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Afghanistan

Remembrance Day 2011 …

Friday 11 – 11 – 11 …

Every year we stop to reflect on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour and this the 11th year.

Today we take some time to reflect on the sacrifice that many men made to keep Canada and other countries free. We thank them for their service and we offer our prayers to them and their families.

We also call to mind all those men and women who fight today in theatres overseas, in Iraq, Afghanistan and all other far flung places. We pray for their safety and for their safe return.

Let us remember with pride our veterans of past and recent wars. Let their contribution to a better world never be forgotten.

We Remember …

And we thank you.


Obama victory sparks cheers around the globe

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From the Associated Press:

PARIS – Barack Obama‘s election as America’s first black president unleashed a renewed love for the United States after years of dwindling goodwill, and many said Wednesday that U.S. voters had blazed a trail that minorities elsewhere could follow.

People across Africa stayed up all night or woke before dawn to watch U.S. history being made, while the president of Kenya — where Obama’s father was born — declared a public holiday.

In Indonesia, where Obama lived as child, hundreds of students at his former elementary school erupted in cheers when he was declared winner and poured into the courtyard where they hugged each other, danced in the rain and chanted “Obama! Obama!”

“Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place,” South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, said in a letter of congratulations to Obama.

Many expressed amazement and satisfaction that the United States could overcome centuries of racial strife and elect an African-American as president.

“This is the fall of the Berlin Wall times ten,” Rama Yade, France‘s black junior minister for human rights, told French radio. “America is rebecoming a New World.

“On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes,” she said.

In Britain, The Sun newspaper borrowed from Neil Armstrong‘s 1969 moon landing in describing Obama’s election as “one giant leap for mankind.”

Yet celebrations were often tempered by sobering concerns that Obama faces global challenges as momentous as the hopes his campaign inspired — wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the nuclear ambitions of Iran, the elusive hunt for peace in the Middle East and a global economy in turmoil.

The huge weight of responsibilities on Obama’s shoulders was also a concern for some. French former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Obama’s biggest challenge would be managing a punishing agenda of various crises in the United States and the world. “He will need to fight on every front,” he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he hoped the incoming administration will take steps to improve badly damaged U.S. ties with Russia. Tensions have been driven to a post-Cold War high by Moscow’s war with U.S. ally Georgia.

“I stress that we have no problem with the American people, no inborn anti-Americanism. And we hope that our partners, the U.S. administration, will make a choice in favor of full-fledged relations with Russia,” Medvedev said.

Europe, where Obama is overwhelmingly popular, is one region that looked eagerly to an Obama administration for a revival in warm relations after the Bush government’s chilly rift with the continent over the Iraq war.

“At a time when we have to confront immense challenges together, your election raises great hopes in France, in Europe and in the rest of the world,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a congratulations letter to Obama.

Poland’s Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski spoke of “a new America with a new credit of trust in the world.”

Skepticism, however, was high in the Muslim world. The Bush administration alienated those in the Middle East by mistreating prisoners at its detention center for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and inmates at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison — human rights violations also condemned worldwide.

Some Iraqis, who have suffered through five years of a war ignited by the United States and its allies, said they would believe positive change when they saw it.

“Obama’s victory will do nothing for the Iraqi issue nor for the Palestinian issue,” said Muneer Jamal, a Baghdad resident. “I think all the promises Obama made during the campaign will remain mere promises.”

In Pakistan, a country vital to the U.S.-led war on the al-Qaida terrorist network and neighbor to Afghanistan, many hoped Obama would bring some respite from rising militant violence that many blame on Bush.

Still, Mohammed Arshad, a 28-year-old schoolteacher in the capital, Islamabad, doubted Obama’s ability to change U.S. foreign policy dramatically.

“It is true that Bush gave America a very bad name. He has become a symbol of hate. But I don’t think the change of face will suddenly make any big difference,” he said.

Obama’s victory was greeted with cheers across Latin America, a region that has shifted sharply to the left during the Bush years. From Mexico to Chile, leaders expressed hope for warmer relations based on mutual respect — a quality many felt has been missing from U.S. foreign policy.

Venezuela and Bolivia, which booted out the U.S. ambassadors after accusing the Bush administration of meddling in their internal politics, said they were ready to reestablish diplomatic relations, and Brazil’s president was among several leaders urging Obama to be more flexible toward Cuba.

On the streets of Rio de Janeiro, people expressed a mixture of joy, disbelief, and hope for the future.

“It’s the beginning of a different era,” police officer Emmanuel Miranda said. “The United States is a country to dream about, and for us black Brazilians, it is even easier to do so now.”

Many around the world found Obama’s international roots — his father was Kenyan, and he lived four years in Indonesia as a child — compelling and attractive.

“What an inspiration. He is the first truly global U.S. president the world has ever had,” said Pracha Kanjananont, a 29-year-old Thai sitting at a Starbuck’s in Bangkok. “He had an Asian childhood, African parentage and has a Middle Eastern name. He is a truly global president.”


Reconciliation Islam, Democracy, and the West Pt. 2

We continue on our journey through historical Islam and we are going to look at a number of thoughts in this section of the text, as it covers 50 pages to the end of Chapter 2. We begin tonight’s lesson with the 5 Pillars of Islam. Muslims believe that there are Five Pillars of Islam, which are the fundamental principles that make up the most basic requirements for life as a Muslim:

  1. Shahada (“Witness”) This is the declaration that all Muslims must make: “I testify that there is no god but one God, and that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.”
  2. Salat (“Prayers”) All Muslims must pray five times daily, facing Mecca.
  3. Zakat (“Almsgiving”) Muslims must give a certain percentage of their yearly income to the poor and needy.
  4. Sawm (“Fasting”) During the holy month of Ramadan, all Muslims must fast every day from sunrise to sunset.
  5. Hajj (“Pilgrimage”) A pilgrimage to Mecca, the location of the holiest place in Islam, must be performed by every Muslim, if possible, once in his or her lifetime.

Our writer makes certain statements in this text that she believes will bring together the fighting factions of Islam to a peaceful resolution. Stated here: “It is my firm belief that until Muslims revert to the traditional interpretation of Islam – in which “you shall have your religion, and I shall have mine” is respected and adhered to – the factional strife within Muslim countries will continue. Indeed, until quranic tolerance is reestablished, the key Muslim countries of pakistan and Iraq will not only continue to weaken them but will continue to threaten to spread inflexible and extremist interpretations elsewhere in the Muslim world.

Those who teach the killing of adherents of other sects or religions are damaging Muslim societies as well as threatening non-Muslim societies.

On Seeking Knowledge:

The Prophet remarked on the importance of seeking knowledge throughout life: “Seek knowledge by even going to China, for seeking knowledge is incumbent on every Muslim.” The Prophet placed the utmost importance on seeking knowledge, instructing humans to go to extraordinary lengths to gain not just religious knowledge but all knowledge.

The Past:

The past is used too frequently to define modern Muslims, especially when evaluating their receptivity to democracy. We don’t define Judaism by the brutality of the conquest of the tribes of Canaan or by the pain and suffering of the plagues on Egypt. We don’t define Christianity by the barbarism of the Dark Ages or by the persecution of the Inquisition.

When analysts look at the receptivity of modern Muslim communities to democracy, they too often look to Islamic texts and interpretations, as well as to the kind of social structure of the first community of Muslims. This construct, labeled “Muslim exceptionalism,” is based on the view that the norms of the Muslim community of the past must necessarily define the Muslim community of the present. It assumes that Muslim thought and Muslim society have not evolved, adapted, or changed over time. Some feel that “the character of Muslim societies has been determined by a specific and remote period in their past during which the social and political order that continues to guide them was established.

The scholar is referring to Prophet Mohammad’s early community of Muslims in seventh-century Arabia. This theory is predicated on the bizarre belief that they strength of the past continues to hold on to the psyche of Muslim society, blocking progress in political and other fields, including human rights and technological and economic development.

Morals and Beliefs:

The Qu’ran provides broad beliefs and morals by which to live. The specifics were left to be interpreted in light of the proper historical context. “The text is silent. We have to hear its voice. In order to hear, we need presuppositions. In order to have presuppositions, we need the knowledge of the age. In order to have the knowledge of the age, we have to surrender to change.

Equally important to the context of interpretation of the Qu’ran is who interprets it. Some Muslims, especially those belonging to theocratic regimes, try to assert that only a select few can interpret the Qu’ran. This is not the case. Interpretation of the Qu’ran is not limited to any one person or committee. The Qu’ran did not establish a specific institution or group of leaders as its sole interpreters. Any Muslim is free to interpret the Qu’ran. All Muslims are guaranteed the right to interpret the Qu’ran (ijtihad) Thus even the approach to interpretation of the Qu’ran is embedded with democratic values.

Indeed, Muslims are told that each person is accountable for his or her individual behavior. No relative, teacher, or other can intervene for a Muslim of the Day of Judgment.

Interpretation:

Every interpretation needs to be based on the context in which it is undertaken. In the modern world, modern interpretations need to be made while respecting the underlying principles of the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran, while the word of God, is a text that is historically rooted in the time of its revelation. There is no explicit mention of democracy in the Qu’ran because it was not a word used in the seventh-century Arabia. However, the principles of consultation and consensus among the people, which are found in the Qu’ran, are the bases of democracy. Moreover, the principles of equality, justice, and law, which are the underlying foundations of democracy, are repeatedly stressed in the Qu’ran.

Our author continues with her beliefs as she states:

For Muslims like me, who believe in democracy, Islam is about consent and people’s participation. Islam and democracy are compatible. Radwan Masmoudi agrees that contemporary interpretations need to continue to be made; he asserts that it is better than “the doors of ijtihad – closed for some 500 years – be reopened.”

Even the conservative Pakistani Islamist leader Khurshid Ahmad conceded that “God has revealed only broad principles and has endowed man with the freedom to apply them in every age in the way suited to the spirit and conditions of that age. It is through ijtihad that people of every age try to implement and apply divine guidance to the problems of their times.”

We are moving into more current events and places in this portion of the reading and I reiterate the following text because it is important for Westerners and others to understand what is bubbling just beneath the surface and why there is wide spread war around the globe.

