Pope Francis, as we speak, is in Cuba. Having Celebrated Mass in Revolution Square this morning, has met with Raul Castro and today, his brother Fidel. It was an informal but cordial meeting between the two men.
The Pope wants “Change.” Change in a good way, Change in an internal attitude way. Of leaving our safe homes and safe lives to go out in the streets and serve “the least of these” in the best way we can, from our hearts, not our minds.
He wants to unite the world in the ways of God. Francis sees God in a very particular way. He invites us to share in the divinity of God through Jesus, and come into that special spiritual awareness that comes with the resurrected Christ on Easter morning.
I admire Pope Francis a great deal, because he asks simply to serve God in each other. Because we are all formed in the image of God, and we are also, star stuff. Which means that “Divinity” exists in each of us, as we are, warts and all.
If we stopped and took a serious look at our fellows, our neighbors and our friends, we too would see that divinity.
It comes to us to “change” to be able to see it.
We are called to serve. Not for our own good, but for the good of others. For the good of God, yes, “church” would be mentioned here as well, Francis has been stripping away the trappings of “Church” for a simpler way of life. We don’t need finery or gems and gold.
Jesus once commanded his disciples to go out into the world carrying only what they had on their backs, and to do the work they were commanded.
Just the same, Francis calls us to go out and do good works.
Because it is in those works that we exemplify the spirit of God.
I am slowly working my way through The Great Reformer, Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, written by Austen Ivereigh.
I have read a few other books about Francis. When he was elected Pope several tomes were released. Pope Francis has not escaped the past because he plays a much hated man, a much loved man, and a man who was once a very tight Jesuit priest with his own ideas and ways of life, until the time came, when God struck him and Francis had his spiritual awakening.
People have many opinions about Francis, and the role he played during the Dirty War. Was he complicit, was he flying under the radar, or was he a victim of the times as they played out before him?
Every writer I have read has painted a picture of Francis.
I do not stand in judgment of his past.
I do stand in awe of the man he became and the words he speaks and the challenges he puts before us as the leader of Holy Mother Church. Even there, he turned the Curia and the papal household on its ear, by living in Casa Santa Marta, and sharing his days working in the church, then at night, he changes into his spiritual superman suit and goes out and visits with the least of these, inviting them to dine with him and attend his morning masses at the Vatican.
There is a kernel of Holy Mother Church in me, I won’t deny that. I loved the church that educated me, the church that served me, and the church that went above and beyond to save me when I needed to be saved and looked after.
I am eternally grateful to those men who took time out of their lives to sit with me, to break bread with me, to minister to my spiritual needs, and to give me Hope and Faith, in a time when Hope and Faith were in little supply.
Churches … Many of them, Across the board, were not kind to the gays, especially us gays who had AIDS, because it was said that we got what was coming to us from God himself as punishment for our sinful lives.
I can say this with total confidence … I have NEVER met a man of God who EVER pointed a damning finger at me and said that God was punishing me for any reason whatsoever.
That is a thing …
We’ve talked of God these past few days again. God has been in high rotation for a while now, and I really did not have anything substantive to write, but it was coming.
We read “An Artists Conception” tonight. It opens with this quote from Appendix II in the back of the Big Book, in regards to Spiritual experience.
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance –
That principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
Our man has a serious problem. And he knows what the problem is, Alcoholism. He has investigated the issue backwards and forwards, but he lacks one thing; the spiritual approach, because like many of us, religion is a nasty word, because of the taste it left in our mouths.
But he meets one man, who shows him the way, humbly and quietly. And our man GETS IT. Then he meets twenty other men who also have gotten it. And the desire to drink becomes pointless against all of his other problems. But he never picks up a drink again.
He says that it wasn’t the words they used, or the book they were reading, but there was an invisible force that he recognized. He saw it. And in some miraculous way, he finds that power greater than himself.
Many of our folks are still trying to figure it out for themselves. God as an intellectual pursuit is a rather hard task. But if you stick around long enough, you will find it, sure enough.
Did I tell you the time I met God ???
Yes, I have. Over and Over again. It is the best story I have in my bank.
After listening to my friend vacillate and try to figure out who God is for them, I had twenty minutes to state my case. And I tell them of the horrors I was living in the nineties. And how my life came to a crashing end when I was diagnosed with AIDS, and was told to go home, kiss my ass goodbye and wait to die.
I made one phone call that changed my life.
I had actually made several other calls that did not pan out.
So that one call I made was to Provincetown.
Todd and Roy returned from their holidays early because I needed help.
When Todd stepped up, it was because he loved me. He chose me to save, in the way he chose to do that. He concentrated everything he had into me in those first two years that saved my life.
