I remember sitting outside in the middle of the bush in north west Sydney. I was surrounded by people I loved who stood in a ring around a raging campfire. I was at a youth weekend. The same youth weekend I had attended since I was a teenager. We were singing loudly into the night, to a God we loved.
We sang the words – “There is a God, he is alive, in him we live and we survive.” Words I could’ve sang in my sleep, written backwards, and a melody I knew four part harmonies too. But did I really understand what I was singing? Did I understand what it meant to have a God who was alive?
There is a couple of traditions in the church that adhere to the idea that guitars are the devils instrument and shouldn’t be used in the church. A tiny part of that sect of thought have come to the conclusion that, there is no proof in the new testament that the early church used instruments, in fact some verses refer to the strings of our heart, so we should just sing. With our voices.
I have also stood in a circle of lovely people, a tight knit group, who, with only a guitar as accompaniment, awkwardly stood around. Kind of singing, kind of into it. But not really. I spoke later to one of them who confessed, they couldn’t get into worship unless the music was loud.
Somehow, the guitar stood in the way of worship. Either because it was considered of the devil, or without it, we are in shock.
Amongst all of this tho, I have stood in groups, passionately loving the lord through song in the midst of a huge, well orchestrated band, and I have stood around awkwardly looking at my feet singing accapella. So what are we missing? If it has nothing to do with the music, then it must have something to do with the lyrics.
Have you ever sang words in a song that your heart passionately belts out but your logical brain is just like …. “what does shekinah mean? What does hosanna mean again?” But your whole heart is in it. You know deep down that what you are singing is good, but you don’t know why. Do we need to know the why? If worship is just between me and God, and the depths of my soul knows I’m praising, then words are irrelevant. In the same way that tongues is our heart praying prayers that our brain doesn’t understand, can our souls not sing also?
But when we worship as a group, is it different? Or is it merely solo worship in a room of people? If you took most of my corporate worship sessions and putt them in a graph, 99 per cent of them would’ve looked no different had I been in a large room or my own bedroom by myself. And I feel there is a disconnect there. We are the community of God, and as echos of the trinity shouldn’t we be connecting together like the trinity?
I heard a one liner this week that made me stop and think – If in worship your not listening and hearing God and your only thinking and singing about and too God, then it is no longer a relationship but you are stalking God.
Let me reword that – If you don’t let God speak in worship you stalk him. Have you ever stopped in the middle of worship and just listened? And some songs are written from Gods perspective, so I suppose that counts. But sometimes I feel like we need to give God more room to move.
I tried to experiment with this once. We were camping, in the middle of the bush and we circled up. I started playing my guitar and then I stopped. “Today I’m going to just play a soundtrack.
I have songs to play, but I don’t need to play them. If God puts a song in your heart, if God prompts you to speak out to the group, if God wants you to pray over someone – DO IT. Irrelevant of what I’m doing, I play this guitar more as a back track to improvise off” The next 40 minutes God broke a lot of freedom over our group.
Some things were prayed and sung out that would echo powerfully through out the next 7 weeks and beyond. We gave God the room and he used it. We saw this again two weeks ago at our national leaders meeting. And again even more recently in a worship time on base. We gave God room to move and he did.
I feel like the guitar stands in the way of God moving. If worship isn’t about the music, and its not about the words (necessarily – tbc) then its about US and GOD. And us and God can relate off the back of anything. In Uganda they don’t have guitars as much, but they do have drums and amazing voices. So we would worship for ages on beats alone. In India it was synth, in Ukraine it was a mixture of Korean, Russian, English and Danish – we related amongst different language. But when we put stipulations on worship we limit God.
– It has to have guitar
-it has to have no instruments
-it has to be thee and thous
-it can’t have slang words.
-It has to be the lyrics of the people
-it can’t be too loud or too quiet
-it has to have flute.
My relationship with my father is liberated from stipulations. I love him, we converse a lot. And he doesn’t need to be playing guitar.
When we worship God, we unite with our brothers and sisters through a common wording of a song. And God uses ALL to speak words over each other.
So some questions –
could you passionately worship God in a room full of people you love without any music?
Could you passionately worship God with 6 people and a ukelele?
Could you passionately worship and converse with God to hymns? To New songs with only 8 words in it? Dancing, kneeling, with no words?
Can you give God space?
Or is the guitar a security blanket? Because if it is, maybe we should set them all on fire.
A thought before I end…
I have now been working with young people for two years directly discipling and empowering. And the amount of time I hear this statement is saddening “I can’t be a worship leader because I can’t play guitar”
Stop believing in limitations that aren’t from God.
God frees us to be what HE CREATED.
GET OUT OF HIS WAY!
Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!
My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.
Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!
This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.
This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.
This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!
This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!
Of this night scripture says:
“The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy.”
The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.
Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!
Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church’s solemn offering.
Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.
(For it is fed by the melting wax,
which the mother bee brought forth
to make this precious candle.)
Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!
May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
It is probably not unthinkable that spirits inhabit the churches in Montreal. Many of them have been built long ago. Many religious properties in our city housed nuns and priests and monks. Where the religious have gone, sacred spaces have been re-appropriated by the city as historical buildings and cannot be torn down, but can be updated to meet new specifications.
In the basement of the Grey Nun’s Mother house, just up the block from us, houses the remains of past grey nuns who lived and died in the house, buried in the crypt beneath the building. Once the remaining nuns vacate the property the crypt will be cemented over forever. Down in that crypt were the resting places of Mere D’Youville before she was declared a saint.
My Aunt Georgette used to take me down there to pray and to see the relics and rooms that were preserved in her memory. Mere D’Youville was moved to a crypt beneath the main altar in the church above, until the building was sold to Concordia University. Mere D’Youville was moved from her resting place at the Mother House to another Mother House on the South Shore of Montreal, where the nuns will live. Which is where my aunt Georgette is buried.
I say all these things as a preface of what I am going to write about now…
God has been known to make appearances at St. Leon’s Church hall, during really good meetings. The light comes down from the church and alights on the folks in the room. I have seen this happen over the years at certain points in my journey, and those of the others.
Recently, as I come into the darkened hall on some afternoons, the air is cool and I am alone in the space for 2 hours prior to anyone coming in to read. I like that alone time. I enjoy it. I put on some tunes and I set up. When that is finished I go outside to people watch. Then I come back downstairs to read.
And that is when it happens. And it happened again today. I am sitting at the head of the table where I always sit, Barbra Streisand was singing Christmas Carols in my ear and I was thumbing through a Grapevine.
Several times while I was sitting there, just above my field of vision, I saw shadows move across the doorway from the entrance hall into the room itself. And it didn’t happen once, it happened several times. Almost like it wanted me to see it pass through. I was looking down, but to an extent I could just turn my gaze upwards towards the doors looking up from my book and see it.
I caught myself looking up several times as I was sitting there. Whatever it was, it moved soundlessly. And it almost hung in the doorway. This isn’t the first time that I have seen this shadow move into the room. And it is always when I am alone in the space.
