Lifted from: Michael Dodd – In Dodd We Trust
From the book “Rumi, Poet and Mystic, a selection of his writings“,
Translated from the Persian by Reynolds A. Nicholson.
Moses saw a shepherd on the way, crying,
“O Lord… Where are You, that I may serve You and sew Your shoes and comb Your hair?
That I may wash Your clothes and kill Your lice and bring milk to You,
O worshipful One: That I may kiss Your little hand
and rub Your little feet
and sweep Your little room at bed-time.”
On hearing these foolish words, Moses said,
“Man, to whom are you speaking?
What babble! What blasphemy and raving!
Stuff some cotton into your mouth!
… the High God is not in want of suchlike service.”
The shepherd rent his garment, heaved a sigh, and took his way to the wilderness.
Then came to Moses a Revelation:
“You have separated My servant from Me.
Were you sent as a prophet to unite, or were you sent to divide?
I have bestowed on every one a particular mode of worship,
I have given every one a peculiar form of expression.
The idiom of Hindustan is excellent for Hindus;
the idiom of Sind is excellent for the people of Sind.
I look not at tongue and speech,
I look at the spirit and the inward feeling.
I look into the heart to see whether it be humble,
though the words uttered be not lowly.
Enough of phrases and conceits and metaphors!
I want burning, burning: become familiar with that burning!
Light up a fire of love in thy soul, burn all thought and expression away!
O Moses, they that know the conventions are of one sort, they whose souls burn are of another.”
The religion of love is apart from all religions.
The lovers of God have no religion but God alone.
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
In writing about the past in my last entry “diagnosis” I wrote a reflection on a book that I had finished reading, but if you were not looking for it specifically, you might have missed one crucial aspect of survival in my writing of that entry and including the text that I had read, that crucial missing element is God.
When you read some of the early AIDS writers there is one alarmingly missing part of the puzzle. Nobody speaks the name of God, nobody invokes the power of God, and nobody is going to church to pray. This is a specific aspect of my story that I did not forget to write about – but as I read my spiritual text “Life with God” as I lie in bed, I am remiss to let this go without addressing it here.
There is no doubt that the Christian Right has much to answer for for its treatment of the sick when it comes to people with AIDS, be they children, men or women. And there is no doubt that the “Church” with a Capitol “C” plays their own role of hatred as well. And we must also cite the evangelical preachers across the board for their fire and brimstone direct condemnation of people with AIDS as being “Punished by God, for their acts of sinful behavior.” And then there is the family unit of those who were sick who unleashed their very own brand of religious condemnation when it came to denying their own children when it came to AIDS and death. I would be remiss if I did not mention these specifically by name because you are all guilty as charged.
I never had issues with my faith when I got sick. Even when the world turned their backs on so many, when it came down to the nuts and bolts of survival, I truly believe within a shadow of a doubt that a Power Greater than myself was taking care of me. And I know that because when I got sick, I got sober at the same time, having daily contact with a power greater than myself in that precise time in my life paid out dividends. I prayed, my friends prayed, my community prayed. We all prayed.
Never once in much of Paul Monette’s writing does he mention church or prayer, although Paul and some of his contemporaries were involved with Ma Jaya in Los Angeles and in Florida. She was the leader of a community of people who did great things for people with AIDS, and she did for me as well. I would be remiss if I did not mention her here because I spent time on her ashram in Florida on several occasions after my diagnosis. She was very big on tv when on a particular late night show she would be seen speaking to a pair of parents who abandoned their son when he got sick and eventually died of AIDS and Ma was seen shaking a vial of ashes in front of them saying “how could you do that to your son?” That was what got me to seek her out and to know her because I too had been abadoned by my family.
Faith and Faith in God was a huge part of my life, my story, my recovery, and my survival. I must have done something right after all these years, to still be talking about this subject some fifteen years after the fact and I am still alive. Someone up there loves me enough to plead to God on my behalf. None of this goes unnoticed. I just thought it was important to talk about that part of my survival, because you just cannot survive on drugs alone. Because you can stuff yourself full of medication, but unless there is some conscious or unconscious action behind them, those pills are useless. If one does not put some power of grace behind the act of taking a pill, why take the pill to begin with?
There is a definite correlation between what the brain tells the body, the body eventually follows. So if you are sick and you bombard yourself with thoughts of death all the time, death is what you are going to get. And for some, death was the only conclusion to life and illness. There are just some things that happen that cannot be countered. Everyone is going to die at one time or another, and I know that God sees each and every one of us who suffers and he works to end that suffering, and sometimes, the end to suffering is death. No matter how much one prays or believes, if illness overcomes you, and for many it does, death is a foregone conclusion. But I lived…
When I moved to Miami in 1995, I returned to my roots of Holy Mother Church. I sought out the fathers of the cloth. I returned to the church of my upbringing, yes I was gay, I was sick and I was waiting to die. God had other plans for me. And I firmly believe that. I also firmly believe that Nuestra Senora Caridad del Cobre prayed for my soul, I firmly believe that Jesus walked with me, and that Mary prayed with me, and that God saw that I wanted to live because I was activly living my faith in the direst of situations. Death was imminent. I was supposed to die. At least that’s what the medical establishment told me, either they got it wrong, or God had other plans.
In moving to the Mercy Hospital Immunodeficiency clinic, that was a very Catholic institution. Because we lived in a very “Latin i.e. Cuban” religious and secular system of care. Many, if not all the women who worked in this circle were good church going, God fearing Catholic Women, who all had God’s ear. Not to mention the men and other doctors they served under they were quite the team of spiritually prepared warriors for God’s poor, downtrodden, and sick.
There was a faith component to our care. There was no denying it, there was no avoiding it, there was no disrespect, there was no question. Even the sick went to church, and when the sick could not get to church, they were visited by the Church. Now you couple sobriety and a power greater then myself, which I choose to call God, to this day, with prayer and sacramental living, you have one powerful energy machine for healthy living. And I know on those days when I found it difficult to speak, others were praying for me day and night.
Hell hath no fury like a group of faithful Cuban prayer people. We recited the rosary daily in any language you chose. We went to mass daily, and we received the sacraments. We were visited by holy men and women, we were even treated to spiritual retreats by holy men and women on the grounds of the Church of Our Lady of Charity, Caridad del Cobre. God saw us come, he heard us pray. And for many, they lived.
The one important thing I have to say for myself is that I lived.
I remember when I went to my church of my upbringing and I told the priests that I was sick and that they doctors has said that i was going to die, I remember holy men weeping, and telling me confidently that ONE, you will come to church, TWO, you will pray, THREE, you will see the face of God. They believed for me when I could not believe for myself.
I often tell the story of Father Jeff, a priest I met one Sunday who had MS, and he walked with crutches in and around and out of the church. He had no use of his legs, but he did have the use of his faith. And that day i watched him say mass that one Sunday, i knew I would never complain about being sick ever again. I would never become as jaded and cold to faith as many did before me. Many of my friends went to their graves cursing God because of what they had witnessed themselves in human beings who became animals, they, those cursed Christians who had not one word to offer the sick, but their vitriol of condemnation.
Still to this day, on this very blog, I get the odd Cursed Christian who thinks that I listen to their hatred and self righteousness. That I would even consider sharing their cursed comments with this readership. how wrong is that!!!
For many years, on Sunday nights, I would rush home to watch Touched By an Angel, and I have to say that I believe to this day that there are angels that walk the earth and that I am not alone, and neither are you. It would come to pass that this little show that could could be attributed to my good health. Because I believed and I prayed and I listened to a few angels who said, God loves you.
