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Ministry

Misusing religious freedom as a weapon of mass discrimination

tumblr_ld9721OgLN1qzhiyso1_500 canada kidCourtesy: Canada Kid – Joel Canadian Photography

Lifted from: An Inch at a time – Susan Russell – All Saints Church Pasadena

Religious discrimination is a real thing.

History — both modern and ancient — is tragically full of examples of times and places where religious discrimination has been the source of persecution, death and destruction. The perversion of religion into a weapon of mass destruction is antithetical to the core beliefs of all the world’s great religions. And yet none of those religions have escaped the sad reality that human beings — given the power to do so — will use God as an excuse to inflict pain and suffering on other human beings.

Our forefathers knew that. And they brought that knowledge — that wisdom — into our Bill of Rights with a First Amendment that begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

The First Amendment both prevents the government of the United States from privileging one religion over another and protects each and every one of us — as American citizens — to believe whatever we choose — or choose not — to believe about what God thinks, approves of or blesses.

It is what protects our democracy from becoming a theocracy. And, as we watch with sadness and horror the nightly news stories of religious wars and sectarian violence, this guarantee of religious freedom is something Americans of all religions — and no religion — should rejoice and be glad in.

What that guarantee of religious freedom is not is something to be distorted and exploited to further a homophobic agenda of legislated discrimination against LGBT people. But that’s exactly what happened today when Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the so-called “religious freedom” bill into law during a private ceremony in his Statehouse office.

Officially entitled the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” this bill will allow individuals and businesses in the state to deny services to LGBT people on “religious liberty” grounds – doing nothing to restore freedom and everything to bolster bigotry. It is the first of many proposed measures pending in statehouses around the country – all with the intent of allowing business owners and individuals to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds.

It is a dangerous and detrimental piece of legislation — not only for the LGBT Americans who are its direct target. It opens the door for discrimination, inequality and prejudice to nearly every citizen of every state, undermining the foundational American value of equal protection. It nothing less than an orchestrated backlash against equal protection for LGBT citizens and the flagrant distortion of the ideal of religious freedom into a vehicle for religion based bigotry.

Bottom line: The First Amendment protects your right as an American to the free exercise of your religion. It does not protect your right to use your religion as an excuse to discriminate against other Americans.

And watching the tragic consequences of genuine religious discrimination on the nightly news makes it all the more urgent that we stand together and speak against this and other pending legislation – and challenge those who are supporting it.

Because religious discrimination is a real thing. And this blatant effort to exploit it in order to attack LGBT citizens is a reprehensible thing.

Let the boycotts begin.


The pin board of Atheist mistruths.

Do you believe in Love Lifted from: Jeremy Don’t Eat Trash

Conscience and worldview are interesting things that can be retrained. For definition sake, because both are defined multiple ways, when I say conscience I mean the pin board we hang our values on. We can retrain the pin board to hold different values but its pretty tough, and world view is our presuppositions about the world and the pin board. The wall that the pin board is on lets say.

So, as apart of bringing the people out of Egypt, God had to retrain the people of Israel’s presuppositions AND values, because over 400 years they had been taught, through forced slavery that their identity was that of ‘nothing’.

They didn’t get to choose what they did. They didn’t get to choose when they rested. These decisions were all made for them. So with the 10 commandments God both rehung the pinboard, repainted the wall and formed them into an ethnic group “culture” that he could impart wisdom and power onto the world through. But, their conscience and worldview were tampered with constantly by outside forces or internal descent-ers.

A lot of what God leads the Jews in, is the fomenting of ways to avoid having the wall smashed or the pin board de-pinned. And you watch through history, how the biggest enemies of God attack the wall that we hang the pin board on. Words like “re educate” are thrown around. Which are championed by those lifted on the shoulders of others as liberators of truth. Whilst, in God’s reality, they chain themselves to lies and false truths that have repeatedly destroyed humanity throughout our history.

In the near ancient east it was a sex religion whose height was in offering live babies in sacrifice to a silent god-figure. In the current west it is similar, we don’t know how to value humans so we just get rid of those that we subjectively don’t like. We have re educated ourselves to have no truth outside of our own, as if that liberates us into life and love, as opposed to drowning ourselves in conflict, and more tension between the differing truths that we each hold. As if holding different truths increases justice. (insert sarcastic emoticon)

In Lithuania during the Nazi – > soviet chunk of their history, the communists were genius in their re-education. They took out the educators (priests) they deconstructed the celebrations (state marriage, atheist holidays instead of christmas etc) Teachers were retrained to teach atheist theory and they even attempted to stop parents from teaching their own children anything other than the state ordained truth of humanism and only humanism.  We look at Soviet Russia’s history with East Europe in ghastly shock. How could they kill so many people? How could they force whole nations to ‘believe’ such a destructive ideology. But the west is now in the midst of just that.