I don’t know the exact history of the building save for the bronze plaque that sits outside the church and denotes its building history. The hall is a multi-use space. Several meetings use the hall, kids day programs and church functions take place there as well. And sometimes wakes and viewings happen in the hall, but it is quite a task carrying a coffin down those stairs into the hall and then back up again.
You never know who is visiting on any given day. Thousands of sober people have graced that hall over the past 75 years.
It is heart warming to be able to share the space with the spirits. I am not immune to this kind of phenomena. I’ve been visited before by departed family members over the years, so when I see it manifest I welcome it.
That space is blessed and God visits us on occasion … it is quite an awe inspiring vision of the holy.
That is all.
More tomorrow. Time for bed …
The Autumnal Equinox has occurred. It is officially Fall. It is just a little nippy out and at this hour it is 10c. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
I started my day with worship services at the Cathedral this morning. Today was the conclusion of a four day synod of clergy for this region of the Anglican branch of the Episcopal Church.
Let’s just say that we hosted a great big bunch of visiting clergy this week which culminated with this morning’s liturgy celebrated by The Most Reverend Claude Miller, Bishop of Fredrickton, Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada.
The service was high mass with bells and whistles. We did not have bells and smells this morning. The services at the Cathedral don’t usually employ censor and Thurber. The choir was just angelic – they sang to the heavens. And our Bishop Barry of our Cathedral was the preacher of today’s sermon.
I came home right away after services and farted around a bit until I decided that I would nap for a few hours before part two of my day started.
I was up around 4 to be out of the apartment by 4:30 to do set up. I really was not a member of Sunday Niter’s (yet) but I have keys to the church since we use the same room as on Tuesday night. The young man who usually sets up texted me last night to say he wouldn’t be making it tonight – so I got there to make coffee and set the room up.
I officially joined Sunday Niter’s this evening.
We finally reached the end of Experience, Strength and Hope tonight, after months and months on this book. This final story comes out of edition 3 of the Big Book, titled “He who looses his Life.”
The opening line of this story goes as follows:
I remember the day when I decided to drink myself to death quietly, without bothering anyone, because I was tired of having been a dependable, trustworthy person for about thirty-nine years without having received what I thought was a proper reward for my virtue…
The story continues later on with: On that day of decision, I didn’t acknowledge that I was an alcoholic. My proud southern blood would have boiled if anyone had named me such a despicable thing. No, it can best be explained in a little phrase I coined and sang to myself: “What happened to Bob? Bob found alcohol!”
And having sung that phrase, I’d chuckle with amusement, turning into irony into self-contempt turning into self pity, at the sad fate of Bob, what wonderful, poor little motherless boy who was so smart in school and grew up to accept responsibility so early and so fast and who staggered under his burdens without a whimper until the time came when he thought he was too good for this world and so he ought to be out of it. Poor Bob!
The story goes on to tell about the disconnect between emotional growth and intellectual growth. And the fact that he had such an emotional full plate with responsibility at such a young age that that stunted his emotional and intellectual growth.
Me thinks he may have had an ego attack carrying expectations that he thought he deserved so much for all that he’d given up at such a young age.
Saddling a young child or teen-ager with premature responsibility before their due time for it is a recipe for disaster. No wonder this man became an alcoholic. He grew up faster than was the plan, he grew stunted emotionally and intellectually that in his adulthood took to the bottle rather than feel the myriad of emotions that were causing him to drink in the first place.
I identified with this writer on many points. Responsibility came quickly and easily to me when I was a teen-ager. I shared this tonight that I remember the day that I made a decision that I wasn’t going to go to daycare after school but be able to go home after school, garnering a key from my parents to be able to get in the house (on my own) because my parents worked during the day until the dinner hour. That was a first, and I was in grade school at that time.
Who gives a child a key to the house that early???
I took on responsibility for myself and my brother after school, taking care of home and hearth. Doing chores and learning how to cook so to help my mother out with cooking after work.
Then in Junior High when my sainted grandmother had her stroke my father took me out of school for months at a time and flew me to her bedside hoping against hope that as the first born child I would be able to miraculously draw her out of her paralyzed – stroked self back into the world of the living. I failed at that miserably. And I don’t think my father ever forgave me for that inability.
I was put in a precarious position. It was cathartic walking into a hospital room seeing the woman who was my entire life – dead on arrival – having been paralyzed down the right side – her face falling off her skull. I fainted and ended up in the ER myself having hit my head on the stone hospital floor when I fell.
Emotions, what are they, what was I feeling? What do I do with my feelings and emotions? I was way too early for the party and that scarred me for life.
The writer talks about the fine line we cross when we become “alcoholic and begin to drink alcoholically.”
That line followed me from childhood. Because the first time I recollect drinking, it was all for one and one for all. I drank for the drunk. There were no half measures or “just one drink” for me. I was in it to win it … You could say that that fine line had been erased by the alcoholic upbringing I had lived.
They say that the “AGE” you are – when you begin drinking alcoholically, is the age you remain emotionally and intellectually, until you either die from the drink or you get sober. If that axiom is true, then I was a teen-ager for more than half my life when I hit my first bottom at 26. And the second one at 34.
I learned about responsibility the hard way the first time around having been diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. There was no rehearsal, no dry run. This was live television and there were no commercials in between shows.
I learned a lot of much needed lessons. I had it really good. I always say that if time travel was possible, the period of time I would relive would have been those first three years from 26 to 29. Over and Over again. Without a doubt.
I had what I needed the first time around, when I took my slip and headed into the unknown, all by myself, stupidly and fueled by my emotions and clearly not my intellect. HUGE MISTAKE !!!
The second time around, having lived through the horror of death and plague, and survived, the second time around I was able to learn about me. What I was feeling and learning about my feelings. And that has been a work in progress for the last decade or so of time under my belt.
I heard it said that the longer we stay sober, the more the journey becomes internalized. We have done to exterior work and now the work becomes internal work. And I am just learning what that means today.
I don’t know from family. I created my family from scratch. I will never have the opportunity to grow up and become a real man in my parent’s eyes. I am the gay abomination that doesn’t deserve to live and breathe the same air.
You know, I made choices based on things I experienced as a child. I pissed some people off in making those choices and now I eternally pay for those decisions that certain people cannot grant me the fact that I have grown up into the man I am and have them be happy for my achievement.
And it isn’t about my ego. It is all about my feelings. And the fact I have them, and certain people in my life deny that I could even have them, that would be to acknowledge simply, that I exist.
I am powerless over people, places and things. And it is a sad commentary that family is stuck in the past and in resentment. They switched off my light switch. And it will be forever dark.
Fuck me …
It was a good meeting. I shed light on a new part of my life tonight. And it was good. There was no crash and burn, no desire to drink. Just an acknowledgement of growth in the program.
