British woman with wonderful chair side manner. Before any work was done I needed a supermax head shot.
Let me tell you that the BIG dental clinic on the third floor of The General, is, well, looks very much like a Morgue. They took me into this cinder block room, with dental chairs set in these rudimentary cinder block cattle stalls, a veritable, Little Shop of Horrors, kind of place.
There was that supermax photo machine in one area by itself. Take off your glasses and your jewelry, they put a condom on this bite bar, caped me in a radioactive smock, then this thing spun round my head and took a picture.
Oh, did I mention that only 1 of two elevators were working serving that side of the hospital. Bad Omen Number Two. People were not happy using the stairs. Especially people with canes and walkers.
I went back upstairs with my photos and got into the chair. We played a game of twenty questions, triage of sorts, then we discussed what I needed done, and what was possible on that visit. (Read: I need A LOT of work)…
The tooth had to come out, there was no doubt about it. She also wanted to do a cleaning, but looking at the photos, more important things took precedence.
I was leery, and a little afraid. I am not a very good dental patient. At ALL.
We decided on the extraction.
Along side the chair was a table of veritable torture items of a dental nature. And she did her best at not letting me study what was on that table. Especially the 6 inch needle ready and waiting for me.
I looked up and she grabbed my face and said “No Peeking!”
She had doused my gums with numbing agent and then she took that needle and started shooting my tooth on the outer side. it did not take very long to start feeling my face falling off my skull.
CUE BILL COSBY … “My Face, My Lip is falling into my lap, My Lip, My Face…”
So forth and so on. She looked at me funny, it was obvious she never saw that stand up routine.
She attempted to clean and did some mild scraping which I found to be disconcerting. She abandoned that track and instead decided to numb the rest of my mouth instead. She then shot the other side of the tooth. Half my face was numb, half my nose and the right side of my face.
Being happy with the freezing process, she began with the torture tools, first a small one, tugging and pulling, and she says
“YOU’RE GONNA FEEL SOME PRESSURE!”
I mumbled …
When she got to the big pair of pliers, I knew I was in for it. After several minutes of tugging and pulling the tooth came out, lock, stock and barrel. It was a HUGE tooth on the right hand side. She commented that I had Good Bones, and that it would probably be a Big Job. And it was.
She then had to stitch up the hole with thread, and I could see the thread she was using, tying, pulling and knotting over and over. The pain of the tooth being taken out, in the end, was worse than when the tooth was in my mouth.
I could feel a tightness in my head. Where she had stitched the hole.
We set a date for round two in a couple of weeks. And I dropped off my script for antibiotics at the pharmacy, did some shopping and came home.
The numbing agent started wearing off a little while later. And she said it might get messy. I had a handful of gauze packets in case I needed them, which I did.
I learned this when I got my piercing, especially where mine is located, that when the numbing agent wears off, THERE WILL BE BLOOD !
My head was throbbing. I needed a nap, a spit bowl and some pain killers.
I didn’t get pain killers. So Advil it was. And Advil usually takes upwards of twenty minutes to start working. I went down for a nap and slept until it was time to go.
It was blissful when the pain went away, finally!!
I cranked out set up, which was easy, because chairs and tables were already down, and we had an abbreviated group, due to the jumper causing a major line shut down. So nobody was going anywhere.
We talked about Step 12.
Everybody is happy. It was a quaint meeting with a few people. It is the last time one of my guys will chair because he leaves for camp soon, and after camp he is leaving the country for the U.S. and his PHD.
I will miss him.
That was a snap shot of my day in all its gory detail.
Hope you enjoyed. More to come, stay tuned …
“Bring the heaven and the stars down to work for me …”
It has been an interesting past few days. So much so, that I had to let my brain calm down in order to not speak the wrong words at the wrong time.
Suffice to say that … I know who I am in the grand scheme of things. And that I am powerless over people, namely, my friends, or men whom I call my friends. And after this weekend, I’m not really sure about that.
The time is coming that a decision is on the front page. One that I don’t really want nor need to make right now, unless circumstances change between now and then.
I am reading a book on Catherine of Sienna. A kind of hagiography. The man who read it before me, didn’t get a thing from the book, and all he did when he gave it to me was complain. That’s another story for farther down the page …
But I did come across this and it hit me right over the head.