Christmas has become a capitalist utopian dream. Marriage has become and will become an atheist ideal based on little commitment or meaning. Its less about the commitment and more about the party. Teachers are not only being stopped from teaching Christian ethic, they are being retrained to teach only evolution, only humanism and as parents are less and less engaged with what their kids are learning, – because they are focused on their “careers” because humanism tells us only man can save man – we have to save ourselves the best we can with constant work. So the parents are taken out too. What the communists knew about retraining their populace, the capitalists have taken on as well.

God save the queen.


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?


God hasn’t spoken until you respond.

Do you believe in Love Lifted from: Don’t Eat Trash

As God spoke in the beginning, the earth was created.

God would send prophets to point the Israelites back to the covenant and they would respond, in sack cloth and ashes or murdering the prophet. both are responses.

Recently I dialogued with God some interesting ideas about time. How i see my 28 years as long, and older than i would like, how part of me can’t be the things he has called me too because of my age, and God began to download how that was crap and I needed to look eternally. Eternity versus 28 years…. Gods miraculous power that raised Christ from the dead versus my twisted ankle and occasional heartburn thanks to raw onion – it gets ridiculous. This isn’t about me and my apparent limitations. This life is about God and his birds eye view sovereignty.

God speaks, and we can ignore or listen and stay silent. Or we can hear and respond.

Many times I have been journalling at 5am and get some sweet stuff from God, but if those things stay in my journal in ink… they lack power, life changing power. The ink needs to change to blood, and be walked out.

God hasn’t spoken until you respond.

In one way – we can report God speaking to show our spiritual holiness. ‘God told me this morning that I am going to be the queen of England’ but if we don’t believe it, if we don’t put steps in to become the queen England, then those words are close to meaningless.

In another way, we can believe that God doesn’t speak. And if God doesn’t speak then we ignore every attempt God makes to speak to us.

Communication is spoken often of not only:

information transmitted,

but of:

information transmitted through certain media – understood by the LISTENER and responded to by the LISTENER.

God isn’t cryptic, God knows the listener better than the listener knows itself, but the listener can train itself to not understand the medium used.

We get a good idea, and think its just our own thoughts.

We get a miracle and think its just a coincidence, that it couldn’t be God that got us that thing.

We have dreams and think its just a dream.

We hear a sermon and think the pastor was just a genius.

GOD SPEAKS.

He speaks constantly, he speaks loudly, and if we refuse to listen, then we miss out.


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…


Hundreds of thousands watch two popes become saints

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By Philip Pullella and James Mackenzie

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis proclaimed his predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints in front of more than half a million pilgrims on Sunday, hailing both as courageous men who withstood the tragedies of the 20th century.

Cheers and applause rang out across St Peter’s Square after the historic double papal canonization as many in the crowd fixed their gaze on huge tapestries of the two popes on the facade of the basilica behind Francis.

“We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II to be saints and we enrol them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church,” Francis said in his formal proclamation in Latin.

Relics of each man – a container of blood from John Paul II and skin from John XXIII – were placed near the altar.

The fact that the two being canonized are widely seen as representing contrasting faces of the Church has added to the significance of an event that Francis hopes will draw the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics closer together after a string of sex abuse and financial scandals.

The crowd stretched back along Via della Conciliazione, the broad, half-kilometer boulevard that starts at the Tiber River.

The Mass was also attended by former Pope Benedict, who last year became the first pontiff in six centuries to step down.

His attendance gave the ceremony a somewhat surreal atmosphere created by the presence of reigning pope, a retired pope and two dead popes buried in the basilica. Francis went over to greet Benedict twice during the service.

A TRAGIC CENTURY

“These were two men of courage … and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy,” Francis said in his address.

“They lived through the tragic events of that (20th) century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful,” he added.

John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernizing Second Vatican Council, lived through both world wars.

John Paul II, the Pole who reigned for nearly 27 years, witnessed the devastation of his homeland in World War Two and is credited by many with helping end the Cold War and bring down communism.

While both men were widely revered, there has also been criticism that John Paul II, who died just nine years ago, has been canonized too quickly.

Groups representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests also say he did not do enough to root out a scandal that emerged towards the end of his pontificate and which has hung over the church ever since.

The controversy did nothing to put off the rivers of Catholic faithful.

“I think that they were two great people, each of them had their own particular character, so they deserve what is happening,” said Leonardo Ruino, who came from Argentina.

