Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

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Sunday Sundries – Paris, People, and the End of Provigo

parisThe sanctity of life has once again, been forgotten.

When a group of well organized jihadists scheme, plan, and execute an attack on innocent people, they further prove that men of radical bent, will kill with impunity, with No regards to human life, No religion, and No creed.

They are killing in the name of corrupt ideology.

They are not killing in the name of Islam.

And they surely are not killing in the name of the Prophet, Peace be upon Him.

I kept my counsel until now, because I wanted to watch how the rest of the world framed this atrocity on human life. To see if there would be a backlash on Muslim people, and what kind of repercussions would take place.

One mosque in Ontario was burnt to the ground over the weekend.

I’ve relied mostly on European new agencies for news so that I would not get the taint that Western media tends to spin on any given subject.

The questions have been posed. Who did this, Why, Who funded them, and how did they plan and execute human atrocity and nobody was none the wiser. It did not blip on any radar, no security services had been alerted before hand.

And I read that the French Security services HAD dropped the ball.

The odd parking ticket, left at the club, where almost a hundred lost their lives, led to a hot bed of Jihadi men. Someone is going to pay, dearly.

The nationalities of the victims are coming to light, which then invites international scrutiny and investigations, in addition to the French authorities and French Security Services.

If the war had not been ramped up yet, it will now.

Here in Canada, the official Conservative opposition party, has put a motion forwards to our young rookie Prime Minister, to change his tack, and instead of pulling our air fighters from the Syrian theatre, to keep them there to assist in the destruction of Is.

The world is interconnected. We are one human family. We cannot say that we are not sad, or that we are unmoved.

We must speak up as One People and say “Je Suis Paris …”

Here in Montreal there has been an outpouring of sadness and solidarity over the weekend. Our community has marched in the streets, gathered at the French Consulate, and have spoken out as one in saying that we feel for Paris, and that we are here.

Canada is not immune to terrorism. But we are oceans and miles away from the center of action. And I guess that somewhat insulates us from the broader conflict. But does not make us immune to that “one off” lone wolf attack.

People still go about their business. But I sense that our community is a bit more aware of their surroundings, when out and about. You never know when the next hit is going to come, or from where.

We send all of our thoughts and prayers to the people of Paris and to France at large.

You are never alone. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

The scourge of jihadi terrorism will not win. We will find you and we will kill you.

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

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

It was an uneventful weekend here. I am still in rest mode. I did what I had to do over the weekend. I spent time with friends, went to a few meetings, and rested in between.

Tonight was a big night in Montreal Sobriety.

Our humble Sunday Niters Group celebrated 52 years of being a meeting tonight.

In time speak, we are one of just a handful of meetings in the city that are so old. We have an illustrious history, and many old timers who were part of earlier incarnations of our meeting came tonight to celebrate with us.

14 years ago, Sunday Niters was located in a grand church names Saint Jame United, which is on the East end of town near Place Des Arts. The room had vaulted ceilings and a large kitchen with double ovens and counter space. Back in the day we had two meetings. One, a Step Discussion meeting, and Two, a Speaker meeting.

The holiday’s were the best back then, because we cooked massive Christmas Feasts and we fed hundreds of people, in the meeting and off the streets. It WAS the place to be at Christmas.

In 2009, we moved from the East end to our present location, St. Leon’s Church in Westmount, which is just shyly west, of Downtown Montreal. I am just a fifteen minute walk away.

We carried two meetings for a while, until numbers dropped off to far, and we dropped our speaker meeting opting for our single Literature Discussion.

One of our elder men spoke, then we discussed the Home Group. Afterwards there was a feast of food and drink and cake.

It was the first time in my memory that we had this big a turn out.

A good time was had by all.

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

There has been a rumor running around our neighborhood for the past few weeks. On the way out to a meeting one Thursday night, we met up with a friend who worked in our Provigo, just downstairs.

I had commented to her that (over Thanksgiving) that the selection of good had changed to no name brands across the store. I had noticed that many of the name brands I purchase on a regular basis, had been phased out, for yellow box, no name same.

Her reply was, “they are going to close the store.”

Tonight, on the way out, I had to get some soda for the celebration. Now, I know all the cashiers on first name basis. And as I cashed out, she said to me, “will you miss us?” And I asked her why, and she replied, “they are closing the store on January 6th.”

I was like W.T,F.???

The stores lease is up and the Toyota dealership that owns the building, is taking over the space. There is a car dealership, just across the street from the Provigo. Upstairs, above the grocery store is the Toyota service center.

There is going to be a massive move of sites, and the other speculation is that condos are going to be built above the 4 story building that sits on that corner.