I guess that the spark of God never left me, even as a child, when my grandmother Memere presented me to God, that day in that church when I was just a boy, had a lasting affect on my life, even to this very day. Now, you want to talk about blind faith, mention to God the names Camille and Sister Georgette. They are both long since dead, Sisiter Georgette died two years ago August here in Montreal, Memere died a few years after I was diagnosed. They are two women I know have God’s ear.
I wanted to share this bit of text with you from “Life with God” pg 134, Foster writes:
“Life with God is an ongoing, ever changing, relational adventure. It is not a matter of being driven through life, stopping every now and then to get out of the car and see the surroundings. God invites us to climb into the landscape of our journey, to breathe deeply with full lungs, to feel blood pulsing through muscles doing what they were made to do, to experience the wonder of having a body with which to see and hear and smell and taste and touch of this astonishing world.”
We have the opportunity to incorporate the Streams of Living Water into our daily lives when we stop to ponder these sic paths together:
- The Contemplative tradition, or “The Prayer filled life”
- The Holiness tradition, or “The Virtuous life”
- The Charismatic tradition, or “The Spirit-empowered life”
- The Social Justice tradition, or “The Compassionate life”
- The Evangelical tradition, or “The Word-Centered life,” and
- The Incarnational tradition, or “The Sacramental Life”
I have discussed these six traditions with you last term when I studied Christian Spirituality, each of these traditions have their own entries on this blog, if you are so adventurous to go seek them out. Suffice to say that there is no life, without faith. And there is no faith without life. There are no words to speak to God in gratitude for all that He has given us, fortunate are we to share some time together here, in order that I might share my faith journey with you.
One of the things that mystifies my doctors today is my reliance on faith, when doctors who run by the book and by the numbers who are faced with patients that believe in God and have stock in faith, that seems to throw my doctor off the deep end. You can’t convince a scientist or doctor that faith plays a big role in the longevity of the sick. They say, what ever works, and for me what ever works.
May God bless you,
may his light shine upon you
and may the Spirit of God rest upon your heads and hearts.
There are many scripture readings for tonights Vigil Celebration:
Gen 1:1-2:2 , 1:1, 26-31, 22:1-18, 22:1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18 Exod 14: 15-15, Isa 54:5-14, Isa 55:1-11, Bar 3:9-15, 3:2-4:4, Ezek 36:16-17, 18-28, Rom 6:3-11
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [b] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
I quite prefer this reading of the Gospel story over Matthew from today’s reading. Because it speaks of the exchange between Mary Magdalene and Jesus on Easter Morning.
The Empty Tomb
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Then the disciples went back to their homes, but 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.
“Woman,” he said, “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 returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning 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.
This is the night, that we recall the readings from the Old Testament, the stories of creation, the Exodus of the Jews from Israel and all the major readings that carry such great importance to us as Christians. We listen to these readings and we imagine ourselves back in those times, when God created the Heavens and the Earth, and we are with the Jews as the choirs sing “Go Down, Moses, tell ole pharoah, Let my People Go!!!”
Holy Saturday is best spent in quiet or subdued activity. The great mystery of the Triduum is beyond our comprehension or adequate response. We wait in expectant hope. Though we know that Christ has risen, there is a powerful ritual way of entering more fully into his Passover through death to life in the Easter Vigil tonight.
As we listen with the ears of our expanding hearts and respond in song to the stories of our creation and re-creation, our path to freedom, as we hear and feel the refreshing water of new life and open to the baptismal Spirit stirring in our embodied spirits, as we eat and drink the bread and wine of Christ’s body and blood with loving heart in union with all our sisters and brothers, we will be passing over in Christ to a richer renewed life in his Spirit.
“This is the night,” as we will hear in the Exsultet, the night that “will be clear as day..” The night that “dispels all evil … brings mourners joy… cast out hatred, bring us peace.” The night “when heaven is wedded to earth and man is reconciled to God..” Our hearts leap up in “the joy of this night” believing in Christ, the Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all mankind.”
No matter who we are, what we have done or not done during Lent or during our lifetime, this is the night to rejoice. Winter is over and gone; spring has come in all its fullness. God in Christ is victorious over sin and death. In Christ we are reconciled and will live forever. Alleluia!
As you go about your duties and interests today, let go of any anxiety-producing thoughts and drop plans to get involved in any more than you need to. As you become aware of thoughts pulling you away from your inner quiet, say calmly in your heart, “In you, O God, my soul is at rest; all my hope is in you.”
I have always admired the way others see the world and what it represents to them and their children. So I am cross posting an excerpt from Cooper’s Blog so that you can share in the wonder and beauty of a father and his son. Read the entire post at Cooper’s Corridor.
A discussion between father and son, Dario 6 years old…
“…I am not a religious man. Nor am I a Christian. I am, however, spiritual. My own personal beliefs are perhaps a mixture of First Nations and Celtic druidism … the keen bond between nature and creation, the power of protection, the presence of mentors and healers, the use of music, storytelling, dance, and art as expressions of life, appreciation for the beauty and power of the sea, symbols such as light and darkness, a sacred relationship with trees, fire, stones, and other elements of nature, and an ability to move back and forth between this world and an “otherworld”.
When your heart and mind are open, very real portals exist to the unknown. Sweating, which is something I do yearly, is part of my spirituality, and helps me to reconnect my internal and external being as I experience what the Celtics referred to as the “thin places”, that wonderful sphere, unbounded by time and space, where all is possible.
I told Dario that heaven was the most beautiful place that each person could imagine in their mind, and that it was different for everyone. I explained the soul as “the part of you that makes you, YOU … that makes your mind think and your heart love.” I had also explained to him, that when you get very old, the parts of your body slowly stop working and you die and become a part of the earth again, and this is what happens to every living thing.”
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
“How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded.
He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”
“Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said.
During the next two weeks we will be reading selections from the Gospel of John, sometime described as mystical. In the New Testament the Greek word for “mystery” means “hidden” or “secret.” All the gospels, John’s in a special way, are designed to draw us into the hidden spiritual dimension of life beneath the surface of the text and concealed within our ordinary lives. John opens our eyes of faith to this divine mystery at work in us and our world by singling out seven special events of Jesus’ lifetime as sings of that work.
In today’s gospel reading John recounts the sixth sign, the cure of the man born blind. Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 9:5), counteracting the hostility of his disbelieving opponents, restores physical sight to this man, showing us that he is here to cure our blindness, especially that of our hearts and minds. Jesus confronts the Pharisees who doubted him and his healing actions saying that if they would realize and admit their own blindness — spiritual blindness– they too could be restored to sight.
But he says, claiming they can see reveals their sin remains (John 9:41). Today Jesus draws us into the depth of our everyday lives, inviting us to admit our blindness and to entrust ourselves in faith to the light of his life-giving Spirit as he lives, dies, and risen in us.
Today take some time to be alone and quiet. Close your eyes and focused in a relaxed way of gently letting your attention drop away from present externals, from anxieties about the future and regrets about the past. Pray confidently, “You are the light of the world, open my eyes to your light.”
“Finding God in all things is a Now experience.”
I went to my Christian Spirituality class, empty, yearning for something, waiting for spiritual experience to hit me, because I have been in a dry spell for a few days, and I needed to hear the voice of God speak to me.
Always be careful what you ask from God, because if He thinks you are ready for the answer, it will come, and usually far quicker than you expected it to come. Tonight’s class lecture was from Richard J. Foster’s text “Streams of Living Water” and the chapter The Holiness Tradition, Discovering the Virtuous life. We had two guest speakers who spoke to us about holiness.
There were many things during this lecture that got my attention, or maybe, it was the fact that I was “willing” to find God in the very moment. At least, that was my perception. They had opened a box of “things” that each of us were asked to take one object from the box as the box went around the classroom. I happened to pick out a pack of matches.