Meanwhile, at the bar, all of my friends were approaching death in exactly the way they chose. living fast and leaving a good looking corpse. Well, how good of a corpse is it when it is riddled with K.S. stricken with disease, plowed with exotic drugs and tanked on the best liquor a bar tender could pour ?
I had no other choice. Well, I did have a choice.
I could have taken that route myself. Todd had other plans for me.
He began to teach me how to live, with the reminder that BOB was in the cemetery right across the street from the bar. And if I was not willing to try to live, that I would end up there myself.
When I needed God, He came. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, that I know what God looks like, I know His voice and I know for sure that He was with me in my hours of need.
And I looked at my friends after telling this story, (with more words used to get the point across) that if they need proof that God does exist, they need not look any further than myself.
I lived. I did not die. Because God saved me.
But like any mortal man, addiction knows no bounds. I forgot …
But when I returned, I said a single prayer to God for help.
And let me tell you, I prayed a specific prayer for specific needs in a specific order.
- I prayed for the desire to drink to leave me
- I needed an alcoholic to come to me, and
- I needed to get to a meeting.
Nothing is too difficult for God when we really need help. Because He moved heaven and earth and provided me that prayer in the order it went out, as if to say,
“Hey there, I got your back!”
Not a day goes by that I do not remember where I came from. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Todd. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for something. However, I admit, freely, that gratitude is not something I think about constantly.
It is an action.
I’ve chosen to live out my gratitude in my “Presence” to my friends. Like Francis calls us to do, I go out and I serve the “least of these” and those who need the love and faith I have.
Which leads nicely into the next portion of tonight’s read … The Baby
I work every day to be a man of honor, courage and strength. I work every day to make the right decisions, and to be of maximum service to my fellows. And let me tell you, that does not come easily. Creating family is difficult. Maintaining family is challenging. Taking care of a baby is the most rewarding experience I can share in today.
Today, I got an entire afternoon with the baby, we had some lunch. She would not eat her food, by herself, so she did eat when I offered food to her. hen we played for a while with her blocks, but that did not last very long.
So we dressed her and popped her into her stroller and went to the park. This was our first park outing together. And we passed a few of my friends on the way, and it was said to me that “we probably started tongues wagging …” but you only live once.
We did some swings. We did some slides, and some playground rides. We played in the sand and got dirty. It was just me and the baby. It was the most wonderful feeling. There were screaming kids all over the playground, and their parents watching closely, and for a while, I was one of those parents, playing with his child.
It was immense …
I want to close with some thought’s by Pope Francis.
“Archbishop Quarracino invited Bergoglio in January and April 1990 to give retreats to dozens of his clergy in La Plata. In the first, “Our flesh in Prayer,” Bergoglio reflected powerfully on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, the story of the foreigner who comes to the aid of a traveler beaten by brigands. He showed that those who passed on the other side – symbolized in Jesus’s telling by the priest and the Levite – used a series of distancing techniques, which were all temptations: either they intellectualized the suffering they saw, or evaded the responsibility for it by reassuring themselves that this is how life was.
The Samaritan, on the other hand, got on his hands and knees to get close to the victim, opened his heart to him and bound his wounds, shouldered him and spent his money on him. “That is what we will be judged on,” Bergoglio told the priests, adding that this proximity was at the heart of the Incarnation. Jesus, far from “passing on the other side,” paid the ultimate price in sacrificing his own flesh for those who suffer; and God’s closeness to humanity is the reason why “Prayer touches our flesh in its very nucleus, it touches our heart.”
Prayer, he told the priests, meant enduring the possibility of change; it meant a willingness to suffer. When a person ceases praying and starts complaining, “he ceases to serve the Gospel and becomes a victim. He canonizes himself.” Making oneself the victim, rather than Christ, was blasphemy; and a flesh that is used to blasphemy, which does not know how to ask for help for its own wound and sin, is a flesh incapable of helping the wounds of others.”
Even if he dedicates his life to God he will only ever be able to come close to himself.: It is the asepsis of the Pharisee,” Bergoglio warned: “neither virus or vitamin.”
There is a God, and I am not He.
More to come, stay tuned …
It was chilly tonight, but not as frigid as it was last night. Temps are on the way up and will peak, “hopefully” Wednesday with a Plus (6c) day. They keep changing that number.
They say, when you get sober, that the only thing you have to change is everything.
There is a rhyme and reason to the Big Book. Things are presented and come in a certain order.
Coming in, as I did then, with expectations on my lips was a bad idea, that had to be quashed.