Continuing:

Islam proclaims that the earth belongs to “Khalq e Khuda,” the people of God. We are all God’s creatures. The earth is given to us in trust by God. We the people are the agents of God in this world. We are to govern the earth as a sacred trust and as trustees of the responsibility to pass it on the future generations. The right to declare who is a “good Muslim” and who is a “bad Muslim” is a right that belongs only to God.

Those who say that we on earth must determine who is a good Muslim and who is a bad Muslim are in many ways responsible for the political legacy of murder, mayhem, sectarian warfare, and oppression of women and minorities we see in the Muslim world. These extremists are destroying the Muslim world by pitting Muslim against Muslim.

Militancy:

The militants seethe with anger, but their anger is always tied to their political agenda.

  1. First they were angry and the West had abandoned three million Afghan refugees and stopped all assistance to them after the Soviets left Afghanistan.
  2. Second, they are angry that their offer to the government of Pakistan to send one hundred battle hardened mujahideen to help in the Kashmir uprising on 1989 was rejected.
  3. Third, they wanted King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to turn to the “battle hardened mujahideen” to protect Saudi Arabia after Iraqi president Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. He refused.
  4. Fourth, they went off to fight in Bosnia when the region was engulfed in war (from 1993 to 1996, I lobbied President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister John Major, and other European leaders to intervene to bring the conflict to an end.)
  5. Fifth, they tried to exploit the Chechen nationalist movement.
  6. Sixth, with the fall of my government they turned their attention to Kashmir and tried to take over the nationalist Kashmiri movement from 1997 onward.

Muslim extremists systematically targeted historical nationalist movements to gain credibility and launch themselves into the Muslim heartland with a view to piggybacking off nationalist movements to advance their agenda. However, most Muslims were suspicious and not welcoming of their extreme interpretation of Islam. Thus is was only in Afghanistan, already softened by years of resistance by Afghan mujahideen, that Muslim extremists were able to establish the Taliban dictatorship.

Driven out of Afghanistan after the September 2001 attacks on the United States, they returned to Pakistan, where the journey had begun with General Zia-ul-Haq in 1980.

After the United States invaded Iraq, these same extremists turned their attention to that country. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi went off to fight in Iraq. Presumably others did, too. Again they used religious propaganda to kill, maim, and effectively divide one of the richest Muslim countries, Iraq, into a land of carnage and bloodshed.

Sunnis and Shias, who had lived peacefully side by side for centuries, began to kill each other, and Iraq began to fall apart. It is quite easy (and typical) for Muslim Extremists to blame the Americans for the sectarian civil war that rages in Iraq today, when actually it is a long standing tension between Muslim communities that has been exacerbated and militarized to create chaos under which extremists thrive.

Iraq is not the only goal of the extremists. Pakistan too is in great danger. Pro-Taliban forces have taken over tribal areas of Pakistan. They occupy the Swat Valley. They have been ceded Waziristan by the Musharraf regime. They are moving into the settled areas of Pakistan. Their apparent next goal is the cities of my country, including our capital, Islamabad. They thrive on dictatorship; they thrive on terror; they provoke chaos to exploit chaos.

I (Bhutto) returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, with the goal of moving my country from dictatorship to democracy. I hoped that this transition could take place during the scheduled elections of 2008. I feared that otherwise the extremists would march towards Islamabad. Islamabad is near the town of Kahuta, where Pakistan’s nuclear program is being carried out.

It is my fear that unless extremism is eliminated, the people of Pakistan could find themselves in a contrived conflict deliberately triggered by militants (or other “Islamists”) who now threaten to take over Pakistan’s nuclear assets.

Having a large Muslim nation fall into chaos would be catastrophic. My people could end up being bombed, their homes destroyed, and their children orphaned simply because a dictator has focused all his attention all off the nations resources on containing democrats instead of containing extremists, and then has used the crisis that he has created to justify the same policies that caused the crisis. It may sound convoluted, but there is certainly method to madness.

And in closing this discussion:

Islam was sent a message of liberation. The challenge for modern-day Muslims is to rescue this message from the fanatics, the bigots, and the forces of dictatorship. It is to give Muslims back the freedom God ordained for humankind to live in peace, in justice, in equality, in a system that is answerable to the people on this earth accepting that is it God who will judge us on the Day of Judgment.

It is by accepting that temporal and spiritual accountability are two separate issues that we can provide peace, tranquility, and opportunity. There are two judgments: the judgment of God’s creatures in this world through a democratic system and the judgment by God when we leave this world.

The extremists and militants who seek to hijack Islam aim to make their own judgments. In their failure lies the future of all Muslims and the reconciliation of Islam to the West.


Monday Night …

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I got some mail from London today and in it was a really wonderful gift from my Big Sis, needless to say I was amazed and overjoyed. I have really great family and friends, all over the world. It is far easier to love one another than to criticize or be hateful. So this little note starts off my gratitude list for tonight. Thanks Sis…

  • I didn’t drink today
  • I hit a meeting
  • I had a great day in class this morning
  • I saw some new friends
  • I did some writing earlier
  • I have great friends
  • I have a great life
  • Tomorrow is my Home Group
  • And I am right, and I am happy!!

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 “Oh to be this young and beautiful – again…”

So I was trolling my reads today and I ran across this picture over on DAN NATION, it seems he’s got a new job in the valley and I spied me some Chad Fox, isn’t he a cutie? Kinda makes me want to move out to the coast and join the Sunday Brunch Crowd! I even got an invitation from Dan the man himself!! I love me some CHAD FOX!!

What could be better than a room full of beautiful men on a Sunday morning? I don’t know about you but we don’t have that many good looking men here in our fair city! OMG!!

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The Forest, I love the forest. If you get a chance go over and take a look see at COOPER’S CORRIDOR, he has some beautiful writing and photos of his family from an outing this past weekend. Cooper is another fantastic read, no one should go without every day. He breathes such joy and wonder into my day, because he is such a gifted writer. I think this weekend we shall take a meander out to the green space and take some photos of our forest in the middle of the city (we call it Mount Royal). The real forest is far, far away from here up North.

From Cooper’s Blog: one of his favorite words, Forest:
“Because it is full of promise … because it is wild … because it is fragile … because it is strong … because it sings of simply being … because it is part of my bones and blood … The forest is in my heart”

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You can go read my friends and show them some love. First we have Steve, we call him Dr. McCoy, because he’s a Trekkie! I wrote a piece earlier for Arkano, he lives in South America and he is new to our little “Bubble of Love.” My read list, over on the Blog Roll is getting ‘closer’ by the day, as I noticed that many of my friends here, read over there and they comment as well. So please, if you like to look at beautiful men, and you are interested in fantastic reads, check out my read list. I have updated all the links and I am sure everyone will appreciate your visit.

Fall is on it’s way, it is 19c here and rain is in the forecast for the next couple of days! AS is the custom here in Montreal, the weather cools off, the rain comes, then we have our fist cold snap “in the city” then the leaves start turning in earnest. This photo above is a wishful prayer for Montreal in the coming weeks.

Tonight’s meeting was an experience. I heard what I needed to hear. I spent an hour doing nothing but be present and to live in the moment. My Monday night commitment to support “Came to Believe” persists. Things I heard tonight:

  • It’s all Good
  • Live in the Moment
  • Stay in the Now
  • At any time of the journey, you are right where you are supposed to be at any given location and at any moment on the time line
  • There are no mistakes in God’s time
  • Live and Let Live
  • Easy Does It
  • But for the Grace of God
  • Think, Think, Think
  • First things First

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I took a resentment to a meeting, and I left her there. But I will close with this little blurb on the Blog Nazi!! If you have a complaint about anything you see, read or perceive on this blog, please, by all means, let me know. If I have misrepresented Concordia University in any way, I haven’t heard that from any one. My disability and my student status is between my doctor, myself, my husband, my department, the government and the University and NO ONE ELSE! What I do with my education is my business. If you don’t like something on this blog, there are certainly other blogs for you to read. I am not changing my presentation or writing for anyone, even YOU Rebbecca.

They say in AA that acceptance is the KEY to all of my problems, and if someone has a problem with you, that – that is a direct signal that someone has a problem with themselves. And what YOU think of me is none of my business. If I have a problem with you then I need to look at me and find out what’s wrong with me. So you got a problem, first ask yourself what that problem is, and then fuck off…

I’ve never EVER had anyone complain about something I have shared on this blog, nor posted to this, my personal web log. AND I am not going to take horse shit from some chick who has an axe to grind with me so get the fuck off my blog! Oh, that felt good!

DO YOU GET THE PICTURE???


Thirty One …

 

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Let us enter the sanctuary and praise God for all that is good in this world. And we spend a moment in quiet contemplation of gifts unknown and people still to meet, and blessed be the God who brings strangers from afar to minister to us on common themes and spiritual practices.

I walked out the front of the building and down the street towards the Monday night, Came to Believe meeting and there was a bunch of bikers standing on the sidewalk in front of the Oxford Inn, I quietly made my way around them because they were gathered there in great numbers. Harley’s, leather, all those profane things that excite my innards in ways that no mortal human being can understand.

I settled into my seat as usual, against the wall by the fireplace and I waited. You never know what is going to happen in that small little meeting space, and for weeks now I’ve been telling you about wondrous people,  and stories that I have had the opportunity to listen to. Tonight was no different…

It just so happened that all those bikers were coming to the meeting. A rag tag bunch of sober bikers from far and wide, all over Canada, Europe and the United States. The A.R.M. Association of Recovering Motorcyclists. Needless to say our regular meeting folk were  surprised to see them at the meeting. I heard someone say “oh, another biker gang!” I just rolled my eyes.

Owen, the bright eyed young man who shared last week about his gratitude for being in the room, it was great to see him again, only tonight he was chair. We got to hear a first time share tonight which is really a gift. The first time one gets up and shares about what it was like, what happened and what it is like now is cathartic to say the least, because one is reminded of the first time we did it too. And for one person, maybe, the person sharing will speak of commonality with someone in the room and may help them stick and stay.