This has been my Sunday brain dump…
More to come, stay tuned…
Christ the Redeemer …
The less people tolerated us, the more we withdrew from society, from life itself. As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settled down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did — then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the Four Horsemen — Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair. Unhappy drinkers who read this page will understand …
Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.
A Vision for You – Chapter 11 … pgs. 151-152
It is Easter Sunday and the proclamation of Mother Church is Jesus is Risen, He is risen indeed … The pews are packed with marry – bury Christians making their twice yearly pilgrimage to church to observe the sacred holiday.
But not for me this year. I had hoped to bring a friend with me last night to services but she decided instead to stay in, and so did I. I don’t know why I didn’t feel like going to church, but I just wasn’t feeling it for some reason.
I’ve fallen away from Mother Church. Too busy living my life to commit time to religion as of late. Making a commitment to church – the physical building and community is one of the 5 pillars to good Christian practice and living. But I just can’t get around to making it on Sunday mornings.
As of late, grasshopper and I have been enjoying Sunday Morning Breakfast in Dorval on Sunday mornings. They serve good food, followed by a great meeting and conversation.
Today’s meeting was special because everyone who attended this morning’s meeting was there because they felt it was necessary to be with family at a meeting, instead of sitting inside a church worshiping. In the past, as drinkers, family holidays were rife with drinking and excess. Going to these events for many were prescriptions for disaster. A family event usually led to a night of debauchery and insanity of trying to drown out the day in opt for drunken nights.
Holidays are big business for bar trade. Because we all know what the regulars are doing today. And we know where they will end up tonight after dinner.
The reading from today from the Big Book talks about the darkness we find ourselves in when we are stuck in the hole of alcoholism, but it does get better, there is a solution.
We come from hell and we find the rooms and we get to be reborn in sobriety.
When I was back out there drinking on the dark side, there was no one that took notice of my drinking. There was nobody to disappoint, nobody to answer to, it was just me. And maybe that contributed to why my slip lasted as long as it did because there was nobody to tell me or ask me to stop.
And you would have thought that if I got sober once, I could get sober again. But it didn’t work out that way. I wanted so badly to fit into a community that did not even notice I was trying to get in. All that work was for naught.
I knew the way back, but maybe it was shame or inferiority I was feeling. Knowing the sad looks I would get from friends who were now years sober and I was just a drunk coming back again …
A few well placed prayers later and a God moment, brought me a man who would take my hand and lead me back to where I needed to be. It was December, the BIG holiday period of the year. Where on the dark side there was nobody, now on the side of light were a group of people who really cared that I survived, cared about my life, and cared about my well being.
Which proves a big truth in sobriety: Everything I need I find in the rooms and with the people of the rooms. We arrive dejected, abused, broken and finished. And little by slowly, we live, one day at a time, and we find a Power Greater than Ourselves, GOD (Good Orderly Direction – Group of Drunks – GOD ).
And it is here in the room that we are reborn into a community of like minded believers. We all come from somewhere, however different our backgrounds and stories are. Once you cross the threshold, everyone is on equal footing, all of us on the similar journey, to become whole.
Jane Fonda says that “We are not to become perfect, but we are to become whole.”
And on this Easter Sunday, around the city of Montreal, and around the world in rooms just like ours, people gathered together to celebrate rebirth on this hallowed of sacred holidays. Jesus wasn’t all about death, he was all about rebirth. And on the day we proclaim the risen Christ, we share in his divinity.
We are all created by the One God, and we are all blessed by the One God.
And eventually, in sobriety, you find the One God.
“But there is one who has all the power, that one is God, may you find him now.”
Let us celebrate the risen Jesus and marvel in the story of the resurrection of Jesus and what that means to each of us, in our own special way. Let us carry the light of Christ into our family events today.
I am so grateful to be part of such a big family, who care for me just because.
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 came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, 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.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
The view out of our 17th story windows…
2012 … Winter has come and gone. I have been marking time as I write each night and it seems to have come to an end. Another Winter in the books. It has gotten progressively warmer as the days have come. And today on March18th, we opened the windows for the first time since the beginning of Winter 2011.
And so we bid goodbye to the silence as we do every year. Here is my yearly Ode to the Silence …
This is my yearly Ode to the Silence Post… as seen earlier on the blog.
The weather has changed as of late. It got warmer over the last few days and so for now the first order of business is to take down the plastic on the windows and for the first time in six months, open those windows and let some much needed fresh air into the house. This is the view from our living room out to the West. There is a slight breeze blowing and the sky is clear.
My Ode to the Silence comes every year as we celebrate the opening to the world once again after a long and hard winter. So for a few moments we reflect on the silence that has wrapped us in her embrace for the last six months. If I look back at the date this was originally written, it was April 20th 2007. Today’s “Opening” came on April the 2nd 2010.
Silence, she is warm and inviting, she is womb like and soft. She brings with her soft breezes and the quiet that accompanies the first falling snow. There is wisdom on learns about when one welcomes the silence into ones life. I find that if one does not find their place within the silence one is truly lost to the elements and noise of the world around them.
This yearly “Ode” that is written to bless the silence and thank it for months of kindness and warmth, and bid it farewell for now until we meet again. This does not mean that one will not be able to seek the silence amid the business of the day or the noisiness of night. One must understand what worth lies amid the silence and how that silence can become ones mentor instead of ones enemy.
She teaches me that it is within the silence that one finds the breath. And when one finds the breath, one finds the heartbeat. For if you do not take time to honor the beating heart, then you have no life to be grateful for. Hence the need to always seek and respect the silence. In the business of the day we forget that silence is important to the management of ones life.
So we bid the silence adieu for now until we meet again in months to come. For now we must find a place within that we can reunite with the silence that has left us, and we can remember her warmth and care over the last six months of winter.
Farewell mother of the womb, until that day you greet us again…
It is a cold night in the fair city. A little more cold than I would prefer, but manageable. We are sitting at (-5c) at this hour, and they tell us that snow will fall over night. We shall see about that …
I was agonizing over my Psychology midterm exam last night. I did all the studying that was assigned. I completed the study guide because we had to hand it in before the exam for study credits. I got to school about an hour before class so that I could read from the book, which I did. There were 55 questions on the exam all multiple choice. I sat the exam and it was challenging. I hope that my classmates read all the questions completely, because many of the questions were very similar. I only got stuck on one question out of the 55 which means that I must have done alright on the rest of the exam. I finished in less than the first hour and was home by 7:30.
My new kicks are in the pike, and hopefully they will show up here tomorrow like clockwork. USPS is not updating their site as often as I would like, but I assume that the box is here in the city and will clear customs in the morning and be delivered to me some time tomorrow. *crosses fingers*
I got out of the house early today for set up and it was usual and effortless. A group of women came to read early which was nice. I spent some time reading from the collection of Grapevines we have in the box before the meeting.
Today’s reading came from the Big Book, namely the passages that deal with Step 3, since we are in the third month of the year the chair had us read these few pages and discuss. The questions posed were – How do you know your Higher Power and if you know him/her/it – what does his voice sound like?