Some think they can pick and choose which steps they are going to work, based on how they read the words on the page, which brings us to the Three Letter Word Category. But we soon learn that the steps are written in a specific order, for maximum effect.
If you don’t start with the foundation, how can you build a solid building?
We start with One and work our way through. And around Step five, the reading mentions “The Arch” we are supposed to walk through as free men and women, if we have properly completed the first five proposals.
Today’s reading mentions a gateway, through which everyone can walk through. We just need to find our way around, through, over and under, backwards and forwards, the biggest troublesome three letter word in the world …
That word is (drum roll please !!!) GOD.
I am getting a bit ahead of myself, so let’s back up.
You might be familiar with the reading of The Promises. Which are taken from the Book concerning the Ninth Step. I’ve / We’ve been listening to them for more than thirteen years now. They say that when we get sober, that eventually, the promises will begin to manifest and come true.
Hurry up and wait …
They don’t all come at once. And I have a little wisdom on the topic now. Many of the promises are long term proposals. All those things we get rid of, and all those things we get in return, if we are diligent and patient, are tantalizing.
Time gives one perspective. At least, that’s my take on them, as I speak to the old timers.
The one promise that has been outstanding and yet to manifest, after thirteen years is:
“Fear of People and of Economic Insecurity will leave us.”
This promise is the Ninth Promise of the Ninth Step Promises passage.
I don’t really have a problem of fearing people. The rest of this promise needs a back story.
I was eleven months sober, and I met my now husband. It was the holiday season, and he was going home to visit his family, he offered me to stay in our now HOME while he was away.
Actually, I never left … I am still here thirteen years later !
We had very little. The apartment was a mess. We had not begun to clean up the wreckage of hubby’s past, but that would begin in earnest very soon. We had ratty furniture, (which is the main subject of this actual post) we had a small black and white tv, with rabbit ears and foil. The walls were stark, medicinal white. And that was it.
We learned how to shop for two. We learned how to cook for two. And we began to clean up that wreckage, (read: Return all the empty beer bottles that were stacked 20 deep on the balcony).
We did not have very much money. And in the beginning, we dreaded the last week of the month, because we would have to choose what to do with regards to food and paying bills and buying much needed medicinals. We could not do all of them, at the same time, and that lasted for many years.
Money makes the world go round … It also is man’s greatest evil.
Not having enough of it, Needing more of it, relying on financial aide to get it, and having enough of it at the end of the month to buy food, pay bills and pay for an education all at the same time. Not to mention all those other things we “needed to buy” to survive. (read:Medication).
This journey of learning how to respect the almighty dollar is long and arduous.
We learned how to do it, starting with nothing and working our way up the economic ladder, one year at a time. We judged our upwards success, by our ability to get rid of all the shitty appliances we had, for new ones. That took many years.
This past Fall 2014, we jumped an entire economic bracket, for the first time since the day we met. We have risen from poor student status, to mid-range manageable status, to today’s, there is money in the bank, we can buy food all month, pay bills, buy necessities, AND have surplus money that for the first time since we met …
BE ABLE TO BUY BRAND NEW FURNITURE AND GET RID OF THE RATTY 40 YEAR OLD FURNITURE THAT IS HELD TOGETHER WITH DUCT TAPE, FURNITURE !!!
We have completed or finally achieved, the list of promises.
We have four items of old furniture. The living room, the dining table, our bed, and my desk.
Over the past thirteen years we have recycled all of our electronics. We painted the apartment, the kitchen and bathroom have been remodeled by our management.
Tomorrow we get to hit IKEA for the first time. Hubby picked out the new furniture, and I get executive veto so tomorrow we will finalize the deal and be able to afford the grand prize.
Sunday night, the ratty furniture goes on the trash heap. Monday the new duds come.
Hubby has cashed in all of our bargaining chips and saved up educational credits that come from the government, which gives us bankable cash. (read:Taxes)
We have rebuilt our home from the ground up. One item at a time.
So that is a thing … a really BIG thing !!!
Now we return to regularly scheduled programming …
“I’ll take Three Letter Words for $1000 Alex.”
We came full circle tonight, with the reading about Spiritual Kindergarten. We talked about God.
You cannot avoid it, The words is in the book.
Remember the other day when we spoke about Ebby and Bill. On that fateful day when the two friends met over drinks in the kitchen. Ebby with sober drink, Bill with his bottle. Here Bill thought that it would be frivolous and exciting, drinking with his old friend. That did not happen.
Ebby tells his story and concludes with “I’ve found religion!” (Read:The Oxford’s Religion)
Bill wasn’t having any of that religion shit. He read the first three proposals. But it did not connect with him at all, UNTIL, Ebby told him that maybe “He should find a power greater than himself of his own choosing.” (read: Squiggly writing in the book).