The Vatican said more than 500,000 people filled the basilica area while another 300,000 watched the event on large television screens throughout Rome.

The overwhelming majority in the crowd were Poles who had travelled from their home country and immigrant communities as far afield as Chicago and Sydney to watch their most famous native son become a saint.

“THE ENDS OF THE EARTH”

Hundreds of red and white Polish flags filled the square and the streets surrounding the Vatican, which were strewn with sleeping bags, backpacks and folding chairs.

“For years Pope John Paul II took the Church to the ends of the earth and today the ends of the earth have come back here,” said Father Tom Rosica, head of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic television network.

Families and other pilgrims had waited for more than 12 hours along the main street leading to the Vatican before police opened up the square at 5:30 a.m.

Some people said they had managed to sleep on their feet because the crowd was so thick.

About 850 cardinals and bishops celebrated the Mass with the pope and 700 priests were on hand to distribute communion to the huge crowd.

About 10,000 police and security personnel and special paramedic teams were deployed and large areas of Rome were closed to traffic.

John, an Italian often known as the “Good Pope” because of his friendly, open personality, died before the Second Vatican Council ended its work in 1965 but his initiative set off one of the greatest upheavals in Church teaching in modern times.

The Council ended the use of Latin at Mass, brought in the use of modern music and opened the way for challenges to Vatican authority, which alienated some traditionalists.

John Paul continued many of the reforms but tightened central control, condemned theological renegades and preached a stricter line on social issues such as sexual freedom.

A charismatic, dominant pope, he was criticized by some as a rigid conservative but the adoration he inspired was shown by the huge crowds whose chants of “santo subito!” (make him a saint at once!) at his funeral 2005 were answered with the fastest declaration of sainthood in modern history.

(Additional reporting by Antonio Denti; Editing by Andrew Roche and Andrew Heavens)


Belief, Kingship, Anarchy and Indifference

kneel

Anarchy and the kingdom of wisdom.

Lifted from: Don’t Eat Trash …

Some of us go to the kings throne point at him and say “Oh, your pretty alright, I like your crown, and this throne room is pretty dope.” And then we walk out ignoring the kings power and authority and start stealing and murdering and what have you. Then our roads start crumbling, our electricity is shut off, our crops fail and we think… what happened?

We want to live in the kingdom, but we don’t want to honour its king. We live in anarchy whilst dreaming of a just and democratic society. But justice has a rule book. So do good crops, and if kings don’t get honour, or if kings don’t get even co-operation, why should kings do anything for their people? Why repair roads if the people won’t pay for them, or help with their upkeep? Why should the king pay for our electricity?

One cannot expect to acknowledge a king without giving him kingship and have that king be king. One must acknowledge and give that king kingship to be king over their lives, do build roads, to give power, to love and adore the people.

Justice, community, nation building, economics starts on the bottom. Or at least it should. By giving the righteous king his kingship. Anarchy will always breed confusion, instability and most likely corruption. But the uncorrupt king breeds love and belonging.

The lord by wisdom founded the earth
By wisdom he established the heavens.

There is a way to do things.
The king knows it.
Ask.

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

I thought that I would not have anything to write for last night’s meeting, because the reading spoke of Anarchy, Democracy and Group Dynamics. I heard the reading and listened to folks share, but in the end I had nothing to say.

I did not stay for the business meeting because of people and personalities. I guess I am not yet over them. And Friday is the only meeting during the week where I Don’t have to do service.

Late last night I spoke to my sponsor about an issue on my heart. Something I thought was necessary seeing we are traveling to Vermont with people I have no respect or love for.

Living with AIDS/HIV has its perks and its drawbacks. I learned early on who to trust, who to love, and who to cut from my life on a dime. I learned to watch people intently. I learned to listen to them actively. And I’ve learned over the years that when people show you who they are, listen to them. Thanks Oprah.

I’ve told you of the two times I was told to go somewhere else to get sober. And those two events kind of define my life, in respect to who I associate with and who I will or won’t break bread with.

One of those men who were participant to one of those events is running in my social circle all of a sudden. He comes to the Tuesday meeting but still, today, won’t say my name in my presence. I’ve watched him over the past dozen or so years in the rooms. He has his issues, his anger and his perspective.

I may or may not agree with him, but I watch him nonetheless.

Speaking to my sponsor last night, I shared the event with him and spoke of who was present during the encounter. He was respectful that I could share intimate feelings of wrongdoing with him. I mean that’s what he is in my life for, to help me get better, get sober, in all facets of my life.