I’ve been reading from Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age over the past couple of days, I am only past the first chapter, which tells the story of the A.A. convention in St. Louis in July of 1955.
It was at this convention that the founders of A.A. would hand over the operations of the organizations to the many committees that had been formed for the stewardship of A.A.
I have been amazed at the spiritual rhythm that existed back in the day. And how many clerical men had participated in the early formation of A.A. and just how much Bill Wilson relied on these men to guide him spiritually to write those hallowed words in the books, and the steps and traditions. When you read from the old timers – you begin the see just how A.A. came together and what care was taken to address so many issues that came up, and they did come up …
I have written in my Big Book a question …
” Are we going easy on the God stuff? ”
Many of the founding fathers spoke at the St. Louis Convention to thousands of alcoholics, their families and friends. And they spoke of hope and of solutions. They told the stories of how this all came to be and what hopes they had for where it was going to go. There is a spiritual rhythm to the movement. And in my time in the program I have found my rhythm. And therefore I could appreciate and admire the rhythm that the old timers of A.A. had as well.
When I read from the text, I can hear the desperation that came out of adversity, and the grace that took hold and the healing that saved hundreds of thousands around the world over the first twenty years that A.A. had journeyed. The story goes on to tell the story of the world tour that Bill and Lois went on to Europe and Scandinavia and the Netherlands and Amsterdam.
How A.A. started with a lone alcoholic and how that one person in a certain city started a meeting and how others followed after them. And in each and every city, someone kindly and confidently translated the English text into the language of their location. You just cannot imagine how gratifying it is to know just how much care went into the founding, codifying and administration of A.A.
Read the literature and be amazed yourself.
So many men and women some 57 years ago heard the call to come and partake of the gift of sobriety. And each one of them had made the admission, and came to believe and then made a decision … “To turn their wills and their lives over to the care of God, as they understood Him.” And tonight we read those words again. Each word written on the page was chosen faithfully and confidently.
Every word was caressed and loved into being through the ministrations of Bill and the many people who edited the text until it met final approval and was printed for the first time. The first 164 pages of the Big Book have never been tampered with to this day. The program is set out in those 164 pages and works if you just let go and surrender.
Tonight when the reading went around the table it fell upon a friend of mine who got to read the Third Step Prayer, out of the book. We all heard it spoken. And everybody had a word to share about when they took that third step and what it meant to them and how it affected them.
The discussion went around the outer circle and then came to the table and then it came to me. And I had been thinking about this topic for a few days because I have been reading this historical information about the program. I have conscious contact with my Higher Power. And sometimes he speaks and I hear it in my heart, and other times, he speaks through other people and it takes a keen ear to know how to filter the words of man from the words of God.
And I’ve heard the voice of God … Come out of my husbands mouth. I wrote about it a little while ago in the post ” The State of our Union. ” being Poz, one knows how not to forecast or make plans ahead of nominal time. I’ve been doing the next right thing for a long time. I hit my meetings, I do service and I work with my sponsees. I have a life, a marriage and my education.
I am tired of being in school. Going to University has not served me in any professional way, except to help me polish my writing voice here on the blog. I’ll never get a job in this God forsaken city because I don’t speak French. And I’ve been waiting on God to tell me what I am supposed to do next. I have been saying that prayer for months on end. And finally the answer came …
Hubby sat up, he gave me hope for the future and said that he wanted to take care of me and to allow me to do more of what I love to do, write, work with the program and get more involved with what I do best. And this is what I do best, bar none. It gives me more joy that anything else I do, besides go to meetings and do service.
Several time over the past couple of weeks, hubby reminds me of where we are going and that hope is tangible. He has goals that are coming to fruition, if we just hold fast and do the next right thing until the day comes to make the next move, when all the puzzle pieces are in place. Then we can move forwards. We’ve been waiting for more than ten years to reach this point, so waiting a little while longer is not too much to ask.
We sat almost fifty folks around the table, the room was packed, and the coffee pot was empty when we closed up. A good night was had by all. Tomorrow will be exciting if my kicks come as I hope, and I have class tomorrow night and then the group conscience on Thursday night, for Friday West End.
More to come, stay tuned…
I was gonna wait to post this, but the spirit is moving me today, So here is one of my favorite pieces of writing. I wrote in a few years ago, and I re-post it every year at the beginning of Lent. And since I don’t have anything fresh to offer you – you can read this and prepare for your journey … Enjoy..
And so it begins, the walk through the desert. God is moving tonight, I can feel it in my bones deep within my soul. I am in Preacher mode and the message is loud and clear…Write and share the journey. There are several new bloggers on this list now, Christians I know for sure. Here is my Lenten exercise of the journey, it is called “Will you walk with me a step or two.”
One day the Lord spoke to them and they started walking through the desert. Men, women, children the elderly and the herds and flocks. Where they were going was not known, but it was apparent that they were going to get somewhere. If only they walked a step or two.
A young man spoke up and said “I will walk ahead of the tribes, I will lead them as the Lord leads me.” And the Lord asked the young boy, “are you ready to walk for the glory of God,” why “Yes,” the boy answered. So be it the Lord said, “now lead them, but take only that which you need and nothing more.” I will walk with You Lord, he said without a second thought.
The Lord said that the way will not be smooth and there are things you will see on the way that will test your faith, yet I the Lord will make the way straight and the path smooth, if you have faith in Me and the Glory of God the father. Yes, I have faith, the boy replied, so walk my son.
A few days into the journey the boy came across a woman with ragged hair and little clothing. She was elderly and needed some water. The boy was only carrying what he had, and he gave drink to the woman and quenched her thirst. She said to him, that she was lonely and afraid of the road, and the boy replied, woman, have no fear, for I will walk with you until nightfall and we will camp under the canopy of heaven. That day they walked together and the woman was grateful for the company and the water.
That night, they made camp, the tribes of the Lord.
The Angel of the Lord came down and struck the rock and water flowed. They all drew water from a spring that appeared and everyone’s thirst was satiated. And the animals were watered as well. Food was passed from group to group until every last one was fed. That night they sang the song of the Lord until everyone was sent to a sleep protected by the Lord himself.
The very next morning, rested and fed, the tribes packed up their wares and started the journey as they did the day prior. The sun hung low in the sky, and by high noon, sweat was pouring off the brows of the people. The young boy made his way in front of the pack, leading them as he was guided by the spirit of the lord. Soon after noon the boy came across an elderly man who was being carried by two men, visibly shaken and tired.
The boy looked up to the sky and said, what can I do Lord?
The answer came and the boy took the arm of the litter and helped carry the man for the rest of the day, until darkness fell and camp was set up for the night. Once again, the Angel of the Lord came down and struck the rock and from the rock a spring came up from the earth once again, the people and the animals were watered. The tables were set and the people were fed to their fill. Once again, they praised the God of Abraham and in the coolness of the night they slept under the canopy of the heavens.