There are 4 grocery stores that serve our neighborhood. The IGA which is in the Alexis Nihon shopping mall, 3 blocks down. There is Adonis, which opened on the ground floor of the Seville Condo Project, which is two blocks down. And finally, P.A. grocery store which is a boutique store (which is directly across the street from Provigo, up the block, above Ste. Catherine’s street), with a butcher shop, fine foods, fruits and vegetables. (I don’t consider them a proper grocery store because I don’t shop there except for specialty items I can’t get anywhere else).

It is said that since Adonis opened a year ago, the Provigo sales have slumped enough that closing the store was the only option. I shop at Adonis, well, I shopped at Adonis for a while, and it looks like they are going to become our go to grocery store, because it is closer.

The Alexis Nihon Commission spent millions of dollars over the last year in renovating and retrofitting the mall to bring it up to spec. The IGA footprint was expanded to double its original footprint, and they offer a great shopping experience. However, carrying bags of groceries from the mall – home is going to be a real pain in the ass.

I might have to invest in a roller cart.

Christmas Decorations are up at the mall, and on the way home, I noticed that workers have begun framing out the new occupant (read: Canadian Tire) in the defunct Target space. A wall is being framed in front of the original frontage wall, which has a huge panel of windows to one side that rise to the second floor of the mall. We shall see what direction they take the new store.

The Big Switch is going to take place. The Old Canadian Tire is located on the floor above the ground floor, on the mezzanine. They are going to move it downstairs. Which opens up another store for new occupants. Winners is stuck between the Second and third floor (read: Parking) and they will stay where they are.

The old Target space is a larger footprint than the old Canadian Tire upstairs.

But, their car detail department won’t have a bay on the ground floor, so I am not sure how they are going to work that out. In the building proper, there is a massive car wash, a car service center for Canadian Tire, several business buildings (read: Towers) and many residential buildings (also towers) (read; Westmount Square), all incorporated into the original structure.

On the local scene, Le Square Condo project, just this week, raised its 20 story building crane onsite, that condo project is moving faster along, than Le Catherine, which is just a few spots down the street from home. Le Square, is on Cabot Square. Le Catherine, is on Ste. Catherine’s Street, just across the street from the new Starbucks that opened with the Seville Project last year.

With the loss of Provigo, and the addition of two MORE condo projects going up, the local shopping scene is going to change. Prices are either going to moderate in the existing stores, or they will go through the roof.

We will either Feast or Starve …

Time will only tell how the neighborhood is going to fare with loosing an anchor grocery store.

There are only 41 shopping days until Christmas …

Ho Ho Ho !!!!

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … “Your frothy Starbuck’s Drink …”

tumblr_lg42xmuNRI1qd2c7ao1_500 cutelgbtcouplesBeing married, has its perks … Because there is someone there to make it all better…

The last time I saw the baby, I got sick. That was more than three weeks ago. I thought that it would just be a cold or quite possibly a short lived flu… Wrong !!!

My cold just got worse. And added to that I was taking a new pill, and I could not differentiate whether it was the pill making me sick, or something else. When that question arises, in any situation, one should roll the clock back to the point where everything was well and good. And if you can pin point what it was, at that point that changed, one figures out what to do.

I stopped taking the pill, until I could prove otherwise, that IT wasn’t making me sick. All the while, I am spending way too much money on over the counter medication, cough syrup and other cold ending drugs. I had a problem. The simple shit wasn’t doing the trick.

Being immuno-compromised, you must always fear a bug getting worse. Your T- Cells, aren’t always going to work their magic. Sometimes shit gets past the sensors.

I had a laundry list for my doctor, whom I called first thing when I rolled out of bed.

My doctor is not in his office everyday of the week. So it was a shot in the dark to call and actually get his receptionist on the other end.

I am pumped up on over the counter shit, if I sleep on my right side, I wheeze and cough. If I sleep on my left side, I am clear to go. “problem!!!”

I had things to do and places to go, and there was nobody to do my sober chores for me. I got ready to go, and headed for the Metro. I had to make a trip all the way to the East end, to the inter-group office to pick up chips for my guys. UGH !!!

I had a call into my doctor by that point. He had not called back, so I called him again, before I got on the train, I needed to see him, today, if it was possible. I got the green light, to see him, so I ran my errands, because he was not expecting me until around 4.

I was headed way east, I hit my destination with plenty of time. Then I had to decide what to do next. I was on the far side of the grid which lends the ability to take the green line back into the grid and make a transfer to the line that will take me to the line I needed.

There are four lines … Green, Orange, Yellow and Blue.

carte_metro

Quick Metro lesson …

One the left you see Atwater on the green line. I live near that station. I traveled to Pie IX station on the far side East on the Green line. On the way back, I changed stations at Berri (see big yellow box) on the right hand side. This is one connection point between the two solitude’s, the green line and the orange line.

I needed to make my way to the Blue line, which is a trek up the Orange line to Jean Talon station, upper right hand section of the grid. I made my transit towards that doctors office, Which is on the Blue Line at Acadie.