Now with these assorted items taken from the box, we were supposed to share with a neighbor how this object represented something holy. Like I said, I had the pack of matches and the first thought that came to mind was fire. That fire that burns from a candle. Candles are central to my families ritual.
We have candles in our house we light every night, at dinner each and every night, we light candles, because we do not eat dinner in the dark or by lamp light. We light candles. We give candles away at holidays in the old Jewish tradition of sharing light with others. That was a great spiritual exercise for the entire class. Some got to share with the class what object they picked up and how it related to their lives. It was all very interesting to hear what they had to say.
I’ll share with you a story that was told to us…
Two men were walking through busy downtown Toronto. One man was a native Torontonian. The other was a farmer from Saskatchewan. As they walked down the sidewalk, the man from the prairie stopped dead in his tracks and said to his counterpart, “wait, I hear a cricket!” The other man said, “you’ve got to be kidding, how can you hear a cricket, in all this busyness?”
Sure enough they walked to a grassy spot and the prairie man turned over a few leaves and there it was, a cricket. The native city man was flabbergasted. Then the prairie man reaches into his pocket and drops a handful of change on the sidewalk, and every person walking in that area stopped to listen as the change hit the pavement. It is all in what you are listening for…
What are we listening for? Where ever you live, do you take the time to listen to your surroundings? Do you take nature for granted? Do you live in a concrete canyon like I do where it take a bit or time to find a green space and feel the grass beneath your feet. Where you live, do you take time to listen for the sacred, the sublime, the “It” so to speak.
And do we take the time to listen for it anyways? Is there time during our days that we stop to listen for it? Or do we need to find the time to stop and listen for it? My head was spinning, by this point and I was fumbling over the thoughts coursing through my head. We talked about “Liminal spaces” those in-between spaces where the divine might be found. A thought stopped me at that moment…
Do you want to know where I find time to stand in the liminal space? Well, it just happens to me, I have no control over it, it just occurs!!! Whenever I am in the bathroom either doing my business or showering or bathing, my mind wanders. I think about people, I see them cross my field of spiritual vision. Memories race through my minds eye. I cannot control it, and it isn’t as if I look forward to going to the bathroom. But for those brief 20 to 30 minutes, during my day, I have a conscious contact with something that I cannot see, or define, we laughed at this point in the class, that I was having ecstatic spiritual experiences in the bathroom!!!
It is amazing where people find time to pray or to be quiet. Some do it in the minivan on the way to an appointment or driving the kids somewhere. Some find time when they are doing laundry, when I was a kid, cutting the grass was a spiritual experience to me, because on my riding lawnmower, no one bothered me. I could be quiet for hours and not be disturbed. It was even better when I used to “walk” the lawn mower. Because walking in a circuit with silence as your friend was amazing. It is almost like walking through a labyrinth. Today people gather at holy places and they walk a labyrinth as a form of prayer. Where do you find time to just stop and be quiet???
One of the women who was speaking to us, was a teacher and she related a story about how she approached one of her classes. While the kids were rowdy and not paying attention, she would stop at some point of the morning, turn off the lights, she would gather the kids for story time, and in ritual form, before she would begin her story that day, she would don a “Story Shawl” and in that brief moment, the class knew that it was time to be quiet, and to listen. This story triggered another memory for me.
Many years ago, I have told this story in some form or fashion at some time or another, about my slip, and my dance with death, when I got beat up and ended up in trauma therapy with a very special therapist named Andrea. I was agoraphobic at the time and I would not leave my apartment because I feared for my life for many months. She taught me first to sit on the front porch at first, then after while I got the courage to walk around the block, which was progress for me. The end result was for me to be able to walk myself over to her office, which was close to where I was living at the time, in Miami Beach.
This was in 2000. And I had been introduced to Harry Potter. I was a broken 33 year old man coming off a tragic trauma that almost killed me, and I was headed for recovery at that point as well. Harry and I had a lot in common. Finally, one day I got the courage up to walk to her office to make an appointment. I walked into her office and it was like walking into Hogwarts. She had books, and toys and paper, and pictures and trinkets that she used with the kids she worked with. When she closed her door, she would don the “shawl of safety” and we would talk, I felt safe and secure. Our weekly meetings became ritual for the both of us. I was making progress, and she was assisting me in that healing process.
Where do we find safety? And when have we either met Jesus or were ministered to by Jesus, through the act of someone, just because?
A young boy was walking through the park one day, and on a park bench was a woman who looked sad and disheveled. The young boy sat down next to her and opened a candy bar. He gave her a piece, and they ate their chocolate in silence. The woman had began to smile. He broke off another piece of chocolate and handed it to her, and once again, they both smiled and ate in silence for no words were necessary.
The young boy set off for home, leaving the woman to go on her way. When the boy got home, he was smiling brightly and his mother asked him why he was smiling so much, and his reply was, “I just met Jesus in the park!” His mother just looked at him. The woman, on the other hand walked home and upon entering her house, was wearing the same smile, and her husband inquired as to why she was smiling so widely? Her response came “I just met Jesus in the park, and he was a lot younger than I expected…”
I spoke to the women during our break and I told them the story about when I was diagnosed with AIDS and I was told that I was going to die, at the same time, many of my friends were dying left and right. Many of those boys and men were thrown to the streets by family, friends and lovers, because they were sick and dying.
Hospital nurses and doctors treated us like pariah. Civilized human beings, became animals over night. Funeral homes would not prepare the dead, and there was no one to care for the sick and the dying. I was one of those people. Save for the man who saved my life, back then, I am grateful to be alive to tell this story: I joined a group of determined people who fed the hungry, bathed the dirty and cared for the sick and when they died, we cared for, bathed and buried them 162 of them I knew as friends…
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
Now at the end of our day we make our Examen prayer. It is now that we review our day and we ask the five questions:
- Begin with Gratitude for all that God showed you today
- Petition – We ask for God grace and insight
- Review – We review our hearts
- Forgiveness – we beg and we offer
- Renewal – What do I need for tomorrow?
What good have you done for another today, just because? And what good was done for you today, just because? What are you grateful for and what are you not grateful for? When today did your heart soar into the sky, and when did it fall into the pit of your stomach? Did you forgive all those who need to be forgiven, and did you seek forgiveness for something you may have erred on today? And finally, what did you not have today, that you might need for tomorrow???
Have a good night. Blessings on your heads…
Defining the Holiness Tradition:
- Holiness means the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done
- Holiness is not rules and regulations
- Holiness is sustained attention to the heart, the source of all living action
- Holiness it not otherworldliness
- Holiness is world-affirming
- Holiness is not a consuming asceticism
- Holiness is a bodily spirituality
- Holiness is not “works righteousness”
- Holiness is a “striving to enter in” as Jesus tells us Effort is not the opposite of grace; works is.
- Holiness is not perfectionism
- Holiness is progress in purity and sanctity
- Holiness is not absorption into God
- Holiness is loving unity with God
We, you see, are terribly prone to settle for less than what God desires for us. We are glad enough for God to remove and irritating behavior from our personality (a sour disposition, for example), or a destructive addiction (like alcoholism), but it is a very different thing for him to begin restructuring our inner affections.
We may be willing to give up honors and possessions and even friends, but it touches us too closely to disown ourselves. And yet we simply must understand that God is seeking not to improve us but to transform us. C.S. Lewis writes, “The goal towards which [God] is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except you yourself, can prevent Him from taking you to that goal.
We are — each and every one of us — a tangled mass of motives: hope and fear, faith and doubt, simplicity and duplicity, honesty and falsity, openness and guile. God knows our heart better than we ever can. He is the only one who can separate the true from the false; he alone can purify the motives of the heart. But he does not come uninvited. If chambers of our heart have ever experienced the healing touch, perhaps it is because we have not welcomed the divine scrutiny.