The room was PACKED, every chair was used and it was standing room only for the second speakers. Bikers from all over the place came to hear this woman share – our second speaker. Her name escapes me, although I did thank her in the end. She has been sober thirty one years. And she spoke about steps One, Two and Three…

  • The admission of our powerlessness over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • Came to believe that a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us to Sanity
  • Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

She hared about the two God’s the Catholic God on one side and a Higher Power on the other side, she wasn’t sure that they have met each other, so she believes in both, coming from a serious Catholic background [nuns and all] and then coming to the rooms and having learned over a great deal of time who the God of her understanding was. And then she joked that when she dies that she reaches the pearly gates and knocks and God answers and says, “see if that Higher Power of yours can get you in!”

I laughed out loud…

I have to say that nobody moved, nobody said a word the entire time she was speaking, it was like being in church and having being blessed that God was walking around the room, it just felt so holy and blessed. You could have heard a pin drop for the better part of an hour. It was incredible.

The question she had for the room when she got sober, “What do you want me to do now? What am I supposed to do now that I am here, and finally the answer came to her, in this form “What are you going to do with what we have to offer you?” She spoke of changing our “will,” which for mortals is “how we think.” In sobriety we are constantly asked to change the way we think, because sobriety is a continual process of evolution, personally, emotionally and spiritually.

I am not perfect and I surely am not God by any stretch of the imagination. But I am also teachable. And I take my sobriety very seriously, and I apply all the principles to my life, even if that means cutting people loose because they are unhealthy and I practice what I preach. I can’t help you – If you don’t want to help you. There are plenty of other people who want the help and are willing to go to any length to get that help. We must dispense with enabling and allowing people to run us ragged.

She then told a story about her home group, like Tuesday’s Beginners they share their sobriety date as the discussion moved around the room. She would write down sober members names and dates in her 24 hour book – and there were a a good number of members in that group,  each week they would meet and share their dates. One man named Joe would share his date and another man would say, “my name is Steve and I’ve been sober for 35 years and some son of a bitch is lying about his sobriety date.”

Now we are not supposed to take anyone else’s inventory at a meeting, but Steve persisted in sharing that someone in the group was lying about their sobriety date. Eventually some weeks later Joe spoke up one night and said, “my name is Joe and I am the son of a bitch that has been lying about his sobriety date.”

Steve died a sober member of AA, Joe did not.

Which brings up a bitter pill for me because at my home group meeting, we have a member who is not sober, yet he shares his sobriety date with us, as August 96′ and I know for a fact, any by his own admission over the years, that he still drinks. This is the man that I pray for more than the rest, because he does this week in and week out, year in and year out.

And I laughed at this story because I have more than once wanted to get up and say, “my name is Jeremy and I am an alcoholic and an addict, my sobriety date is December the 9th 2001, and some son of a bitch here is lying about his sobriety date!!”

I sat there transfixed on the speaker, from Wisconsin. What a blessing to have such an amazing speaker come to us to share tonight. We were truly blessed. You never know who is going to show up at that Monday meeting, or from whom the message is going to come from, but I suit up and I show up and I do what I can for the groups I support, just by my showing up every week. At the end of the meeting, Owen thanked our speakers and this woman closed the meeting.

“We stand here together, holding each others hands. We stand her united, not alone any more. We stand here and we pray for those sick and still suffering members out there who have not yet come in here. Take a look to your left and your right and hold tight to the hand you are holding, because you might be saved by them or them by you one day down the road. Maybe you have already saved them and maybe not, but right now you are standing here with them. She was two over from my left, Rob was holding my left hand, he was the first speaker, Dawn was standing to my right, she is a member of my home group at Tuesday’s Beginners, and we prayed:

Our father who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those
Who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory
Forever and ever, AMEN. 

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The God of My Understanding…

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It seems recently that my traffic has been steady in numbers we have never seen as of late. It also seems that I have touched a few nerves with my Fuck You attitude. How can any Christian man or woman tell another Christian to “Fuck Off?” Well, I can and I often do.

I have to say that turning 40 has been a watershed for me as of late. I know myself and I know what I believe and what I understand and what I preach. There is a lot that I can talk about having lived 40 years of life, knowing full well the severity of sickness, the grace of education, the hell of addiction, and the blessing of sober time and the one thing that has saved me from utter death and destruction: My Faith.

There is something to be said for a man doomed to face a life of pain, sickness and eventually a miserable death to come out fourteen years later alive and all the better for the faith that sustained him. I have seen enough division in my life, enough hatred and enough pain to tell me that Christianity was the most damning religion in the Western hemisphere.

When I watched, witnessed and was one of those men who were damned by the Christian right as a sinner, I began to learn what I could about religion, which led me to the halls of higher learning to find out for myself what was truth and what was fiction. The bible, written by man, transcribed centuries ago, and we know as fact that sometimes that translation was determined by the one doing to work.

Do I believe the bible, yes I do, do I follow it to the letter of the law, no I don’t. But you must understand where I came from to understand why I stand by my position of my take on Christianity. I’ve had enough of what you all believe, and at 40 I can state without equivocation what I believe because I lived this experience. Christianity must change to acceptance and love.  And that’s what I believe. I have invested enough time in study and I continue my studies to this day in Theology. There are too many divisions and I am trying to create a ministry of hope, acceptance and love.

There are so many things that separate us. Religion separates us, judgment separates us, scripture separates us, and social and religious gospel separates us. The first thought I have when I think of separation is labels. When I work with young people on their way OUT into the world, I caution them against labels, because wisdom tells us that labels not only identify us, they separate us as well.

Some may say I am morally reprehensible and that I am a sinner and that I have violated some religious or moral principle. And maybe I have, but I knew well before I “knew” that I was different. The whole notion of nature -vs- nurture idea. I was surrounded by things that informed the boy I would grow up to be and eventually, the man I would become.

I make no excuses for the life I have lived. And I believe, still to this day that if it were not for the profane men who cared for me when I most needed it, I would not be the faith filled man I am today, and of course I would be dead. If you look in the PAGES section of this blog, you will find The Sacred Path and also my writing on Man gives information but God gives Inspiration: Here is an excerpt of that writing. There are many dimensions to my Christian life, how I came to be, why I believe the way I do and how the man you read about here, came to be…

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Man gives Information but God gives Inspiration…


I’ll tell you a story about God and why I believe the way I do. Many years ago, during the “sickest” period of my HIV diseased life, I happened upon a little television show that brought me hope during some of the darkest times of my life. I tell this story every so often to illustrate why I believe God speaks to us in certain terms. My home parish back in
Miami is the most wonderfully blessed and sacred space that I have ever been in and had the privilege to grow up in as well.

The good thing about this parish is that they stuck behind me in prayer and support when the greater church at large was raging against the homosexual community. The Pastor of the parish was a sainted man – well – he IS a sainted man included with him are the men who ministered with him to more than 25,000 families and even more today.

The priests in that parish told me that as long as I showed up for mass and prayed that I would get everything that I needed. I went to mass weekly, I even started making mass daily which meant I got on the road at 6:30 to make the trek to the church via a train, 2 buses and a 45 minute walk from the through-way to the church which was across the street from the high school I graduated from.

I went to mass every Sunday night and I was an altar person and a Eucharistic minister. I had my assigned hour every week praying before the Blessed Sacrament. We had a sacrament chapel in the church that was open 24 hours a day around the clock there was always someone praying before the “Blessed Sacrament.”

Over those years I went to mass our parish was the proving ground for new priests that were ordained. This is where I met my greatest mentor and my greatest critic. One Sunday I was standing in the church during the processional and a man came in on crutches to say mass. I knew then that God had spoken to me that night. I vowed never to back down from a challenge and I also vowed that unless I was dying that I would never complain about my lot ever again.

Fr. J had MS and was crippled, yet he suited up and he showed up and he said mass and the next day on that Monday morning I showed up for a morning mass and asked Fr. J to be my spiritual director. This journey lasted a few years. We talked and we prayed, I had reading to do each week and we discussed my progress along the way. I don’t have that kind of direction these days; it is hard to nail down holy men to a scheduled meeting. Anyways, I digress…

After Sunday Mass I would rush home for a little show I like to call my saving grace in very dark times. It was a little show of little acclaim, but it meant a great deal to me. Get ready for it, here it comes, a little show called “Touched by an Angel.” I longed to hear those words spoken every week in any circumstances – I knew that God was in my house each week saying words of hope in the form of angelic messages from Tess, Monica, Raphael, and Andrew.

“I’m an angel sent by God to tell you that God loves you and that he hears you!” No matter what the problem or the sickness or the tragedy there was always hope and a lesson from the almighty about social issues and problems in society. If a little show like this could move someone like to me Hope and to rely on the Lord, then it mattered to many more people than me.

I believe that angels walk the earth and that God makes his presence known in ways we might not always see the forest for the trees. I know it may be hokey and simple, and TV is just TV, it has no value to life, I beg to differ. When I had no one to talk to or was alone for long periods of time, it gave me great comfort to know that at least God was listening to my prayers and that my prayers mattered.

I made some mistakes and I walked off the path because of my stupidity – and God, I think forgave me for that after all the faith I put in him, and I learned that lesson the hard way and that is enough of that thought.

I have a little “Touched by an Angel” calendar of quotes from the show that sit on my bedside table and I look at it every night. And thanks to the age of VCR’s and Syndication, I can get a double dose of T.B.A.A. every day here in Montreal. Everyone has an angel, because God loves us unconditionally, no matter what color our skin is, no matter who we are, or what ever life we live. God sees sin and pain and He sees just how the world is running, and it is up to us to make a difference, to bring hope to those who need it, to bring love to those who desire it, to bring comfort to the sick and to love each and every person in our lives. I have tried to uphold those tenets in my life, I believe in God because he believes in me.

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I did not need a church to teach me about God’s love, because I knew that God loved me every morning that I woke up and I was still breathing. I have left the path on numerous occasions in my life, and I’ve been on a really good streak for the last seven years and I intend on keeping on. I listen to God, and I search for him and it is rarely that I don’t get a daily reminder that HE is watching over me, in one way or another.

I have a great posse of readers whom I love dearly for their support. I try to lead by example and I hope I have done well. I take time each morning and each night to “remember my spirit.” I am good to myself. And I am good to others as well. If you want to feel good about yourself, go out and do something for someone else without any expectations.

I get that opportunity each and every week on Tuesday’s to give back to my community, at my home group of AA. Ms. Nikki and I set up the meeting each and every week, and it has been that way every Tuesday now for the last four-plus years now I’ve been sober. Each chair I set down during setup is a prayer I offer for one particular person, so I meditate on each and every member that attends our meeting each week, and for every empty chair I pray for the one who will come and maybe sit in that chair. You just have to be there to understand this ritual.