Because to come all the way home, to go all the way back out was pointless.

I had confidence I would get in today, so I packed a book in my bag.

When I got to the doctors office, it was 2 o’clock. Doc told me not to show up before 4.

As is always, I always wait, I am always the last patient, sometimes that is a good thing, because I get ALL the time that I need.

I dressed in my most flashy, long sleeve Sunflower (read:Yellow), shirt.

I get to the doctors office, I walk upstairs, and the office is packed to the rafters, all the chairs were taken and there were men standing up waiting on their wives. In our Greek community, you never travel alone. People travel in packs.

Today I noticed a trend …

As I walked upstairs into the office, it was as if I was walking into a funeral home, being the brightest flower amid a sea of black. Everybody was dressed in black, the men included.

I felt like Luna Lovegood at the Weasley wedding… (10 points if you get that reference).

I had a book, I had a Pepsi, and I had M&M’s … I was good to go.

A few minutes later, I even got a chair to sit in.

I had wanted to ask that question … But it slipped my mind.

I saw my doc. He said I had a little right side pneumonia going on, and maybe a little Bronchitis while we were at it. He gave me some serious Nuclear Fusion antibiotics to take, and sent me on my way.

I left the house at 12:30 in the afternoon. I got home, at was six o’clock.

On the way OUT, I get to the mall, heading for the Metro, and I look up and god dammit, as I live and breathe, there are CHRISTMAS decorations hanging from the ceiling. On the way home, I walk home from that same mall, and wouldn’t you know it, The city has put up the damned flashy light Christmas decorations on the street poles.

Today is November 5th …

Isn’t there something that goes a bit like this:

“Remember, Remember the 5th of November.”

Yeah I will remember it because those damned Christmas decorations are up already !

A long day was had by all.

I completed an entire circuit of the Metro. Feeling strong, I popped a pill and waited for the evening event. The Thursday night meeting. It was time to get back on the hobby horse and give hubby a break, that break being me in the house all the time.

I saw some friends that crossed my path over the weekend, last. There was conversation.

Before I knew it, it was 2 minutes to eight.

I ran back inside, thankfully we had our seats saved with jackets.

Our woman spoke. As she was introduced, she got to the table, and rearranged herself a bit, looked up at us, she took a deep breath, as tears swam in her eyes, and she said the following:

“My husband just walked in the doors!”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after that.

In the end we celebrated five and twenty eight years, respectively.

Five years is a good chunk of time, when you get there.

You come in, and you make your months, then your year, and get that medallion. If you stay sober, you get a silver oval chip at two years, that is a milestone for us, because that silver oval two year chip, gets dipped in gold and you get it again at ten years.

The next stop on the time line is Five years. It is the first marker of serious time.

Then you hit Ten years, Fifteen, Twenty, and multiples thereafter.

Last week we celebrated over sixty years in the same room. And tonight, one of the sponsors, thought out loud, to the rest of us … “Who was here sixty years ago?” Our woman has been in that room for more than twenty herself.

We hopped a bus right away, on the way home.

As I crossed Ste Catherine’s Street towards my building, I got into the slip stream of several people, walking in the same direction I was, walking towards my building. Everybody was walking at their speeds, some making ways for others, and some passing others, left or right, giving them wide berths as not to interrupt their gait…

I pulled up, behind a young woman in white “come fuck me pumps…”

She was headed for my building.

Now it either goes like this, One, you have the key to the door, Two, they have a key to the door, or Three, They are going to wait until you let them in the door while they pay not one ounce of attention to you while in the vestibule.

She was aloof and sucking very hard on some kind of Starbucks frothy drink.

She did not, in any way, notice who I was, nor that I had opened the door. She just floated in the door, unaware, while she was sucking on her drink.

We got in the elevator, and she got off a few floors up. Once again, not even a look !

Yes, dear girl in the “Come fuck me pumps” I opened the door for you, and you didn’t even acknowledge I was even there…

UGH !!!

God give me strength…


Human connection and love is what we need to be addicted to

indexLifted from: McGuire on Life, Disability and Grief

A while back, I was introduced to Tim McGuire’s blog by someone I respect and admire. He is one of the most insightful men I read on a daily basis. Go, Read Back, Identify.

I read an immensely powerful and provocative story this weekend that has me thinking about our journey.

The story attempts to debunk the long-held belief that the drug causes addiction. It has always been a bit of a no-brainer that heroin, cocaine and alcohol cause us to become addicted. I have always subscribed to the theory that some people have the “gene” and some don’t. This story takes a totally different approach and argues that human isolation is the real issue. The argument seems logical and the research seems convincing. The author, Johann Hari, who has written the book,  Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs writes, “Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find –the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.” The writer draws this conclusion: “So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”

That strikes me as nothing short of profound and sets down an extraordinary challenge for all of us. If addiction comes from loneliness and isolation then certainly the addicted person owns some of that. As a friend of mine says, “It’s an inside job.”