The most important, the most real, the lost lasting work is accomplished in the depths of our heart. This work is solitary and interior. It cannot be seen by anyone, even ourselves. It is a work known only to God. It is the work of heart purity, soul conversion, life transfiguration.
Though we cannot see the work itself, we can detect some of its effects. We experience a new firmness of life-orientation. We experience a settled peace that we do not fully understand and cannot fully explain. We begin seeing everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good. And, most amazing of all, we begin to feel abiding, unconditional warm regard for all people.
But believe me, God is determined to pursue this good work in us to the very end. C.S. Lewis observes, “The command Be Ye Perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. [God] is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He meant what He said. Those who put themselves in His hands will become perfect, as He is perfect — perfect in love, wisdom, joy, beauty, and immortality.”
We could imitate the life of Christ down to minutest detail and still not be righteous. Our actions, in and of themselves contain not a single iota of righteousness. All the actions of discipleship do is place us before God so that he can begin to build the righteousness of the kingdom within us. Purity of heart, indiscriminate love, a peace that transcends understanding — these, and so much more, are the things built into the heart of the disciple.
I wish that this simple counsel did not sound so trivial, for it is a profound truth for our growth: stumbling is part of our growing. Our mistakes and failures teach us the right way to live — and that the right way is the good way. And after stumbling it is no small thing to start the beginning once again. We are learning that by starting again and again and again something firm and lasting is being built in us. The old writers call this something “fortitude,” and fortitude builds habits, and habits build character, and character builds destiny.
Everyone is called to Holiness of heart and life. Anthony bloom reminds us that “all holiness is God’s holiness in us: it is a holiness that is participation and, in a certain way, more than participation, because as we participate in that we can receive from God, we become a revelation of that which transcends us.
Excerpts from “Streams of Living Water” Richard J. Foster, pgs. 82-96
Last night I watched some tv and I found it enlightening. There was a show on the ONE channel about Rumi, the 13th century Sufi mystic, who I am familiar with from my studies. I am oft to wander into the mystical from time to time, to get away from dogma and rules of institution. Sufi Mysticism is a wonderful branch of the Islamic tradition. I have always wanted to attend a whirling ceremony and find myself free of the world wanting to whirl with abandon, each step a prayer each breath a meditation.
In the study of religious traditions, each branch of the religious has its representative mystical tradition. I have read many writings on the Christian mystics both male and female, those people who have had ecstatic visions and experiences of God and the Divine.
I also spent some time chatting with my friends at IMVU for a while. Over the course of chatting a number of my friends have asked me about my studies, and when I offer that I am in Theological studies now, they have responded with responses such as, “well I am an agnostic” and “I go my own way, I don’t believe in church or in anyone who tells me what to believe” and to each their own, I do not have any judgments of any persons path of belief or practice. Agnostic is defined as
“a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.”
I guess I have more than experience, in my studies and on my spiritual path. I think in my case, I have learned that one has to be open to anything when one seeks the Divine in normal everyday life. I have my issues with church too. Yet, I keep returning to the fount of wisdom that is my Christian heritage. I could not be parted from it. I do not want to be parted from it. The more I study, the more insight I learn about. There is so much to read, so much to study, so much to learn that there are not enough hours in the day to read and study, but I make time each night before bed to read and to pray.
We are supposed to be reading The Holy Longing, and we were asked to read the entire Gospel of Luke for Christian Spirituality. I am also working on A History of Christian Theology for my other class. It is a lot of dense academic reading. I spent a couple of hours last night reading the history of Judaism and Jesus in context to the Judaic traditions, and I find that the reading moves me. The fire that is lit within gets stronger when I read, I love Judaic tradition and literature and the Hebrew Scriptures. It has been said that if i ever left Christianity, I would certainly become a Jew.
Over the last few years I have studied Jewish tradition, and scripture as part of my Christian studies. In reading the history of Judaism we learn insight to the movement of Christianity that stems from the Judaic tradition, as Jesus comes on line as the Son of God and the teacher to the multitudes.
I ended my night studies with my bible in hand and the Gospel of Luke. And at the end of the 6th Chapter we come upon these words: Luke 6:46-49
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
I would hope that I have built my house on a solid foundation and that I hear the words and I put them into action for myself and for you. I also found it wonderful to revisit this Gospel because we have either read or heard the stories about the annunciation to Elizabeth and to Mary, The Angel Gabriel is a very busy man… But also I thought to myself in reading that “do you know who the twelve disciples are?” This was a quiz question in one of my biblical studies class, so I stopped to ponder the passage about Jesus’ calling of the twelve: Luke 6:12-16
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”
We have read the bible passages and studied biblical history and I have studied the Gnostic Gospels now, and now we may know that Judas Iscariot was really not a traitor, if you take his Gospel as [possibly true] that Judas played a role in the crucifixion of Jesus, but in reading his Gospel, he was complicit in Jesus’ life role. Every time I read biblical scripture against what I have learned so far in my studies, my bible is enlightened, with the specific knowledge I have massed on any given biblical personality.
I find it incredible that in reading scripture that I can actually recall knowledge that I have collected over the years to fill in the gaps in biblical stories with The bible is not just a book that we read on Sunday or we quote when necessary to show our egos over others who may not be a learned as we. The more I study other texts, the more informed my biblical reading is.
Add to scripture study, my reading of fiction and non-fiction books over the years. I was, at one point, moved to read Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt, where she tells the story of Jesus as a child, in those years where he is absent from biblical writing. We do not know what happened to or what Jesus did during his childhood, until his public ministry began in his thirties.
We know that he was baptized and presented in the temple and that he spent time in the temple talking with the teachers there, but we don’t have a full account of Jesus’ childhood. Anne Rice offers us a window into a possible scenario of how Jesus grew up and what he knew as a child and as well, what his mother Mary knew about him and his abilities as a young child. I have seen on tv, shows that have touched on these topics in the last few months. All of these readings lend to my studies of Christianity.
So I was sitting in bed reading my bible last night, and I thought to myself, I needed to read this again, in full measure. I love my bible, and my studies.
These are just some thoughts on my studies as they move forward…
Thanks for reading…
In Jain cosmology, the heavens are set up in a multi level system with the lower heavens and the upper heavens.
Jain Cosmology from Religion Facts Online
Jains believe that the universe and everything in it is eternal. Nothing that exists now was ever created, nor will it be destroyed. The universe consists of three realms: the heavens, the earthly realm and the hells.
There are seven levels of heaven in Jain cosmology. The top level, “the Realm of the Jinas” is reserved for liberated souls. The next level down is the realm of the gods.
The earthly realm, or jambudnoa (“Continent of the Rose-Apple Tree”) is divided into seven regions by six mountain ranges. Deliverance and religious merit is possible in three of these regions: India in the south, airavat in the north, and mahavideha in the middle.
The eight hells become progressively colder as they go down.
I had a visual dream today about the heavens. It was multileveled like Jain cosmology, yet it has a very Buddhist twist. I was standing on this plane, and I was taken up to the next plane of existence. I understood that when you die on one plane, you move to the next in an ever present ever changing world of existence.
Each plane of existence was not so much grander than the one before it, but there were clear differences in them as you moved from one level to the next. I was told that you cannot move between the existence planes or influence what was going on below. I had the ability to see cities and towns, and move from place to place, and space to space. I found myself navigating through apartments and gardens. I was able to move from one level [plane] to the next as if floating between the spiritual levels.
