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Presence

Sunday Sundries … Canada Votes Tomorrow and Other Assorted Topics

maple leaf redThis leaf was found on the ground, and set into this photo. What a unique photo incorporating all that is Canada. I really like it.

It has been a very busy week. I haven’t had time to sit down and write, because life is happening at warp speed as of late. However busy it has been, this week, I have had moments of just being present for my friends.

PRESENCE…

I have spoken a great deal about “presence.” And how important that is to others, as well as for ourselves.

Life, it seems, as of late, has been full of opportunity to just be present.

Every day, there is Something to do. Places to go. People to see. Meetings to attend.

I spend a good chunk of time with the baby. And the game is changing up because our friends have now, more time to commit to being present themselves. Which is giving baby mama time to step outside of motherhood, to find the woman she was, before the baby. But she has found that she does not remember the woman she was.

So the task at hand is to realize who she is today.

And we’ve begin the process of being present for her, so that she can take some time to herself during the week, to find herself. It is a good thing.

I have other friends that just need to be loved. The consensus for some of my fellows is that they can’t devote time to people who aren’t “in the game” or “in it for the solution.” I differ in this process. I believe that just being present to begin with, is a start.

We’ve all had things to do this week, which were tedious, and stressful. And on one particular afternoon, I sat with my friends, just to be there, to offer them strength and to witness a change in the way of things.

There have been many ways that “presence” has been presented to me.

This has been a long running theme in my life.

We talked the other night about Ego and Self Esteem. When I think about these two words, images flood my mind.

Nothing kills an ego, faster, than looking down at an overflowing toilet full of shit and piss, because someone has stopped up the toilet with a cup placed backwards in the system.

And knowing that YOU have to clean it up. And not complain about it either.

Todd did a good job at teaching me valuable lessons, I get to draw upon to this day. I’m really grateful that I had the life I have lived up to this point. Because in the end, it has played out quite nicely.

When I came out, I don’t think I ever thought about self esteem. Because I was just a boy, who, with a little alcohol, would find myself, and others, and I would be one of many, just like myself.

The alcohol did for me what I could not do for myself. Until it stopped working.

My brand of alcoholism, was always, trying to find something, do something, or be someone that was unattainable, for one reason or another. I was finished when I put down the drink for the last time. Who I am today, is a direct result of all the work I have put into myself over the last almost fourteen years.

I had to get to the end of whatever road of misery I was on. It was good that I did not have much in the way of things, or money, or responsibility. It was an uphill battle. My life’s career from my teens into adulthood was fraught with complications.

I did have that two year break in the trend of misery, and had the opportunity to live the two best years of my life, with Todd. For a brief time, I knew who I was, I had self esteem, and my life was honored by men I respected and adored.

We read these stories of the folks from the second edition of the Big Book tonight.

I had not wealth, nor title, nor achievement to my name, when I was drinking, and a good thing too. Because it would have been wasted opportunity. God, in his infinite wisdom, held achievement just outside of my reach, until I was finished destroying myself.

They say, that good things come to those who wait …

I’ve learned the fine art of patience and persistence. One day at a time. Sobriety is a long term proposal, that for most, is too daunting to see right now. Which is why, one day at a time, is so useful.

Mortality, or the threat of loosing it is another ego buster. Knowing that your life hangs in the balance, and you are surely going to die, because everyone else is dying or already in the ground, so buckle up and hang on for the ride. Been there, done that …

I get two daily reminders of just who is in charge, and why I am still alive …

Just looking at my medicine cabinet is a sobering thought. That keeps shit real.

LIQUOR LIQUOR EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK …

Living in a big city, with mass transit, that, at certain times of the day, is a nightmare, brings with it a myriad of people, riding the rails. And there are a million and one stories I could tell about them.

Usually, if you travel during rush hour, it is a forgone conclusion, that at some point, the trains are going to stop, for one reason or another. If you travel after 8 p.m. the party crowd tends to ride with arm fulls of beer.

The other day I was on the train, and a gaggle of girls was traveling in the same direction I was. One girl had a bottle of Triple Sec, a second girl had a bottle of Vodka, and a third girl had a bottle of Jim Beam. For a few minutes I sat there, trying to figure out a drink combination from these three liquors …

Having been a bartender myself, I knew what I was trying to figure out.

But I had never used these three in conjunction with each other in the past.

Finally, I had to say to myself that it was either shots or mixers.

Either way, I was glad it wasn’t me carrying any bottles.

Tonight, I had a meeting with a friend, before the meeting to discuss group business. And we headed to the church a little early. And a good thing too.

The streets were packed with parked cars, the organ was cranking in the church, and we walked into the hall, and the smell of booze was sickening.