He listened while I talked, and did not interrupt me, and waited until I was finished speaking to give me his sage advice. He shared with me a story from his life in response to mine, to show me that he had shared my feelings that I was speaking of right then.

He told me to pray, and to meditate. And to send light to the man I feel animosity towards. I do what I am told. The best prayer I can offer in these terms is the resentment prayer …

“I wish you to have everything I want for myself and more.”

I did my prayers and meditation. During which I visit a friend who writes. He is a believer and a man I highly respect for his challenge to pray, work for justice and serve Christ as King, and God as Father.

And during my active meditation I came across something he wrote recently, and I posted it above for you to read for yourselves. It hit the nail right on the head.

I don’t speak enough of belief, or of the faith that I work on every day. Living side by side with death forces you to reckon with God. I’ve come to know God. I’ve learned how to seek and find Him. I know who God is and who God isn’t.

Faith takes daily work, daily prayer and daily meditation. I’ve learned how to do that. It is part of my daily ritual.

The past is the past. And the pain of the past has moved from a place of pain to a place of indifference. The past is there. I can look at it retrospectively. I no longer waste time reliving or fearing, or having bitterness towards that past.

I would be wasting precious time, pinning, or hurting incessantly.

It just doesn’t bother me any more. It happened, some of it hurt. But God has taken that pain and transformed it into Grace.

In the end I am indifferent to the men and women who maligned me. I don’t share space with them, nor would I ever break bread with them, ever.

So this man has reentered my life, and I have to share a car, space and meetings with him. And I have to be good about it. To be Christian in my love and respectful because that what God expects of us.

There is no amend to make. Just a movement towards respect. To see another human being, a flawed human being, trying to get better in his own way, and I must respect his process. And to learn from him, because he has more time than I do, but not as much time as my sponsor.

The whole point of this exercise is to one day be able to forgive.

Once you move from pain to indifference, And what once bothered you, doesn’t anymore, then I am ready to forgive.

Because it is always about me right? Wrong!

We are to forgive seventy times seven. And trust that God knows what He is doing.

And to remember that We are not GOD.

When life gets too hard to stand, kneel …

More to come, stay tuned …


Easter Sunday … He is Risen … and more

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Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

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

It was a bright and sunny day. What more could you ask for for Easter Sunday.

I did not attend services this year. But I did participate in an age old tradition.

The only thing that matters on tv on Easter Saturday is The Ten Commandments, from beginning to end. It is by far, one of the greatest works of art there is from ages past, that still runs on television in the 21st century.

Before I even was ready to go this afternoon, folks were calling and texting that they would not be making it tonight. So I cranked out set up and went outside to enjoy the day.

Surprise … We sat a full room. If you open – they will come. And they did.

We read another story from the Big Book, “Winner takes All.” The story of a woman born legally blind, her story of loss, alcoholism, family and the negative tape that plays in our minds, and how that tape took her to hell, before he entry into the rooms.

Now, she had a choice to either be happy or not. And in sobriety, she is happy, her life had changed and she became successful. And that came from the people who came into her life, the program that saved her, and the steps that shaped her.

Watching other people get sober over long periods of time is a blessing, and I know for a fact that God exists. And what better a day to speak of God, than on Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate the Risen Christ.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


The Run Up to Lent … A Little Truth …

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I realized a few things in the past hour.

The first day of Spring falls on March 20th. The second thing is that Liturgical Season of Lent begins on Wednesday March 5th. With the imposition of ashes in Catholic Tradition.

I sent a note off to a friend just now, admitting some truths that have risen on my dashboard.

Winter has not been kind to all of us. And some of my fellows have fallen into the “poor me” trap and the “oh, will it please end” trap and the “constantly complaining” trap.

And If I am honest with  myself, I have not been very charitable. And I have certainly not been very patient. And I have let my anger pour out of my mouth before engaging my brain or my heart. Compassion has gone by the wayside opting for shock and awe…

Not a very Christian ideal by any stretch.

With Lent, we get 40 days to reflect on our lives, not that we shouldn’t reflect every day of our lives, but we get the opportunity to engage with the passion of Jesus and the run towards Easter.

Thankfully Easter candy is available right now in most stores.

That is neither here nor there.

I have been in a certain penitent mode as of late. Keeping my head down and not speaking at certain points. For it is sometimes better not to say something, lest I stick my foot in my mouth, all the way up to my thigh.

It is the end of the month. And that never bodes well, when there are raw issues on the table for conscious minds of God to deal with. And I must take my ego out of the equation and let God take the wheel.