It was a technicolor dream of grand proportions. The colors were vivid the sky was bright blue and the temples were incredibly amazing with their sculptures and decorated statues and gardens. There was life and there was death.
I looked upon a calendar like structure, it was almost as if each life was documented and as the soul moved through each plane, they would come to the time where they would leave [each] plane of existence moving upwards towards the uppermost level. At the end of your time of existence on each plane there were temples to celebrate your life and mourn your death.
I do not know if there was an earthbound soul that corresponded to a spiritual soul making their way up through the many spiritual levels, rising to the top most level of shrines and gardens. I could not see below, I was focused on what was going on around me.
You exist on each level in successive and once you complete your time on each level you die, and that is not a bad thing. Eventually you end up on the final level where you find a huge temple with a gigantic Buddha and lakes and rivers, and temples and places to live.
I am familiar with Jain cosmology and with Buddhist tradition. They do not share the same afterlife cosmology which is strange because what I saw was very Jain, but what was the Buddha doing there? Jain and Buddhist tradition are very similar in many ways as when I studied Jainism, Buddhist writings were consulted.
“If I profess to a spiritual man on the inside, I must be that spiritual man on the outside, for if I am not, then I am a lie, and I would not be true to myself or my spirit.”
I went to have coffee with my friends, like I do every Tuesday. I set up the meeting like I do every Tuesday. I spent time with the people that matter the most to me in my sobriety. I take time out of my schedule each week to stand and be counted amongst my friends walking this path into sobriety. We are all on this journey we call life, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part…
I have tools in my trusty little toolbox. Several themes have been recurring over the last month that I took notice of today when I shared at the meeting. Staying in my day is at the top of this list, living in the moment comes in second, gratitude third, and humility fourth. Next comes I am not God, and I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some.
I am reading again, “Many Lives Many Masters” by Brian L. Weiss once again. For some reason I have been drawn to this text again. Am I learning my lessons? Am I making karmic headway into my commitment to this life I am living? Am I sharing what I know with all of you to the best of my ability? Am I a good steward of my peers? What lessons are left for me to learn on this earthbound plane? And what am I missing?
I’ve never been this Sober in my life. I’ve never felt so free as I feel today. I’ve never been this sober for so long in my life, and I would never give this up for all the booze in Montreal. I have learned so much over the last six years and I’ve written about this journey over the years for you to read and to maybe identify.
Then little things start to happen when you least expect it. The work that you do day in day out pay off when one of your readers comes back to say thank you. That it made a difference that I reached out a hand to someone in the dark and offered my candle to them, and we walked, and that I had that kind of impact on one of my readers, that is what we call “grace.”
Through the vehicle of sobriety I am mindful of others on the path. Through my study of religion(s), I know that we are all on the same journey, for all of us are born of a tradition whether we name it or not. Whether we embrace it or not, we are all born into a tradition. And I have been heard to say that if I was not a Christian I surely would be a Jew.
There were times on this journey when Judaism spoke to my heart and beckoned me to hear her. She has a beautiful voice, sweet and warm, welcoming and embracing. I have mentioned recently that one of the most moving times in my life over the last five years was spending Passover at a shul here in Montreal, during my religious studies.
We all follow the same God, no matter what you call him or her. We are all born of the creator, formed from the breath of that god and formed by his hand, he knows us and loved us into being and he counts every hair on our heads and he counts every tear that we shed. How many of us stop to thank that creator for watching over us and loving us?
I find that in being one of you, that I want to become more of you. Life is Life is Life, we cannot change the past, but we surely can influence the future. If there is something we must learn, then learn it. The quicker the better, because suffering in that area will end.
If we are repeating mistakes, then it is a forgone conclusion that we need to change that way of being, so that we start learning new lessons. Because until we learn all the lessons we need to learn, we will not leave this mortal coil, and move into our next emanation. It is written that many of us reincarnate together, that we have agreed to be here in this life together. That we knew each other in a past life, and we signed on for this journey before we got here together.
One of my professors of Buddhism once told a class of students, that I was part of that semester that as she looked out across the room, she said that what an amazing group of people, that we chose to be together in that room, in that class, for a specific reason. That we were destined to walk together at that point in time.
I like to think that every person on my read list is part of my journey. We agreed to be here together, that we have lessons to learn from each other, and that if we don’t reach out a hand, that we might miss something that we are supposed to learn or know about us or anyone else in our respective read groups.
I am reminded of this bible passage from the book of Luke 17 :11-19
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
We all have our issues, our illnesses, our own problems, big and small, I for sure have my own concerns, but you know, it ain’t that bad. I could be a lot worse. I could be as sick as I once was.
But when “They” came for me and took me to that place some years ago, and “They” told me that I would be healed and that I would live, I believed “Them,” and so it was. And when “She” came to me and wrapped her arms about me and “She” soothed my aching heart because I prayed to “Her” I was healed, body and soul. I have always tried to remember gratitude. It is something I teach all of you too…
I don’t know what to say except thank you. Thank you for coming to read, and for being part of my journey. Maybe you will understand some of this message and maybe some of it will speak to your journey. Maybe we are to be awakened to see others on the path, and maybe we are being called to reach out and touch others however possible. We are all on this journey, and isn’t it better to walk together than walk alone.
We are all blessed to be here together, and we are called to be here together. We are called to be fishers of men, spreaders of the good news. And by that I mean, we may not ascribe to one gospel or one teaching, but we must share what is good in our lives, with whom ever will spend some time with us.
We all carry a gospel within us, we all carry a tradition within us, whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we respect it or not, whether we want to or not. Each of us is a walking memory of tradition, for we all live and breathe and as so long as we do, it is our calling to share that tradition with others, because it is who we are.
Life is Life is Life, and if life was too easy, where would the challenge to live come from? We are called to do the best that we can with this life, even in our own suffering. And for a moment I reflect on this teaching from the Late Pontiff John Paul II:
From: Rise let us be on our way, where he speaks about suffering.
“I have always been conscious of the fundamental importance of what the suffering contributes to the life of the church. I remember that at the beginning the sick initiated me. I needed a lot of courage to stand before a sick person and enter, so to speak, into his physical and spiritual pain, not to betray discomfort, and to show at least a little loving compassion. Only later did I begin to grasp the profound meaning of the mystery of human suffering. In the weakness of the sick, I saw emerging ever more clearly a new strength – the strength of mercy. In a sense, the sick provoke mercy. Through their prayers and sacrifices, they not only ask for mercy but create a “space for mercy,” or better open up spaces for mercy. By their illness and suffering they call forth acts of mercy and create the possibility for accomplishing them.”
So we walk together and we suffer together and we lift each other up and that is our calling to the world. No matter how hard life gets, there is a purpose for each of us to bear our crosses, even if we hate them or how bad we want to rid ourselves of them, they are with us, and if we are walking together, then when that cross gets too heavy, one of us will help you carry it. And when we cannot walk another step, it will be God who carries us.
You never know when something you write will speak to a reader and to that end, I am grateful for the opportunity to write for you, to uplift you, to pray for you and to be your friend, even if we are miles apart, I think about each and every one of you every day as I run through my reads, every day. It humbles me to think that this little blog has become such a wonderful tool to reach out to you and to maybe help you, or bring a smile to your face, and even if you roll your eyes at me when i get preachy like this, I know that you will keep reading because once you start, you cannot stop. Because maybe at the bottom of the page there will be a tidbit for you, a piece of wisdom you might need, a prayer you might need at the moment. A light that you might need in your darkness.
There is the custom at Hanukkah of lighting the candles and the significance of the candles to the amount of oil that burned in the temple. At Christmas it is a custom in my house to give light [a candle] as a gift, because we are to spread that light where we can. With that thought I will close this post, with a simple: Thank You…
I hope that this holiday brings you all that you wish, all that you need, and all that you hope for. Goodnight from Montreal.