This is the blessed sentence in the book.
God, “As we Understood Him.”
But we come around to the contradiction in As Bill Sees It that says,
“You can find your own concept of a higher power and if that works for you fine, BUT in the end it always comes back around to God.”
When the book was written, Bill had counsel from a Jesuit priest, who spoke to him at great length, but to make God more palatable, we get the spiritual angle.
This is a tough subject for many.
When I got sick, and was waiting to die, I read every book I could get my hands on that spoke about the afterlife, God, spirits, angels, and i even consulted a medium to have a chat with my newly departed Grandmother, because I could not go to her funeral, and I needed to speak to her.
I was sober the first time – during this quest.
I got to my medium and his reply was curt and short: “She is happy where she is” and he left.
The second time I got sober, it was meant to be.
I had the God of my father, the traditions of my family, I added the intellectual university education about God and Religion, with degrees in Religion and Theology. Meanwhile I was getting sober.
i watched people get sober, because my mainstay was meetings.
If you STAY in the same meeting for YEARS at a time, you will witness people getting sober and eventually having their own spiritual experiences, IN a meeting.
That is where I saw God.
I believed in God my whole life, and I was still alive, I did not die as was told to me several times over.
There was something that was keeping me alive, I knew that.
I met God once, in human form. He made manifest to me when I most needed Him.
This time around i witnessed God move among my friends. In ways I had never imagined.
I’ve learned how to read the book. I learned how to read the book, when I read it with my guys.
We’ve all learned how to unpack the word GOD. It may take some time, and a little effort and elbow grease. Add water, and stir …
Every voice plays its appointed part.
The only thing we need to learn how to do is Learn, Serve and Love.
The book gives us direction, as one of my friends said tonight. It does not give us an end point.
That is up to us.
What ever you call that Power Greater than Yourself, is up to you.
All the voices and all the souls we encounter in the rooms, widens that arch we all walk through.
i want to live happy, joyous and free.
We might be there now.
More to come, stay tuned …
It is a bit chilly at this hour. (-12c/-17c w.c.) And we are under a special weather advisory as well. We haven’t had our first BIG SNOW just yet, it looks like that may happen this week. Tuesday they say will be the day, and just what I need, a massive snow storm on a meeting night, with certain streets already blocked by construction, that only makes things worse, because we have to walk from the station down the hill to the church on Tuesday !!! F.M.L. !!!
We are only Two days out from my anniversary.
This week’s theme is multiples of Two.
I left home uber early so I could spend time with one of my guys, before the meeting. So we cranked it out and got down to business. It was very productive. We sat a fair group, lots of new faces, and a new lady in the chair, so that was a good thing.
We read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Step Two.
The reading is very “meaty.” My book, being as old as it is, has multiple colors and underlining and high lighting in it. In that reading we talk about faith, and practice, and “coming to…”
It was very likely that someone in the room was going to mention the word God.
Following all the words I have spoken about said subject, many of our young folks are satisfied with the “mystery” that is God, the “not having to KNOW it fully” and the fact that as it played out, the same truth came from many mouths … “I came to the room, and it was in the room, with all of you people in it, that I came to know and understand.”
Nobody really knows Who or What God is. Even the brightest religious and theological minds can really give us one specific answer to that question.
There are several paradoxes in several books, when talking about God and Higher Power.
In the Twelve and Twelve and Step Two it reads: A.A. doesn’t demand you believe in anything.
In A.B.S.I. one passage reads: You can believe in anything you want, as long as it works, BUT it always comes back round to God.
The Big Book reads: The term “spiritual experience” and “spiritual awakening” are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms…
… Though it was not our intention to create such an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook.
For many of us, myself included, God, or Faith, or Belief, has evolved over the years. We’ve discussed in great detail, the word God, how to read it, what to do with it, and how to work around it, because I’ve also said, when it comes to God, there is more than one way to skin a cat.
The one piece of advice I share willingly is this … In order to see things as I see them or how others see things, takes a long time. This is a long term prospect. The suggestion, and it is merely a suggestion, is that you stay in your day and live in your 24 hours, and don’t worry about the future, or more to the point, don’t forecast too far into the future.
Meaning: You gotta stick around until the miracle happens.
I have said that I had to learn lessons, I learned once before, over again. They came in another order, because the circumstances I came back in were different that the first time around.
I did whatever they told me to do. And tonight I was sitting in the room I got sober in, (read: the room I have spent the most number of hours in over the last 13 years) with a new sponsee, and I shared with him this piece of advice.