Apparently a memorial service was going on upstairs, and a wine bar was prepared down in the hall to cap off the service. Our main table was covered in glasses of red and white wine. Funny that all this wine was all over the place, and here were a few members of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting coming to set up a meeting.

That was the closest I have come to open liquor being served in as many years.

Can you say … “Oh, you can have just one … It won’t hurt, will it?”

We set the coffee pot perking and waited out the group to imbibe and go. Which ran the entire time period from when we got there, to six fifteen, when the meeting was supposed to start.

We had to work around them, and set up the room, as we quietly, ushered them out by turning down the lights, and saying nothing. It was all good.

CANADA VOTES 2015

It has been a contentious Seventy Eight Day Campaign. The leaders of our Federal Parties have been battling for votes for the longest campaign yet. Our Conservative leader, the Honorable Stephen Harper is about to loose his position, in an election that is still, too close to call.

The Conservative Party is on its way out, because an overwhelming number of Canadians say that it is time for change. But just what that change will look like is too close to call tonight.

We vote tomorrow. I voted in early voting last weekend.

The Liberal Party, headed by Justin Trudeau, The New Democratic Party, headed by Thomas Mulcair, The Parti Quebecoise headed by Gilles Ducepp, and The Green Party headed by Elizabeth May, are all vying for a position.

We have a Green Party. They are not in contention for leadership, but more supportive role in the government. They hold a few seats, and hope to more than double their numbers which will give them negotiating power in coalitions in the next parliament.

It will be a dead heat between Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau for Prime Minister.

The man who wins the most M.P.’s by riding, across the country, will be our next Prime Minister.

I am rooting for the younger, Justin Trudeau.

Stay tuned. It is going to be one rip roaring ride.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – The Relationships you have …

tumblr_lwdrzs4X441qhzv6oo1_500 darkandchaosCourtesy: Dark and Chaos

The weather has been hot and steamy. We have been under heat warnings for days now.

People have been marching in the streets calling for Government action on the refugee crisis in Europe. However we all want our politicians to do the right thing, for the right reason, nobody seems to agree on just how that is going to work.

We want open borders. We want the red tape to end. We want to help. I think that is the main goal of these actions, that we, as Canadians, are strong and reliable people, and when we see people who need help, our people, North, South, East and West, English, French and everyone in between step up and do what we have to do until the job is finished.

Our Prime Minister believes that there are several things we need to do.

  • First we need a combat strategy to fight Isis, militants and enemy combatants
  • We need to eradicate them off the face of the earth
  • We need to find a way to end the Syrian conflict
  • We need to find a way to end the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East
  • Once we figure out what we need to do, we can act on that intelligence
  • Then comes the humanitarian crisis; what to do with all those displaced.
  • Where do they go, how many do we bring here, and/or send them back home

Conflict zones are no go zones. Have you seen what these conflict zones look like? For many of these human beings now on the move, even if we thought to send them back, there is nothing to return to. Cities, towns and villages have been decimated by bombs and combat.

It would take decades to rebuild critical infrastructure to be able to even think about repatriating people back to where they came from.

The emergency measures that opened up borders between Hungary, Austria and Germany are going to be slowly curtailed. They won’t last much longer, and refugees will have to abide by the U.N, resolution as to the first country they entered for processing, which means, those in transit need to make that transit quickly and without pause.

Those still stuck behind them, might find themselves in registration camps, if they don’t start moving in the next 48 to 72 hours.

Bringing souls from conflict zones to North America is fraught with difficulties.

  • First, there are security issues with National Defense, they say
  • Bringing people to Canada, they need sponsors to get them sorted out
  • They need proficient language skills to enter certain Canadian provinces
  • They need money to bring with them, because that is something the government does not provide. That is where churches and N.G.O’s and the public come in.
  • They need homes to move into.

Pope Francis posed a very serious challenge today.

He called for all Christians, and their churches and parishes Europe wide, to open their houses and give shelter to refugees. I think he wants open doors for those that need them so badly.

Since the four party leaders are at odds with just what to do, and in what order to do it, and how that is going to play out politically, we don’t see much movement coming very soon, or quick enough to make a dent, the numbers they tell us, they will move, is a paltry number, based on a several year plan for immigration.

The European Union is going to have to come to some agreement on just how Everybody, all the E.U. Member states, are going to attack this humanitarian crisis on their doorsteps.

There is no magic bullet and no quick solution. This is going to take some time and serious discussion between governments and their leaders, not to mention their citizens.

Muslims moving into mainly Christian countries is going to be problematic. That solution is going to take some work on everybody’s part. In the end, and from the start, these refugees are Human Beings first. If we remind ourselves of that main point, then we have a starting point.