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
According to most writers, groups of souls tend to reincarnate together again and again, working out their karma (debts owed to others and to the self, lessons to be learned) over the span of many lifetimes.
Our task is to learn, to become God-like through knowledge. We know so little. By knowledge we approach God, and then we can rest. Then we come back to teach and help others.
[Catherine] “I have been to different planes at different times. Each one is a level of higher consciousness. What plane we go to depends on how far we’ve progressed…What have you learned???
That we must share our knowledge with other people. That we all have abilities far beyond what we use. Some of us find this out sooner than others. That you should check your vices before you come to this point. If you do not, you carry them over with you to another life.
Only we can rid ourselves of the bad habits that we accumulate when we are in physical state. The Masters cannot do that for us. If you choose to fight and not rid yourself, then you will carry them over into another life. And only when you decide that you are strong enough to master the external problems, then you will no longer have them in your next life.
We are given intuitive powers we should follow and not try to resist. Those who resist will meet with danger. We are not sent back from each plane with equal powers. Some of us possess powers greater than others, because they have been accrued from other times. Thus people are not all created equal, But eventually we will reach a point where we will all be equal.
Excerpts from Many Lives Many Masters by Brian Weiss M.D.
There is a bank of Fog hanging over the city at 2:31 in the a.m. a good place to start writing for this entry, the tunes are loaded and Seal is singing…
My friends will tell you that I am a pretty emotional man, that I wear my heart on my sleeve and I will probably give you the shirt off my back if you needed it. I have learned many things in forty years of life. I work very hard at maintaining friendships and that the people I hold close to me are a chosen few. I don’t usually allow outsiders into my circle without you first proving that you can step up to the challenge of loyalty and trust.
In as many years of life, I have banked a few twenty four hours in recovery to tell you that emotional sobriety is as important, if not more important that physical sobriety. Because if you are not emotionally sober, you can’t stay physically sober. And the maintenance of that sobriety is important for me. I can’t flip on my emotional switch and just turn it off like some can. Because, I am just a feeling kind of guy.
I work very hard at helping my sons grow into upstanding, right young men. I also work very hard at helping my husband evolve in his own special way, because he requires that special attention, being emotionally challenged. I protect him fiercely and I love him dearly because I learned how to take care of him from nothing at all, when doctors told us that he was sick and required massive medications to keep him sailing on the big ocean of life. I became the one life preserver that he could always rely on, twenty four hours a day and seven days a week.
At forty, I am acutely aware that time is fleeting, “tempis fugit” time flies, and if you don’t pay attention to time, and it escapes you without notice then, you have missed part of life. I don’t offer my counsel very often, but when I do, you should at least stop and read what I have to say, because somewhere there, is buried a piece of wisdom I am sure you might want to have in your toolbox.
If I could turn back the hands of time, I would take it, if only for a day, an hour, if I could choose what period of time I wanted to return to. But you cannot go backwards, only forwards. I also know that at my age, that I can not return to ages past without a pay out of emotion or physicality.
Being HIV positive for so many years has afforded me many lessons. I am a trusting person and I usually offer you the benefit of the doubt on the first go, if I deem you necessary to be near me. We are all teachers and we are all students, so I don’t usually dismiss people from my circle unless you seriously piss me off or insult me as a man, a writer or a human being. Because if you do that to me, then I know that you were not meant to stay in my circle to begin with. I feel deeply and I mourn hard, and I love in ways mere mortal men and women would never see, having seen the horror or benefits that I have in forty years of living.
Some people call me crazy, that I have a program of recovery that I am the odd man out, when it comes to gay issues, culture or relationships. I beg to differ. All lessons afforded men and women are universal. We all need to learn basic principles. And we all need to know how to live with each other and with ourselves. If we do not master our emotions and our feelings, we will be walking talking time bombs willing to spout off when we are triggered. Sobriety teaches me that I am responsible for my words, my actions and my deeds. That if I share some piece of wisdom with you, I must speak from experience and tell you where I have been and be able to provide you a road map of why I am speaking these particular words to any of you at any given moment of the day or night.
I practice responsible writing: Therefore, If I give you advice or wisdom, it has to be right, good and comes from the place in my heart where meaning and care reside. I’m not going to give bad advice, because if i do, and you fuck up after hearing something that I say, then I am responsible for that. I try, each day to be a good writer, and a good person.
I read blogs every day. There are about NINETY reads on my list, that I read daily. It is safe to say that I have spent the better part of a year now, reading your respective blogs on my sidebar over there —>!!! And I probably know you better than you know yourselves, because I read daily, and watch you come and go, and write and feel. I watch you battle with HIV, Depression, life and I read some blogs where I clearly know that you are people you know battle the wicked addiction, but who am I to call you a drunk? I stay away from sick people, because I get to wrapped up in your drama and that is bad for me. So I stay away.
As of late there are some reads where I know for a fact that some men are clearly in crisis for one reason or another. And so I offer counsel from a wise position. I have a fellow journeyman who is in a crisis and I offered this advice, I thought that it was useful to the rest of you as well so here it is:
You’re having problems, and I can see that. I wonder if you are going through what I am going through? I just turned 40, and I am anxious, preoccupied, but not enough to start dosing with medication. (On top of my hiv/depression meds) But it seems over the last month my biological clock is ticking and I want to jump out of my skin.
The one difference is – I don’t drink…
I don’t use either, I can’t as a test patient for the clinic.
Are you dousing more than usual, and to excess? Honestly, I can read…
I know what it is like to be the life of the party and the next day walking away from it, and I faced the problem that I just cannot go on doing this to myself, because I am killing myself slowly for sure, and I’ve faced my death many times over in the last 15 years. You might have good friends, but are they willing to see that something is not right, and want to help you find the cause and maybe stop.
Are we getting old and insecure to the point that we are feeling anxious and nervous? Because we have lived so long that at some point our subconscious starts waiting for the other shoe to drop? That at some point we might up and die? I don’t know what you are thinking or how your brain works, so I offer you what is going on in my head at times.
In order to get a handle on everything we have to look at everything, alcohol has this effect on the brain the more you douse it with the drink. With your family history of depression, the odds are stacked against you, and I have those issues too. But I have a program of recovery to help keep me sane and on track. I work very hard at taking care of me as a test patient the odds are always against me should i fail a regimen that I am testing. You want to talk about performance anxiety!! It takes a lot of work to look beautiful at 40, I am not the spry pretty chicken I was at 26 when this all started.
Ask yourself if you are missing something, if you need a change, or is it time to do something different. Hell, we both live with this disease, at some point we might get to the point of “What about me?” Maybe you need to change something that may be insignificant, or maybe quite possibly significant.
What are you doing that you should not, and what are you not doing that you should?
We cannot change the past, and though you need to know that the past only affects your present if you allow it to. Family medical history and timeline need to be taken into consideration when treating HIV as we are older and we start facing those issues our parents did.
If you are feeling not quite yourself, then a review of self and conscience should come next and listen to someone who can look from the outside who might see something that you might not want to or are ready to.
I’ve been reading you for over a year now, and I give a shit, that you live …
And I worry for you that you might get so scared enough (or paralyzed enough) to throw in the towel, and that would be a shame.
At some point we take an inventory and are ready to face everything we need to with courage knowing that we are not alone. I read, and I care enough to tell you what I have observed over the last year. From an outsider’s point of view.
Stop and listen to your heart and hear what it is saying to you, before you go crazy.
Ecclesiastes tell us that there is a time and a season for everything on earth. Here is that reading:Ecclesiastes 3:1-22…
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.
Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.