On the third day they awoke to a cloudy day, grateful for the relief from the sun, they gathered up their wares and began to walk once again. Today the young man was tired. He had been leading this lot for days now, and yet the lord said, Keep walking. So he did.
On this day he came upon a young person drawn from travel, covered in dust from the desert. Visibly the boy had not eaten in days and was close to death.
The young man stopped and knelt down next to him and shared his water and some bread from his pack. He lifted the boy into his arms and carried him for the rest of the day. Hours passed and the boy was filled with faith and strength as he carried his charge on his back. That night at camp, the young boy gathered some bedding and laid his friend in a cool soft place.
That night the Angel of the Lord appeared and once again, struck the rock and water flowed. He bathed the young man whom he had carried all day, then they broke bread and shared living water from the earth. Miracle, you ask, quite possibly so.
That night all were fed and after the plates were cleared and all had been fed, they gathered before the fires and praised the God of Abraham. They rested beneath the canopy of heaven.
For 38 days and 38 nights, the boy walked with his people, helping each soul he encountered to the best of his ability as God had commanded him to do.
On the 39th day they awoke. The angel of the Lord was there at first light and he told them, the journey was almost over, walk on as the Lord commands.
That day was no different. On that day the young boy would meet his final “person.” She was laden with child, and was walking alone carrying everything that she needed. No man walked by her side, no assistance came to her. She was visibly close to giving birth, and the Boy took her hand
As night fell, the boy gathered the women together and they prepared the woman for birth. A call went out to the men and they gathered together some wood for someplace to keep the child. As was foretold, the Angel of the Lord appeared to them once again, and struck the rock and as happened each night before, water flowed.
That night the stars shone brightly, the heavens were alight with song. Something was about to happen. For after the meal, the woman called for the boy and he appeared by her side. The time had come and she wanted to share the birth of the child with him, for he walked with her a step or two. That night under the canopy of heaven a child was born and she asked the boy his name.
He answered, “My name is David.” She smiled at her son, and spoke to the heavens, May God in heaven be blessed and may he bless my son David, born this night. The heavens replied with a thousand shooting stars… What a glorious vision the host of angels come down from heaven to sing to David, the newest member of the tribes of Abraham. That night they rested and slept in peace.
On the 40th day the young boy awoke, there standing before him were 40 men, women and children. All of those whom David had walked with through the desert. At that moment an Elder man spoke to David and said follow me, there is someone who would like to see you David, HE has asked for you by name.
The people before him parted and through them David walked until he reached a hill that was green with foliage and there a spring bubbled up. “Take off your sandals David” a voice spoke to him. David did not skip a beat. As David looked up from undoing his shoes, There the Master sat on the rock before him.
David’s eye welled up with tears, he had done exactly as he was instructed, as the Lord had told him. He had led his people through the desert helping each soul he met on his path. The Master knew what was in his heart and soul. David was without words. The Master got up from where He sat and approached David and wrapped his arms around him, and said……..
“Well done good and faithful servant. In YOU I am well pleased.”
What for? David said, all I did was what you asked of me while I walked. And the Master replied, “you know David, each time you helped one of these souls on your journey, you helped ME.” “What the least of these you have done for my brothers and sisters you have done for me.”
The Master reached down into the pool of water and blessing the water he blessed and baptized David the Boy, and then David the infant. And for a moment the heavens opened up and God’s voice was heard, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
And from the sky a beam of light shone forth into the desert and the sands were parted and there in the swirl of dust a city appeared. It is there that the people made their homes. The journey had ended. And a placed blessed by God was theirs to live in.
So will you walk with me a step or two. The journey is long and the road may be rough, but as the Lord says “I will make the path straight and your burden will be light.” Take only that which you need. And if you meet someone of the road, stop and ask your questions, share your water and food, for you never know when the Master will reveal himself to you.
Are you ready to start walking !!!
“I thirst,” Jesus said on the cross when Jesus was deprived of every consolation, dying in absolute Poverty, left alone, despised and broken in body and soul. He spoke of His thirst – not for water – but for love, for sacrifice.
Jesus is God: therefore, His love, His thirst is infinite. Our aim is to quench this infinite thirst of a God made man. Just like the adoring angels in Heaven ceaselessly sing the praises of God, so the sisters, using the four vows of Absolute Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Charity towards the poor ceaselessly quench the thirsting God by their love and of the love of the souls they bring to Him.
Mother Teresa writes:
Jesus wants me to tell you again … how much is the love He has for each one of you – beyond all what you can imagine … not only He loves you, even more – He longs for you. He misses you when you don’t come close. He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy…
*** *** *** ***
This will be my 2,582nd post…
We begin this tale of the last 365 days at nearly the end, because that is where I think we need to begin. I re-read my end of year 2010 report to try and get a sense of what I need to write about this year. So many things have happened this year and I haven’t written out an outline, I will then free write …
First, we need music. Barbra Streisand … A Piece of Sky …
The winter 2010-2011 school season was a success. I did very well in my courses and finished at the top of my game. Not much happened over the summer so I took off those months. There wasn’t much in classes that I really wanted to take. I went to an inordinate amount of meetings over the summer.
This past Fall, I pursued my education at CeGep this year with as much zeal as I could muster. After two semesters of French, I decided that I would no longer pander to the language police here in Quebec. I would rather eat glass then study French another day in my life. So I gave it up on the first day of the third semester. I sat in the chair and the prof started in and I sat until the break and then I left. Never to return. I had had enough of that …
That night I decided to study Western Civilization instead. So the Fall Semester I studied Sociology, following in my husbands footsteps. Added to that was Western Civilization. Both courses I did fantastically well. I had great teachers and a little help from my friends in the form of free textbooks and occasional coaching from the side. That’s what you get when you go to meetings. People truly want to see you succeed and if they can, play a part in that success. So thanks to Eric and Hubby for their help.
Last year I spoke of Hubby’s doing well in University. And today I can say with a proud heart that he has more than exceeded all of our expectations. He not only was a student in the Graduate Studies program for Sociology, he taught a section of tutorials this past semester. Something he worried about – but to me, looking at it from the outside, it was effortless. He just is the most fascinating man I know. He did it all like a Master…
On the medical front, I lived another year. All my numbers have been above the 1000 mark. My good run has been extended this past year. My doctor never varies from his talk to me whenever I see him. He says the same thing like a litany that never changes. Loose weight, stop eating junk food and exercise. The theme never varies. However I can report that I did lose some weight over the last year. I changed up my diet – hubby is a very health conscious cook.
My diabetes numbers have been nominal to the degree that the last time I saw my doc for that it was for five minutes. He has dispensed with the whole triage, dietician and extensive medical history and check up for a brief looking at the number on my meter – signing off on refills and sending me on my way.