Spending a good portion of my time in rooms day after day is tasking. Living in community with the people you love and sometimes hate in the same breath is consuming. I don’t know what that says about me, but being in such close contact with my fellows day in and day out has become a chore. Not a joy.

It could be Winter, it could be age. It could be me. It could be them.

It could be that we are all feeling a bit cabin fever being shut in day and night from the cold and the only time we get out is for a meeting and then all hell breaks loose because people do not have any other place to vent their shit then in a meeting in front of each other.

Here is where tolerance and patience and charity come to bear.

I’ve not been practicing very well. And that is my fault. I have not been mindful of my brethren. I have not been mindful of myself.

Which means I need to step up my prayers. For them and for me.

Just because you have time, does not mean you are necessarily sober.

I’ve not been very sober. It seems. I will rectify this …

More to come, stay tuned …


Don’t Fear Truth …

tumblr_m92o047WHu1qbrivdo1_r2_500 wrestlingisbest

Courtesy:Wrestlingisbest

Lifted from: donteattrash

A late night read through brought me to this message. It resonated. I hope you will find it resonates with you as well. Our writer is from the land down under, and is currently residing in South Africa. I follow his blog because his words lift my spirit.

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

“I don’t fear truth, especially the truth I do not have.”

I hadn’t been in the ocean in five years. But my New Years resolution was to get in… It was the 27th December. So we hike up this steep and sharp rock face, and then I’m told to jump. I can see the water. I can see how far I will need to jump out. I have seen others jump. I am told how easy it is, but I fear the truth. I fear the conclusion.

I wake up to a cancer ridden friend telling me about the gospel and asking why I haven’t jumped in yet, to the sweet waters of baptism. I am pretty sure I have to be a little less sinful to jump in. She says I have it wrong, it’s the opposite. The truth scares me.

I grew up knowing that weed and alcohol were not scary things, so although I tried them, I never got infatuated by them, but sex was always something to fear. Something to keep secret. Something to sneak around to find out. The truth, even tho it made me curious was something to fear, something to avoid.

Someone once said God is like a good father, who is always looking out for our best which i had a great example of in my own parents. But I held to a truth that God was angry and vengeful and a little elite. I knew I was right, and I knew if I let go of that truth, then most of my truths would fall apart. Letting go was a mystery, so even tho Gods goodness was attractive, I feared it. I feared the truth.

I never knew how bitter I was until I was forced to look at the truth through the mirror of others.
I never knew how sarcastic I was until I heard myself through the eyes of an American.
I never knew how defensive I was until I hurt a close friends feelings and saw it in his eyes as he came to me humble and truthful.
I didn’t want to know because the truth freaks me out. Because if truth is true, then I can continue in lies or I have to change.

I don’t want to fear truth anymore. I want to invite it, tension and discomfort and all. I don’t want to fear the unknown, because 9 times out of 10, new is fun. And new is good for me.

I want to hear different perspectives and not instantly try to prove them wrong. I want to agree with opinions that I don’t share because they are true and great.

I don’t have to be right. I fact I’m not right. I want to fight for relationships and finish with trying to trump the right of relationship with the wrong right of being right.


Does the Holy Father really mean “Every man and woman?”

Pope Francis in a selfie photo

“The love of God is not generic. God looks with love upon every man and woman, calling them by name.”

Pope Francis tweeted this today. And it made all kinds of news.

Pope Francis is a Holy Man, and he has said plenty already that has been noticed, and been dissected …

After reading his biography by Paul Vallely, I wonder …

On a flight he was quoted saying “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”

Vallely writes,”he [Pope Francis] has opposed same sex marriage and gay adoption but spoken out strongly in favour of civil unions and equal rights for homosexuals.”

Afterword, pg. 197.

If you read about Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis, from the man he was in Argentina, and his evolution into the man he is today, as Pope, there is definite evolution. And it seems that he is hitting all the right notes, and he also seems to be well informed of just how he is being perceived in the world at large.

He has recently been branded as a Marxist by the Christian Conservative Right for his views on Capitalism and the Poor.

To understand his stance on the poor one must read about his work against Liberation Theology as a Jesuit leader, and his redirect years later to a total embracing of the poor and their plight and of Liberation Theology and its focus on the poor. His work in the slums of Argentina became revelatory, and how he sees the world and the people close to him.

I just hope that when the Pope uses this sweeping language of “all inclusive” that he means all and not just some.

Pope Francis wants a Poor Church for the Poor. And he has said that he wants the church [read:Rome] to go OUT to the people, instead of waiting for them to come to the church [read: Rome].

His words seem heartfelt. I just hope this transformation into Pope is branching across every walk of life. For if he is genuine, this breath of fresh air is just what the Church needs. And Francis is the man to do it.