“You know that a person who walks with a lamp at night doesn’t stumble. Souls who have God as their lamp cannot stumble either. They open the eye of their understanding and reason to see which road this gentle Master took. And once they have seen it, because of their will and desire to follow their Master, they run attentively and eagerly. They don’t stop to look back – at themselves, I mean.
They see themselves well enough where knowledge of their sins and failings is concerned, and admit of themselves that they are nothing. And at the same time, they recognize in themselves the immeasurable goodness of God, who has given them what ever being they have.”
Catherine goes on to say about an inner dialogue she had with god is this …
“You are she who is not, and I am he who is…”
Thomas Aquinas writes that “God is pure being – God simply Is. All the rest of creation takes its being from God but does not possess being in the same way God does. Everything and everyone else “is not” until God intervenes.”
I’m not sure why that passage impacted me so much when I first read it, for that very same reason, I had to note it.
I am not sure my fellows really know who I am, and why I am who I am and why I do the things I do. In a certain community, these men have twenty or thirty years on me age wise, and all they do is complain. And over and over, coming rote nowadays, is the part of the prayer that speaks of “Tolerance for those with different struggles!”
The Old Gay Men Group is totally working my Very Last Good Gay Nerve !!!
I have to remember this when I want to run my mouth and rant and rave, just like I really wanted to a couple of days ago. And who wants to read a missive of verbal diarrhea.
So that is a thing.
Our friend “Baby MAMA” texted us very early this morning, before the sun came up that she was in the hospital and that the baby was on the way. We have been texting New Foundland several times throughout the day waiting.
And at the meeting this evening a friend said “Let he be, it’s not like she is sitting on her bed with her phone in her hand waiting to text you she is getting ready to push a watermelon through a pea hole. Let her be for God’s sake.
We talked about the “Coming of faith.” And several of us said those very familiar words … We come, then we Come To, and finally we Come To Believe.
I’ve been worried about a certain issue that has been dogging me for the past ten years, Thank God for Gay Rights moving across the U.S. on the state and even on the Federal level. I had a question that needed answering, and I could not find an open office on the East coast, they all close at 3 p.m. WTF ???
So I called a number in Minot South Dakota and found a man who spoke truth to me and I could hear it in his voice, the tone and tenor … “Tell the Truth.”
That was the end of the conversation. I made a second call this morning and asked a related question, and the answer came easily, “no problem, it makes no difference in your qualifications.” That was a load off my back.
That brings us up to today.
The sun shone, it was really hot. Perfect traveling weather. We have been a very warm stretch. The A.C. is a real gift.
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: Oriental Tiger
The weather was a bit iffy tonight. Dark skies and spitting rain hung over the city through the rush hour period. After the rain storm, there has not been a repeat.
I left early to go shopping on the way out there is a birthday tomorrow. Our local card seller always has a great selection of cards, they could be read as embracing the LGBTQ community, or that the creator took into consideration who might purchase their cards. I found one to my liking and went to pay, When she rang it up, that nice pretty card cost me $9.00 …
Somebody is making a killing off the greeting card trade.
I could buy an entire box of Christmas cards for $9.00 …
Highway robbery me thinks …
*** *** *** ***
I’ve been having dental issues. And dental issues cost money. And having no insurance past Ram Q, for prescriptions, we pay out of pocket for everything else.
There is a dental clinic within the I.D.T.C. department where I see my HIV doc. So I called the clinic yesterday and they gave me the number. I called and then spent two days playing phone tag. I got a call just before the meeting from the dentist who agreed to see me. Then she told me how much it was going to cost …
Cue the groaning machine … $100.00 UGH …
Now we have to find the funds because I have been on a steady dose of Advil for a couple of weeks and I have an appointment on Thursday.
Let us Pray …
Set up was quick and painless. Our chair read from A.B.S.I. #44
“Our very first problem is to accept our present circumstances as they are, ourselves as we are, and the people about us as they are…”
It took me a long time to understand how this works.
First we learn about Powerlessness. Over people, places and things.
We also learn that “Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”
And finally that “Acceptance is the KEY to ALL my problems.”
And then we have to square all these axioms in our present condition. Easier said than done.
I had to come to the point that old pain was dimmed enough that I eventually became indifferent to it. And that the past is just the past. It carries no weight in today and has no place in the future.
As we rise, we say our prayers, (we are supposed to do that,) and we turn our day over to God. Usually the Third Step Prayer suffices.
