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

Leadership

November 20, 2015 … 11 years

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11 years ago tonight, with family and friends present, we exchanged vows and spoke sacred words. Today, we continue to live into those words. Tonight, we had dinner at the fabulous FIRE GRILL, once again.

I have shared before that there are three restos, that are at the top of the budget when it comes to dining out …

  • Fire Grill
  • Rueben’s Smoked Meats
  • Baton Rouge

This short list is a foodies paradise of good eats.

I am grateful that I live in Canada. Due to recent events, in the world, people are at odds, and words are being spoken, that are totally, out of left field. I’m not sure most folks, politicians and leaders alike, know what they are saying.

My tight group of friends are at odds with each other, because of differing views of current events, and what each of them thinks, as to what we should do and how we should do it.

The ties of friendship are being tested. And if a second conversation that needs to take place, because the first one began and ended badly, doesn’t heal the rift, I am afraid that my circle will be broken over non-negotiable statements.

We are Canadian. And we, for the most part, share Canadian values, and for some, that is not good enough. Everybody has a right to their opinions, because of their origins, how they were educated, and how they each decide to live their lives.

No One Person has the definitive answer, because, let’s face it, we don’t. I don’t think a real, tangible, solid, workable answer is possible amid the heat of argument and prejudice.

Let us keep each other in our thoughts …

Notice I did not say “prayers…”

Religion has become a dirty word. People are choosing to incriminate all, due to the actions of “a few.” And that does not bode well, for an entire community of people, world wide.

One day we will see this for what it really is, and we will shake our heads and say to each other …”Was I really that stupid?”

Yes, we really are that stupid.

At least I can unfollow people. And I can turn the channel, and better yet, I can totally turn off my computer when it all gets to be too much of hateful overload.

More to come, stay tuned …

 


Sunday Sundries … On the Road

tumblr_l7kzzjlD3L1qzqhkho1_500 twinkobsessionCourtesy: Obsession

Do you ever have a moment like this, when you did something and you should have done something else, and grabbed your head and went “UGH!!!”

They say, in recovery, that “Where ever you go, there you are …”

Which is timely with the introduction of tonight’s read: On the Road

As alcoholics, how many years did we spend, traveling from one place to another, trying to find ourselves, or a life, or something like it?

Our writer tonight, travels roads all over the earth, looking. This after being young and getting blackout drunk and trying to kill his stepfather, the judge says “You can either go to Juvie, or you can leave town until you turn 21!”

Not wanting to go to juvie, our writer takes to the road in search of himself, but never finds himself until he darkens a room of A.A. He spends the better part of his life drinking his way around the world and back again, until he takes his last drink.

And even then, he really did not connect. And every time a sponsor “lovingly suggested” that he do some work, he would summarily fire them and move on to someone else, who had, he thought, a much easier softer way.

Some years into sobriety, say, around the two year mark, we enter what we like to call,the “angry years” where nothing fits, everybody is wrong and has no idea. And if we stay sober through this we eventually get to what we next call the “jumping off point.”

This is the stage where we say “SHIT or get off the Pot !”

There are many ways to approach recovery. I get the slow starters. I understand the questions, the uncertainty, the fear, of just how am I going to live, now that I am trying to get sober, and what will my life look like and what will I do if I can’t have just one???

Come in, sit down, and relax. All the jobs have been taken. Listen and have an open mind.

Eventually, you will hear your sponsor speak, and that is when you know what to do. OR you could just cold cock it and put it out there, that you need a sponsor, and see who rises to the occasion.

That works just as well.

Back to On the Road …

Growing up, I listened to my parents talk, A LOT ! Drunk and Sober. I heard a lot of things, and realized in my journey, that to be myself, I could not do that at home. I had to get out.

My shrink at the time told me what to do …

He said, and I quote “The best way to become part of a certain community is , to go to the bar, sit down at the bar and have a drink. Hell, have two if the spirit moves you, and see what happens.”

The entire decade of my twenties was wrapped up in one sentence.

On a bar stool, looking pretty, talking the right game, drinking the right liquor, and watching what happens.

I can’t tell you how many times I moved during those ten years. I had a brief foray into staying put from 26 to 28, but as soon as I was left to my own devices, I was off and running again. Until I hit my mid thirties. I had finally had enough of trying to find some place I could call my own.

I had come to that “Jumping Off Point” I was 34. Uneducated, by university standards, but wise on finding my way through poverty and sickness. I got sober again, and for a time, I settled where I was because I needed what my friends had and I needed to learn how to get sober again. I did that.

But in the back of my mind, and in my heart, Where I was, was not where I wanted to be.

Montreal was the stopping point.

I had been educated, I was sober, and I had a birthright in hand, that facilitated my last move.

It was the last step, in becoming the man I wanted to be, somewhere that I would call HOME.

Someplace that I could be ME, that I could be free of the past. Free of the pain, sickness and poverty that I was living in prior to my last move.

This time I had ammunition. This time I did it the right way. I found a home, I found the rooms, and I met people who would get me into the life I wanted.

The best piece of advice I heard the first week was this:

Go to meetings. Find a home group.

Build your LIFE around your MEETINGS, not your MEETINGS around your LIFE.

I did that. And I’ve been successful for the last 12 and some years. I never deviated from this advice, unless of course, I could not find another night to have class. Your home group is sacrosanct. You never miss your home group, no matter what. it should be your first responsibility.

Only 2 semesters in ten years did I ever have to miss my home group.

Our young people, in their twenties who are in the nest right now, are still trying to figure out who they will become and how they are going to get through school and life and be social, and NOT drink.

That is a tall order. It is a tall order for most folks coming in the room at any stage of the game. We all say that same thing … How can I survive this life and not drink?

I had to get to the point that moving from place to place was no longer working. I had to get to the point that I was ready to grow up and learn how to live in my skin, and become the man I so wanted to become.

Finding that “PLACE” is integral to success.

Because, where ever you go, there you are …

I was getting too old to keep looking, and not finding. The time had come to either SHIT or get off the pot, so to speak. I had no more time to waste, time was of the essence. And If I didn’t take that chance that I had, I would never have gotten here.

And I like HERE.  I want to be HERE. I love HERE.

If you don’t know where you are going, then STOP. Sit down where you are and rest. Look around you and survey your surroundings. Study your location and the people in that location. Consult your life map and ask your questions. THEN when you are ready to take that next step, gather your map and your things and take that step.

Growing up was not as hard or as painful as I thought it would be. When I was still drinking, all that mattered was having the delusional life I thought I wanted. WRONG !!! Knowing that where I was at that time, was not where I wanted to be, I think contributed to what I did next.

But I had to put the drink down first to be able to make a conscious life decision.

The rest they say is history.

All my guys are good. I Skyped with Pittsburgh, everyone is well. Our little group is sober another weekend. And we are good to go for the next week.

More to come, stay tuned …

OH, and I SCORED a #19 Germany – Mario Gotze World Cup Jersey. Pictured below and on the sidebar !!! Ten Cheers for EBAY !!! YAY !!!


Friday … Unbearable Weather and Things Like That

tumblr_nbchquNJyQ1rjev45o1_500 footballhqsCourtesy: Football HQS

Boy, was it HOT today. The last time it was this hot, was back in July. And we are under a severe thunderstorm watch at this hour.

I had nothing to do today, so I slept in. In the end I had several dreams one after another covering a few topics that have arisen in my mind over the past week. I am not only ruminating at night before bed, I am dreaming of people, places and things as well. It was interesting to see how the dreams played out. Even while I am sleeping my mind is in overdrive.

When my alarm clock finally went off at 4:30 this afternoon, I was like, NO, More Sleep Please !!!

I diddled here on the computer and got ready to go. I was meeting with one of my guys prior to the meeting, on the other side of town, so I left uber early. It was a miserable 28c out with a humidex of  38c. The skies were growing darker every minute as I made my way to the Metro.

If it was unbearable outside, then it was doubly worse in the tunnels. The heat generated by the trains and the air in the tunnels is really warm. And that warmth is a really good thing come winter. But it was sweaty hot outside, and I was traveling at peak rush hour. I don’t usually travel this early.

The trains were PACKED, across both lines.

When I made my connection, the car was packed wall to wall. It was sweaty hot, I was dripping all over myself and with so many folks around, wiping dripping sweat was problematic. UGH !!!

I arrived at Laurier and when I came out of the station it was dark. It was close to six o’clock. It was also raining. You would have thought that it would be Pouring rain seeing how dark it was outside. By the time I made my stop, the rain was coming to an end. And it seemed a bit cooler out.

We sat a jam packed house. We split up into two groups to allow everyone to get a chance at sharing.

Tonight’s read : A.B.S.I. #68 Giving without Demand.

The read speaks about working with others, and sharing the message. And the why’s, how’s and what for’s. We give it away freely, because it came to us freely. If you try and give it away to one, and it doesn’t take, there is always someone waiting in the wings for what you have to give.

The discussion went around and around, and culminated with a consensus about what we do with what we know, how best to utilize that knowledge and how best to serve.

I noted on the way home to a friend, that our young people don’t seem to realize how much they help us to help them. Our years of time run from days to months, to multiple years. And I have said before that if you listen well to your friends, and your fellows, you learn how to help them with what you know.

But why don’t I have any sponsees? was a general question from folks with a few years.

They go to meetings, and they work, and they share, but the pigeon coop is empty.