Let us pray for the Holy Father.


11 Years. The Past Year, The lessons learned and the next phase, Year 12 …

tumblr_l8yrf9m0gc1qb730lo1_500 thiswillnotdefineus

Courtesy:Thiswillnotdefineus (special archives)

I always try to find the right image to go with a post. This is one of those “right” images.

Monday December 9th, 2013. 12 years to the day I attended my Second First Meeting. I have said so many times in the past that up until that day I had already begun to talk to God. And surrender came when I realized that I was finished drinking, again…

We should all say a thank you to Troy for taking me to the meeting. I wonder if he is still sober today?

WHEN YOU KNOW RIGHT, DO RIGHT …

I think the theme of this past year has been “newcomer.” I may not have been a direct sponsor to anyone in particular, but I made a decision to leave my home group of 11 years to move to another Beginners Group made up of young men and women, with days, months and a few years of sobriety.

One young man in particular, one Sunday night, shared parts of his story about how he came in this last time. Struggling badly, he called his father in Europe. Our young man had been to meetings but found them not his “cup of tea.” His father flew to Montreal to see and consult.

They shared, and the question came … his father is long sober. How did dad get sober? And he confidently replied … In Meetings and A.A.

Needless to say he was floored. Our young man came in and got sober.

I did not know him very well when we met on that particular night. But something in him moved me because I spoke about him to a good friend on the way home that night. And ever since that night I have been keeping up with him, and over the last year we have become great friends.

And it is timely because that young man will give me my chip on Friday night December 13th at North End English.

All of the young men at this beginners meeting are special men. They never say NO when you ask them to do something for the greater good. And over the last year, I have had my hard times. I will touch on that later on in this post, suffice to say, when I needed a friend, they were there for me.

Like I said the theme is newcomer. And I feel like I have put my sober journey this year in the hands of newcomers. I’ve tried to practice presence. To be there for them as equally as they have been there for me.

I’ve not always been a good member. Because I have been less than forgiving with certain newcomers. And that is a fault.

A shift in my consciousness took place in May during the West island Roundup. Where we met for a weekend of talks given by speakers from New York City. My life has not been the same since. I wanted so badly to attain New York Sobriety. Whatever that means.

We don’t do sobriety like New York, here. Montreal is much more laid back. I have said in the past as well, that the women I know from Tuesday Beginners and Room of our Own, do it so much better than the men.

So I have kept my relations with them up to speed, even if we don’t see each other as often as I would like, because since leaving Tuesday’s I don’t see the women. But I call them often.

I’ve struggled with where I am going. I’ve struggled with sponsor. I felt at one point that we were both on different pages after the roundup because I went and my sponsor didn’t. He had his reasons, and I respect them.

But our relationship was changed in huge ways.

A long time ago, a friend of mine got sick with Cancer. And I made a conscious decision to be present to him in any way he needed. And I have honored that relationship to this day. We attend meetings together, and we are homed at the Thursday Men’s meeting, which we founded in May of this year.

Something happened a couple of weeks ago at another Thursday Meeting, my sponsor was there and after the meeting we chatted and he asked my friend if he was taking care of me … Now that I think on it today, my friend has been the closest thing to a sponsor as I have had. Seeing we spend a great deal of time together.

This is provident because yesterday when I talked to my good lady friend about an issue on my mind,  we touched on many issues. And I talked about my sponsor and she told me that maybe it was time that I moved on and that finding a new sponsor was important, and that once I did that, he would help me take care of my old sponsor. This is new ground here.

I’ve learned a great deal in the past year. Across many fronts.

In April of this year, one of my friends, another former member of the Tuesday meeting said he wanted to form a new meeting. And he pulled together a few hands, and I pulled a few hands together, and the six of us put together a new meeting. It was one of the biggest undertakings we had ever done in sobriety. It took over $300.00 to open a meeting, from space, to rent, to supplies, just to open the door.

The rest they say is history.

We have population. And a fine group of long time sober men. I was told that we should open the meeting and let God do the rest. He did …

I’ve had some issues with people and that has been a challenge. I did not do the right thing on several occasions, and I have learned from those lessons. I took for granted where I am at this point, and I forgot what it was like to be newly sober. As was pointed out to me recently. This is an ongoing issue that is on my plate right now.

MARRIAGE …

This year saw my marriage and my husband and I almost falling apart. That God Damned George Zimmerman trial almost killed us. Mostly because my husband finished his schooling and was homing in on his defense, and got pulled into this trial and spent every waking hour watching feeds from the states.