My final thought is this … Conflict need to end.

That’s what we need to do.

Stop the killing, and stem the bleeding, get rid of them once and for all.

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

Relationships

The Relationships you have today, are a direct result of the work you put into them, to begin with. Who your friends are, in whatever circle they are in, who your spouse is, and the depth of that relationship, is, right now, the direct result of whatever work you put into them.

It is a fact, that people don’t necessarily put the same effort or “investment” into everybody they know. Family is the same way. Whatever you invest, you get back in that specific connection.

I’ve learned a great deal about people in sobriety.

I’ve learned the crucial role that “presence and investment” plays in my relationships.

Marriage is a constantly evolving organic relationship.

Friendships are the same way. Some friends are close, others even closer, depending on the need of the people involved.

Over the past 3 years, I have worked very hard at my friendships. Outside of my daily ritual, and my marriage, my friends come in a close second, as to the amount of time I put into them.

We learn, in the rooms, the importance of the telephone. Some have learned this lesson, and others could not be bothered by it. Most just don’t care to be honest. But people need friends, one way or another, that’s how we do this thing …

Over a year ago, baby mama went back to Newfoundland to have the baby. In her anxiety and haste, she thought it better to go home, because she did not trust those around her to do the job she asked of them. She needed care, she needed trust, and most of all she needed someone to be in the room with her when LuLu was born.

None of her so called “friends” would rise to the challenge, so she left us.

I had her phone number.

We did not know each other well enough at that time, that that connection might have been fruitful to the point that I could have started there, instead of where I started here.

I made a phone call, and had one conversation. And I did that without fail, consistently.

Over the weeks and months, one call a week became several calls a week.

And I did that without fail, consistently.

A year would pass, and her plans to come home were hatched. We worked them out. We talked about how that would sound to her family. We scripted conversations until the day that she got on that plane with the baby this past July.

Had it come to it, had she needed me to, I would have gone to get her, to make sure she got on that plane without fail.

Over that year, I encouraged her friends to invest in her.

I did that without fail, consistently.

The relationships they have with baby mama, is a direct result of whatever work they put into that specific relationship. I did not interfere, but calmly and quietly encouraged them to be present and accountable, consistently.

Sadly, today, they have not risen to the occasion to the degree I had hoped they would. And that has cost Baby mama a great deal.

I believed that if I wanted to be her friend, I was going to have to step up and be accountable and trustworthy, every day, consistently.

And I did that.

Before she moved back, there were chores to do, and I wrote about every step of the way to get her off that plane and into her condo. When I asked certain people to step up and do just One Job, they did that admirably. But that was that.

When she got here, we spent time with her and the baby, forming bonds and a family for her.

I can only be in one place at a time. And I am only one man.

But I resolved a plan of action that was consistent.

I talk to her every day. I see her several times a week. One night a week, I bring dinner and I cook for her and the baby. Consistently. Without fail.

Today, “our” friends are not happy with me because of the depth of my friendship.

Every time I talk about her to the others, or talk about my progress with the baby, they call her and mock me, and are snarky and from what I am told, they are jealous. Rage jealous.

This has been an ongoing problem.

But I return to my original thought. I asked them to step up and be counted. I encouraged them to build their own bonds with her in their own ways. They did not. So what they have today is a direct result of half assed efforts to be friends.

I’m not sure why they are jealous. They had their own opportunities to build meaningful relationships, and they failed in that effort.

That is not my failure, it is theirs.

A text is not a phone call.

A phone call is person to person, direct and in person.

You can’t expect a text relationship to flesh out into a full blown relationship, it just doesn’t work that way. I use my phone, I only text when I can’t get a human on the other end.

This is all bullshit and I need to call it out. Soon !

But this was on my mind tonight. So there it is.

More to come.

Stay tuned …


Friday … Fathers and Their Babies …

rockyAnother busy week is in the books. Lots of people to see, things to do, Steps to be worked for some, and sharing meals with people I care about. That’s the kind of week it has been.

The weather has been stellar. Lots of Sun, Heat and a little humidity, but not like the heat they are getting over in Europe or down in the South. Thank God … For air conditioning…

This week I practiced being present to my friends, and breaking bread with them as well, two of the most important things we can do to create “Connections.”

Which leads quite nicely into the next paragraph.

The Opposite of Addiction is Not Recovery it is “CONNECTION.”

I heard this a while back, probably on another Ted Talk. Today a friend of mine who works in Colorado posted another similar talk to his feed. So I went and watched it.

One can never get enough of Ted Talks in my opinion.