I know for me it took a long time until the time was right to begin working with others one on one. But I also said at the meeting, that when we go to a meeting and we share from our seats, we are “working with others” because you never know when something you say will impact someone in a way that betters their journey and they learn something.

Sharing from your chair is a good way to hear yourself speak, to polish your skills at words and work, and it gives folks an opportunity to listen to you, because you never know when someone will walk up to you and ask you to work with them.

I have said before that I had to top off my tanks. And only diligent study, prayer and focus was what was necessary to ignite the universe and in turn the universe sends people to us, at the right moment, for the right reasons.

When you listen at a meeting to your fellows share themselves, the more one listens, the more time you get to hone your skills at words, and eventually you speak up and what happens is that wisdom comes to you and to those listening to you.

I don’t have all the answers. All I have is all what I have learned in 12 years and some months. And it isn’t all about me.

I had to learn, “how to learn” from people who knew how to teach and lead. I listened to people from other places, and how they did the work. And then I practiced. I worked, then the universe opened up to me. That’s how I learned to work with others. By watching others do the work.

We also heard the words, “I can’t get you sober, and you aren’t going to make me drink.”

That is a common phrase we hear from our old timers and new prospects.

In some cases, people came to me, because the moment was there for a connection, deeper than just a phone call to say hello. In other cases, the moment came amid a conversation and the opportunity presented itself to step into a working relationship. Lastly, a newcomer walks into a room seeking direction and out of ten men, I was the only one with a cell phone and offered up my number and things just went on from there.

So you never know when the opportunity to work with someone will come. Be prepared.

But when we get to the end of the first 164 pages of the Big Book, in the reading “A Vision for You” it says that once we get our house in order, we are ready to give, the caveat is that obviously, one cannot give what they don’t have.” Which means that only through learning and study and time in the rooms, can we ever learn how to be present, when to speak up, when to listen, when to step up.

It takes a fine ear to hear the “Words Between the Words.” And that takes a long time to hone.

Like I said, when the universe thinks you are ready, it sends you a nugget. It is then your choice what to do with it. Listen. Listen well.

You can’t lead another human being through the steps until you yourself have done them as well. And it may take a second pass or many passes through the steps until the right opportunity opens up. This calls for patience and humility. Multiple passes through the steps, and working with a sponsor, only deepens our knowledge of how to use what we have learned. And being able to lead from the right direction and motive.

Because if you are in it to glorify yourself or stoke your ego, better sit down and say nothing, rather than opening up your mouth and sticking your foot into it all the way up to your knees !!!

Over time, the ear is refined to hear ego speak, and know when it approaches.

Run, don’t walk, to the nearest emergency exit !!!

We’ve seen many men and women come and go. And we’ve all heard the stories about hallowed and terrible sponsors. The groups have survived them all. One must be careful, what we give and how we give it, and from what direction and our motives. You never want to make a serious situation worse, or further, cause someone to take a drink. And if they do drink, it was their choice. But better to meter your words carefully, to speak wisely and correctly.

If you don’t know what words to use, ask, or pray for wisdom.

It seems the gentle, easy path is the most fruitful. I won’t throw a book at someone who has just come in the door, or someone who has only been in for a short time.

I believe in the come in, pick your chair, sit down in that chair and get used to your chair. You will spend a lot of time in that chair. When you are ready, I am here. I wait for the moment to arrive.

In between that time I am Present. I come, I sit and I listen. And I learn about you. In turn you teach me about myself. Working close with others is a great way to see your own shortcomings and character defects. Which in turn promotes humility.

I’ve seen what happens when someone allows ego to go to their heads.

Eventually they implode. Sad but true.

I sat at the table and when we took our moment, I heard the angels sing when we prayed.

It is the highlight of the week, to sit with my friends and say that prayer together. It is home.

And for that I am grateful.

I made my trek home and when I came out of the station on my end of town, lightening was streaking across the sky. But I haven’t seen any substantial rain fall on either end. Maybe later tonight, we’ll see.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … The Elevator’s Not Working, Use the Steps …

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Courtesy:Tyler Oakley

What do you do for Labor day? For many on the East Coast, this weekend is the final weekend of Summer, the last weekend to party it up, before season closes.

The weather has been up and down. Rain here, rain there. I, however, got out and back without a drop which was good. I was up and ready to go with plenty of time and sat on my hands for the last half hour before I finally hit the door.

I got to the elevator bank, and there was a woman waiting, the button was pushed. But there was silence. You can hear the elevators coming up and down the shafts, so we stood there for five minutes, ten minutes, no elevators …

I pushed the UP button because the Up brings the elevator right to the floor directly. When you push the DOWN button, the elevator NEVER comes directly to the floor you are on. It always goes up to come down. I don’t know why it does that.

Well, Up didn’t work.

Another of my floor mates came to wait with me, and the elevators were not coming for some ungodly reason. So we walked down seventeen flights of stairs to reach the atrium. I Hate Stairs …

When I got down to the first floor, elevator ONE was stuck in the basement, and elevator TWO was on its way up. A little late for an up since we walked down the entire building…

When I finally got the the church, the door was open and the lights were on, a couple of members got there before me and said that the doors were unlocked when they got there, which means the super must have opened up for me early.

We cranked out set up and sat a full house. We had a bunch of visitors from out of town and we read Tradition Eight… The main take away:

“Money and spirituality don’t mix.”

You can’t turn a profit off of a Twelve Step call. Alcoholics who suffer, some go to rehab, and then they come to us. Some come to us directly. In any case, what would it be like if we charged folks for their sobriety?

There is not a dollar figure large enough that would compensate someone for giving it away. The Book reads “…Freely received, so freely given…”

The rooms gave me everything that I ever wanted or needed. The people in my life I could not put a dollar figure on. When I give it away, to the people I work with, you could not put a dollar figure on the emotional feeling of gratitude one gets, when people you work with get better.

I’ve seen “sober coaches” recently in the news, always coupled with someone who is trying to get sober, usually a celebrity … I wonder how much money they make a week as they “coach” someone into sobriety? And I wonder if that model works?

I mean if you have to pay someone to keep you sober, I think that speaks to the effort or lack there of said effort each sufferer puts into his/her own sober journey.

Yeah, I’ll get sober, my way. I will hire a coach to shadow me 24/7 in all my public events, and I will stay sober. I might not necessarily go to meetings on top of this, or maybe I might, but we’ll see …

We heard about Humility. We heard about Gratitude.

In New York, someone has to keep the doors open in the G.S.O. And someone needs to keep our G.S.O here in Montreal staffed and working. If you read the BOX 459, that comes monthly from New York, you can read all about how the system works, who gets paid and who doesn’t, and WHY?

The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. And Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends on A.A. Unity.

Each group has jobs, that rotate each month. And people do group service to give back for what they have been freely given. And you can’t put a dollar figure on that knowledge.

When a celebrity or a professional comes through our doors, who they are and what they do for a living is left at the door.

There is that separation between the human being and what they do.

However, I know of a handful of sober folks, I count among my friends, who work in recovery houses and rehabs. We know where they work, but when they hit a meeting, they are who they are. I’ve never heard someone mix business with pleasure.

In time you come to realize just how much of a pleasure going to meetings is, because you get to see the people you got sober with, the friends that you have made and we get to share amongst each other what we learn on a weekly basis. And that is a pleasure.

So that is a thing …

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Late night television has been hit and miss the past few weeks. The summer season is coming to an end, and we hit that [buffer zone] between summer and fall programming that always coincides with Labor Day.

Last night we got an encore presentation of “We Were Here.” It was the only worth while program on television at that hour. I guess God had a plan. This documentary has been showing an awful lot this summer. As if to say … This isn’t over, we need to think about this and remember. And we need NOT to forget.

Seriously, how can I forget?

I love one of the final thoughts in this piece about “The Ghost.”

People who lived through that era of time, either watching someone they loved get sick and die, or working on the front lines of treatment and service, Once we have gone through this crucible, we come out the other end. And for some, they never reconnect to life, or to a purpose, and thereby, become a ghost, traveling through life, not connecting, and never finding a purpose for themselves.

I as well, am married to someone younger than me. Who never saw this happen. He did not live through what I did. He did not watch all his friends die gruesome deaths like I did. But when we connected, he got on board 100%.

I’ve had two periods of sickness in the last thirteen years. But it wasn’t a death watch. And I haven’t had another AIDS related illness since.

I know how I got through that period. But I took me a long time to find a purpose in my life, rather than pissing my life away with drugs and alcohol. That point came and I found a purpose, or I thought I did.

When I got here, and was sober a year, my after care counselor asked me “so what do you want to do now?” She gave me an option to find a purpose. I was attached by that time. I went back to school. I had my meetings and good friends.

I found my purpose, and I share that purpose every day with my fellows.

There is that empty space in my heart for all my friends who did not get so lucky. I remember. I miss them. I never forget them. I think about them every time I open my medicine cabinet. The moment I forget or I stop opening that cabinet, I sign my own death warrant.

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

How gracefully that thought crosses all the events in my life succinctly.

I have a story and that story matters.

Maya says … When you know good, Do good. When you learn, Teach.

That is what I do every day.

More to come, stay tuned …


In Case of Fire …”BREAK GLASS”

Pope Francis in a selfie photoIt has been a week of change. People have come and gone. One of my men is now living in Pittsburgh and we get to talk every night, thanks to Skype. The wonders of technology never cease.