Our finances fell to an all time low. We were close to being broke. And I was not happy at all, and it wasn’t until the bottom of the hole was staring me in the face that I finally put my foot down and said something.

I relied on my boys like no one had. And they rose to the challenge with me and they took care of me. And I survived this test …

Yeah it went like this …

“I don’t know if I want to be married to you anymore!”

The earth shook, to say the least. And it seemed that God was watching from the sidelines, because I felt like I had been forsaken, but that was all to change. We survived his defense, and it went perfectly. And after that followed the biggest event in our marriage, hubby landed a job that has set us on new paths financially, now we have been digging ourselves out of the credit hole he put us in over the past six months. And that has been a challenge.

I’ve worked to be a good husband. And relationships are hard work, don’t let anyone tell you differently. Sometimes things go well, and sometimes they don’t. You roll with the punches and the tide.

I am not ready to surrender my marriage. Even though I came close.

Christmas is not far off as I begin writing this after 1 am on a Thursday night. Gifts are not necessary, but we do gift. Simply. We don’t spend oodles of cash on the holiday for material things. We do spend more money on my holiday dinner instead.

It is far better to cook, share and eat than be burdened by “Things.”

SUGGESTIONS TO THE CLUTTERER …

Lorna Kelly writes in a book about clutter and at some point you are long sober, that it comes time to pair down your life and rid yourself of all that shit you’ve collected over the years.

When we get sober, we are empty shells with baggage for days. We sober up, we clean up, we start meetings, and we start working our steps. And over many, many years, it seems, we clear out the wreckage of the past.

And in this eleventh year, I have read “The Camel knows the Way and In the Footsteps of the Camel.” And I think after several read throughs. I have taken to heart what I read because it made sense to me recently.

This new knowledge began the Great Purge of 2013.

This is recent information because it just finished the other day. Suffice to say that there are very few “things” we have kept, mainly because it doesn’t belong to me so I couldn’t throw those things away.

But I did toss every item that was communal. Shit from the balcony, old files, trash we kept and didn’t toss when we should have. I sorted through every piece of clothing we owned and tossed 2 boxes and 4 leaf bags full of clothing in the charity bin. Someone will have a Merry Christmas this year.

YOU MUST PROTECT THIS SACRED GIFT …

While hubby works, I am a stay at home housewife. I clean, do laundry, shop and do all those things that need to be done during the day. I have cultivated time to pray and meditate. Having the house to myself is a good thing because I can devote time to all my sober activities.

Prayer has become something I truly rely on. And I need reminders. That has been a theme in my life. Reminders… A good friend gave me a packet of prayer cards that I use every day. I have tacked the Third Step, the Seventh Step and Eleventh Step prayer on my computer So that the first thing I do in the morning is pray. And it is the last thing I do before I turn the box off and go to bed.

Sunday’s are a Big Book Meeting. Tuesday’s are Beginner’s Meetings, Thursday is the Men’s meeting, and Friday is for me, the As Bill Sees It meeting, where I will take my chip on Friday night. I have been religious about my meetings, and on those nights, hubby has his space aside from our together time.

Every day is different. The social tape that plays out changes every day. It is something that I have learned about after hubby fell sick Bi-Polar. That after he rose from the dead, the tape of the day began to play. And it took a long time to notice it, but it became very clear to me what the tape meant.

You know, the way you communicate with your husband or wife? The little inside jokes, the things only you would know? Sayings from movies, that are in common, jokes from comedians? The little things that pass between you on any given day?

We enjoy our time together. And every day there is something different. The tape is never the same two days running. When hubby got our cell phones, basically so that I could keep in contact with him while he was at Uni, communication took on a new purpose.

Many many years ago, when I was much younger I used to bar hop with my friend Ricky. We worked at R.C.I. together. And we hit up Uncle Charlies every night after work. He met his husband, on the first pass. They connected and have been together ever since.

They had a hole in the wall apartment with a card table, an old sofa and a few chairs. And over the past fifteen years built themselves quite the home.

I always longed to have what they had. And it took my coming to Montreal and sobriety to gift me that which I had so longed for. And it was on the first pass that I saw my then boyfriend, who eventually became my husband. And now nine years later we have turned that hole in the wall apartment into quite the home. We are climbing the financial ladder.

Those Pesky Ninth Step Promises were slow in coming. And just this year, the final promise of “fear of people and of financial insecurity will leave us” has come to pass, so I mention this gently and carefully, because I don’t want to jinx it.

That promise it seemed, was the one that dogged us for so many years. And I think that we have been fired in the crucible for so long, that it was finally time to get out of the heat of the oven. We have long term goals, some of which were promised to me long ago, and are still outstanding. I wrote about them in that long ago post “The State of Our Union.”