Do I hear God, yes I do.
Do I listen for God, yes I do.
Do I talk to God, of course I do.

I love walking or hiking up the mountain because I hear God’s voice in the trees as the breeze blows through. I hear God every time the church bells ring. From where I live 17 stories above the city we are surrounded by fantastical, sacred churches. And each day those church bells ring at certain hours they call me to stop – get quiet – and I say a short prayer as the bells ring. At my home group in Westmount, they have mass each evening and at 6 p.m. they ring the Angelus bells, like clockwork. We set up and finish before six so that when the bells ring I can stand outside and say my Angelus prayers.

If we don’t take time out of our busy day to remember God and to connect to God, then what are we doing with our days? Where do we find inspiration and energy? How do we maintain a level of serenity to help us through the business of the day? Starting each day on ones knees before God is the way I start my day and doing a gratitude list at the end of the day is also a great way to end ones day. Remembering gratitude keeps me grounded and mindful of all that I have and all that I learned on that given day. Then I come here and I share it with my readers.

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– Naked and Sacred –

 

As a young child I have fond memories of old churches and polished pews and candles flickering in dark corners of the building, statues of saintly persons who looked out over the congregational spaces and the dark corner grotto’s making sure we knew that they were watching over us and praying in tandem with the many who came to find peace, solace and faith within those walls.

I remember that day that my Memere took me to that grand church all alone, just her and I and God. It was an afternoon event; she brought me here for mass on a regular basis. These were the days of the old missal books and rosaries, women wearing lace over their faces, it was an ethnic parish church attended by many from ethnic communities all around.

On that day she took me to the church, she had a purpose. I remember this as if it was yesterday because, in my minds eye, this was very important to her. We went to light some candles and leave our offering in that little tin box attached to the candle display, we sat in quiet supplication and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and we lingered to hear the voice of God speak to us. I am sure that Memere and God had brokered an agreement over me.

After a while she got up from her place and she gathered me to herself and we walked to the edge of the banister that protected the main altar from people walking up on the dais. The banister was open, as if to welcome us to step up there – so with great pride Memere walked me ahead of her until I was standing on the dais before God. I must admit there were no words that were spoken to me; this is where the agreement must have been made. Memere looked up that the altar, then at her favourite statue and then beckoned God to look down upon us and take us into His arms and protect us. In that moment I believe I had been “consecrated” to Christ and to God and the Blessed Mother, not to mention Marguerite D’ Youville. (This will be explained later in the timeline)

Memere had a “tight” relationship with God. Her homes were shrines to the family that had gone before us, to the saints who protected us, and the God who gave us life. I always felt naked before God in her house. As if God sat with us daily and saw us for whom we really were simple God fearing folk. I never for one moment feared God. There was nothing I could not say to Him nor ask of Him, but I also knew that there were things one just did not ask of God, because greed and excess were not part of Memere’s lexicon.

I learned to pray the rosary as a young boy, we went to mass frequently. I don’t know if my mother and father were aware that I had so much “sacred time” in my early life. I am sure she knew that if I was with Memere that I would go where she went and I would love her for taking me and I would love the adventure of going to see God all the time.

The church of old is not the church of now, unless of course you live in Montreal and have living “great” relatives who live in a convent not far from home.

Being the first of two children in a family firmly grounded in the late 1960’s brought a lot of opportunities to me as that first child. I had three years on my brother. Three years are a big deal. I had the adoration of the matriarch’s of the family; I had three years of unadulterated wisdom taught to me over time. My time was my own; there was no one to deflect that attention away from me, which endeared me to the hearts of the women of the family. But secrets existed, secrets that would one day turn my life upside down.

My father was an abusive man; he came back from Viet Nam with major issues. I was born out of the man who came back from war, damaged and lost. He took a wife of Canadian blood, gave her an ultimatum and got her pregnant. I was there at the wedding, my mother carrying me in her womb, walked down the aisle that day and agreed to bear his children and live by his rules and regulations. My father, the racist, bigot that he was wanted to force a continental divide to rise from the ground to separate that which made my mother who she was and force her to become the woman he required.

That divide never rose, and my father’s resentment of the maternal “nursery” that I entered as a child began. I guess this is why I am so maternal, because all the men in the family were war shaken and damaged. They worked all the time in business, in the fields and in factories. It was up to the women to rear the children into the people we were to become. My father’s resentment of my presence was well known. Later in my life I would be told of the fact that my father wanted to kill me, that I was a mistake and should never have been born. He tried many times to snuff my light out as quick as he could. The one thing that he did not expect was the backlash that came in the form of vociferous rebukes by the matriarch’s of the family, hence my “consecration to God.” If I was consecrated to the Almighty, then my father’s plan for ending my life would never come to fruition.

I remember being chased through houses by drunk men in my life, I remember my grandmothers standing in doorways between me huddling beneath a bed, hiding for my life, and my drunk and angry father fighting with them to let him “do it already!” He wanted nothing more than to wipe me off the face of the earth. The women of my family tell me that he fought often with them to abuse me and to hurt me and eventually to kill me.

They were not going to let that happen, my mother was powerless to try and stop him, why, they had an agreement, and she was his bitch, and she did what he said without argument! That was his way unto this very day.

When I was born he gave me my name. I was given to the earth as the man he loved from the war, who died in the war, so every time he looked at me or said my name or heard my name called, the memory of “one dead soldier” would rise to the fore. What kind of man places that kind of sadistic torture on himself? Was he hoping to exorcise that memory from his brain by personal reprogramming? I think there was more to this story than met the eye. Yes, there was, it took me decades to divine the truth from those who knew, and in hindsight I was able to complete the puzzle.

At age 30 I changed that name and exorcised it from my life, it was the final conflict that separated me from my parents. Being gay – HIV Positive and changing my name was three strikes, I was now damned to live without parents. He made damn sure of that.

Needless to say, faith was a priority; God would protect and save me. My grandmothers agreement with God was non negotiable with any one else. Not that my father knew she had this deal on the table. Women are tricky characters you know! When Memere beckoned upon those she regarded as spiritually powerful, hell hath no fury like the wrath of an angry saint and my grandmother generating the turbine of retribution with her dedicated prayers.

Who was God? And why should I care? Because it was beaten into me that I was a mistake and should never have been born, for 18 years my father made it his life’s work to destroy me mentally and emotionally. Later on in my 30’s the revelation of my sexual abuse at my father’s hands would rise from my sobering mind. And you think HE had issues? I went to church, as a young boy. I would complete all my sacraments in the order of succession. I would be in communion with the church I would pray my rosary and my novenas. God was present in my daily life. I was always naked when I was sacred. There was nothing I held back from God, because my relationship with God was between him and me. To stand before God is to be naked in his sight. How much more sacred could it be?

My parent’s went to church off and on. After my brother was born in 1970, my mother found out she was RH positive and a tubiligation was ordered by her OB because she might not live through another pregnancy, and so it was done. This act of “birth control” forced an issue that divides the church and her people to this day. A woman’s right to decide proper birth control and the church’s position that if one impedes the ability of a woman to conceive then you are outside the rule of mother church.

My parents were dealt a swift blow by the parish priest where they were married. That priest, by order of Holy Mother Church, was bound to defend the party line of those times; he excommunicated them both from the church – which meant that they could no longer receive the sacraments. I have to assume my mother was crushed and my father couldn’t give a damn.

Years would pass, life would go on, God still existed in my life, and we, as a family went to church, I remember that much. It came to pass in my years as a pre-teen that we moved to the third home of transition, when I was in grade six. This afforded my parents entry into suburbia. It was a very big step up from where we had been socially and economically. We had made it into the “big time.” My father was proud of this accomplishment. I remember the day we saw the house, we all loved it, and it was sacred. It was in the right place, for the right money and had just the right charm to allow my parents to afford it.

St. Richard’s parish was less than a mile away; schools were “in the neighbourhood” and all was well. My father’s drinking began in earnest so did his abuse, not only of me, but my brother and mother. My mother sought out the parish priest whom would play a large part in my later seminary formation at a later date. They began the process of becoming redeemed in the church; this process took almost 4 years, after decades of living in sin.

My father’s parents were cursed in the years when I was in grade seven and eight. The curse first took my grandmother with a stroke; I was taken from school at age thirteen and flown 1500 miles to her bedside where my father expected that I would be the one to bring her back across the divide. Since I was his first born son, and had the connection I did with her that seeing me would ignite the fire that went out in her brain. I failed to re-ignite the flame. I don’t think my father ever forgave me for my failure to heal his mother. A year later my grandfather was hit with a stroke one year to the day of my grandmother, but he was no favourite of mine, and I did nothing to help him. He abused us all, and for that abuse, death was right punishment.

At age 15, I entered High School. This was a very important period for me. I met a circle of friends that would impact the rest of my life. St. Louis Parish was one block from the High School which I was attending. The youth minister on duty at that time used to open his office at lunch and that is where people would gather to pray, to meet and talk and to learn about God. Who knew it would lead me where it did.

It was in my grade ten year that I would make my confirmation. In order to make that confirmation, my parent’s needed to step up their game in attaining absolution from the church for their “faux pas” with the church over birth control. The Pastor of the parish spoke to them, and gave them counsel and I remember that day he told those, in his Irish Brogue, “the hell with that priest and his excommunication.” I remember my mother doing the happy dance the day that God re-entered our home. He never left, I mean he was in my room, I wasn’t quite sure of any other room in the house up until that point, but for my parents that was the biggest coup of their lives.

When I was home alone on many an occasion, I prayed and I listened to music and in my sacred space within my room I would become naked and sacred. I believed that God was with me, and he protected me, because I really needed it. My father had once again stepped up his attacks, and they were getting even more brutal. My friends all came from broken homes, parent’s divorced, splitting up or on the way there… I was a misfit like all of them. These were the years I spent more time out of my own house than in it. I just could not cope with the ritual mental, emotional and physical abuse.

Where was God when it hurt?

High school was hit and misses, God was here and he was not. I followed him and I cursed him through both sides of my mouth. I was becoming addicted to alcohol; I was starting to slip in school. My relationship with my parents was strained and the priests and ministers of the church had to do something lest they loose me to the statistics of teen tragedy.