And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
I thought in my heart,
“God will bring to judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time for every deed.”
I also thought, “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?”
We should be mindful of all these things and remember that we are all on this path of life and we each share a stake in the endpoint of enlightenment. Because we all want to get there, with the least amount of pain or harm. With this said, there is a time to say, I have grown and I need to grow, but in order to grow I might have to make some changes, unless I want to hasten any myriad of circumstances to befall me. We are no longer children, we are all men. Some of us are much younger than me, a few of my reads, and you have not yet begun to live. So I offer you cautionary tale of what to avoid on your journey, that which will harm you, or cause you pain.
I can tell you about the road as I have lived it, and I offer this advice to anyone who wants to sit a listen to an old man ramble on his tales of loss and most importantly of TRIUMPH.
I welcome every reader who comes here, and I caution you, if you engage me, be prepared to be expected to be responsible and mindful that I am as fragile as the next person you read. We all have feelings and hopes and dreams. We all have expectations, and as a sober person, I know the detrimental harm that an expectation can wreak havoc on my life. If you come here and stir the pot and you give me reason to trust you and to listen to you beware that I have invested in what you brought to me.
Like I said above, I cannot turn my feelings off like throwing a circuit breaker. Once I start warming up and my heart engages, I am going to come to full steam before I know it, and full investiture is usually a forgone conclusion. If you start the pump don’t walk away and leave me foundering for another word, don’t fill me with hope then not follow through. Do not ask me to engage or reengage without knowing that a forty year old HIV positive man’s heart lies at the end of a very tight rope.
I did not pick my readers, you chose to come here and read, and that was your choice. So I will tell you that tonight, once again, my heart weeps because I am dealing with the hope of expectation, and once again, those who engaged me have fallen silent for some reason, although traffic to two certain posts is still running at this hour, so someone is reading them, I know that at this hour. If I pull down the entries, I would be running the risk that someone who needs to read those entries will not be able to. So they stay up.
Needless to say, if a resolution does not come – I must move on with my life, and wish you well because I cannot emotionally afford to be reengaged like an old motorcar, who has been sitting is a dusty garage for the last seventeen years. I have evolved enough today to know that I cannot go back, but only forwards. I wish you understood the mind of a sober person and I can’t explain it any further.
I am a hormonal emotional mess as of late and my biological clock is ticking and we are going into a full moon, and I am on the upswing, so any emotional output that come out of me today, is going to be fully high octane loaded, and to be let down in this very crucial and delicate state can wreak serious injury to me emotionally and mentally. But in the depth of my heart I want to know you, to be part of you, to love you and be your friend. You know who you are, yet you stay an arms length away. Why? I am not going to hurt you, maybe I can help you if you will give me half a chance.
Fare warning. The fog has lifted on the city and I can see clearly out the windows once again. A snow storm is brewing on the horizon and it should be an eventful white end to our week here in Montreal. Come walk with me and be my friend, please don’t keep me in the dark any longer because I cannot stand the pain. At some point if this pain is not stopped, then I must brokenheartedly walk away and not return. Please tell me that this emotion that I am feeling is not wasted on a ghost. I don’t think I can take the heartbreak of it all.
You may not gather the depth that many of those posts in pages have cost me emotionally to write, and if they have drawn you here and you rub me in that way, by engaging from that atmosphere, know that you are rubbing parts of me that will illicit immediate response. Living my life came with pain, tribulation and heartache. We do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it, so I don’t. Everything that I have written is true and comes from my heart. Do not play with my heart, because I wear it on my sleeve and if you break my heart, you will never be forgiven… Fare thee warned well…
Please for the love of god, do not ask me to talk, then leave me in the cold. Silence is the greatest torture another person can punish a soul with. Silence also gives consent. So I am speaking my words to you from the depth of my heart. My Master, many years ago taught me a very important lesson about expectations, and SILENCE. Do not ask me to endure your silence one more day, because I just cannot bear the pain of knowing you are out there, and you decide to shut down and give me the silent treatment. If you are a man you will answer my heed, and pay attention to my call.
If today you have a chance – please talk to me. The silence is killing me. And I cannot bear that pain much longer, it will cost me too much to carry this feeling much further. You may not know how deep you have cut into my soul by your invitation to dance. I want to dance, yet you stand in the darkness, just beyond my vision and my grasp. You tantalize me and you tempt me, you beckoned me and I was willing to entertain you, please respond to my call, do not let this day end without some word …
It is time for me to rest. My day is ended, and I am all written out…
Goodnight Danny, the ball is in your court. Play the next volley, for the love of God.
Last night on Coast to Coast am, we heard Sean David Morton talk about the future. I stayed up all night to listen to this show and I moved in on the Mayan Calendar information that he shared with listeners. If we are to move forward in our evolution here, maybe we should be listening to those men and women who are showing us the particular sign posts that we should be paying attention to.
Sean David Morton is one of the most respected futurist and remote viewers to participate in the Coast to Coast Radio show. Which can be heard around the world each night on thousands of stations.
I was struck by his uncanny ability to be certain in his words and that he had many positive hits over the years on world events that are occurring as we speak. There is much going on in the world, and he spoke about those of us who are intuitive and have gifts of second sight that our abilities are becoming alive and that we should be paying attention to what we are seeing and sensing, and that we should be paying attention to these occurrences.
For those of you who are interested in this kind of information, here is what I thought was important to share.
Futurist and intuitive Sean David Morton returned to share his predictions and insights. He discussed how humanity is affected by different cycles. For instance, a shift of energy starts with the beginning of the ,‘5th night of the Mayan Calendar’, November 19, 2007, and will run through Nov. 12, 2008. This will be a time of deep crisis for the “globalist materialist culture,” he said.
May 27-29, 2010 will mark another harmonic convergence, and it’ll be 1,000 times more powerful than the one in 1987. A pulse from the center of galaxy will arrive (as predicted by the Mayans) causing a change in the quality of sunlight, and this will have positive effects on human brain chemistry.
31-07-1967 – 12 Ahau – Mayan Birthday 26-02-2008
This is the 20th day sign of the uinal
It means “sun” “light” or “lord” It carries a visionary southern energy.
Light is the day sign of completion. It embodies the final cycles of evolution, of the highest potential of all life. This is why it is the final day sign, and it is also why it causes difficulties for those born into it.
Light persons are romantic visionaries who are often misperceived as unrealistic dreamers. Artistic, athletic and gifted in music and dance, they possess vast creative abilities, but also hold a profound wisdom and a sense of leadership and protection of their communities.
Endowed with a brilliant vision others lack, Light persons expect the world of themselves, as do those around them. But because they are so advanced they might find it difficult to understand and accept that the world they live in has not yet evolved to their own level of completion and equilibrium, instead still submerged in materialistic and ego-driven motives.
This will lead to certain disappointment and may cause Light persons to refuse responsibility, reject solutions or suggestions for improvement, or even harbor disdain or resentment towards others. Light’s challenge in life is to approach life realistically without compromising their higher dreams.
In the end however Light people will retain their natural profound spirituality that is the birthright of this last day sign of the uinal
Sleep is a necessity and dreams are most welcomed because that tells me that my brain is working overtime. Over the past few days I have worked my way into the silence. I find it comfortable to sit and ponder my thoughts without the accompaniment of background noise.
So I sit here in the silence of my room and I ponder and I wait for something inspiring to write, as it seems of late, that I haven’t been able to write for some strange reason. Not that I don’t have anything to write about – but my topics don’t seem, to me, to be very interesting.
There are dark clouds rolling in over the city from the North, they say it might snow again tonight, which would be the second time this week that we have seen the white stuff – so unlike last year when it did not snow until Valentines day here.