The other night at a Christmas dinner at a friends, I met a man who is diabetic and we talked about our respective situations. I seem to be doing so well and he has all but given up he says “you only get one life, so might as well live it” and not in the good way either. You see this happen with certain people who can’t be bothered to take care of themselves correctly and follow medical advice, and at that I shake my head, I keep my council and I let it go. He takes pills to control his diabetes, but he doesn’t test daily, nor does he do what he is told. Which is a shame, because in the end it may kill him one day and that would be a loss.
The same goes for people with HIV. I get them newly diagnosed and I talk them into a life plan and we find them the next step to survival. Most of the men I have worked with in the last calendar year have dispensed with my advising. It is not something they wanted to continue, so I must let them go. If they live or die is entirely up to them.
Another of my fellows on the HIV train was dumped after a long term relationship by the man who fell out of love with him and over a steak dinner divulged that he did not love him anymore. This sent my friend into a tailspin that almost killed him. I warned him not to use or drink. But what did he do? He went out in a blaze of glory.
Where everyone was pissing and moaning about lost love, I was the only one to warn him of the consequences of a major slip in recovery after being sober for so many years. My counsel fell on deaf ears and he used heavy narcotics in a haze that almost killed him. And with that I took my leave of him. He ended our friendship over this.
One of my guys got sick, ended up in the hospital and had a near death experience. That experience sent him out the door into a drunken drug filled stupor for a few months only to end up in rehab, and in a haze of forgetfulness calls me one night begging my help once again. I can proudly say that today that man is sober and clean. He has a few months sobriety and is actively working his steps with me in a 12 step intensive. One of the only success stories I can talk about on the HIV front.
Another year in the books as year 44 came around this past summer. I am soon heading for fifty. Can you believe it??? Me at 50. Who knew. But we are not there yet. One day at a time … I read the book Aging with HIV, and in the book I am at the near beginning of the scale, not so old as the men in the book, but I am getting there slowly. In reading the book, I learned what concerned men going into their 50’s. Most of the issues I read about, I have already dealt with in my sobriety.
This past year has been one of disappointments in people. As I stated above the theme is recurring several times over. When people show you who they are the first time believe them…
A long time friend who I had been counseling, listening to and confiding in for the last ten years trying to be her friend just pissed me the fuck off. After 23 years of sobriety, she admitted after the fact that she was drinking and lying to me all the time, prior to her return to Montreal this past fall. I am beginning to learn just who is my friend and who paid me in lip service over the past year.
Suffice to say that I held my tongue quite well when she picked up a desire chip after 23 years at my home group. I sat on my feelings and stuffed them until they almost choked me. And one night words were spoken. Words I can never take back. It all came out one word after another …
I am not ashamed that I caved. I mean what are we unfeeling cyborgs? Can’t I feel an emotion and put it out there? Well, that was another ending. I said my piece and she felt victimized and reported me to her sponsor as a bad man. I ended that friendship in a blaze of glory. She went back to Florida. If she is sober is up to her and God.
I am beginning to find my voice as a man who knows himself. I have spent the better part of the year taking care of me and learning all those lessons that Oprah had to offer in terms of Life Class. And I put to practice all those things that she says will help us become who we are meant to become.
Being true to ones self. Knowing and being responsible for the energy we give out and what energy we bring to ourselves. When people show us who they are the first time, believe them. Things like this …
Every day of my life is book-ended with meetings. That formula for success is what I attribute my successes. I have this year crossed a huge mile marker which I will touch on a bit later. If I have a night free, you can usually find me at a meeting somewhere. Tuesday Beginners has been a part of my life for more than ten years now. And it served me well.
Over the summer, my sponsor and my friend Dave, who is a proud daddy today used to travel to different meeting on Friday night. From the South shore to the West End to NDG. We did this for weeks on end until I had enough of traveling from here to there. I wanted to invest in somewhere certain. You can’t invest in a meeting and their people if you are not a weekly attendee. So I decided to go to Friday West End by myself.
I set a goal for myself and that goal was to go and wait for God to tell me what to do. I went, week after week until the voice gave me direction. And I knew it one night when after the meeting I felt the urge that this is where the next chapter of my sobriety was to open. So I joined the group a few months ago. I needed three months of service to become a proper member, and so I did that gladly.
I would go and set up chairs and make coffee. I sat in the same chair week in and week out. People began to notice me, not because of what I was doing, but because of my presence in the same spot week after week. People started talking to me, I learned their names, and made some friends. An old timer and his wife from Dorval. I have spoken about them before.
The next chapter of my sobriety was opening up. I did my time and got into the rotation as a full member. And then everything changed. And it was the greatest gift I have ever been given in sobriety. Firstly there was the night we were in the church for the meeting – it was the first time I was responsible for setting up and doing all the grunt work because most of the group was out of town that night, and the hall was being used the next day for a church bazaar so we were in the church proper and that night we all had a spiritual experience. It was the most beautiful night on my life, listening to a young lady play the piano. It was angel speak. The night was a HUGE success. And it did not go unnoticed.
The fall came and went. I am still doing service every week. Now I am the designated coffee maker. That along with minor set up skills I am an upstanding member of Friday West End.
Weeks before my 10th sober anniversary, I had been in a really deep conscious contact with my God. My prayer life I stepped up. I was reading holy texts and I came across Mother Teresa once again. A book I had once dismissed, I picked up again, just by happenstance. And I was convicted … The story of how she began the Missionaries of Charity with “I Thirst …” I knew that was going to become the marker for my anniversary.
On certain big anniversaries, I was taught in early sobriety, you make an offering to God for your sobriety. I did it on my first anniversary with a piercing. And now at ten, I needed to do something big. I made a few calls and visited a few tattoo parlors in the core and settled on Adrenaline. I talked it over with hubby and he gave me the green light to get the tattoo I wanted. I prayed about it for a week. And on the Friday prior to my anniversary, I got that tattoo. It was all the rage at Friday West End. Since I Face booked it everyone wanted to see it, and so it went. I was really proud of myself.
And also as it came to pass that I was approaching my 1oth sober anniversary, is when God stepped in and gifted me. The Friday before my anniversary, the chair asked me to speak, ON my anniversary. On that same night our matriarch asked me if I would take my cake on that next Friday night. (Now I was prepared to wait until the 13th at TB’s to take my cake) But she had other plans for me.
She asked me if I had my 2 year silver oval medallion. Yes, it was in my wallet. I gave it to her and she took it and sent it off to the jewelers to be Gold Plated and engraved with whatever I wanted on it … “I Thirst…” is on that medallion now.
I talked to my sponsor about sharing. And he said as long as I keep my ego in check, all should be well. That Friday came to pass. I got up there and knocked it out of the park. I don’t remember all of what I said. But whatever I did say made a difference in my life and the lives of the members of the group and others as well who came to hear me speak. It was the most exciting night of my life in recent years. Then I got my cake and my GOLD medallion. It was the most exciting moment in my sobriety so far.