Last night we heard from a second of my men, who is moving his family back to Oshawa to his family home where the kids will have a house, a yard and parks to play in close to home, which is a big change from their 3 1/2 here in Montreal. That move takes place in a fortnight.

My third and final man is coming home in the days to come, which will be exciting since he has been gone all summer long at camp.

The Friday night commute was quick and painless, and we set up quickly and quietly. Then everyone came for the Friday night meet and greet. It was a full house by the time the meeting ended. We talked about prayer, and we talked about God.

At some point in the game, you get to God. And the Book speaks about the “spiritual experience” and the “psychic change” that has to come about to guarantee a sober life.

Everyone has a story. And at some point or other, in our drinking story, that we get to the end and we say …”God, help me, I can’t go on like this any longer !” In case of Fire, Break Glass…

There has been a lot of talk about religious faith amongst my fellows, which I am going to write about in a separate post later tonight. I read an interesting post last night about religious faith and the belief in fictional characters we find in pop culture and in film. But more on that later.

I’ve noticed along the way that there are buzz words and concepts that have popped up this time around that did not come to mind the first time around, not that I remember. That was more than twenty years ago now.

When I hit my slip, I surely was not thinking about God. He never came up. I never thought about Him. And the thought did not come to mind until I had had my last drink and I finally called out for help. I prayed, and I believe that that is all He needed to hear. You see, God allows us to do what we are going to do, usually He doesn’t act, unless we are in peril, for some.

Over there —> in the Pages if you look down to “Naked and Sacred” you can read my story about my relationship with God, when it started and how I got here.

God was part of my life. I went to church, I attended seminary, visited the Vatican. God and I were close. And as long as I remained “on the beam” my life was pretty sweet. Everything went according to plan, it was never my plan, per se, but it was a plan that worked.

But every time I stepped “off the beam” my life became a real shit storm.

I have had several shit storms in my life. Most of my twenties, half of my thirties. I had brief connection when I got sober the first time, but I account that survival to people and not God. But in hindsight, I have said that when I really needed God, (read: my diagnosis) He came to me in human form. I was so satisfied with my job and the people in my life, I really did not think about God, because He was there, right in front of me.

The second time around I learned how to trust God all over again. And I have said that from the moment I put down the drink, God moved heaven and earth to get me here. And He was running the show. I have stayed “on the beam.”

When I hit my ten year anniversary, the theme of that anniversary was ” I Thirst” a meditation from the journals of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It would not come to pass for another couple of years that God spoke to me. At the West island Roundup in 2013, I met Lorna Kelly. She went to Calcutta and worked along side the sisters and had a relationship with Mother Teresa for years, prior to her death, and later spoke in the case for her canonization.

Anyways … I read both her books. The Camel Knows the Way and In the Footsteps of the Camel. In the story in the first book is all about Calcutta. Lorna steps into the chapel and there stenciled on the wall next to the crucifix are the words … ” I Thirst.” It floored me.

It was also at that roundup that my prayer life got a huge jump start. I was coasting. And the fire that was lit pushed me to new lengths in my prayer life. And from that blossomed a new sponsor, sponsees and something entirely new for my sobriety.

But as of late, I’ve had problems finding God. I know He is there, but there are times that I can’t see him, or I forget to call out His name. And that usually happens when I am stuck on my hamster wheel obsessing or worrying about things that are way outside of my control.

In certain situations, the older I get the angrier I get about people and situations. I imagine in my minds eye that adults grow up eventually and we reach a point that darkness is overcome by the light.

That hasn’t happened yet for me.

I spoke about it last night again, because we read on resentments and anger. And throughout the meeting I heard the the older men speak, and we got two round robins in and I heard those sentences from the book that makes sense of everything that is going on …

  • ACCEPTANCE is the KEY to ALL my problems and that
  • NOTHING absolutely NOTHING happens in God World by Mistake.

God is in control, to the extent we allow that control. But God allows for self will. And when we take back our will, it usually ends up in self will run riot. I would rather not be in that place.

Where ever you are at what ever time it is, no matter what day it is, we are right where we need to be at any given moment on any given day. And that if nothing happens by mistake and I an right where I should be, then I can let go of my expectations and my fears and my pains of heart.

I got here right? Well, God got me here.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

I’ve read countless books about Karma, Family, Parables, Teachings.

One book I love is The Journey Home – a Kryon Parable.

In it the lead character looses his parents very young, and spirals into a pit of depression and loneliness until he winds up in hospital because of a robbery gone very wrong. In the story he gets to take a journey through seven Angelic Houses. And learns many lessons about life.

When we are born, we incarnate in groups usually. Everybody has their prescribed roles, agreed upon before we get here. And certain people may not be on board for the entire journey, because each contract is different. And we may not get very far, but far enough to the point that we either move apart or we die.

I believe that my family had a very short contract. We only got so far before we parted ways and i went on with my life by myself. And I wonder why that happened, well I know why, I am Gay, HIV+ and I live in another country now. Grounds for immediate dismissal.

So that is a thing.

I pray for the time when everybody grows up to a point that communication is possible. But I am not hedging my bets. Cue resentment and anger. 

Unfounded.

I must go on trusting that God knows what He is doing. Can you see I have trust issues?

I am right where I need to be and there are no mistakes.

I must connect daily, many times a day. I must be humble and get on my knees and pray.

There are no two ways around it.

I must remain “On the Beam.”

It is getting late and I have a second post to finish.

More to come, stay tuned …


Homeless, Hungry, Drunk and High … Redux. The Rebirth and Renewal

 

cabot 2I wrote this some time ago, well, a LONG time ago. July of 2007.

This is Cabot Square – and the Children’s Hospital to the Left of frame.

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Since this writing took place, Cabot Square is now closed and fenced in. It is being re-purposed to reopen soon. The Children’s Hospital is slated for closure and demolition in 2017. It will become a great green space along with Cabot Square.

The area referenced the Stretch from our home towards Alexis Nihon, (the Old Seville Theatre) has been razed, and brand new condos were built on the site, which has rejuvenated this end of downtown. The Hotel du Fort, which was heavily populated by Native peoples was sold and is being turned into condos, so there is no place to stay unless you are a tenant or a condo owner in this section of town.

The Sports Bar on the corner has more than tripled in size all the way down to the Karaoke Bar, which is mentioned here as well. The Old Omer De Sere’s building is slated for rebuilding into brand new High End Condos. Which is across the street from the New Seville Condos.

Starbucks and a brand new Adonis grocery store fronts the Seville complex, on the ground floor.

The entire area around Cabot Square is under renovations. And only a couple of defunct shops still remain from the past, still boarded up.

The AMC Theatres were bought out by Cineplex Odeon, Which now owns the old Forum. But all the downstairs shops, eateries, and Future Shop have all since closed and the ground floor is now dark and vacant. Which is a terrible blight on the Cineplex building.

Pekarna and Tim Hortons is the saving grace for the ground floor shops. They both do good business.

The city hired Reintegration teams and counselors that have been teamed up together with Native men and women to address the problems that this posts addresses in detail. It took almost a decade to see these changes come into effect.

The Homeless are still on the streets. ALL of the men who were homeless that I reference here, are still on the street today in 2014. Dans Le Rue still ministers to the street kids and the missions and homeless shelters are still full to bursting. Fall is coming and soon, Winter will follow. And the homeless will need all the help they can get. But the city has finally found the money, time and commitment to see our most needy on the street are found, named, repatriated and or resettled here.

The Can/Bottle exchange does very good business daily. I see the same men and women coming in with boatloads/shopping cart loads of cans and bottles, and the Provigo keeps up with them, especially when there is an event on the strip.

The angry, belligerent folks I also mention below are gone now. But only one remains. She wants money and will swear obscenities at you if you don’t give and I’ve told her so on several occasions. But life has toned down in as many years with what we used to see on a daily basis.

There is business to be had, and the owners of the many businesses that have opened on this end of the strip will NOT tolerate the homeless or the squatters on the sidewalks, which has facilitated the purchase of prime street frontage where massive terraces now sit for the season until winter when they roll them up until next year.

I still see the same poor folks out front of the grocery stores, but not so many young people much any more. But every now and then.

It works when we purchase already prepared food, and we feed the poor when we can. But it is still overwhelming because I would go broke if I did that every day. And we are not rich people.

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

Posted:July 25, 2007 … I was six years sober at the time of this writing.

I guess I am not a thinker, by the standards of some. There are blogs that I read that put my writing of certain subjects to shame. I cannot tell you of the forest or the trees, the birds or the animals, the river or the trail.

I don’t talk about heavy metal drinking and the stupid things I did last weekend so that my friends can read just how much of an insane member of society that I really am. I have my own insanity in my sobriety. And just because I am sober, did not make it all better as I mentioned earlier tonight.

What can I tell you that would make you think? If you walk out the front doors of my building you face the BattleNet 24 Internet Gaming Station. They are always open and never close. There are three radio stations in the building that this cafe is located on the ground floor. The Towers, as I call it is a North – South facing building. We are an East – West facing building.

You cannot walk 50 paces in any direction from this building and NOT run into a busker looking for food, money and beer. There are two pubs located within 200 yards of our front door, and one karaoke bar with pool tables. Our Asian community loves karaoke. I live in what we call the Concordia ghetto area, since we are only a few blocks from campus.

There is an architecture museum across the street on Rene Levesque above the tunnel that I have visited before, when they had an open house and also they had a wonderful Expo ’67 exhibit on the anniversary.