I was given chores at church. Any free time was spent working on cleaning the church and keeping the sacristy in tip top shape. I had access to areas of “church” that not many had. In those years the rectory was on site and I spent a lot of time in that rectory doing chores and loving every moment of that time.

Those priests kept me from self destruction. My consecration to God had begun once again. I guess once you are given to God, you don’t have to ask again. Hindsight shows me that I was being groomed for greater things. What my father “beat” out of me, the church replaced in me. What my father on earth took – my heavenly father gave back ten fold. I was in the right place at the right time, when the priests of the parish began to entertain me with seminary speak, serving the church and the greater good. Was I good enough to wear a robe to preach to the masses, to herd a flock?

From the age of ten through out my later life, I was aware of my sexuality. In that I mean I knew how it worked. I knew the finer details of sex and sexual variations. My parents lived a double life, which I was privy to. Knowing the secret sex lives of my parents was an addiction. I couldn’t get enough. Why was I like this? Where did this all begin? I can’t say, and I really don’t want to know when it all began.

I had had relationships in my teen years with others, WHAT I was – was not an issue at any time during my formative years, although I heard the word queer and faggot come out of my parent’s mouths frequently. Our family had been introduced to “homosexuals” when we made that third and final move by friends my parent had and we blessed to have.

I did not identify myself in any “other” term than heterosexual well through my high school years. I dated girls, I had relationships, and I went to prom. I never questioned who I was openly, but between God and myself there was a lot of discussion and praying. Masturbation became a sacred activity, because it happened when God and I were alone. I wanted that sacred experience – to feel that divine communion with the God of my understanding, I wanted to feel sublime love in sacred terms. I’ve never had sex with a woman; I never had sexual inclinations towards the girls I dated in school. I was chaste in that way, but I was profane when left to my own devices.

After completing high school I attended one year of junior college and I failed miserably. I had no tools; I had no knowledge about the “world at large.” My parents never taught me about “transition.” This is the KEY moment in a young person’s life. I know that now, and I teach that to my boys and my fellows. That was when the priests of our parish suggested that I consider the seminary. It was a possible and real option. I got the necessary letters of recommendation and filed my application with the diocese. I was put through my paces and psychological testing, and I passed the boards with a clean sweep.

At this point of my life, my grandparents were getting old. My father’s parents did not know who they were cursed by strokes, Memere was living in a retirement home 1500 miles away, but she saw me enter seminary. When Memere consecrated me to God on that day many years ago in that church came full circle the day I moved into my room at the seminary. All her prayers and novenas were now fulfilled. I was safe for eternity.

I loved God with all my heart and all my soul and all my being. It was unlike any feeling I had every felt before. I remember moving in that day and walking with my parents around the grounds. My mother was so proud, my father had no choice, and he was hell bent on my destruction, my mother on my survival. The battle of the wills was raging on in front of my very eyes. God would win that days cavalry charge. We said goodbye and my mother cried as I walked them to their car and they drove off.

It took a few days to get used to being in the seminary. I sought quiet spaces to commune with God. I went to the chapel whenever I could. There were chapels located on the upper floors of the residence hall where we could pray and have mass said for us. It was the closest to the sacred nakedness I longed for, that I would get that year. God was all powerful and loving. I was there to do one thing, find the way to Him, to serve him to love him in the most sublime way.

The Eucharist became the ritual that would bring me closer to God. I sang my heart out; I prayed until the beads ripped through my hands, I walked in circles until there were ruts in my gardens. (I was a seminary gardener) during that years. It was in this year that things became clear to me. I started to hear God’s voice. I was just a boy in a big world. I was unprepared for the drama of living with others in such tight quarters. My every decision was scrutinized. My every prayer was spell checked. My intentions and motives were questioned. My classmates became my judges but I observed them as well.

My quest to find God was not the same quest that my fellows were on. It had seemed that “identity” was the issue on the table. Many of my peers had figured out their identity and were comfortable in their own skins to “practice their ways.” I had not come to this stage in my life yet. What did I know about identity? I was just this boy in a seminary trying to find my way in a world that was not kind to me. Sex was the first topic of discussion at each and every spiritual direction session I attended that year. It was one of the only lies I told to the man who was interested in my sexual proclivities. What did my masturbation have to do with the attainment of holiness? What I did alone with my God was my business and no one else’s.

I saw injustice in the church; I witnessed people being removed from service because of judgment. I witnessed the church move gay priests and some with illness to our grounds to live and work with us; they were taken from their parishes as a punishment for an unholy lifestyle. Homosexuality was right there in front of me. Grown gay men of the cloth living in community with me, and from my mouth to God’s ears, these men had more sacred reverence for God than any heterosexual holy man in residence with us at that time. I highly respected some of these men. They showed me real faith and real love for God. They gave me more in that year than others. They did not judge me nor force me to be anything but myself. It was the institution that forced choices of identity and allegiance. I was not ready to “identify” nor was I going to pledge “allegiance” to the rector of the seminary or to mother church.

What I do know is this, that I knew then who God was for the age that I was and I was ready to sacrifice my life for that God, but I was hell bent on denying the pressures of the institution to turn a blind eye to blatant abuses of power and human dignity and respect. I had no desire of entering or pledging for the “boys club” it was beneath me. I was better than that and I wasn’t going to compromise my walk with Christ to be like them.

After a year in seminary I was told that my invitation to return the following year had been rescinded. That maybe seminary was not “the place for me.” That maybe becoming a priest was not my “calling.” Who were they to judge with blinder on their eyes? What did they really know about my relationship to God, not that any of them really wanted to know? I walked away from the church and from God.

I moved back home for a short time. That did not last very long. I got a job and traveled the world. I met His Holiness John Paul II twice in the space of 2 years. Once in the states the second time at the Vatican. He was a sainted man; he was a star in my eyes. What I did not know then would not hurt me until decades later.

In my 19th year of life I took a trip to visit family that summer, this was the first time I gave into my sexual desires for another man. It was a one night event under the influence of alcohol, but it made its mark and stuck for good. I knew what sacred felt like when I felt penetration for the first time.

It was a moment I can still recall in vivid detail. It was then I realized what sacred penetration felt like. I buried that secret deep in my heart and never shared that intimate “detail” with anyone for almost two years. I was forced out of my house by my father once again. He was still hell bent on my total annihilation.

I was “Outed” by my best friend on a cruise when I was twenty one. We never spoke again after that. I moved away to be gay, to have my coming out experience. God was no where to be found in my lexicon. He was there; I just refused to allow him into my life, because the church had shit on my spiritual journey. That I took as a clear affront by God so I retaliated.

I got drunk. I stayed inebriated for years after that.

Until that day in 1994 when the news of my impending death made me re-evaluate my relationship with God. The rest they say is history…

I hope you enjoyed this retrospective of my Christian Life, one day I will end up in one of Butler’s books… ha ha ha ha … The rest of these stories can be found in PAGES on the sidebar.

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The End of a Season

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“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8

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I make no bones about WHO I am, I make no bones about WHAT I am. I will not argue about sin or homosexuality again. I should have never engaged you in the first place, that was stupid on my part, but enough is enough. If you don’t agree with me then please, by all means, get the fuck out, I invite you never to come to this blog again.

I invite you, the Evangelical Christian, to choke on the scripture you read and I invite you to call God on the phone and ask him personally what He thinks of me, and I invite the first person who gets access to God to come and share with me what Almighty God has said to him or her about me. There is plenty of writing in my pages for you to consume, think about and understand about what makes me who I am and what I believe and how men of faith supported me when many of YOU condemned me. Who was right, and who was wrong? I am still here and my faith is all I have and that alone sustains and keeps me.

We shall agree to disagree on Sin and Homosexuality. Because until God drops out of his heaven to tells me to come home or stop, I will live my life, as I have lived my life, as it has been for years. I will stay sober, I will stay clean, I will continue my Theological Studies and I will be respected for WHO I am and not discriminated based on WHAT I am.

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I have meditated on yesterdays writing, and So I publish an abbreviated portion of that post for you all to read. Summer is at an end. And I am going to re-group and pull back my commitment to work with others, based on recent goings on. I am not pleased, but I will deal with it, like any sober member would. I stick to my base. I pray and meditate and I remember that I cannot help everyone, lest I loose myself in the process.

I’ve decided to add more academic courses to my schedule and that schedule is as follows:

  1. Theology 206 Origins of Christianity – Mon-Wed 10:15 to 11:30 a.m.
    Lucian Turcescu
  2. Theology 204 Introduction to XT Ethics – Wed 6:00 – 8:15 p.m.
    Fr. Ray La Fontaine
  3. Religion 398P (Special Study) Religions of Tibet – Thursday 6:00-8:15 p.m. Marc Des Jardins

I thought that I would add another class to my schedule because it is a special study section in the Department of Religion, and add to that Marc Des Jardins has spent time in the field during his Summers and I happen to like him as a professor, and I look forward to this class. I am taking care of me now.

What is said, has been said. What is done, is done. What is in the past is in the past. I have made my decisions, and thus my post written last night. Suffer the little children, they now rest in the hands of God. I am not going to suffer any longer.

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When I stay in my day and put the principles of AA into practice, I know that I am not alone in sobriety. This second chance at sobriety gives me insight/hindsight into the first attempt which failed. The first time I was living life – yet I was going to meetings. Both were mutually exclusive. With learning to live with AIDS back then, as life taught me, I did not incorporate the two worlds well enough.

This time around I did the right thing. I invested in my sobriety much more. I engaged the program like never before. When I came to Montreal, I had to invest time and life into staying sober because here you had to travel nightly to different places for a meeting. There aren’t many multiple meetings in the same location every night. They don’t exist except for two meetings, 7 a.m. Wood and 5 o’clock shadows.

I found a home group and I invested in that group. An investment that I honor today. When I got sober in Montreal, people invested in me, took care of me and gave me right guidance. Today I give back to that meeting. I invest my life around my sobriety. Life is worked around my home group and other meetings.

I do nothing during the hours I attend meetings. I do not usually make any decisions without first passing my ideas past another drunk. So it goes. Because I am invested in my sobriety, I usually stay ahead of the wave. And I have a bank of time and knowledge to draw upon when I need it.