Yet, I am taken by our fundamental obligation to love people fiercely and with joy. I have become preoccupied lately with that overpowering sense that I need to love people openly and with abandon.

It is only in the last couple of years that I have become willing to tell male friends that I love them. And, I notice that the expression of affection is more often greeted with enthusiasm and a return of the emotion these days.

As the “me” culture seems to become more rampant, selfishness tends to overwhelm us. It strikes me as logical that selfishness leads to isolation for others in or around our lives. If we are all focused on ourselves that leaves little time and space for embracing the lonely and isolated.

I find brief but important connections can be made with a joke and friendliness in the coffee shop, the grocery story and even on walks around campus. It is naive to think that each connection we make can save someone from addiction. However, a habit of friendly connection strengthens the human bonds between people and just might make other addictive “bonds” superfluous.

Tim J McGuire is the author of “Some People Even Take Them Home” A Disabled Dad, A Down Syndrome Son and Our Journey To Acceptance


Forgiveness Changes Lives.

Do you believe in Love Lifted from Jeremy – Don’t Eat Trash – Originally posted on Sept. 15, 2011

Since we are in Steps across many meeting, I thought this reflection was appropriate.

I treat Gods forgiveness like that stanky dish cloth that doesn’t merely spread the dirt around, it adds to the dirt. Or some kind of dish washer that makes us feel nice for a couple of minutes – the boiling hot sterile water. But then when we get taken out of the washer later, there is still the crusty pasta baked on the side.

Gods forgiveness is complete.

It is deep and wide, and like steel wool it scrubs back to the original intention.

Watching myself and close friends through life, it saddens me to find that we struggle with the same sins for years and years because we don’t let His forgiveness liberate our souls. Often is the time when I have been asked if there’s anything I need to confess and I always go back to the same confessions only later to realize God has forgiven me of that. Also watching how that subtle condemnation sometimes goes full circle, and is used by the enemy to take me out.

The subtle whispers, the mistrust. Of not only ourselves but of other people. It all becomes an environment of disunity, suspicion and un-forgiveness.

If our view of Gods forgiveness is that it’s not complete. That it’s only partial and needs repetition. – what kind of model does that set up for us?

When I am wronged by a brother and I only forgive him partially, I leave open a huge door for resentment to walk through, resentment when watered into bitterness can end up in destroying relationships. Revenge becomes a normal response, we second guess everyone’s motives and end up dividing everything, because we haven’t forgiven completely.

Take the bleach of forgiveness and clean everything with it. I have wronged God most, if not every day of my life. I have rebelled and walked completely away from him for weeks and years. I have besmirched his name by living like a butt-head whilst hoisting his name on a banner.

He has forgiven me. He has wiped my slate clean. He has bleached my soul – I am rescued and forgiven. Gods example of forgiveness frees me to forgive similarly. If I forgave everyone – freeing my heart and mind and if everyone forgave me and if we held short accounts with each other…..

We would be unoffendable. We would all understand that we are all fallible, we are all imperfect at present, and we need each others help to stay on top of everything.

How communities would change and improve.

Now a little difference between bleach and forgiveness. Bleach is powerful and shouldn’t be drunk. Bleach smells and makes its presence known. But a lot of the time God’s forgiveness is subtle, loving, gentle – not looking for attention. Outside of Christs death, that was more gruesome then theatrical – Gods forgiveness of us is genuine and quiet.

So should our forgiveness. We shouldn’t trumpet it around. We shouldn’t make banners.

In all of my room-mate relationships, I’ve had to ask forgiveness a few times and all of my room mates have been very quick to forgive. The ways they gently and no-questions-asked forgiven me, means I’m even quicker to say sorry the next time, I’m quicker to run to get that bleach on me. If our view of God is that he is doom and gloom, incomplete at cleaning and overtly condemning, why would we remotely be near him?

Can we forgive each other like God does?
Can we run after perfection and purity, whilst having the ability to run to God quickly for forgiveness when we need to?

Is your picture of Gods forgiveness one of bleach or the dish cloth that does nothing?


Merry Christmas 2014

tumblr_lw2bl4yyhC1qzcvqpo1_500 rawrdanieltumblr_m87fjdSpOA1ravgvuo1_500 jackandfinnCourtesy: RawrDaniel and JackHarries – Christmas Past

I stayed up late last night watching the Tubes for a while. Our local radio station that usually does overnight radio, is running Christmas music ad nauseum, ugh enough already !!! BAH !!!

Like I have said before, we really don’t get into that shop till you drop mentality. So Christmas is a little subdued. A couple of gifts, things we need, or maybe a surprise or two in the mix. Holidays are really about family and friends, and the table we will sit at later today.