There are some young men I read daily who are going through the pains of growing up, so there is enough to read and comment on, and within my comments to them, I can see the wisdom of progress – not perfection. I guess I have the benefit of years of life experience to offer people, and I have answers for queries across the divide of blog space.
I’ve been working on my meditations and my prayer time as of late as well, my young friend Scott encourages us to pray deeply and expect miracles, and to believe strongly in a God that we worship.
I have finished writing my first term paper of the academic year on the topic of ‘Gnosis’ that is special knowledge based on the lives of Mary Magdalene, Paul the Apostle and Judas Iscariot. I think that the paper is one of my finest academic papers I have written in as many years. My prof has allowed me to publish this paper in its entirety because there is a seven page limit for the other students.
Living a spiritual life means that one has to cultivate those attributes which enable one to become spiritual to each their own in the quest to divine what the universe is trying to tell us. Sometimes I find it difficult being a solitary ‘being’ sitting in my garden by myself, alone with my God. It is sometimes daunting to think that he really sits and listens to my prayers and moderates my meditations.
Sometimes it is better to sit with others in a group setting to know that there are others doing the same thing, and that gives me peace to know that I am not alone. I have trouble at times being a solitary practitioner of spiritual practice, but that is what many of the desert fathers and mothers did in early Christian times.
I don’t fancy myself a solitary monk, setting off for a foreign land to share the gospel with the worldly. But I guess that’s what I am feeling as of late. So I have been forced to get quiet within myself and to know that it is ok, to be in the silence by myself because I am really not alone, as long as God is present and I know that there are others on the same road, just in different locations.
I sit here and imagine what it has been like for Dan to spend so many days sitting in the silence, and ponder what it is that he has learned and what he will bring forth for the rest of us. So I have been on this journey of personal self discovery and meditative reflection and I have devoted time each day to the practice of meditation and prayer to attempt to reach a place of serenity and to know that divinity that can be found there in the silence.
My spiritual director is apt to say that unless I get quiet, I will get lost in all the noise. If I don’t still my mind, I will walk around in the insanity of my head, which is some place that angels fear to tread on their own. As a person in recovery, I know the dangers of sitting inside ones head without proper meditative direction.
I have found as of late that my mind wanders on these fantastical trips to visual places in my past, when I am still and quiet. I have found myself in a vehicle that drives familiar roads and explores familiar streets and locations. And these visions come all on their own, I am not recalling them from memory it feels as if my brain is on visual auto pilot.
My inner juke box plays a selection of music every time I sit down and get still, I find that happens more often when I am in transit, in rising from and settling into bed, and even in the bathroom. I get into the shower and I hear music playing in my mind, familiar tunes that I have sung before. The bathroom is the best place to get quiet and have these musical and visual experiences. Which some might find strange, that just happens to be the one place where I am totally quiet.
I sit here in the silence and watch the lights on my Christmas tree change colors on a slow fade program. That’s kinda what my brain is doing at the same time, moving from one thought to the next in slow fade motion.
I had a dream about snakes yesterday. According to sources it is a bad omen to see snakes in ones dreams, I have also been crossing a bridge as of late as well, which signifies a change in circumstances and I should not make any changes in my life at the moment. hmm…
I don’t feel very prolific at the moment, my brain is a jumbled mess of little topics and doesn’t make much sense I am sure for you my reader. I have seen snakes, bridges, crossing bridges that are in good shape, I have been on exploration trips with others, and just this afternoon, I was on this science mission on a research ship with other people, it looked very Russian to me, in the dream, and the dream did not last, yet I can recall it right now.
So there you go, a mess of things to think about and discuss. I can’t wait for the return of Dan, I am sure he will have things for us to talk about, meditate over and think about.
We await the snow in Montreal…
While Dan is away meditating, I think about him daily and in my own way I seek a spiritual experience, maybe to be one with the teacher or maybe one with my friend.
I know a young man who is in ministry who inspires me to be more than I am even if I am a sinner, and forever un-forgiven by God in some eyes. I can’t fully join the Christian movement of being saved because of what I am in certain circles. But I am no less for desiring to be ‘in communion’ just for a moment.
Live the Word and Breathe Prayer is his motto.
It is a call to action, a call to be, a call to rise up from where we are to look upon where we could be, if we Live the Word and Breathe Prayer. I find myself wanting community and I find myself lacking in that here in my life.
I find myself missing ‘people’ and ‘community.’ Although I am part of this huge virtual community spread out over the land, it is the physical connection I long to have.
I started reading a new book called “Discernment – Acquiring the heart of God.” Within my theological studies, academically, I also have my spiritual studies that flow from my spiritual director. I don’t know quite what I am looking for exactly, but I listen for that still small voice that speaks from the heavens.
I spent a few hours last night reading a bit, and I remembered this thought that I wanted to share with you. The Ladder of the Monks:
“Reading is the careful (respectful) study of the scriptures, concentrating all one’s power on it. Meditation is the busy application of the mind to seek with help of ones own reason for knowledge of hidden truth. Prayer is the hearts devoted turning to God to drive away evil and obtain what is good. Contemplation is when the mind is in some sort lifted up to God and held above itself, so that it tastes the joys of everlasting sweetness.”
“Reading without meditation is sterile, meditation without reading is liable to error, prayer without meditation is lukewarm, meditation without prayer is unfruitful, prayer when it is fervent wins contemplation but to obtain it without prayer would be rare, even miraculous.”
Today some practitioners of lectio divina add a fifth step – to put into action their faith…
- Reading scripture or sacred writings is important
- Prayer is the conscious “speaking concerns to God”
- Meditation is the active “listening for God’s voice”
- Contemplation is the act of “thoughtful reflection”
- and finally – action through faith …
Practices that strengthen the capacity for concentration or attention play a role in most great religious traditions. The importance of developing attention is most readily seen in the great traditions that arose in India, namely Hinduism and Buddhism.
From the Upanisadic seers down to the present day, there is in India an unbroken tradition of man’s attempt to yoke his self (body and mind) to ultimate reality.
Yoga takes many forms, but its essential psychological form is the practice of one pointed attention or concentration. Whether by fixing the attention on a mantra or on the flow of the breath or on some other object, the attempt to quiet the automatized activities of the mind through concentrated attention is the first step and continuing theme of Hindu psychological yoga.
Our soul is not something we have, it is more something we are.
A healthy soul, therefore, must do two things for us. First, it must put some fire in our veins, keep us energized, vibrant, living with zest, and full of hope as we sense that life is, ultimately, beautiful and worth living.
Whenever this breaks down in us, something is wrong with our souls. When cynicism, despair, bitterness, or depression paralyze our energy, part of the soul is hurting.
Second, e healthy soul has to keep us fixed together. It has to continually give us a sense of who we are, where we came from, where we are going, and what sense there is is all of this. When we stand looking at ourselves, confusedly, in a mirror and ask ourselves what sense, if any, there is to our lives, it is this other part of the soul, our principle of integration, that is limping.
In a matter of speaking, the soul has a principle of chaos and a principle of order within it and its health depends upon giving each its due. Too much order and you die of suffocation, to omuch chaos and you die of dissipation.
Every healthy spirituality, therefore, will have to worship at two shrines, the shrines of the God of chaos and the God of order. One God will keep us energized, the other will keep us joined together. These two functions of the soul are always in creative tension.
We have in us spirit, soul, and what we do with that soul is our spirituality. At a very basic level, long before anything explicitly religious need be mentioned, it is true to say that if we do things which keep us energized and integrated, on fire and yet glued together, we have a healthy spirituality.
From Ron Rolheiser, “What is Spirituality” – The Holy Longing.
I’m thinking about Dan, and I am thinking about You!!!