The people of Friday West End gave me a gift that I could never repay. They gave me a memory that I can take to my grave as being had. And I am forever grateful to them for that. We are a great happy bunch of drunks that do good things every Friday night for every person who walks in our doors.
We had our anniversary the following week and we had over a hundred and some odd people. We had food galore and fun, fun, fun. I even got to thank that speaker because the chair thinks I am so eloquent in thanking capabilities. I don’t know if it went over as good as I wanted because of the man I was thanking. Some stories are tougher than others to thank because of content and experience. And he was rough trade… But I did my best.
On the 13th of December I took a second chip and celebrated with Cake at my original home group. To show to newcomer that it can be done. Many old friends came to help me celebrate. We had lots of cake and conversation. So I have a ten year medallion to keep forever, and one to share with someone coming along to their tenth… December has been one very exciting month.
The holidays have come and are nearly gone. The weeks are just flying past, as if to say, let’s get this year over already !!! Christmas was a big BLUR on the radar screen. And it is Tuesday late night once again as I write this. I was so busy over the holidays that I forget that the day came. Our home Christmas was sandwiched in between cooking for home, setting up for an evening meeting and attending a second Christmas dinner all on the same night.
And with great effort the world is going to welcome in the New Year in the way they know how to do… With lots of liquor and celebrations. I talked to a friend on Tumblr earlier and I said that all those young people won’t know what hit them after imbibing copious amounts of liquor and smoking the best weed out there. What a waste … But what can you do???
We will take in the New Year as we always do. With our Crystal Goblets and a little non-alcoholic bubbly. We will watch the ball fall and kiss on the moment and then we will go to bed and listen to Coast to Coast AM and the yearly predictions show for 2012. This year proves to be exciting, with Armageddon knocking on our doors on December 21st 2012.
PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR. TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE SOMEWHERE SAFE BECAUSE IT IS ALL SUPPOSED TO END. WE CAN ALL KISS OUR RESPECTIVE ASSES GOODBYE BECAUSE THEY TELL US THE WORLD WILL COME TO AN END.
At Least the Mayan’s have given the preacher world something to go on about for the last year. And needless to say it will only get worse as the date draws nearer. So we will see who the forgiven/saved are and who is going to suffer damnation, hellfire and sorrow.
And that is how we will close out the year that was 2011.
What did you do this year that is noteworthy? Share those thoughts with us.
I really want to thank all the people who have subscribed to this blog, and to all my readers out there. From all over the world. Especially, Bear Toast, Rod, Vincent and the rest of you. Thank you for a great year. It has been a joy writing for you – and you have helped me polish my voice so to speak.
I am in touch, so you be in touch.
I love your faces.
WC: 3,173 Post 2,582
We wish all of our friends, family and colleagues a wonderful Hanukkah. May it be filled with laughter, love and life.
Happy Hanukkah …
“We light these lights for the miracles and the wonders, for the redemption and the battles that you made for our forefathers, in those days at this season, through your holy priests. During all eight days of Hanukkah these lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make ordinary use of them except for to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name for Your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvations.”
“At some time, perhaps in a more moderate way, nearly everyone has experienced this spirit touch of God – the fleeting feeling of insight, love, joy, and “The world is right.” once, I thought that only unusual circumstances made these moments possible. Actually, I now think, they are forecasts of what one can have if one is willing to take time and make the effort. Peace, love, and joy can be sought through quiet thinking and honest prayer.” Came to Believe, pg. 65
I made mention of this passage in a post on Tuesday night. I did not have the copy to quote directly because I only got a copy of the book tonight at Friday West End.
It has been a cold night. We are sitting at 2c, with a low of 0 coming overnight. I set out for St. Columba’s around 6:30 because I was taking the Atwater green line over to the orange line, which took me about 45 minutes to make the transit.
I arrived at the church and made coffee and waited for my fellows to arrive to set up. Several people showed up early so we cranked out chairs and tables in little time. We’ve been battling someone in the church for chairs, I had to pilfer chairs from the church, because that’s where they were last week, when we were in the church. It seems they use our chairs in several other rooms in the parish. And it also seems that we are all tossing over the same number of chairs.
A good night was had by all. I knew our speaker since I was newly sober, and he had a good share. It was good to hear him speak. We had a 17 year cake and lots of happy conversation and refreshments after the meeting.
It got a little frigid on the way home as I was waiting at the bus stop for the 10:35 bus. I arrived home a little after 11, the news was on. We had dinner and now I am writing here.
The Friday Joy Rising episode is called “You’ve always had the power…”
That will come in a little bit.
Toodles until then…
It’s a bit of a BRR kind of night. Sitting at 0c.
It was a good day. I got out of the house a little early to get over to the church for set up. I took the long way out green line to orange line. And the trains were running off today. None of the screens were showing arrival times on either line.
I made a bus straight away from Vendome, and made it to the church by 7:30. I had to open the church and set up for the meeting tonight. This weekend there is a Bazaar at St. Columba’s and so we were asked to use the church for the meeting.
The hall is packed with all kinds of stuff. Shoes, jackets, christmas decorations and all sorts of bazaary type stuff. Which meant that I had to work around the staff of the parish, because our cabinet was blocked by a huge table covered in boxes of records … RECORDS !!! I haven’t seen a record in years, There were even 45’s in little sleeves. I was talking to the woman who was manning the table and she told me that she makes a lot of money on records over the years.
The kitchen was packed with workers cooking, baking and washing dishes, and here I was in the middle of the room wanting to make coffee. It seemed that all the tables were being used for the bazaar so I had to work around looking for tables to put my coffee pots and tables for the chair.
Lizzy showed up early to help me set up – meanwhile – this beautiful young lady named Maria came into the church to practice a piano concerto she is working on. And let me tell you that she played for us, for more than an hour. The music was just beautiful and heavenly.
We found tables to work with thanks to the staff who were very happy to be of service, and they told us that there would be no charge for the hall tonight because we had to use the church. Which was nice.
We got the tables set and the coffee and tea cranking and all was well. I set up table in the front of the sacred space and Maria was on the piano. She played up until the meeting started. She was playing so beautifully and as the end came she was cranking on those keys to a crescendo ending. It was glorious.
The entire congregation in the church stood up and applauded her playing.
The meeting went on as usual. Everything worked out. Mitch was in the kitchen and we had food after the meeting along with the coffee and tea. Jeremy helped me tear down the tables and pots so that we could put them away.
This was the first Friday that I was responsible for opening the church and locking it up at the end of the night. It all went like clockwork. We were missing a huge number of folks tonight, many of the members did not show.
But all in all it was a great night. A great message from a long sober woman.
I made the 10:35 bus home, and once again the trains on the way back were running out of time. I walked in the door around ten past eleven.
Friday “Joy Rising” will follow later on tonight.
Time for dinner.
It was a beautiful day today. Just the right temp. Lots of sun. We are sitting at 7c, at this hour. I was running early all day today. And 5 o’clock couldn’t get here quick enough, so I left the apartment early, hopeful that we would have people getting there early to do their book work.