This Christmas was all about Woks, headphones, and Max …

Hubby is Le Chef de Mission here at home. Keeping with tradition, he gets the latest and greatest cooking pans on the market. One of our staple meals is stir fry. And we needed a new Wok, so that was under the tree.

Then it was the Big Box – gifts for both of us in one swing. That was a big hit. New headphones.
Thank you Skull Candy !

Max got an upgrade with a 1 GB memory stick. That was much needed, because my library is pretty full as it is. I also got a shiny new mouse pad. My old mouse pad was really in bad shape.

That’s it for gifts. Nothing too grandiose.

The bird is in the oven, and we are on track for an early afternoon dinner with friends.

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

A Christmas Reflection 2014

Today the Queen of England spoke about reconciliation, and the pause in hostilities during the Great War, where British and German troops, in dug out trenches, put down their guns, as the German soldiers sang “Silent Night,” in the night. The British followed suit.

What happened next is the story of legends. The next morning, Christmas Day 100 years ago today, the soldiers came out of their trenches meeting in no mans land for a game of footy, and to exchange presents and greetings.

Imagine, if the world today, took a collective breath, and hostilities were stopped for one day. Imagine, if the world could bring the many, into reconciliation, and END hostilities world wide !

IDEOLOGIES …

I have a friend who eschews holidays, those consumer driven celebrations that pop up every once in a while, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Christmas … Love is an every day feeling. Family is an everyday gathering. Celebrating the lives of others, is a 365 days a year event.

We’ve learned, over the years, what is most important. When the tree goes up, it is a family event. It is a celebration of love, because we created a ritual for the tree. At Christmas our extended family goes well beyond to gift us all with something particularly special. And we return the gesture in kind.

For the past few years, our older members in the fellowship have been alone, they live alone and only go out for meetings, or shopping, or they go without. Us younger members have taken on the work of living in community with our men and women.

We break bread with them regularly. We celebrate holidays together, some share musical talent with them. All so that we do something good on a regular basis, with them, so that they are not alone. My guys are all connected to helping others when they can. Because they are able, and it is the right thing to do.

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus. A blessed birth come to pass in a humble manger in Bethlehem. Yes, the birth of Christ is important. It is the beginning of the story. But if you think about it, the end of the story of Jesus, is the culmination of God becoming man, and having a human experience, to sacrifice himself for the good of mankind.

Christ came to speak words of truth, to heal the sick, to chastise the greedy and wealthy, to give food to the hungry and pardon the sinner. He called twelve men to follow him, they would eventually follow and begin to create simple Christianity, that has blossomed into the Christianity of today.

The end of the story, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, is Man’s Saving Grace. Sacrifice is God’s greatest gift to mankind. He came so that we could have life, and life abundantly. Christ dying on the cross is the pinnacle of the meaning of Christianity. Coming to save man, by dying on a cross.

Sacrifice … Love … Salvation …

I remember when I was a young boy, going to my first retreat, and hearing the words, and listening to people speak about God, Jesus and Salvation. And at the end of it all, the altar call came, and one by one we stood and turned our lives over to this man we call Jesus.

It was a Mountaintop experience.

But like Moses, we too, had to come down from the mountain, and re-enter the world.

In those days, open carrying a bible in public school, was akin to having leprosy for teens.

It marked you as different. Odd. They called us Jesus Freaks, and we were. For a while at least.

I can’t say that I succeeded in my zeal for Jesus given the home I lived in and the schools I went to.

But that time is not lost on me considering my university education and the work I do every day.

Imagine what it was like to proclaim the life of Jesus as a follower to your fellow man. Imagine what it was like for those apostles and then the people. It was like that for us. I’ve learned a great deal of what it means to follow the man we call Jesus today.

That is a 365 day journey. Not just on Easter Sunday or Christmas Day, or Epiphany.

We should love one another every day. We should honor our mates every day. We should honor our children every day. The holidays have been Frankensteined into conglomerate days of greed, money and consumerism.

If it ain’t black Friday, it doesn’t matter.

Tomorrow, bar none, people will be lining up, getting dirty, and fighting tooth and nail to get that 6 a.m. door buster prize. And I guarantee you that by 6 p.m. there will be numerous reports of holiday cheer going out the window as people beat each other up, or shoot one another for that Big Screen tv, or pair of high end sneakers.

Christmas is a day. I’ve encouraged my friends to go out into their communities and serve the less fortunate. But this too is not just a Christmas job, it is an every day job. I’ve said before that if we took all that money we spend on national and international defense and war spending and putting that money to better use, we could change the lives of millions in short order.

Sadly, the world operates on the conflict of the people, whether we like to admit that or not. It is Big Business. And those who have all the money and power rely on the conflict within the people to make their millions, billions and trillions of dollars.

The Christmas message is lost on them totally.