There are 20 churches within walking distance of my home. Pentecostal, Evangelical, Catholic (French) and Catholic (English), Bethel Baptist and Franciscan friary that is due to be closed right around the corner from here.

Are you thinking yet? This will get your juices pumping… I wrote it some time ago on another blog I owned.

A fellow is dealing with the “homeless” factor in his ministry of life. And so I left him some words of advice, But I don’t know how else to tell you this, but share with you Montreal‘s daily ritual.

We have recycling posts (street collecting boxes – that have since been removed in opt for recycling in the stores primarily) all over the city where the homeless go and collect cans and bottles from these depots and they go to the grocery stores to exchange their “returnables” for more beer and wine money. They troll the kiosks and metro platforms and street garbage cans for returnable merchandise day and night. They ride the metro from one end of the city to the other every night. The stores will not sell beer and liquor after 11 pm to stem the problem. In Ontario you cannot buy liquor or beer on Sundays, but in Quebec you can.

So the tide of homeless drunks starts to rise as the stores open and they “stock up” for the morning. Downstairs on the corner (just outside) my front door they sit on the corner begging drugs and money. Out front of the grocery store and on every street corner and in the spaces in between, they sit like hookers who have claimed their spot on the sidewalk.

They are all over the place, “Literally!”

You cannot walk 50 feet in any direction in Downtown Montreal and not get begged for cash or food. Or smell POT in the air from the street kids!!! The kiosks are even worse. One cannot get through the door with out passing by someone sitting IN the doorway where you have to navigate around them, or find them sleeping, “Sprawled out” across the floor in doorways drunk and comatose!

They piss in the kiosks, they throw up on the floors, they beat each other up, and the men are “PIMPING” the women, so you see there is a whole “other” dynamic.

At night, as the evening “MEETINGS” commence they wait like buzzards for free coffee and what ever food is set out for the attendees. And they become belligerent and vocal and VIOLENT towards the people who want a cup of coffee and a cookie because that’s why we have coffee and cookies to help calm them down( the people in recovery). We have decided not to engage the homeless any longer and the city wide “homeless” directors (there are they in Montreal) men who run in homeless circles, powerless to affect change because people are set in their ways.

We have missions in town here that specialize in the feeding and housing of homeless people, every day and every night. The first problem is the sheer NUMBERS of homeless people who have migrated East from the west and up from the U.S. and down from the North, Yes, it IS a very sad reality.

There are natives who are stuck in the divide between their leaving their reservations for the bright big city, they don’t make it and end up hooking and begging in the park, they become addicted, well most are already addicted to something or other, when they get here, and they never return to their homes for fear of persecution and alienation, so they sit in the parks all day and night and troll the strip here in Downtown for cash. They are violent and painfully in trouble with each other. Come sit in Cabot Square with me and watch. It is truly sad.

IN the WINTER when the temps drop to (-20 C ) and farther, the homeless think that they can sleep in the kiosks because of the warmth of the trains, think again. They lock the kiosks at night and the homeless end up on the streets in doorways and under bridges and such. The missions go out with buses trying to get them off the street before they freeze to death. Some don’t make it and invariably, we loose a number of homeless people each Winter.

It is a rude saying, but, If you feed a stray animal they will continue returning to eat as long as food is available. And you know what that means. You will be spending allot of money on a problem that will not go away because of their lack of ability to get off the street and societies apathy to step up and help them as a community! “Oh, but it’s NOT our problem!”

Yes it is and no it’s not.

By whatever default – people end up homeless out of one circumstance or another. NOW, the reality is, DO they want off the street, if you ask any of them here, they will say NO!! So they choose to stay on the street, when they know that help is available and rehabilitation is possible.

Most of our homeless population will not ask for help, (the natives by example). They are a sad lot. Drunk, Addicted, Violent and Doomed by Default. Montrealer’s are FED UP with the population of homeless who have overtaken the streets and green spaces and Metro Kiosks. And the city does SQUAT!! They do nothing, they see nothing, they say nothing.

So what can we do as a religious body, to feed, clothe and assist the homeless, NOT Very Much.

It is a long standing problem with no city wide attention, as of yet. Most Christian people can talk the talk, but they cannot talk the talk and walk the walk for fear of being seen doing something that Jesus would have done, to go out on a Sunday and minister to the poor. Only one man I know did that from Dans le Rue – and he retired and moved away and someone else is taking care of his kids now.

Oh what would their friend and family say if they were seen cavorting with homeless people, God forbid they follow you home! or what happens if you get attacked by one on a bad day or night? Dealing with the homeless here is a dicey business, you never know when one will try to beat you up or stab you for some cash or drugs for their next fix. A homeless person is not above violence. Especially when it comes to jonesing off of drugs. That is for sure on any Saturday night or the full moon.

The “soup truck” cavorts through downtown daily feeding the multitude of young people who hang out at the Berri Metro selling drugs and hooking and such. It is very sad, that if you walk through the village on any corner at any time, they sit there, in their leather and spikes, boots and makeup, with their placards begging for food.

Some of our homeless populations are handicapped (in wheelchairs) and some of our young people have PETS!!! YES dogs and some have more than one. SO it is not only a feed the human story, it is a FEED THE PET AND THE HUMAN STORY!!!

How do we help them, well one at a time, rehabilitation is possible but at the end of the day it is useless. They stay on the streets because they know no different. The shelters and feeding stations are powerless and TOO POOR to feed the multitudes because the city won’t fund the missions and shelters. So individual churches go out and try to make a dent in the sea of the hungry and downtrodden, but alas, they are too numerous and we are too powerless to help so many who are in need.

The worlds poor, are rising in number and dying by the thousands daily in 3rd world and poorer countries, they are dying in the big cities, unnoticed by the daily hum and ritual of every day life and the business of work and survival.

Think before you put yourself out there and try to tackle a cities homeless problem, it takes alot of work, money, food and prayer. And not to mention Fortitude. I am all for helping the homeless, but I know how to pick my battles wisely. I don’t mean to sound so discouraging, but this is the reality in my big city!!

No one is immune to the homeless – we are called to share and to give – but when is enough enough?? If i gave a quarter to every homeless person I saw on the street every day, I would have NO money to feed myself on a daily basis.

THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY OF THEM TO COUNT AND HELP!!

What the saddest fact is in the homeless populations here are the women who have young children, and are on the streets. Just at Cabot square, the mothers work the Upper kiosk at the top of the escalators, and their kids beg at the bottom of the escalators. Junkie mothers with kids in tow, is terribly disturbing, Along with their “pimps” who abuse both the children and the mothers!!

What the fuck is that ??? And we are powerless to change them. Because they are stuck. There are NOT enough resources to help them off the street, get them into rehabs (waiting lists are 6 to 8 months in Quebec) and who is gonna take the children? Like family services has the ability to care for every homeless child and young person on the street? NO!!

There are natives from the many reservations and Inuit locales at all points North. They come to have their children cared for at the Children’s hospital right up the street from here. They pile out of vans, buses and cars. Some are transient and some are better off than others. When a native leaves their reservation in Quebec, it is every man and woman for themselves. Nobody gives a shit. And if they do not assimilate, they end up in a park and on the street, because they get “hooked on whatever” and they don’t repatriate.

There is – along Ste. Catherines Street a city block long mural on the wood that barricades the burned out and empty buildings that LITTER the West end of Downtown like broken defunct sentinels of lore. If you walk from here to Alexis Nihon Plaza, there are Inuit women who are vicious, belligerent, and sometimes violent. If you pass them by when they are drunk and high they swear obscenities at passersby.

They accost people for smokes and money. They are there, in the same spots day in day out… Because they have no place else to go. Cabot Square in the locale in my neighborhood where all native peoples gather. It is a rallying point for the “troops” so to speak. I pass homeless kids in front of the grocery store and I buy them cooked and prepared foods from the deli. We don’t give the kids cash, but we feed them. But they choose to stay on the street, so what are we supposed to do?

We write about these issues and nothing gets done, and I am not a rich aristocrat with money who is sitting on the land on the West end, and developers have not been able to get the land released for development. If it DID get released, we could clean up this end of the city and make it beautiful. But all we see when we walk down the street is hungry, homeless, drunk and high folk, and the burned out decrepit buildings that haven’t seen life in over a decade. The mayor does nothing…

Politics and Crime…

I could go on and on and on… But you get the picture.

If cities and local governments do nothing as they always have, this problem will continue. Until the Worlds governments take a BIG LONG LOOK at the homeless and hungry populations and they DO something concrete to stop it, we will be having this conversation until we all die.

This is a world wide problem, and no you are not alone in your quest to be Jesus, but I know that Jesus is not a “half measure” kind of man, so pick your battles wisely. Mark Kelly from CBC News did a “Seven Series Report” here in Montreal on the homeless last Winter, did it do any good for the city? Not One Bit.

The shelters are still overflowing and they can’t help everyone that Montreal calls homeless and destitute. I know a man who comes to my meeting. He’s been in the program longer than I’ve been in Montreal (now almost 7 years) and he is homeless and prefers the shelter to a life. I look at him and he still doesn’t get it but who am I to judge?

Sometimes the disenfranchised are hopeless which is sad, because I have come so far in the last six years, but many are still where I found them so long ago.

And that is sad…


It’s My Birthday …

reasonsSome people will say that Facebook is so wonderful because it connects you to people and gives you something to obsess over every day. I would add that Facebook is a double edged sword that on one hand brings me my family of choice, whom I adore.