I have no control over anything or anyone during my day. BUT I am responsible for my words, actions and reactions.
I cannot change anyone else but me.
I can’t change the outcomes of situations.
And for me Expectations are a no no …
I do what I can every day to help someone else. I work to be present for my friends far and wide. And I take care of me. Because when I do that, I can then take care of other folks.
*** *** *** ***
Why are brilliant people plagued by self doubt, self loathing and self hatred?
Is it their ego? Or that they cannot be perfect? Perfection is so outdated.
I feel so terrible when I hear that someone is in the dumps. How can someone be so brilliant, and hate themselves so hard? I just do not understand.
So I do what I can. I try to fill the vessel with light and love.
That’s the best I can do.
My other guy is graduation on Monday Morning and I found out that an old time friend who moved to the U.S. to teach will be here for the graduating class Monday afternoon. So we hooked up earlier to plan a get together while he is here.
So that’s exciting.
It was a full day, a good meeting, a sand end, but everybody is sober another day.
So that is something to be grateful about.
More to come, stay tuned …
Somewhere in my minds eye, I wrote about this topic, once. And a friend I read today, wrote about it just a few days ago. So I am offering it up to you to read.
Where we come from, our community of friends, People come from the world tarnished, wrecked and used up. And they come. And we welcome them. As they say, you belong as soon as YOU say you do. Over time, folks learn the ropes and they learn about behavior, how they acted, how they reacted, and how others treated them in the past. Steps will do that to you, you see…
I am not one to push “The Work” on anyone too soon. Gotta let them sink into their seats, as I have said before, get used to it and learn to love it. Because one day you never know (from your seat) you may change a life in ways you may not even imagine possible.
Then we work on Steps … We Come, We Come to,
And finally We Come to Believe.
From Day One, we hope for each other. We give people a place to come, to gather, to mend, and to learn how to live again. They themselves suss us out, as Jeremy writes to see if we are legit,
“Then, through the belonging and the beginning to believe, behaviour starts to change because priorities and value and understanding changes. We see this all the time.”
We see this all the time as well. We are a community of people who would not necessarily mix in the outside world. But once you cross that threshold, or doorway, or come down those stairs, we are unified in once main objective.
To rid ourselves of the addiction to Drugs, Alcohol, Pot, we are kind of a one stop source for all things recovery, because let’s face it, the percentages of cross addicted people is much much higher in the 21st century.
To Hell with the Primary Purpose bullshit …
I just remember this teaching as important. I may have written it before. Or maybe Jeremy here, has said it before and I lifted it for here. Anyways …
Read On: Lifted from: Don’t Eat Trash …
“How much closer can you belong somewhere then in family adoption?”
I want to broaden this a whole bunch more, to almost epic proportions. The people I work with have this awesome almost motto to how we do youth work. and it flies in the face of how most organizations seem to want to work.
In a lot of communities the expectation is on new members to behave, then believe, then they can belong. Like a rite of passage. If you can behave just like us, then you will learn how to think like us internally and then we will allow you to belong with us, we will give you the name badge.
In the youth work we do, we have taken the opposite approach. Our crew belong. They have a place with us. We love them and want all of our crew to be involved in everything we do. We then give them that belonging space to start riffing and engaging and experimenting with Jesus.
They suss out, to see if Jesus is legit. Then, through the belonging and the beginning to believe, behaviour starts to change because priorities and value and understanding changes. We see this all the time.
Crew have no other place that just lets them belong. So they love coming because it’s a special place where they can actually be who they are and still get to belong.
I was sitting and listening to this being explained to new students who have started working with us and it dawned on me
Belong believe behave is the gospel story
It echoes through history from the beginning of time till this moment i sit in a dinning room listening to Mumford and sons “that’s exactly how this grace thing works” (the exact line that was just sung)
God created us to belong with him in a pretty garden. (The aesthetics of which he created, and continues to create) The garden of belonging never left. The garden of belonging was never destroyed. But, as we know the story, Adam and Eve left the garden and the people of Israel decided to not belong to God as their king, they chose their own… Multiple times. The garden of Eden was forgotten about.
But God never forgot.
God never forgot that he had designed us to hang out with him intimately in a pretty place. He designed humanity to be clothed with him, unashamed, un-comparatively belonging. But, even more than that, before time he had already decided with his trinity brothers that Christ was going to come to earth and adopt us into their community.