I work with others and I invest in new comers. But I do not force my way into their lives, I have learned that force feeding an infant is pointless because they will only choke and throw up on you. I choose my battles wisely in sobriety. I hand off my number and my counsel wisely. And I sure as shit do not waste my time with people who don’t want it.

It is a waste of my time, talent and knowledge to try and work with someone who doesn’t want to get sober. That’s why I don’t have sponsees at the moment. I work best in the field where everyone has access before, during and after a meeting. I go to a handful of meetings and I serve others. I never say no to sobriety, because you must give it away to keep it.

With that said I have made a decision.

I can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. I can lead a horse to water, but I cannot make it drink. I can lead by example, but faced with current situations, I should have taken a more cautious approach. I was put into a no win situation. There are just some things I know in sobriety that translate into the world I live in like ENABLING.

Abuse is unacceptable. Lying is unacceptable. Pushing someones buttons to see how far they will lurch is unacceptable. If we allow people, children, and spouses to run rough shot through our lives with no concrete action of circumstances, then we end up being victims of the situation we participated in.

If we enable a child to run riot through the house and we enable a child to be disrespectful and ignorant, then we have failed them as parents. If we enable a spouse to abuse us, and we don’t extricate ourselves from bad situations, then we suffer the consequences of our choices and indecision to act wisely.

If a wife allows her husband to abuse her, and she does nothing, then she suffers. If a partner allows their significant other to abuse drugs and alcohol or us and does nothing then we call that enabling them. We also call that insanity.

I cannot help anyone out of a hole if I am in their with them.

I was invited to invest time, talent and experience into a project this summer, that has disastrously backfired. So I am going to apply the rules of sober engagement to this situation. In order to keep me level headed. I gave freely of what I had, and I invested hours, days, weeks and months into working with others, and what did that get me?

Lies, Deceit, Abuse and Disrespect.

I was asked to take on a challenge that has occupied me for some time. And I gladly did it, in the hope that I would affect change, what did that get me? Heartache. If we allow children to run riot through our lives and abuse us and disrespect us, verbally, physically and emotionally, then we have failed at good parenting. We have failed to be good stewards of our children.

If we enable our children to run riot and we enable them to continue disrespectful behavior then that child will grow up into a disrespectful and abusive adult. If we cannot step up and demand that things change and set the rule of law in our home, thereby allowing children to abuse us, then why bother being a parent in the first place?

If we spend countless hours teaching our children right from wrong, good from bad, acceptable from unacceptable, and we spend hours trying to figure out their motivations for lying, cheating and deceiving and we fail to stop that behavior, then we have failed to be good examples. If our children learn that they can run riot and be disrespectful and ignorant and petulant, and we do nothing, but sit and let them run riot, it is our own fault.

Brilliant gifted children who know the law, know the truth and know that there are consequences for bad behavior yet STILL they push us up against the wall and test our resolve to be good parents, role models and authoritarians, they have failed at learning where they fit into the family dynamic. I can only lead by example.

Alas, I have failed to be a good example.

Like new comers in the room, they think they know it all, yet they stumble. And it sometimes takes years to teach them the same lessons we learned ourselves. And with those lessons we offer them “quickie passes” to avoid the pitfalls, yet many choose to take the long and hard road instead of the learned road. That is why I stay away from newbies because they are usually fucked in the head for the first few months of sobriety.

I allow them to see me exist, participate and share experience, strength and hope with others, in the hope that they will want what I have and in time, they may accept me into their lives and at that point they choose to engage, I did not force them to engage.

Henceforth, I am not wasting another moment working with others, who disrespect me, do not listen to me nor want to change their lives for the better, even if they are challenged. My investment of time and talent came at a personal price, my sanity.

And my sanity is worth more than I get paid for.

When you want my help – you let me know, and only when you want to change. Because I am not wasting any more time, placating you or enabling you either. Kelly never called me back. So I guess I am not that important.


Tuesday Meditations…

 

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G.O.D
Good Orderly Direction

G.A.Y
God Adores You

 

F.E.A.R
Face Everything and Recover

H.A.L.T
Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

God Grant me Serenity!!!

Home Group Tonight
6:30 p.m.


Monday Meeting

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You never know what you’re going to get at Came to Believe. Tonight the room was packed. With new and young faces. People that I know, people I call my friends. And hey I am a homosexual with non-judgmental friends, who knew!

But it isn’t about me is it?

We are there to stay sober and clean.

one of my angels chaired the meeting, which was really cool, because I really like Mike and he is one of those special people in recovery. We fly by the seat of our pants at the Monday night meeting which is always exciting. I heard this young man speak, his name was Owen. He was glowing with the light of God. It emanated from him throughout the room, I wanted to inhabit his light. I needed that energy. I wanted that energy to fill me up.

What Owen spoke about for fifteen minutes was just what I needed to hear. His gratitude, his love his energy and steadfastness for the program was amazing. I wanted so bad to get that feeling once again. Was I that grateful at five months of sobriety? Was I that illuminated and blessed? I don’t remember – that was so long ago.

At the end of the meeting I spoke to Mike and Owen and I said to him, “you know if we could bottle and sell this little gift of grateful blessing, we could make a mint! Go home and write this feeling down. Remember it, and inhabit it as long as you can, because one day you might need to draw on this bank of goodness and light, when things may get dark and you forget how grateful you are tonight.”

I know that when I walk into a room, all labels of difference drop away and the commonality of one sober member talking to another takes precedence. Pity the man and woman who do not know this feeling. Those who will never know what it means to be united in a life and death struggle for life, that is recovery.

I am grateful to be alive, sober and clean.

That I can pray with my friends at a meeting and know that God hears my prayers just as he hears everyone else’s, that God knows my heart and that is good enough for me. I don’t need to justify or defend my homosexuality before any of you, because unless you are part of my daily life, I really don’t give a shit what you think of me or my brand of Christianity.

When all is said and done on that last day, It will be God and myself and I know I live a good Christian life and God will judge me, not man, not YOU nor anyone else who reads my blog. I am really happy that I have hit a meeting tonight, that I don’t have to drink or drug and that I am forgiven… seventy times seven…

Those who know me love and respect me because of WHO I am, not for what I am and what I do for my community at large. That I am trustworthy and kind, I forgive and I serve my God with complete abandon. That I love unconditionally, and that I am good. People respect me because I am respectable. People love me because I am loveable. My husband married me because I was worthy of his love under God and before friend and family. God blessed us and continues to bless us every good day that passes.

Deuteronomy Chapter 6:-

Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one:

6:5  and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

6:6  These words, which I command you this day, shall be on your heart;

6:7  and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.

6:8  You shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for symbols between your eyes.

6:9  You shall write them on the door-posts of your house, and on your gates. 

And you shall love your neighbor as yourself…  


Never rains, but it pours …

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I guess I should write something today. I think I am still in exploration and expectation mode – although I am not expecting anything in particular, it is the right description of where I am mentally.

What do Gay men think about at age 40 and beyond? What changes have come about since my 40th birthday, not so long ago? They say that in your forties that you begin to find yourself and you ‘awaken’ the consciousness within you, you awaken to the person you were meant to be, not necessarily what we have been programmed to be by the world, the media and our families.

I have been on this journey of self discovery for a long time. If you go over to my sidebar you can read all about the past few years and how things have changed, and the quest for life I have been on. I find myself in a very settled position right now. Like I have been rooted to a spot in the universe, I know where that location is in the grand scheme of things.

It is not always about me, for the most part. My hubby gets the main portion of my time and attention, then my boys and the world get the rest. Since I entered the foster parent/mentor program some years ago, taking care of my boys is a full time job.

I always quote Adam Sandler from “Spanglish” when he says to Florr that
“Worrying about your kids is Sanity!”

I was at my home group last night and I shared on this thought, and Step 2 “Came to believe that a Power Greater than Myself could restore me to sanity.” I don’t get crazy in my head like I used to. That ‘Gay Mania’ I used to suffer from as a young man is gone. If I allow myself to get crazy, I would go crazy. My boys keep me on my toes. They keep me honest because how can you father a child, talk the talk, and not walk the walk? Every day I am reminded that if I am to be a good father to my boys, I have to live the messages I am giving them.

There is not enough love in the world. Every day I stop to remind my boys that they are loved. I talk to them at least once a day. It is hard being away from them, the phone and the computer have become the central connections between us. This past weekend I had a few days to myself, so I thought, until the universe spun out a microburst of insanity.

“It never rains but it pours!”

In the middle of the storm is where I prefer to be – able to look out and see the winds blowing around me and able to see the ground I can be the most assistance. And I found that spending time with my boys as I had over the weekend made me the sanest person I have been thus far. Because as the world was shaking them individually, I was there to stand with them and hold them and let them know that “this too shall pass!”

So what do Gay men think about at forty plus? I worry about my boys, I worry about my hubby, [he is Bi-polar] and let me tell you bi-polar is no cake walk, either for me or for him.

After a weekend of pain and tribulation I was laid wasted emotionally and mentally. I had been running on auto pilot all weekend. I stopped just long enough to rest and to pray. Funny, that I did not think about eating all weekend, and I wasn’t very hungry either… I paid that price on Tuesday…

Do not push your body beyond the boundaries it sets for you too far… I have the propensity to push myself into areas that I know I should not go because my body is a finely balanced machine. HIV does that to you. You either learn the system or you pay the price for failing to be able to read your inner signs. When brings me back to balance.

One must balance food, sleep, meditation and activity. Not to mention stay on treatment protocol in dosing ones self. I became out of whack this weekend. Now I am working on resynchronizing my inner systems. This ability is another gift one learns about when living with a disease that everyone knows is terminal at some stage of the game.

Live in the moment, stay in your day and remember your gratitude…

Where is this going, you ask?

I don’t know, I just thought I would share with you some observations from the ‘road’ as they are passing by. Balance is the key in all things. Learning what that balance is can take some time, so you must be persistent and thorough.


He moves in mysterious ways…

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Have you ever seen God? Would you know what to look for, if you knew for a fact that He would show his face? Do you know for sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists?