On the other hand it opens up a can of worms that I’d rather not entertain, but I have a very sick perverse need to make a statement and get a rise out of certain people, because you know what, I am worth respect and dignity. I’ve earned it.

And some people, think I am unworthy and that I should be kept in the dark as a punishment for my choices, all of which were made because of certain people in my life, at that time.

They are the reason I became who I am today.

Hating someone because of their sexual orientation is so 1990 ! Hating someone because they made a decision to make important life decisions to stay alive, housed and fed is just so fucking selfish. I made selfish choices because they had to be made, because my life was on the line. And I wanted to live and live well, not die in a hole by myself.

Parents have children to raise them into well rounded adults who can go out into the world and make something of themselves AND when we grow up, aren’t parents supposed to be supportive and respectful of the choices we made as adults ???

Somewhere along my journey, my life became unimportant therefore, irrelevant of notice and should be scorned to the N’th degree.

To put it mildly, I would like nothing better than to become a battering ram and explode like a motherfucking bomb on certain people.

I live. I Lived. I survived.

I earned a place in this world, and no matter what you may think of me,

And they say that “what people think of me is none of my business.” I grapple with that.

I’ve earned respect, dignity and love.

It is obvious to me that certain people didn’t get that memo. And at this stage of the game at 47 years old, I want to sit on my soapbox, grind my teeth and become a very petulant faggot who is stark raving mad at injustice and ignorance.

I learned how to be petulant and sit on my soapbox when I was diagnosed with AIDS. That anger paid off when I needed it. Because when life depends on the responsibility of others to do a job, (well) that you must rely on for survival and they fail to perform said job well, becoming a cast iron bitch really pays off.

I’ve not forgotten how to be a cast iron bitch.

But they say that “Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, that an alcoholic cannot afford.”

And on my birthday, at my Men’s Home Group this evening, we talked about anger and resentments from Living Sober.

I’ve learned in the past few years that I am a very nostalgic Queer man. In many ways.

I wax nostalgic about the past. I long for a specific period of my life to repeat itself, with all the people I knew in that life to be alive as well, knowing full well that we cannot go backwards, and the best of times and the worst of times was really, the best years of my life so far. In a way.

I have spent the last few years collecting things from my past. Photographs, memories, music, so forth and so on. The few family members who are active in my life and who love me for who I am have done wonders to help me with those collections.

I am also a very nostalgic alcoholic. Sickly and perversely,

I hold on to old anger and resentment, but they reside in a specific part of my brain, and only when poked at with a stick do I go there. Facebook gives me that stick to poke them with.

It fucks with my brain, my emotions and my sanity.

I think unclean thoughts. I think up old memories and I long to get up, get angry and become a petulant queer just to fuck with them because of the terrible way they have treated me for decades. I go places in my brain that mere mortals should stay away from. My brain is a location that without proper gear and a hard hat and safety goggles, that one should stay out of. Because I can become spiteful and nasty in a moments notice, Zero to Sixty in 2.0 seconds …

No Very Sober At All …

Wonder, I can be safely sane and spit venom from the other side of my mouth all at the same time. I learned this ability from the right people, who do this to me today.

I’ve learned a great deal about wisdom in my growing age. It began when I turned 40. It has been a long journey of learning certain wisdom, because I have enough years behind me to know for sure that I was there, then, and I learned something, and now I have certain hindsight to know wisdom, for sure. One of my guys asked me tonight what did I learn at 47?

I did not have an answer for him, wisdom usually comes after. Not before. And maybe this tirade of injustice will bear fruit and teach me some wisdom? This is how I am feeling at the moment, it is good that I have the ability to be honest and write it all out so that when I speak to my sponsor tomorrow, I can tell him what I said tonight and what happened and why.

Marines are supposed to be Tough. Strong. Honorable. Honest.

Sadly. there is one particular U.S. Marine who is a coward.

It is sad in today’s day and age that people can punish other people, family and ignore them like they do not exist. That we are unimportant. That we don’t matter.

Queer does that to you.

Hate does that to you.

Ignorance does that to you.

AIDS does that to you.

I get to sit here and pound my fist and make my mark in the world. Because if I don’t, who will?

And is it important in the end? They say you can’t get sober and keep ones ego, and that it isn’t all about me, and that I am not really all that important. And that I should accept where I am and thank heaven that I am alive and be grateful for God’s mercy and kindness and love.

It ain’t very sober but I still make the statement … Don’t you know who I am ???

Don’t you want to know, aren’t you curious? More than a decade has passed and I went on with my life despite your hatred and ignorance. Now I want to swing and scream in your face and provoke you to notice me and for once in my life, respect me. Acknowledge me …

That’s all I got. I am spent. Time for dinner.

More to come, stay tuned …


On Being a Tired Old Queen

mustoHello, My name is Jeremy and I am a Tired Old Queen !!! 40 is the new 30, and in a few days I will celebrate my 47th birthday. I survived AIDS and I am in a place I never imagined or dreamed of. I am in new territory and I don’t quite know what to do with myself these days, so we are figuring it out “on the fly!” by the seat of my pants… just the way I like it …

BY Michael Musto – Advocate.com

July 24 2014

The hookup atmosphere in nightlife may have died off, but now there’s room on the dance floor for an older generation. And you don’t even have to know who Liza is to have a good time with them. (But look up Liza, by the way.)

One night, at a nightclub where I was extremely popular, I tried to get into a VIP section, thinking it would be a piece of cake, as usual. But there was a new, 20-ish guy guarding the rope there and he was quite open about not wanting to let me in. As I walked away in dejection, I heard the guy mutter to a friend, “Tired old queen!” I was so horrified I nearly fell over and reached my inevitable death state. I was 29 years old — hardly ready for the glue factory yet. But in the gay club world, where aging seems to be particularly abhorred, I was already heading toward an AARP-like milestone and clearly not eligible for VIP status anymore.

And that was nearly three decades ago! By now, I should be a “tired old queen” times 1,000. I should be shipped directly to the Elmer’s factory on a no-return basis. I’m a walking billboard for the “It Gets Older” campaign, and someone young clubbies probably need to avoid, since older people are generally a reminder of mortality, not something anyone wants to think about when they’re drinking, dancing, and enjoying their own freshness.

But fortunately for mankind, it hasn’t worked out that way. I happen to have good genes, so I look younger than I really am — no, really. Also, all these years of immersing myself in creative scenes and writing about them have given me a certain cachet, so I’ve actually been getting more appreciation than revulsion these days. And I think there’s also been a sea change in the world, a “40 is the new 30” (and so on) feeling that people get better, not older — and gays, as usual, are on top of the trend. As people live longer and garner more visibility for it, there’s not as much ickiness surrounding the fact that they’ve survived. And survived. And survived.

I haven’t had anyone — even club kids — call me a “tired old queen” in years, and I’m thrilled about that. Of course there’s still a downside to being close friends with Father Time: For one thing, you don’t always get offered opportunities because the sense out there is that you’ve shown what you can do and it’s time to let other people try it. But it’s gotten better to be a TOQ, as long as you try to stay relevant without being too needily obvious about it. You need to keep up with the upcoming gays and their references without coming off like grandpa in a scrunchie. It’s important to not lecture too much or offer Sophia Petrillo-like stories of the golden days; they’re boring, even to other old people. (Except for the delightful 29-year-old story that I started this piece with, naturally.) But you also shouldn’t go out of your way to try to sound hip, unless you want to remind people of their grizzled aunt who insists on wearing bikinis by the public pool. In general, oldies should never act like they’re on the same plane as the young, unless they’re Madonna — the only one who can possibly get away with that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, sticking to my aged references may keep me in my comfort zone, but not in others’. Not long ago, I mentioned Liza Minnelli to a 21-year-old woman, who looked as blank as if I’d mentioned Russian composer Alfred Schnittke. She’d never heard of Liza, Cabaret, or even Judy Garland. Granted she wasn’t a gay man, but still, I thought for sure there’d be a little recognition bell ringing, even if just on the order of, “Wasn’t she in the Sex and the City sequel?”

But within the gay world, even preschoolers have heard of Liza, so things are OK. And as gay marriage becomes increasingly prevalent and paves the way for more people looking for partners who’ll love them when they’re old, I think the community will focus less on the vanity, self-consciousness, and fear of aging that has often plagued us in the past. We’re not as shame-based and superficial as we used to be — for the most part — and that carries over into the way we treat other members of the community and, ultimately, ourselves. Meanwhile, my own vanity has prevented me from joining groups like SAGE, which for 46 years has provided valuable support for older LGBTs, because that would be an admission of my wizened state that would be hard to turn back from. (It’s sad, I know, but getting older is complicated.) But I’m still ready to embrace many aspects of being an old gay, as long as my brothers and sisters make room for me and my hanging flesh. 

And they have been! Even in bars! These days, the younger gays don’t go clubbing to get picked up — they know they’re going to take care of that via various sites and apps — so the sight of a senior on the dance floor is no longer considered a horrifying cock blocker. More inspiringly, there’s also an open-mindedness about different types of people and their right to coexist, thanks to increased savviness, so the presence of an old queer no longer seems like a visitation from the Ghost of Christmas Future. If anything, the sight of Larry Kramer, Edward Albee, Harvey Fierstein, or maybe even little old me might perk up just about any party.