I cranked out the coffee and set up and was done by 5:40. And I sat outside the church and waited. Alas, nobody showed up till almost 6:30. The meeting was well attended. Since it was the beginning of the 11th month, our chair opted to go with Step 11 from the Twelve and Twelve.
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.”
It was good to hear everybody get a chance to read from the book, as the books went around the table, one of my friends gets to the passage of the prayer below. And for a few moments, as we listened to him recite the prayer, everybody at the table meditated for just a moment.
As I start my day I connect with a power greater than myself. I read my daily reflections and I try not to miss this morning constitutional. Because if I do, I am disconnected during my day. And my sobriety is a daily reprieve based on my spiritual condition.
Each night before I go to bed, I watch Oprah’s Life class and I write on that topic before bed here on the blog. It is a kind of meditation that I can take to bed with me. And I sleep well, having ended my day with some sort of teaching, be it a life issue or a spiritual teaching.
When I go to set up, I meditate. I make the coffee, then I set up the tables, and then I put out the books and decorations (slogans and literature), and finally I set down chairs. And as I set down each chair, I visualize someone from the meeting who sits in that chair, or I remember people who I haven’t seen in a while, people who have come and gone, friends, and family. So I spend at least 10 minutes meditation on something other than what’s in my head.
And it is also funny, that on the wall behind where we sit is the Prayer of St. Francis. It is there as a reminder. And I read the prayer from the book each day, and hearing myself recite it in my head is one thing, but hearing someone else recite the prayer for me creates a spiritual moment for me.
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Every line, is one thought. Every line is a meditation in itself. if you parse this prayer line for line, you have a meditation for many days, if you broke up the prayer into a daily practice.
I have written on the topic of the Ladder of the Monks …
“Reading is the careful (respectful) study of the Scriptures, concentrating all one’s powers on it. Meditation is the busy application of the mind to seek with the help of one’s own reason for knowledge of hidden truth. Prayer is the heart’s 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 ever lasting sweetness.”
Guigo the 12th century Carthusian monk, explains the interconnection ‘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.’
This is the teaching that we can apply to our daily lives, it is something that you cultivate. It just doesn’t happen over night, and not immediately either.
I think that about covers, what we talked about tonight. I know that there is another post in the pike, which will come later tonight. So stay tuned…
The question above courtesy of Plinky. This post is dedicated to my most favorite singing duo Captain and Tennille. Being a child of the 1970’s we still had records back then. I have memories of sitting in our basement listening to the likes of Sonny and Cher and the Jackson 5, and the Mamas and the Papas.
I guess I was in elementary school living in Miami. I attended Coral Terrace Elementary school. I remember getting my first record player for my own room. Those were the days when there were those variety shows on television. I don’t know where it started and by whom, but I was a huge fan of Captain and Tennille. I bought all of their records and once I even got to see them live at the Dade Country Youth Fair one year. I think that was the night that they came to the concert but could not stay, so Dolly Parton went on alone.
From the 1970’s through the 1980’s they were one of my favorite singer/groups. Later on, well later on I would get to meet Toni Tennille on board one of the Royal Caribbean Cruise ships when I worked for the line later on in my story.
I still listen to them to this day. I had a huge collection of records that I carried around with me from home to home, even if I didn’t have a record player. With the dawn of the CD, the old archives of music from ages past were saved for the world to hear. You can’t get this kind of music just any where. I hunted high and low for a seller, I think it finally came down to Amazon where I got my copies of these cd’s.
Before the dawn of phones into our lives here, we progressed through the veritable cd player, that bulky machine you would carry around with you with an assortment of Cd’s along with them. This would be back as far of 2000,2001.
I was still using my cd player when I moved to Canada. Then dawned the day of the hand held mp3 player and the dawn of electronic music download. Transferring music from hard copy cd to the windows media format to put the mp3 on the player. My mp3 player was attached to me, it went everywhere with me. When that died, I was lost.
And last year hubby did all kinds of homework to find the best deal on cell phones that did everything that you needed it to do. I use my phone to make calls, but the big job my phone does is play music. I can’t live without music. Music is part of my life. Play any assortment of music on any given day and I can usually come up with an anecdote or story connected to any given piece of music. I have an eclectic collection of music on my phone.
Over the last few years I have collected a huge collection of Cd’s that are sitting in a cabinet here in our apartment. Most of them are sitting on my hard drive on file. I have an 8 gb card in my phone so my music collection is huge. I travel from genre to genre from gentle 70’s to hard rock Linkin Park and Breaking Benjamin. From theme park music to movie soundtracks.
I love the old music from the 70’s and 80’s. I had a huge stereo as a teen ager with an LP player and an 8 track player as well. Do you remember the 8 track tape? Did you have one? Was there one in your car? or on your home stereo.
Groups like the Mamas and the Papas, Feetwood Mac and assorted other artists of that time. I went through a country phase and a classical phase when I was in high school. I took a humanities class in high school and we used to listen to classical music, first period of the day, and study art and architecture.
I’m listening to Captain and Tennille as I am typing this out. And in my minds eye I am sitting in my bedroom with my LP playing and my headphones on laying on my water bed with my little light show going on. I used to have all these funky lamps that held water and glitter and lava lamps and lights that spun, reflecting off the ceiling. My bedroom was an escape from the trials of the day.
My favorite Music:
- Captain and Tennille
- Mamas and the Papas
- Stevie Nicks
- Fleetwood Mac
- Celine Dion
- Amy Winehouse
- Information Society
- Bette Midler
- Lady Gaga
- Classic M People – 1990’s
- DJ Tiesto
- Breaking Benjamin
- Gloria Estefan
- Duran Duran “of course”
- Linkin Park “definitely”
- Def Leppard
- Van Halen
- Amy Grant
- Steven Curtis Chapman
- DJ Junior Vasquez
- DJ Chad Fox Podcasts
- Barbra Streisand
Just a selection of the music that is on my phone. I love music. it gives us a reason to live. Much of my life is painted in musical tones. For every memory there is a song to go with it. A lifetime of music. I know it would take me ages to collect every piece of music from the past. Every once and a while I run past an old piece of music and I get to add it to my collection.
I don’t listen to music radio at all. Only what I have in my collection, what is put out on the open market. Our record stores here in the city are all going belly up. They don’t sell music like they used to. There were times when I would spend a good hour at HMV listening to music and spending hundreds of dollars every year on new music. But with the dawn of the Ipod and Apple Itunes and downloadable music, the days of the hard press CD will come to an end, just like LP’s, 8 tracks and Cd’s.
This was one of my all time favorites …
That’s all I have for tonight.
Tomorrow is Tuesday and meeting night, it’s going to be very exciting. An old friend of mine is making her return to the meeting after fighting breast cancer, so there will be much to talk about tomorrow.
Stay tuned …