When we were/are out there using, for most of us, we are isolated, and alone. And we engage in soul destroying activities like drinking and drug use. We become, “Disconnected” from ourselves, our families and our friends.

A well known psychologist in the U.S. studied this problem, also looking at how the U.S. and other countries punish, shame, incarcerate and disconnect addicts from their lives and others.

In Portugal, they decriminalized all drugs and began providing “connections” for them. They got them help, the state actually participates in rehabilitating addicts back into society, wherein they go to a business and say to them … “if you will employ this person, we will pay half their salary.”

They are building people up, instead of tearing them down.

Punishing, shaming and incarcerating addicts is the wrong approach, as said by those who have studied this problem, Worldwide.

Another scientist took lab rats and in one case, put a solitary rat in a cage, with two water bottles. One was regular water, the other water laced with heroin.

The lone rat, with no connection or activity, drank the heroin water until it was dead.

He placed another rat in a cage with the same two water bottles. But in this cage he added a rat run, with slides, caves and things to do. The second rat, ignored the heroin water, never drinking from that bottle and it stayed clean.

He never mentions ways to get sober in his talk. The entire talk was centered around making human connections, for addicts, and just how we can do that for our friends and families.

The Human Connection is the most important aspect of our lives, whether we are using drugs and alcohol or not. In today’s day and age, with the prevalence of social media in all its forms, humans are devolving into their smart phones and gaming consoles and music delivery systems and totally disengaging themselves from other human beings.

Everywhere you go, people are connected to some kind of electronic device.

On the bus, on the train, and even while driving a car, sadly …

When people in our groups come to us, they are broken, soulless, and alone. But for one reason or another, they have come to a meeting. The most important part of the meeting, for any meeting, is when we welcome the newcomer.

We invite them to connect. We invite them into the one act that might change their lives in ways they can’t imagine, at that very moment.

But it is the connection we try to make.

We offer our time, we offer our phone numbers, and we offer coffee and meals, to bring people into our lives, because we cannot keep it, unless we give it away.

And then you hear those words, maybe for the first time in a long time …

YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANY MORE …

For many, this is the first time they have heard those words in a long time.

Today, being present, available and accountable to my friends is what I do with much of my free time. And you would be pleased to hear someone tell you just how important that connection was and is to them, and how that connection sustained them during dark times.

“PRESENCE” IS THE GREATEST GIFT WE CAN GIVE FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

Over the last two to three years, I have worked very hard at “Connections.”

And that has been the huge difference in the lives of people I count as friends.

Every night we come together, to connect. And that is the God’s honest truth for our Friday Night Meeting. People come to this meeting to see their friends. It is the one night a week, where we are all in the same space at the same time, it is the best night of the week for us.

Tonight, we heard a reading from a very old Grapevine and the second portion of the reading was taken from Step Ten. The nightly inventory.

The reading warns us about the fact that we have no opinion about outside issues. And the reading centers around the models people use to get better. People, worldwide, use various tools to be better, to get better, and for some, to get clean and sober.

Be that Religion, Spirituality, Counseling, Therapy, and many other modes of help.

The Book tells us that we do not own the monopoly on sobriety. And we are also not the Be all End all solution to your problems.

However we offer “A” solution.

The step reading talks about restraint of tongue and pen, and how important that little phrase should have on what we think, what we say and how we say it.

The flip side of this notion comes like this, as was stated by one of our women.

“Yes, we should always practice restraint when we might keep our mouths shut, unless we have something to share, BASED on life experience, but also, to know when to say NO, you have stepped over a line, and you are wrong, and I need to stand up for myself.”

There is a fine line between argumentativeness and Self Preservation and Boundaries.

I’ve been in situations where I was attacked and I had to learn how to defend myself, whether that dealt with my personal being, my education, and my sober life. In the end, I just had to leave them alone, wait patiently, they would tire of attacking me, and finally go away.

This is true …

  • I earned a B.A. in Religious Studies
  • Certificates in Theology and Pastoral Ministry
  • I am unabashedly a Gay Christian
  • I’m sober almost fourteen years
  • And I am married

It took the attainment of these things for me to see the wisdom in the words that are contained in the Book and the Twelve and Twelve. That has taken many years of study and guidance of fellows and my sponsor.

It has been a beautiful week. I have beautiful friends.

On the way to the meeting and on the way home, I saw two fathers carrying their sons in those body hugging wraps. It was so sweet.

On the train ride home, a family was in my car, and dad was carrying his son, holding him close to his chest, hand on his head, and it just made me smile a big smile. And it warmed my heart to see love like that between father and son.

All kinds of warm fuzzies …

It was the BEST night of the week once again. As is usual.

More to come, stay tuned …