So when you see me coming, don’t start cringing and yelling “tired old queen!” Don’t even mutter it to your friend. Try instead to think of me as a welcome opportunity for some wit, insight, and Liza talk, as well as a source of information on the more oppressive (yet wilder) days of being gay. We finally woke up and were able to celebrate fat people as “bears,” why not treat older gays as pioneers and wisdom spouters? I won’t go so far as to say “Without me, you’re nothing,” but let’s face it, I definitely helped. 

Illustration by Paul Tuller


Tragedy … plain and simple

malaysia635This morning, the world had to stop and take a collective breath, all at the same time.

It is never a good sign when first thing in the morning comes news of a passenger plane having been shot down over a war zone !

All our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and the people who were on that flight. How do we make sense of this kind of tragedy?

Eventually, the who, what, where, when and why will be explained. Surely, this event should stoke the worlds governments to do something. Someone made a monumental mistake.

And someone should pay for this kind of indignity.

It was a sad day.

Malaysian Airlines is not having the best of years it seems, like there was a choice of which plane to shoot down, um, let’s see … maybe we will hit that “one.”

There is too much conflict going on and not enough cool heads to prevail.

But what is life without war? I mean what could possibly come of a world that lives for the betterment of humanity, peace and the respect for ALL life !

Somewhere God is up there taking the piss. What does God have to do with this ?

Nothing.

Last night I was listening to the radio and I heard a man say that the extraterrestrials were watching and would, if need be, come down and rescue us from ourselves.

I think we really need someone to come down here and rescue us from ourselves.

Life must go on, and so it did, eventually.

I prepped to go and departed a bit early to make some stops on the way. It was a stellar day to be out. The clouds drifted over and off throughout the evening. One might have thought that the skies were about to open, but thankfully, the weather held.

We sat a small group. Just the regulars. I have sponsees running their steps, so I decided that we would read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 2.

Ah, there is that God word again. “you’re not gonna get me this time …”

I like that I work with guys who are of different minds, and need different work. And I have, at my disposal, multiple forms of step work which has come in handy. My sponsor is apt to tell me that the more work one has, the better the experience. So it goes.

I reflect …

Coming from a U.S. State that has two seasons, wet and wetter, God only shows himself when a hurricane is barking down your door. Then it is true destruction.

Moving to a city in the Northern, “northern” hemisphere, has brought me to a place with four seasons. And if you question the existence of God, or something greater, spend a year thinking about it and watch seasons roll from one to the next.

That is pretty simple, on a grand scale of things.

Our guys all have interesting stories about “coming to.” Where they come from, what it was like, what happened, and then what it is like today. And once again we make this pass across a step so we get further insight into life.

My “best thinking” got me into loads of trouble. And trouble kept me drunk.

I know I prayed for it to end. And it did. God moved in  my life, and the rest is history.

There are plenty of instances throughout my life where God stepped in to show me what can happen if I trust Him. And when that happened I did, but eventually, I took my will back, in essence, I said that “I knew better than God!” And look where that put me?

I am not God, I don’t have all the answers. And I am not the center of the universe.

If you want a sure fire test to prove that God exists, spend a season in a room and watch her people come, come to, and come to believe themselves.

I guarantee you that you will see God.

I have proof, for my eyes and my soul that there is a God and that He is good.

And I’ve watched my guys come, come to and come to believe.

That is called blessing.

Even if the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and a day cannot go by without someone killing someone else, watching the Holy Land sink further into war and planes falling from the sky, for an hour at least, in the basement of a local church, we spoke of divinity.

And it is to that Divinity tonight that we say our prayers.

May the souls of those departed rest in the hands of God, Eternal rest grant them and may perpetual light shine upon them.

If we ever needed something divine to come to us, this would be about the right moment.

God, where are You???

That is all I have for you tonight.

More to come, stay tuned…


When we know better than GOD …

kneel

Sometimes, we in sobriety, think we know better than God, we call this “taking back our will!” I have been guilty of doing this on the odd occasion. But far fewer instances have happened as of late. And sometimes it takes my sponsor to point this out to me when I insinuate that I know better or that I am the center of the universe and that I am indispensable. That is a new one for me. But Jeremy hits the nail on the head with this writing.

Lifted from: Don’t Eat Trash

Jesus is sitting on the mountain crying out to God, he doesn’t really look forward to the cross, he’s not the biggest fan of pain or ridicule or, for that matter, injustice and just imagine that moment of clarity.

‘Actually father, I know a better way than you do. I’m just going to fly over to the Americas and chill out with the natives… and then make a new religion.. that’s better right?’

A ridiculous thought, but one that we replicate very often in our own lives. We live for God, we worship him, we serve him with our lives, but when that moment of needing to say yes to something we don’t really want to comes, we conveniently hear something else.

The classic one in my life is street evangelism. I’m not the most shy of people, but there have been moments in street evangelism when I hear quite clearly from God a thought, an idea, a person, a moment.

And i make excuse after excuse.

And in my mind they are very legitimate excuses. In those moments it makes sense for me not to do what I’ve been told, to come up with ‘better’ ideas than God. But it all boils down to, arrogant disobedience.

Another good one is big life decisions. When Abraham got called out of his home town, into a lot of new things, a lot of unknowns, he does so. But very easily when we are called away from our comfortable lives, or into lives we’ve even hoped for but don’t feel we deserve, we look up at God as if to say

‘Nope, I got this buddy, I know better, I’m going to get that full time job, get into debt, marry the wrong people, get distracted from the ministries you’ve called me into and then live a slightly dissatisfied life.’

This isn’t to say that God can’t use us in that life. This is also not to say necessarily that God only has one perfect will for you. (or does he?) This is about those moments when we – humans, saved, created, unimmortals – tell GOD – saviour, creator, immortal – that WE know better. That WE somehow know more than him, can see more than him…

Like a baby looking up at its parent at 2 months old and speaking perfect English to say

‘I got this Dad, I’ll change my own nappy’

Its ridiculous.

You know what is not ridiculous?? – Doing what God wants. Listening to him. Understanding and trusting his love.

The old testament is filled with moments of God speaking, the Israelites not listening and the consequences of said militant deafness being not great.

What do you know, that God does not?


Standing in the way of worship – the Guitars Journey.

Do you believe in Love

Lifted from: Jeremy – Don’t Eat Trash

I remember sitting outside in the middle of the bush in north west Sydney. I was surrounded by people I loved who stood in a ring around a raging campfire. I was at a youth weekend. The same youth weekend I had attended since I was a teenager. We were singing loudly into the night, to a God we loved.

We sang the words – “There is a God, he is alive, in him we live and we survive.” Words I could’ve sang in my sleep, written backwards, and a melody I knew four part harmonies too. But did I really understand what I was singing? Did I understand what it meant to have a God who was alive?

There is a couple of traditions in the church that adhere to the idea that guitars are the devils instrument and shouldn’t be used in the church. A tiny part of that sect of thought have come to the conclusion that, there is no proof in the new testament that the early church used instruments, in fact some verses refer to the strings of our heart, so we should just sing. With our voices.

I have also stood in a circle of lovely people, a tight knit group, who, with only a guitar as accompaniment, awkwardly stood around. Kind of singing, kind of into it. But not really. I spoke later to one of them who confessed, they couldn’t get into worship unless the music was loud.

Somehow, the guitar stood in the way of worship. Either because it was considered of the devil, or without it, we are in shock.

Amongst all of this tho, I have stood in groups, passionately loving the lord through song in the midst of a huge, well orchestrated band, and I have stood around awkwardly looking at my feet singing accapella. So what are we missing? If it has nothing to do with the music, then it must have something to do with the lyrics.

Have you ever sang words in a song that your heart passionately belts out but your logical brain is just like …. “what does shekinah mean? What does hosanna mean again?” But your whole heart is in it. You know deep down that what you are singing is good, but you don’t know why. Do we need to know the why? If worship is just between me and God, and the depths of my soul knows I’m praising, then words are irrelevant. In the same way that tongues is our heart praying prayers that our brain doesn’t understand, can our souls not sing also?

But when we worship as a group, is it different? Or is it merely solo worship in a room of people? If you took most of my corporate worship sessions and putt them in a graph, 99 per cent of them would’ve looked no different had I been in a large room or my own bedroom by myself. And I feel there is a disconnect there. We are the community of God, and as echos of the trinity shouldn’t we be connecting together like the trinity?

I heard a one liner this week that made me stop and think – If in worship your not listening and hearing God and your only thinking and singing about and too God, then it is no longer a relationship but you are stalking God.

Let me reword that – If you don’t let God speak in worship you stalk him. Have you ever stopped in the middle of worship and just listened? And some songs are written from Gods perspective, so I suppose that counts. But sometimes I feel like we need to give God more room to move.

I tried to experiment with this once. We were camping, in the middle of the bush and we circled up. I started playing my guitar and then I stopped. “Today I’m going to just play a soundtrack.

I have songs to play, but I don’t need to play them. If God puts a song in your heart, if God prompts you to speak out to the group, if God wants you to pray over someone – DO IT. Irrelevant of what I’m doing, I play this guitar more as a back track to improvise off” The next 40 minutes God broke a lot of freedom over our group.

Some things were prayed and sung out that would echo powerfully through out the next 7 weeks and beyond. We gave God the room and he used it. We saw this again two weeks ago at our national leaders meeting. And again even more recently in a worship time on base. We gave God room to move and he did.