Of all the meetings that I have been going to over the last five and a half years, there is one true location that God seems to make his presence known to people in attendance. That meeting would be Tuesday’s Beginners. St. Leon’s is a hallowed church in Westmount. And the members of our meeting never shy away from the spiritual and better yet, none of our members take for granted the fact that they can talk about God as they would any other subject.

Our meeting has been in existence for over 56 years. Several incarnations later and decades following we have seen people come, and go and come and go and come again… And I can tell you with certainty that I have seen God move throughout the room. There is just a feeling, a visual of light that comes from above (the church) and comes down through the ceiling and rests in the middle of the room.

People are having spiritual experiences, and we see it happen week in and week out. People remark that they feel so safe and comfortable in our room. And we find that slippers come back to us to restart their “journeys” after periods of further alcoholic experimentation. Another woman returned to us after a decade of struggle. Today’s topic was “what do you do to guarantee your sobriety?” Nothing guarantees our sobriety better than intensive work with another alcoholic.

My friend KEN came up from Toronto – one of my readers here at my blog. We met some weeks ago at the memorial service for his brother Craig, at St. James United. I had invited him to a meeting when he came to visit. He came to our meeting today, and what a joyous time we all had. We get visitors from all over the world – come to our meeting, and they all leave with a sense of calm and sober understanding.

The last visitor who came to our meeting and told us that God did not exist and that he was a confirmed Atheist, left that meeting and never returned! ‘Coincidence?’ I think not.

On the way home tonight I was walking with Louise and I told her about my perception of God’s power and light finding its way into the meeting and she said to me, “You aren’t the only one to say that, many people believe that God visits our meeting because we honor Him and we talk about Him and we pray to him unified and believing.

So many people have come through our room, and we are as constant as the North Star. We are a place of safety and love. We are always welcoming and spiritually centered, even when we run insane and crazy, the one true fact is that I believe that tonight, like may nights before, God came, saw and shown his light to those who were there.

A woman who had returned spoke of God to me after the meeting. And I told her “you saw the light, have you!” He was here; he is always here, because we seek him with sincere and humble hearts. We gather in his name, there is not one non-believer in the group. Yet we don’t push religion – or faith. But we speak boldly about a Higher Power, who just happens to be God for many of us.

I have seen him change hearts and heal lives and He has made people well, and sober. He has carried their burdens and held them when they wept. He has blessed so many with good things, and people come to express gratitude for all great things, and we all know that there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. People are put into our paths for specific reasons if you are able to divine those reasons as the need arises.

I see the face of God in the people I serve. I see the Christ in those who struggle and I see the spirit in those who have been renewed and healed. Look out into the trees and see his divine hand in creation, in the fall, see him paint the city in colors as bright as the sun. And in the Winter I wait for the silence, for that one true night when the clouds fall and the hush falls over the city as the first flake of winter snow falls, I rush outside and I welcome the voice of God as he whispers to the city… “I am here…”

I have seen him, and I know his voice…

And if you hear his voice today, Harden not your hearts.

 

 

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Custodians of a Living Earth …

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I’m reading again, “I Heard the Owl Call My Name” and I am in the mindset to write about the custodianship of the living earth. The earth is in a shift, I think we can all agree on that – and attention is now on prevention and maintenance of the earth as it exists today. I have written recently about the fact that many people in my own community are not “Being Maintained” by anyone, they are lost among the crowd, banished to sidewalks, doorways and shelters. What can I do to change that? Write…

What if the governments of the world decided to stop warring and fighting amongst themselves? How much money would we have to spend on other things like food, shelter and water? I heard a comment on late night radio last night that

“There will be wars fought over drinking water!”

I am sure that there are some who think about the Order who seek to bring down the number of earths inhabitants by the millions. There is a surplus in population in certain areas of the world, and for some that is too much, and they would rather see them eradicated than to house and feed them.

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The earth is sputtering on its axis. Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Hurricane, Oceanic changes to salinity and food source and the cooling of warm water fisheries all over the globe are causing catastrophic changes to major areas of the worlds oceans. How many more signs do we need from Mother Earth to tell us that something is wrong? And if we don’t stop with our preoccupation with war, division, killing and ignorance, that when “IT” happens we will not survive whatever IT will unleash.

I know better than to sit in my what if’s and coulda, woulda, shoulda! I can look out my windows from here and see trees and grass and the mountain off to the North. We can look out at our world and know that there are forests and people and animals who live amongst that forest. Forests are burning – trees are dying – infestations of beetles are killing swaths of forest across Canada, borne on the winds moving West to East. But I wonder what haven’t we done as custodians of the earth to try and mitigate these things from happening.

What if, The Almighty came down from heaven and told warring factions to lay down their arms, and those in power were removed and power was granted to the masses to govern themselves and the wars stopped all over the earth, not just in certain areas. All the warring areas on the globe. What if we heard from on high that “they” believe that wars fought over ideologies and factions needed to end today, right now, for us to stop killing each other and become custodians to one another. How would that change the face of the earth?

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Is there a way for the world to get up and state unanimously that the wars should end? Can we impeach presidents around the world, in countries that are sponsoring, funding and are waging wars on other peoples? Do you see what I am asking here?

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We truly need to depose several key world leaders, and the American President AND his entire cabinet need to be removed from office, sooner than later. Because America has been hijacked and “Nazi Control” is becoming an adjective to explain George W. Bush.

Mr. Bush, we are not With you –
And We Stand Against You!! It is time to leave Office…

 

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DO WE want to maintain another Hitler in office? Do we want this man making law and imposing unconstitutional amendments upon his people and the world? Because if he does it – the world is watching and you know, the only reason Hitler was so successful at what he did in the Holocaust, was because the people listened to him, and if the American President can do what he is doing, that gives free reign to other leaders to do the same!!! Bush still has the ears of many world leaders, who are not MAN or WOMAN enough to say NO! We will not follow you. So what do we do?

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There are some in power who would see people determined to be locked down and subjugated. That is already happening all over the globe, in many countries. Darfur, Sudan and in other areas of Africa, people are corralled into camps, with no water, electricity or better yet SHELTER. People are being slaughtered by militia men. We need to stop them and the killing needs to end. Genocide is happening in OUR time once again, and on many fronts, we must stop the genocide because:

 

 

 

“We Have Failed to Remember
and We Have Failed to Never
Let It Happen Again”

In the Middle East, the most contentious area of the globe, not to mention Iraq and the Fertile Crescent area of the world including Afghanistan, the militias and the Taliban are trying to eradicate (on a mass scale) entire peoples akin to the likes of Adolf Hitler. If we prayed for the savior to come again and save us, this would be the time and the place.

We must now act, decisively and verbally. We need to lobby those who are in power to do the right thing. We need to Impeach the President. We need to stop the killing in Darfur, we need to stop the wars in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan. We need people on the ground who can be trusted to help reconcile the factions that are fighting with each other and those factions who have fighting going on within themselves. We need ambassadors to get in the game and negotiations must be made to end the worlds strife and wars. If we don’t start this now, WHO is going to take our place later to hold those in office accountable for

“Crimes Against Humanity”

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It’s not about who – but What is in this photo, read on…

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There are too many people around the globe, being ignored. There are entire continents and nations of people that need to be cared for, not to forget those people in warring countries who need to be fed, re-housed and repatriated back to where they came from, those who had to flee to save their own lives. Rich countries sit back and say “we are doing all we can for those inside our borders.”

Yet on the European continent we know for a fact that there are disenfranchised peoples, in the millions, who are not being cared for properly because of the arrogance of status, ethnic superiority and ignorance to accept everyone for who they are not what form of dress or religious affiliation they identify with.

It comes down to the people to start the tide of Anarchy and Dissension. It is time to take back our land and our government from those who have taken it from us. They have been poor stewards of the land, the environment and of peoples. We must stop this – there is too much conflict in the world, so much that any “other” needs are being ignored at the expense of the whole, for a chosen few.

It Is Time to:

Bring the Soldiers Home – Stop the Wars. You either follow certain prescriptions here: (1) You bring ALL warring leaders to Justice, (2) Let them kill each other and save us the headache, or (3) You bring ‘Just’ Diplomatic Solutions to Warring Factions and Areas – and Sit Down and HAMMER out Peace Agreements and Co-Existence Clauses.

Isn’t it time to sit down and think and come to the realization that what war has done for the last 4 years has NOT worked, so let’s allow the Diplomats to work on Peace.

The Mission is NOT Accomplished.

Peace and Democracy has not been attained and WON’T be attained with the present course of action. WAR does not create Democracy – it Breeds Contempt, Rancor, Hatred and brings Division instead of creating Unity.

In Stopping Wars, Governments Agree to Equal care to all Soldiers repatriated home and for their families. And Agree to Rebuild war torn areas with the funds used to carry out war, and Care for those most affected by the war in their Respective regions.

This applies to Canada and the United States and All Countries involved in wars worldwide. It is NOT Unpatriotic to stand against WAR!! It is NOT Unpatriotic to stand against a President or a sitting Prime Minister.

 

 

Democracy is built on the premise of government for the people by the people !! Well People need to start speaking out for Change…

 

 

The ‘People’ are being AND have been hugely ignored, save those who support the puppet in office and his cronies he protects. The Ship is Sinking – and is Going down. Who is going to save us? It comes down to us, those of us who are writing around the world, to speak up and ask each and every one of our readers to join this movement. To call your leaders and rulers to task, to make them accountable not only to you the citizens of the country that you reside in, but also to the immigrants who have resettled there as well. Leaders need to be accountable to the earth as well.

Or We Shall Pay when Catastrophe Occurs

 

We cannot remain self absorbed and self centered. We must step beyond the borders of nationalism and ethnic superiority. We all must be made equal, in that we must begin to love and take care of each other and to become custodians of the world at large, and it begins with me. It begins with you. It continues with US. We must, with a resounding voice say “we have had enough of this…” It is time to end this.

Before We Kill Each Other Trying to create Peace !!!

 

 

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We must become better custodians to the earth. If we stop the raping and pillaging of the land, we must stop the wars, we must stop the killing of innocents. We must stop the tide of suicide bombers. West and East must come together. The West and The East must agree NEVER to wage war again, however possible that is… We must find peaceful and RIGHT means to the future sustaining of the worlds populations. We MUST find an earthly solution, if we must, a heavenly solution.