If you miss the real meaning of Christmas, let me remind you of a few point of order:

  • It’s not about the gifts under the tree, but the people around it
  • It’s not about how much money you spend, but the love that you share
  • It’s about family and who sits at your table for your holiday meal
  • It’s about that checker girl/guy at the grocery store, be kind
  • It’s about the less fortunate and random acts of kindness
  • It’s about the birth and beginning of the life of a man who would change the world
  • In the end it is all about the Sacrifice for the salvation of the world
  • It isn’t about what religion you profess, but the God that gives you life
  • It is the peace you share, and the fact that we are spiritual beings having a human existence

The Holidays are a “WE” event. It is not an “I” event. Dinner later on will be a We event.

And later tonight, WE will gather for a Christmas Night Meeting.

More to come …

Part 2 …

The weather held for the evening. But man is it windy. Where is all that wind coming from, and where did it originate? The wind was buckling the windows all evening while we napped after Christmas dinner.

Dinner was a nice meal, with friends and family.

We set out a bit early due to the fact that the buses are on Sunday Schedule for the holiday. Arriving at the church, a good number of people came out for the meeting. I half expected more to come, but we filled the room nonetheless.

Tonight we heard one of our women. One of the many women who feed my desire to be a better man, a sober man, who has done his work, and gives it away to others who want it as well.

In the beginning the story is the same. We were born, most, into dysfunctional families, feeding us mixed, and sometimes the wrong message about ourselves. And that leads into us becoming who we are in that period of time, and usually, but not in all cases, the messages we are fed, lead us into the world of drugs and alcohol to escape, to enhance, and even to blot out what we are hearing and in the end feeling.

Some, in the beginning, come, they look around, and they leave. We find this the case with our young people. How can I, (read: Being so young) have such problems that would need the intense work that we provide to them? For many young people, youth means that they have at least ten to fifteen years of good partying life ahead of them, and the mere thought of turning it all over and coming in for good is such a Tall Order …

Some come, and they stay, and they make a life out of it. But the stats are not good.

The WOMEN I speak so highly about so often, changed my life. Most of those women, by extension and by lineage, are sponsored, grand sponsored and great grand sponsored by women who live in New York City. The message came from one, to the next, and the next, and then finally to them personally. I was in the right place at the right time to hear this and see this in action.

And I wanted so badly to be part of it. And now I am. They say it is difficult to blunt a raging forest fire. Imagine for a moment, a bunch of crazy women on fire for the book and the solution. I had lunch with one of my ladies yesterday. They all warm my heart.

If you stick around, and you get the right message, that the book gives you, you too can join the fire for the book as well. They say that if you want to hide something from an alcoholic, put it in the Big Book. Because most alcoholics won’t read the book, until it is imperative they do so. You can only sit in your chair for so long, until someone sits with you and offers to take you through the book like we do it.

The Solution … I’ve learned that I can be with myself. Alone, quiet, in the center of the storm where the winds are calm. I’ve learned that I don’t have to save anyone, that all I have to do is take care of me, and with that done, I can help take care of someone else.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

Listening to sponsees, reminds me why I am here. Because I hear what happened to them, and I know that some of the same things happened to me as well. Good Healing Fire spreads quickly. We hear our friends share in discussion meetings, but it is also good to hear them share on the open stage at a speaker meeting. I’ve heard her before, and tonight I got to see and witness personal progress.

We claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.

Every day we get a daily reprieve, contingent on our spiritual condition.

I understand what that means to me. Because I learned how to do it myself. You may not be one for prayer, or meditation. And in the beginning who can sit still for more than five minutes, at that? I had to practice. And that practice took months upon months, With serious time under my belt.

I had to step up my game if I wanted to reap the rewards of spiritual fitness.

Three, Seven and Eleven … daily, on your knees, humble before God. It is an act of humility to get down on ones knees to pray. Because they say, “When life gets too hard to stand, Kneel.”

Everybody has a journey to take, and no two journeys are the same.

THE WORK is the same for all of us, out of the same book, heading in the same direction.

That’s why I read the book with my guys once a week. That’s why I read the book with my sponsor.

Today, I, like many of my friends, live in the solution.

It was a good night.

My other observation for the night was of one particular homeless man, who has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober. And probably longer than that. The homeless in our city have a routine.

Whether they begin in the East and and work their way West, or from West to East, they either ride the rails, or ride the bus. From one side of the city to the other. Most of them go without food on a daily basis, but they have enough money to provide a bus pass to travel.

Where does that money come from, who provides it, when they can’t afford to eat?

Meetings run on similar lines across town, North, South, East and West. You can get to any meeting by rail and by bus. Our homeless population are well known in our circles, because they show up diligently on time for the meeting, for free coffee and cookies, and/or whatever free food is on the table. That is probably the mainstay of their meals on any given day, unless of course they visit a shelter or food station downtown.