I feel like the guitar stands in the way of God moving. If worship isn’t about the music, and its not about the words (necessarily – tbc) then its about US and GOD. And us and God can relate off the back of anything. In Uganda they don’t have guitars as much, but they do have drums and amazing voices. So we would worship for ages on beats alone. In India it was synth, in Ukraine it was a mixture of Korean, Russian, English and Danish – we related amongst different language. But when we put stipulations on worship we limit God.

– It has to have guitar
-it has to have no instruments
-it has to be thee and thous
-it can’t have slang words.
-It has to be the lyrics of the people
-it can’t be too loud or too quiet
-it has to have flute.

My relationship with my father is liberated from stipulations. I love him, we converse a lot. And he doesn’t need to be playing guitar.

When we worship God, we unite with our brothers and sisters through a common wording of a song. And God uses ALL to speak words over each other.

So some questions –

could you passionately worship God in a room full of people you love without any music?

Could you passionately worship God with 6 people and a ukelele?

Could you passionately worship and converse with God to hymns? To New songs with only 8 words in it? Dancing, kneeling, with no words?

Can you give God space?

Or is the guitar a security blanket? Because if it is, maybe we should set them all on fire.

A thought before I end…

I have now been working with young people for two years directly discipling and empowering. And the amount of time I hear this statement is saddening “I can’t be a worship leader because I can’t play guitar”
#oneofthedevilsbiggestlies.

Stop believing in limitations that aren’t from God.
God frees us to be what HE CREATED.

GET OUT OF HIS WAY!


Eden Citizenship … Belong – Believe – Behave …

Do you believe in Love

Somewhere in my minds eye, I wrote about this topic, once. And a friend I read today, wrote about it just a few days ago. So I am offering it up to you to read.

Where we come from, our community of friends, People come from the world tarnished, wrecked and used up. And they come. And we welcome them. As they say, you belong as soon as YOU say you do. Over time, folks learn the ropes and they learn about behavior, how they acted, how they reacted, and how others treated them in the past. Steps will do that to you, you see…

I am not one to push “The Work” on anyone too soon. Gotta let them sink into their seats, as I have said before, get used to it and learn to love it. Because one day you never know (from your seat) you may change a life in ways you may not even imagine possible.

Then we work on Steps … We Come, We Come to,

And finally We Come to Believe.

From Day One, we hope for each other. We give people a place to come, to gather, to mend, and to learn how to live again. They themselves suss us out, as Jeremy writes to see if we are legit,

“Then, through the belonging and the beginning to believe, behaviour starts to change because priorities and value and understanding changes. We see this all the time.”

We see this all the time as well. We are a community of people who would not necessarily mix in the outside world. But once you cross that threshold, or doorway, or come down those stairs, we are unified in once main objective.

To rid ourselves of the addiction to Drugs, Alcohol, Pot, we are kind of a one stop source for all things recovery, because let’s face it, the percentages of cross addicted people is much much higher in the 21st century.

To Hell with the Primary Purpose bullshit …

I just remember this teaching as important. I may have written it before. Or maybe Jeremy here, has said it before and I lifted it for here. Anyways …

Read On: Lifted from: Don’t Eat Trash …

“How much closer can you belong somewhere then in family adoption?”

I want to broaden this a whole bunch more, to almost epic proportions. The people I work with have this awesome almost motto to how we do youth work. and it flies in the face of how most organizations seem to want to work.

In a lot of communities the expectation is on new members to behave, then believe, then they can belong. Like a rite of passage. If you can behave just like us, then you will learn how to think like us internally and then we will allow you to belong with us, we will give you the name badge.

In the youth work we do, we have taken the opposite approach. Our crew belong. They have a place with us. We love them and want all of our crew to be involved in everything we do. We then give them that belonging space to start riffing and engaging and experimenting with Jesus.

They suss out, to see if Jesus is legit. Then, through the belonging and the beginning to believe, behaviour starts to change because priorities and value and understanding changes. We see this all the time.

Crew have no other place that just lets them belong. So they love coming because it’s a special place where they can actually be who they are and still get to belong.

I was sitting and listening to this being explained to new students who have started working with us and it dawned on me

Belong believe behave is the gospel story

It echoes through history from the beginning of time till this moment i sit in a dinning room listening to Mumford and sons “that’s exactly how this grace thing works” (the exact line that was just sung)

God created us to belong with him in a pretty garden. (The aesthetics of which he created, and continues to create) The garden of belonging never left. The garden of belonging was never destroyed. But, as we know the story, Adam and Eve left the garden and the people of Israel decided to not belong to God as their king, they chose their own… Multiple times. The garden of Eden was forgotten about.

But God never forgot.

God never forgot that he had designed us to hang out with him intimately in a pretty place. He designed humanity to be clothed with him, unashamed, un-comparatively belonging. But, even more than that, before time he had already decided with his trinity brothers that Christ was going to come to earth and adopt us into their community.

As family.


Thursday … The week that was … And More

tumblr_n4gpnaniHI1tzedl8o1_500 jase summerdiaryproject

Courtesy: SummerDiaryProject – Jase

It has been a busy week. The rains came this evening. Kind of raining in between coming and going. Hit and Miss rain that ended before the meeting ended.

The past few days, we’ve been on information assimilation concerning “the work.” We have all picked apart the best and the worst from the roundup now. Me thinks that they should bring in a new source, let’s say Akron, or Cleveland, or The Pacific Group in California. we may have had our fill of New York City, and the fact that the weekend was mediocre at best, seems to be the common buzz word.

I hit a bunch of meetings, hoping to hook up with a possible pigeon, but he was a no show on Monday night, and I won’t get another chance to see him until Saturday.

My guys are amid their step work. I am mid way through my 4th, waiting on my sponsor to finish with HIS sponsor, so we can move ahead. Lots of good stuff.

Which leads nicely into tonight’s topic and discussion.

We read from the Appendix 2 – and Spiritual Experience.

In A.A. it is enforced that a psychic change or spiritual experience must take place where in a change in attitude and outlook happens, this change guarantees that sobriety is possible.

In the M.A. book, it says that a spiritual experience is not necessary to get clean. it goes on, when working steps that you are allowed to “create” and find a power greater than yourself. For some, that is not always God, in the Deity spectrum.

Something my guys struggle with. My sponsor is of the mind that there are many ways to work a program and that “one way” is not always the “right way.” And sometimes you need to do something else, and We have done that.

I was thinking about Spiritual Experience. And turning my will and my life over to the God of my understanding.

A long time ago, in a church that was familiar to me and my grandmother, one afternoon she took me to church and set me on the altar and prayed, and in my memory it was as if she was turning my life over to the care of God as she understood him. This is one of my first memories that I tracked working my 4th step.

God was always present. For the whole of my life.

The second time I got a pass at turning it over was in High School on a retreat, the first of many over three years time. The One on One retreat where we were introduced to Jesus and at the end we were committing our lives to him, many of us came home on a high, and we learned how to live that commitment in our daily lives. Being a Christian in high school was quite the chore. Because the odds were against us. Carry a bible in ones bag was suspect.

I had several more passes by God in Seminary and in the Vatican itself.

When I came to my last drink the second time, I knew it was coming. The signs were there, and I had began to communicate with God. So that decision to quit was a conscious decision. Bolstered by prayer and a commitment to getting back, but I needed an escort to take me back, and I have written before that that did happen.

The most important spiritual experience this time around always involves other people. Committing to one room, committing to “the Stay” and spending time with others getting sober, watching others have spiritual experiences, is where I have mine, because it is in those moments that I see God.

I know who God is, and I know who God is not.

A university education gave me that, and spending time in the rooms has opened my eyes to the God of many’s understandings. For every human being there is a concept, some are the same, some are different.

My faith is solid so embracing other concepts do not threaten my faith or my spiritual journey.

You see this in real life issues in the world. New takes on religion, spirituality, homosexuality, equal rights and equality, these things shake up the pot of belief and you watch people who think they have a handle on their faith and practice, but if you speak these words to them, their entire lives are turned upside down.

People who do not have a solid handle on their faith and belief are easily rocked when they are asked to consider something more than they know. Hence this new movement of God and the gay Christian. This has totally upturned the apple cart of the belief systems of evangelical Christianity.

It is quite something to watch.

But, Um, Sputtering, total confusion, duh !!!!

Somewhere up there, God is taking the piss …

God is or He isn’t.

I live for spiritual experience, especially when I get to share them with my friends.

That is God in action.

It was a good night, and it has been a good week.

More to come, stay tuned…


“The Work …” Courtesy of The Atlantic Group NYC

tumblr_lyv23dDgvu1ronyvyo1_500 tyleroakley

Courtesy: Tyler Oakley

O.M.G. I am SPENT !!! Spent I tell you…

This weekend Dorval hosted the 40th Annual West Island Roundup. And our guests came from New York City, and the Gigantic – Atlantic Group of New York City.

They have meetings SEVEN nights a week, and the most anticipated meeting of the week brings out 600, yes that’s SIX HUNDRED people for a meeting.

Imagine a meeting that size here. I don’t think there is a hall open in our city that would hold that many people. HUGE !!!

The theme of the speakers was “The Work.”

You have to Do the Work. In order to be happy, joyous and free, you need to do “the work.” It was a similar message from all our speakers.

Last night, Saturday, we heard from the Founder of the Atlantic Group.

Today we heard from similar group members.