“We Have Failed to Remember
and We Have Failed to Never
Let It Happen Again”

 

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You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz


Blessings …

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Let us return to the pastoral realm for a bit. It wasn’t a good day, it was a great day. The sun was shining and there was a breeze and it seems, our city has found itself harmonious and quiet. (unless you count the street paver parked out front of the building). I never knew it took MONTHS to tare up sidewalks and repave them, then dig up the street and repave it again. Because Fort street was a mess after the winter, last. I could get lost in the potholes that were on the street… but I digress…

I spent the afternoon with a friend and we had such a good time. We went to Starbuck’s for coffee and we played on the internet. I got to see Taiwan in a photologue, which was just incredible. I am becoming a photographer me thinks.

The conversation was great. We spoke of many things. Family, faith and even the word God was mentioned and nobody got upset. “I think I am an agnostic” he told me. He wasn’t an atheist. Whew, I was getting a bit scared here. I was hunting for a book on the Late Pontiff at the book store. I ended up buying a book for my hubby – “The scripts for Little Britain.” That was a “little thing.”

We laughed and we joked and we smiled… God was present.

I truly believe that if I wasn’t a faithful man, I wouldn’t see the miracles happening before my own eyes. People in recovery are weird that way, we find God, then we start looking for the signs, the posts and the spiritual experiences. I think I am “in” a spiritual experience tonight.

I came home, tired from not getting enough sleep last night because I was up till 5 a.m. On the way home, I was dragging. I had to make some phone calls and I did that and that kind of energized me. I saw one of my friends on the street earlier today who is going into the seminary this Fall. It was great to see him and talk with him for awhile. Montreal is a really big “small” city. I rested before going to the Monday night meeting, right around the corner earlier. This little meeting that could (Came to Believe) is a great little gem of a meeting.

You never know who you are going to meet or see or experience. I met these two women from New York, who had been to “The Mustard Seed” in NYC which is a hugely popular meeting for our people here and for some of my sober members in the sphere here who live in NYC.  I got to hear one of them speak.

After the break, my friend Shannon spoke and I was truly blown away. When you get sober with friends, and we live our lives freely, it is a blessing to hear them speak on the odd occasion because you see grace in action. I had a few “O” moments. Oh my God, what she said resonated with me so truly. We got sober together years ago.

So it was a great day. Tomorrow I see the doctor for my first round check up and hopefully get some of my labs back. I will let you know about that. Then after that I have my home group and coffee in the afternoon.

I love my life.

“Sobriety isn’t about time, recovery is about the “Hello” walking up and greeting a member or a newcomer. To give someone a handshake or a hug.

To sit with someone who is suffering, just because we get sober, doesn’t mean everything stops hurting. Talking to another alcoholic before or after the meeting is just as important, if not more important than the meeting itself…”


Sermon on many topics…

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Totem Pole in Stanly Park, Vancouver B.C.

Why is there a totem pole on this writing? Because I need a guide to write something coherent and learned. I go there mentally sometimes when I want to write, to sit in Kingcome Village with Mark Brian, the vicar of St. George’s Church, in Margaret Craven’s,

“I heard the Owl Call my Name.”

There is a majesty in the totem, a story of a people, of their traditions and their ways of thought. I heard a man speaking about the totem at the meeting tonight, and he said,

“I remember the totem, and the fact that I am the man on the bottom of the totem and not the one at the top. That keeps me grounded and sober.”

Men of different path’s populate the downtown core meetings and every once in a while you hear something that rings true to one’s soul. My heart stirred when he spoke and I remembered my spirit.

There is a lot going on in this sphere tonight, some of it good, and some of it is not so good. People are moving, leaving, breaking up and even some are moving forward in the coupling of relationships into one home and a together life. We have talked about depression as of late. And I have a particular view on that topic, because of my own depression battle and that of my husbands Bi-Polar issues.

There is NO pill that is going to make it all better. That magic pill does not exist. That’s why we have so many drug addicted people all over the world. When I got home Peter was watching a program on the Paxil fiasco. I was on Paxil once, what a nightmare. Doctors and drug companies want to ply us with all the pills we can pay for and for the most part, we can’t afford all the pills we must take on any given day.

You want to take pills and see therapists and doctors – yes do that. Sometimes depression and medical issues NEED a doctor’s or a psychiatrists fine vision. Peter’s shrink worked very hard to help us and he did. But aside from taking a pill and then finding Jesus, unless you want to get better and step out of the darkness, you have to take that first step into the light. So I offer you a candle to help light your way.

We cannot get by on medication alone. There has to come, in time, a desire to live, a desire to get better a desire to end the depression or illness. And I am one to speak about illness. I’ve been taking pills for the last 13 years to stay alive. Some sober people shun the medical necessity of some sober folks to stay alive. I’ve had all the fights I want to have about clean and sober and medical necessity.

I have been in and out of a therapists office on and off for the last 13 years. I find that another set of eyes and ears works to help me stay on track and having that guidance and therapy has, in short order saved my life. When I suffered from Agoraphobia some time ago, and I wouldn’t leave the house, I was on specific medication and seeing a specific therapist and we worked me out of the house over a six month period. It all started with wanting to sit on the front porch of my condo outside. Then I learned to walk around the block, and in turn I learned how to walk to the beach and feel safe, that my attacker wasn’t coming to get me. So I know what fear is.

And we find that “Fear is a Great Motivator for CHANGE.”

But fear can also cripple us. Do I need these pills forever, in my case, I need pills to help regulate my brain and my immune system and keeps my depression and anger in check. I know I need medication and that medication helps me stay sane, sober and alive. But I also take the steps every day to work on and with myself. Being good to myself, and doing something good for myself every day.

“Every day you should do something nice for yourself, Just Because!!

Fear must not cripple us into complacency and ignorance about the world around us. Depression is a hard fought battle for so many, I have a viable work – therapy solution I offer my directees and kids that I work with. When parent’s who know me ask me to help them with their children, I take that as a huge compliment and a very important charge. So I am not clueless when I talk about medical issues and pills and depression. I’ve been there and I am here. I survived debilitating depression, it can be done.

Letting Go…

All life functions on the principle of letting go. We are constantly changing physically, emotionally, mentally and sexually. Our lives move forward, as if on auto pilot, knowing that forward motion is the preferred direction and never backwards. How I wish, on that odd occasion, when I wax on nostalgia, that time could be reversed, just for a time.

Letting Go is a sober issue too. Recognizing the wreckage of our pasts, taking stock and making note, and 4th stepping the past away so that 5 – 6 and 7 can take root into 8 and 9 and then our checkup 10th step and continual spiritual connection in step 11 and then when we have done these to the best of our abilities for ourselves, then we can carry the message in the 12th step. Every one in this world is availed spiritual awakenings. it is possible for us to see, experience and share spiritual experiences. Letting Go is a spiritual experience. It is a spiritual action. That one is able to let go Absolutely!!

Sometimes we do not know when to let go, then again, many of us will not let go because that would mean that we would either be alone, live alone, or perish the thought, CHANGE!!! Sometimes I read blogs and I can see the “pain on the page.” I think that some people should let go of old habits and old people, those people who are not serving us in a spiritual capacity for goodness and light. But how do I move on and let go, well, that’s tricky. One step at a time. You make a decision. You set a date and you stick to that date.

Relationships come and go and boys are a dime a dozen and I can personally assure you that if you leave a function-less relationship that is painful, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I spent much of my HIV positive years ALONE. Because men are pigs, self serving and heartless and clueless. I have had (count them on one hand) very few relationships where I knew that the man who was in my bed – wanted to be in my bed, because he understood the reality of death and illness and I didn’t scare them. But most of them, eventually I had to let go because I was moving at a different speed as them. Life has its own rhythm. And its own speed. In fighting depression, I did it alone. Oh, I had friends, but I wasn’t in “relationship” with any one in particular – for a LONG TIME…

It wasn’t until I came back from my slip, worked on me, let go of the past and all that went with it, including everything that I owned, I am still working on that “Let DOWN” and got sober this last time, that I was ready to accept love and give love, I HAD to find love in myself for myself before I could give it to someone else and have that love reciprocated.

“The Pink Neon Sign”

I have learned over the last six years in Montreal sobriety, that every human being walks around with a PINK NEON SIGN flashing above their heads. Go to enough meetings and seek spiritual solutions and you will begin to see it all around you. Get on the Metro or a bus or walk down the street and read all the “Signs” coming at you…

  • Desperate
  • Lonely
  • Seeking
  • Drunk or High
  • Hysterical
  • PMS’ing…
  • Postal!!
  • Crazy
  • and eventually Sane and Happy

I have learned what sign all my “peoples” carry around above them and I love them any ways, even if some of them will never unplug or change the message flashing, for a few hours each week, I can reach them through ministry, and love them unconditionally. In the practice of “Letting Go” you stop and you unplug that sign for a while until you find an appropriate message to display. And that may take some time, and that’s ok, as long as you are working on yourself. You don’t have to be getting sober. These principles are universal and can be utilized by everyone – everywhere.

Sometimes the FEAR of Change or FEAR of being alone, makes us hang on to people and situations that baffle us, just because we don’t see the way out, or we are Un-Willing to see the solution, or we just FEAR…

“Fear is a great motivator for change…”

Everyone has the power to recognize when it is right to let go, when it is necessary to let go, and when it is crucial that we let go. Life will move forward and sometimes life asks of us to do things we may not necessarily like – but if the Gardner does not prune his rose bushes, how can they flower beautifully each season…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Attributed to King Solomon

To everything there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and
a time to die;
a time to plant, and
a time to pluck up
that which is planted;

A time to kill, and
a time to heal;
a time to break down, and
a time to build up;

A time to weep, and
a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and
a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and
a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and
a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and
a time to lose;
a time to keep, and
a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and
a time to sow;
a time to keep silence, and
a time to speak;

A time to love, and
a time to hate;
a time of war; and
a time of peace.

With all humility we ask for God’s blessing tonight on those who come to visit and read, that they may find peace and wisdom in the many pages of writings we offer here and may I always remember that I inhabit the man at the foot of the totem and not the eagle of top. That I am who I am, in all my humanity, without ego or arrogance.

We thank the creator for all good things…


Overheard at an AA Meeting

heavenly-father.jpg

The God of my Understanding doesn’t go to AA meetings…