Our city and by extension, our country hides a dark secret, out in the open, and we are powerless to affect change. The city can only do so much. Volunteers can only do so much, and the shelters and food stations can only do so much. Winters are brutal for our homeless. Because there are so many, there are spare resources for them on any given night, so they troll the city from one end to another every night.

Some collect bottles and cans. That is certain money in their pockets. Can and Bottle return is a booming business. The grocery store on the corner does really good business every day. I see the same folks come day in and day out, with tons of cans and bottles. One of them, I don’t know where he gets them all, but he probably collects a thousand cans a day add to that boxes of beer bottles as well.

There are entire populations of people who go without. Entire populations that live well, WELL below the poverty level. People at high levels of government have asked the Prime Minister what he will do for the those who need so much, and last week I heard him say on tv, that “well, they are not even on our radar, to be honest!”

How can you run a country that has so much, and gives so much away to foreign nations, that so many of your own people go without, and come off saying that they are not on your radar and that in turn, they are not important for the country, the provinces and the entire nation?

How can you stand yourself knowing that you ignore entire populations of people, because it isn’t expedient or that it is beneath you – or not politically sound to care or even act like you care for votes when the time comes?

That’s a political hot potato.

Human interest stories at the governmental level are ignored.

No government is perfect, anywhere in the world.

In a country that is so rich, a first world nation, we have entire populations of people who live in third world conditions, and that is terribly sad. I have ideas to float for all of these problems. They sound easy to me when I repeat them in my head, they sound good, they look good, but in the end, to make sweeping changes that many of us agree need to be made, that would take money. More money that most governments want to throw on people who do not matter to their bottom line.

VOTERS.

Most of those people do not vote. Most of those people have substandard homes if they have that at all, countless numbers of them are homeless, drug addicted and alcoholic. Many of them have mental and emotional problems that are never addressed because there is no money and not enough resources to help them all. Hell, even in first world populations, in the biggest cities, across the country, many people face these same problems, and they too go without.

We are heading into election territory in 2015.

Getting these issues onto a stage where they are heard and dealt with is wishful thinking.

Another Christmas, and some of our folks went without. again …

It costs money to take a homeless person off the street. Clean them up, first, then try and find them someplace safe and economical to live, but then you need to find the money to allow them to pay rent, utilities, buy food and live a substantive life. Treat their problems accordingly, but with what resources and from where? How do we do that ?

I asked a friend on the way home about the man I am speaking about now, and I said that he has been homeless as long as I’ve been sober, how do we get him off the street ? And his answer was simply, that he doesn’t want to get off the street ! Now is that by choice, by default, or lack of concern for his own welfare?

This is all terribly troubling when we live these lives of having everything that we need. And on the fringe, just below the radar, so many have little to nothing to call their own.

What did you do for the least of these today?

jersey crop

And with that, my Very Mario Christmas comes to an end.

Thank you for reading, for subbing and for being a part of my life.

Goodnight.


Sunday Sundries … T – Minus 3 days

tumblr_n013yxPwUD1r1arpmo1_500 themoonadntehstarsandtheoceanCourtesy: TheMoonandTheStarsandTheOcean

We are under a special weather advisory this weekend. The snow on the ground is surely going to melt and wash away due to massive rain that is in the forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas. We are sitting at (-8c) at this hour, but temps are going to rise well above freezing into positive digits.

It won’t be a very White Christmas this year.

There is not much going on here. All the Christmas packages that needed to be mailed were completed yesterday. Now we are waiting for stuff to arrive that I purchased online last week.

We sat a fair group tonight. People are busy with traveling here and there. It seems everybody has places to go so they, at least, won’t be alone on the holiday, and meetings are open on Christmas night so that is a good thing.

We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 4.

We heard lots of good stuff.

Here’s hoping I get mail tomorrow.

More to come. Stay tuned …


Friday … T-Minus 5 days, Heart full of Gratitude

220px-Montreal_StViateur1_tango7174Paroisse Saint Viateur d’Outremont

This is the centuries old parish church in Outremont, where our Friday night meeting meets. It is part of today’s story, I just needed to right image to accompany this post.

There are 5 shopping days until Christmas.

Thanks to online merchandise, PayPal, and a little creativity, I am really good at finding places that will ship to Canada, because not all online shops in other countries will ship world wide. It may be Online, but what you want, may not be available, depending on where you are shopping from. I do my best to buy “in country” when ever possible.

It was another blur of a day. We have been triangulating get togethers with friends who are in town for a short time. Tomorrow they are all scattering across the country for Christmas, so today was an entire day of food, friends, and fellowship.

I had dinner with friends earlier this evening before heading out for the Friday Night Meeting.