This morning our first speaker right out of the gate got up there and knocked it out of the park. Once that meeting was finished, the copies of his talk went up in smoke. They could not keep up with demand. And by the end of the day they took payment, addresses and told us that they would send us the talk, for those of us who bought ALL of the talks for the weekend.

Our guy got up there and extolled the virtues of “the work” and how it changed his life, from the life he was stuck in, using, abusing and hurting the ones who loved him, not to mention himself. That group is known for its bent on unapologetic Big Book Thumping.

The message here: Don’t waste your time with folks who don’t want it, because there is always someone in the wings waiting for you to work with them.

The odds of success are slim from the start. The percentages are not good. 1%

That only should embolden you to get up from your seat, get a book, and find someone to walk you through it.

Later on this morning we heard from an Al-Anon speaker.

And then they served everyone lunch from Scores restaurant. The place was packed for today’s events.

After lunch we got a One Two Punch by a couple who met in the Atlantic Group and later got married. We got to hear how a long sober couple works together in love and how they work with others.

Us alcoholics suffer from a hopeless malady of the body, mind and spirit.

And the way out of that misery and malady is through the solution that is laid out in the first 164 pages of the Big Book.

I spent the entire weekend with my friends. The people I love the most. The people who give to my life those things that nobody else can give me.

And a year to the date, exactly, I got to share this weekend with my guys. We listened, we chatted, we broke bread, and we discussed.

It is my hope that this weekend made some kind of impression on them that they can take into their lives and their respective sobrieties.

A year ago, I attended my first round up and it turned my world upside down. And I started doing “the work,” truthfully, I had a sponsor that was a hands off kind of sponsor, who really didn’t do “the work.” So I began to move away.

I changed up my meetings, I practiced my prayers for a year. I read the book. I participated in the lives of newbies for months. That is how I began “the work.”

I practiced until God put a new sponsor into my life. And after that my life changed again.

After 12 or so years, two men stepped into my life, and I got the opportunity to start “The Work” with them. Nothing makes sobriety more important or special that having someone to work with. Because they keep me on my toes. I must now do “The Work.” I must have a sponsor who does “The Work.”

I am, what they call, SANDWICHED…

I have a grand sponsor, I have a sponsor, I have myself, and I have my guys.

Not to mention all the others I work with or I am friends with. All those folks who come to my meetings, that I see every week. Meetings are important.

But more importantly, the guy who opens the door, sets up, makes coffee, welcomes guests, reads, shares, discusses, and then cleans up afterwards.

If there is no one there to do “The Work,” If there is no one to welcome the newcomer, then how would we survive? How would they survive without us?

Thankless jobs, but so vitally important. I have done that for the whole of my sobriety. Week in and week out. Month by month, year by year.

It is unrelenting work.

And in the end it all comes down to gratitude. Because I am only carrying on “the Work” that was shown to me by those who did “the work” before me.

And this weekend, I got to spend time with the one woman who welcomed me to my first meeting at the home group I began here in the city. She lives far away now and I don’t get to see her very often, so that was a treat.

It was a great weekend. And my batteries are charged. And so commences “The Work” that will carry us for the next year.

It was a great investment of time, talent and treasure for my guys.

And to close I got an email from the member who drove them out and took them home all weekend. saying how impressed she was with my guys’ kindness.

A great weekend was had by all.

IT IS TIME TO DO “THE WORK !”

Let us begin anew.

More to come, I am sure…


Mad River Barn Weekend – Let’s Discuss

the-front-of-mad-river

And We’re back … From Vermont that is …

I have to say that the weekend amongst my brothers/fathers/friends in sobriety rocked the house to the ground. I am so fortunate to have the sponsor I do and had the opportunity to spend the weekend listening and sharing with such honesty.

Hands down this weekend was the best weekend I have had in sobriety thus far. And it only took 12 and a half years to get here.

We departed on Friday afternoon, playing follow the leader out to Vermont. My sponsor and friends in one car, and myself and my friend (the driver) in the other.

It was all smooth sailing until we hit the U.S. Border. They got through quickly, where as when it came to our turn, we got grilled. Never tell a border guard you are sober, or that you are an alcoholic, in recovery or NOT !

So, in the end we got through. It was a smooth drive into Vermont. We (read: our car) ate at McDonald’s before leaving the city. One of our guys forgot his passport so they had to go back and get it …. (read: such a dunce!)

We made it all the way to Colchester where we stopped for Food for three and more food for us. It was good fresh food served to us by a witty happy waitress.

After the meal we paid for our food and set off for the Barn. Which would be a couple of hours later. We were following for the first 10 or so miles, when my driver realized that he had left his jacket (WITH) his passport, at the restaurant.

I madly texted the lead vehicle finally calling via cell to advise that we were turning around to go back to Colchester. We hit an exit that was not correct, had to ask directions and then find our way back to the diner.

We pulled up in the parking lot and parked, got out of the car, and got to the door. And wouldn’t you know it – The diner was CLOSED !!!

Panic set in. We started banging on the door hoping that there was somebody still inside. A few minutes later the check out girl opened the door and handed us the jacket and passport. They figured we would be returning and waited for us to get there. Imagine if we had not realized that the passport was left behind.

It was a scenic route into the Mad River Valley, thank God we had printed directions and talent at following them.

The Mad River Barn is a working Bed and Breakfast Inn. Not far from Sugar Bush Mountain, (which, by the way, still had snow on the runs).

They sorted us into rooms. All the guys in my room were from Montreal. The Inn has been recently refurbished and reopened on December 26th 2013.

Our room slept 6.

A suite with a queen bed, in the main room, a set of bunk beds and two beds head to head in the second room. The bathroom was state of the art, with complete service (Towels, shampoo, and all that good stuff). I didn’t need all the shit I packed and brought with me.

We had a third meal at dinner time, along with the 50 men who were present.

Food – We had three meals a day with dessert. All the coffee you could drink, and I noticed late Saturday Night that there was a soda gun on the coffee stand. Needless to say that I was over caffeinated, leading to no sleep on Friday night.

We had presentations on the Steps as outlined in the Big Book, and the Twelve and Twelve. One guy would speak on the step for a few minutes and then the floor would open for discussion.

There were twelve discussions. over three days.

The opening salvo came to a head when Step One was introduced,

“We” admitted … This is a WE program.

And I raised my hand and told my story about : Go somewhere else and do not return to this meeting. Where I had hit two meetings in sobriety and was told it was a “We” program but “I” was not included in that “WE.”  In front of everyone.

Jaws dropped. People were angry, several people turned in their chairs. That was the majority of the discussion on that step, and would be touched on throughout the weekend.

I took my sponsees with me in spirit. Because After each presentation, I spoke to the person who spoke on the step about a great many things. My sponsor was there and heard everything I said in the meetings.

We had cell service in the Mountains, and if I stood in one particular spot on the sidewalk out front, I could get a clear signal, as I was calling Montreal several times checking in with them over the weekend.

I learned a great deal about working my steps, as the others had worked them, how they applied them to their lives and what I could expect if I did the same. I spoke a lot during steps 1 thru 4. Because I have done Steps 1 thru 4.

I worked on my 4th step during the weekend. But my sponsor isn’t done with his yet, and HIS sponsor was also there for the weekend.

I took a bunch of notes. I listened to all the other steps as they came up. And I took those notes home, and planned to discuss them with my guys.

After each session we had a break to get out of our chairs to spend some time talking amongst ourselves outside the meeting format, and to huddle with our chosen mentor of the moment.

I went to bed late both Friday and Saturday. And I woke early both Saturday and Sunday just so I could get a conversation in with every person I could over the weekend. We drank a shit load of coffee and smoked packs of cigarettes. Not to mention several boxes of cigars as well. They were very popular.

By Saturday night we were spent to death. Everybody got good sleep.

Location, Location, Location … There was a separate section of the building where guests we roomed. They served them meals upstairs on the second floor which had a bar, games tables, tv’s and seating for meals.

All very well appointed. The others, who had been here before kept remarking at just how GOOD a job they did with the rebuild.

During our afternoon break on Saturday I chose to nap, while others went on hikes into the mountains. We were warned about Bears and Moose! And yes we did have sightings.

Today – read: this morning … We met for Step 12. Discussed, and people began to scatter, as it was Mother’s Day and the guys/husbands/fathers, needed to get on the road to spend the rest of the day with their significant others.

These guys were all good guys. I did not get a whiff of ego, or that stupid heterosexual Men’s Pissing Game. We did play several practical jokes on people which was quite funny.

We departed about 11:30 this morning. And we took the scenic route over Sugar Bush up the mountain, across and down the other side all the way to Burlington. A drive that took us an hours time.

It would have been quicker had we taken the route we came in on. The views were stellar. I can’t wait to see what that scenery looks like come fall, which is when the next intensive is scheduled.

We arrived back in town about 2:30 in the afternoon.

I loved Loved LOVED the weekend. How ever much we enjoyed the weekend, by Sunday we were all ready to come home. And when I got home, I wished that we had stayed longer. If only to spend more time with the others and get to enjoy more of the surrounding mountains.

I unpacked and chilled until I had to leave for the Sunday Night Meeting.

It was a stellar day. If this is the tip of the sobriety iceberg, I can’t wait to see what is underneath. Because I want MORE …

I am pooped. I need dinner and to sleep in my own bed.

Which leads me to the fact that I have never slept on such a comfortable mattress than the one I slept on over the weekend. I want One … Down/memory foam.

FABULOUS !!

That is all for tonight. More to come…