We have reached a new benchmark in our lives, and I am hopeful that the next stage of our lives will bring some good news. I hope we are on the up and we keep that momentum, because falling would be heartbreak.

MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO

Translated: Unworthy but chosen.

Pope Francis translates it as “By having compassion and by choosing.”

Just like John Paul II who believed that suffering and pain was sacred, that in the suffering one’s soul comes closer to Christ. Pope Francis once wrote that “Pain is not a virtue in itself, but you can be virtuous in the way you bear it.”

Living with a terminal disease only held at bay with a concoction of powerful pills, does not mean that there is not suffering, either mentally or physically. I have survived another calendar year. Which is no small achievement. This is part of my sober message to my fellows. People do not see death until it hits them right between the eyes. Living with “diseases” is for many a difficult burden.

People tend not to look at the inside of a person, because what they see on the outside looks normal and healthy. It has been a year of remembrance for me. It seemed that quite frequently there was some kind of documentary on television (READ: “We Were Here”) reminding me that I must remember, that we must remember.

It’s been a while, two years, since the last time I spoke at a meeting, which fell on my 10th sober anniversary. You could say that I am off the speaking circuit.

EMOTIONAL SOBRIETY

I don’t know if I am totally emotionally sober. I am finding that part of me holds on to old pain. Over the past few days I have written some stories about memories. And at the moment, I am of the mind that someone owes me an apology. I bore the burden of abuse as a child, defending my mother and brother, yet they stand unified behind a man who denies my existence and has shut off my light because of the family gospel.

I have this internal dialogue going on in my life and I hear myself saying things I so want to say to someones face, to shake them and throttle them close to death … words for my father, who has kept me in the dark and silence for the last twelve years …

LOOK AT ME GOD DAMMIT. SEE ME. ACKNOWLEDGE ME FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. I AM 46 YEARS OLD. GROW THE FUCK UP AND STOP BEING A SON OF A BITCH !!! YOU BASTARD !!! FUCK YOU !!!

There are many thing I would like to say and the one thing I wish at this point in sobriety is that I am heard, and that my voice counts. And that my life has not been a waste of time or effort.

But in reality, this may never come to pass, because in this family dynamic, nobody won.

Like Nelson Mandela, he had to rise above all the hate and abuse to become the man that he did, to lead a people and a nation. And holding on to hate and anger only would have tied him down, emotionally and mentally. He had to let it all go in order to move forwards.

Sobriety is the practice of letting go on a daily basis. If it doesn’t concern me and it isn’t my problem, then don’t entertain it. And if someone irks you who is fresh in the program, but for the grace of God, folks in early sobriety don’t have the time we do to understand many things. Life took years and years to come together and we can’t expect a newbie to come in the room and grow on with “miracle grow.” It doesn’t work that way.

It has been a long haul this last year. I made it and lived it, and nobody can take that away from me. I’ve earned this day, one day at a time.

AND ON THIS LAST NIGHT OF SOBER YEAR 11,
Sunday December 8 – 2013 …

It was early, and I departed early, and set up quietly. A good friend showed up and we had a good time. And on this last night of my sober year, I was reminded why I go to meetings. It is the holiday season, and people are suffering. And as I have alluded to above, I forget what it was like to be newly sober the farther I get from my last drink.

But they say that the farther you get from your last drink, the closer you get to your next drink ! Thank God for newcomers who come, join, and tonight chaired the meeting. I am reminded of the important points: Meetings, Sponsorship, Fellowship and a connection to a Power Greater than Myself.

A man came in with a friend, I could smell alcohol from where I was sitting.

And admitted that he was in bad shape, that he was an alcoholic. In a blackout he hit his wife last night, and he doesn’t remember the rest …

I’ve been there, the darkness, the not knowing, but I know what happened to get me here. I needed life, I needed sobriety, I needed something more than I had had and the only place I could get it was in a meeting.

Before the book was published, the Oxford Group had spirituality and six steps … (1) Complete deflation, (2) Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power, (3) Moral inventory, (4) Confession, (5) Restitution, and (6) Continued work with other alcoholics.

It all sounds so simple and it is – once you get in the door, you dry out and come to.

Then the journey begins. And what a beautiful journey it has been the last year. I would not be here if not for the people I call family, in my life. I am grateful to be reminded of what matters, and why I serve my home group, because if I do not open the door, then people would have no where to go.

And for that I am responsible !!!

Christmas is right around the corner.

THERE ARE 15 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS.

Thanks for your time and support all these years.