Our local hangout “Dundees” on Crescent Street, not far from home, is my go to restaurant. That place has hosted scores of lunches and dinners with influential professors, academic advisers, friends, and family over the last 13 years. The place has changed up its menu and also changed up how they present food on the plate. It was really nice. As always the food is fantastic.

I wrote the remaining cards out for my friends last night.

How do you Card scores of friends you see all the time? It really isn’t possible, that would cost a pretty penny in the end. I picked the Friday meeting crew to card. But there are upwards of 50 people at that meeting on any given Friday.

So my method of carding is this: The first circle starts with folks that are close to me, the ones who I see at set up week in and week out, people I spend the most time with, those folks who I invest a little more umph into. The next circle is friends who I talk to regularly, those who are part of my sobriety, I can’t know everybody, there are just too many people. The third circle is people that are on the fringe, the folks people tend to ignore, the ones who come early, do all the work, and nobody notices them and they leave with not a word from anyone else.

This is called a little random act of kindness move.

After dinner a friend and I set out for the meeting across the Metro. We took another route so that we could stop for bagels at the premier bagel shop, St. Viateur bagels on the plateau. Because if you want bagels, you go to the ultimate source! On the way we were on a bus that turned out, not to be very reliable, it kept stopping and going, beside its regular stops. We were on a tight schedule, and at the end of the ride (when we got off the bus) we sat at a stop light for like 4 rotations.

We were like WTF???

We walked the rest of the way up Parc to the bagle shop, got bagels, then got back on a bus going back in the direction we just came from to get to the church. We squeaked in just under the wire.

The house was packed for the party afterwards. Two of three of my guys were in attendance, it was the last time we would be together in the same space until January. It was a good discussion.

After the meeting we broke bread together, and I did my run around the room.

I am kind to everyone in the room. I listen to people week in and week out, who comes, who doesn’t, who’s on the fringe, and their stories. Stay long enough and you will learn this magical ability.

I just don’t fold a blank card, sign it and toss it into an envelope.

Every card has a specific message, meant for that specific person. Which is why I chose the folks I did this year to card. Friends I want to know better, people who are the most important to me, personally. Everybody is important, but people and personalities sometimes do not allow direct contact.

Investing is an art. To know what to say, and how to say it.

And the payout, the looks on people’s faces, when you hand them a card, totally not expecting a random act of kindness, smiles, tears, hugs,

PRICELESS …

An investment into my friends, to let them know how much I appreciate them and what they mean to me, at a time, when people struggle the most and feel the most alone. And a dash of words, meant specifically for them. Words are power, put in the right order, from the heart, can change a life in ways, one cannot imagine. Kindness on the holiday can also mean someone gets through a holiday, that someone took the time to think of them specifically.

I love that.

It isn’t about me, its all about my friends. Because without them, I am just one man.

I got a great book from a friend for Christmas. I got to meet new friends, I hit a meeting with my guys, and on the train ride home, another one of my guys called from out of town. It was a full night of smiles, tears, kindness and love.

The Best kind of night.

A heart full of gratitude.


Men’s Intensive Weekend – Bill W. House East Dorset, Vermont

DSCF3269East Dorset is about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Montreal. This sign stands outside the home where Bill W. was born.

DSCF3270This is Bill’s family home – they can house 18 guests on the second floor of the house, and an additional 85 in a motel setting that is about 1000 yards from the house here.

DSCF3271This is the meeting room in the back of the house, There is a sitting room adjacent to this space, that has couches, tables and lamps, a full working fire place. We met some very nice folks from all over the area and visitors from other places. Notice the license plates from all over the United States. There are many more tacked to the rafters all the way around this room. There is never ending coffee, a pop corn maker, and comfortable places to sit during the day when you visit and for the guests who are staying and the guests that come for meetings in the house.

DSCF3272The living room/piano room. Lots of literature to read, and a really great space to enjoy your special Bill W. cup of coffee. We did … enjoy the coffee. How many people can say they had a cup of coffee in Bill W’s home?

DSCF3275This is the side view of the home.

DSCF3277Signs on the front of the home

DSCF3278DSCF3280

DSCF3271The meeting space. It can quite comfortably seat upwards of fifty people for a meeting.

DSCF3282Your author standing behind the “chair.”

DSCF3283In one of the dining rooms, there are photos of the house as it was built, family photos on the sideboard below the pictures on the walls.

DSCF3285The Graveyard where Lois, Bill and many others are buried. The headstones are very simple and humble markers. They sit side by side.

DSCF3286This is Bill W’s grave. You can see chips that have been placed on the headstone. There is only room for 11 or 12 chips. When you come, you bring your chip and leave it for someone else to take, when THEY come to visit the grave. My 12 year chip is now sitting here, along with many chips with anniversaries in the high 40’s. When too many chips appear on the headstone or on the ground surrounding it, the caretaker collects the chips and stores them in a shed on the property.

DSCF3287The CHIPS