When we come to a room, it is all about ME. Over time, All about ME, changes to All about US.
We begin to exercise the paradoxes. And over time, we come, we come to, and then we come to believe. For some this is a tall order, which is why the Twelve and Twelve says what it says.
As soon as I stopped arguing and judging, and dropped the intellectualism and the emotionalism, then I had a chance.
For many of us, every day is a choice. We do good, we pray, we help others, we help ourselves, and no two days running are the same. We are apt to make mistakes and do things wrong. But there is the lesson for us … it isn’t supposed to always be easy… If God gave us everything we wanted on a silver platter, then where would the challenge be?
If we didn’t have to work for our lives, then what’s the purpose of living?
Prayer is a Up Down Process …
Conscious Contact with God as we understand Him is an Up Down Process…
Expanding that thought as I have done recently, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact ( with:God/read:others) praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out…
Working life out turns from all about Me to All about Us.
Coming to a meeting, leads to coming to believe on our part.
And I don’t know what God’s voices sounds like, and If I am going to hear it, it is going to come from someone familiar, someone I know. But if I am not paying attention clearly and wrapped up in the committee in my head, I may miss God speaking to me.
You never know … I tell my guys that when they pray, pray humbly and honestly. That takes time and effort and practice. I then add that it is difficult to remain connected to God all day long, with the business of life going on around us, and I was sure that someone somewhere would bring an answer to certain prayers, if we were paying attention. Hence … Going to a meeting, is also a chance opportunity to hear from God.
Because like I said, you never know where the next good word is going to come from.
When I talk about God, and hearing God and Seeing God move, it is always associated with the hall at St. Leon’s Church. He likes that room, because over the last thirteen years, He has been very good to our people. I may have a university, (read:book) education and also have a family faith background, I knew God existed. But having spent so many years going to meetings, I was given eyes to see Him.
When I was in Seminary, many years ago, I had plenty of time to pray and to find God. And I did that. Sad that human beings, who thought they knew better, thought that my conscious contact with the God of my understanding was not good enough for them !
I kind of wonder what God thought of that judgment?
Water under the bridge they say …
I don’t argue with people over God. Once you come in, STAY. And I promise you, very truly, if you stay and you take suggestions, and you do the work, you WILL come to believe, just like every other human being in the room. Those four words give you plenty of latitude…
As We Understood Him
**** **** ****
Unless you have been living under a rock, there has been plenty of words written about Mr. Nick Jonas. One of the trio of the Jonas Brother’s Fame. Nick has produced his first self titled album, Nick Jonas. I wasn’t a Jonas Brother follower. Not being a teenage girl …
But Nick has been all over Tumblr as of late. He has quite the boy following.
The album, I think, is a lot rhythm and Bluesy. It has a specific rhyme and reason. If I download an album, I first listen to it on the computer, then if I like it, it goes to my phone, which gets an additional listen through, at that point, it either stays or goes.
Nick is a keeper.
It is well worth the price. He’s got a unique sound.
That is all for tonight. Next Stop … 13 years … Cake and Frivolity !!!
The next multiple of two comes on Tuesday, with Step 12 …
Having Had A spiritual awakening …
Stay tuned, more to come, definitely…
Originally posted: July 7, 2014 – Don’t Eat Trash – Jeremy
As God spoke in the beginning, the earth was created.
God would send prophets to point the Israelites back to the covenant and they would respond, in sack cloth and ashes or murdering the prophet. both are responses.
Recently I dialogued with God some interesting ideas about time. How i see my 28 years as long, and older than i would like, how part of me can’t be the things he has called me too because of my age, and God began to download how that was crap and I needed to look eternally. Eternity versus 28 years…. Gods miraculous power that raised christ from the dead versus my twisted ankle and occasional heartburn thanks to raw onion – it gets ridiculous. This isn’t about me and my apparent limitations. This life is about God and his birdseye view sovereignty.
God speaks, and we can ignore or listen and stay silent. Or we can hear and respond.
Many times I have been journalling at 5am and get some sweet stuff from God, but if those things stay in my journal in ink… they lack power, life changing power. The ink needs to change to blood, and be walked out.
God hasn’t spoken until you respond.
In one way – we can report God speaking to show our spiritual holiness. ‘God told me this morning that I am going to be the queen of England’ but if we don’t believe it, if we don’t put steps in to become the queen England, then those words are close to meaningless.
In another way, we can believe that God doesn’t speak. And if God doesn’t speak then we ignore every attempt God makes to speak to us.
Communication is spoken often of not only:
information transmitted through certain media – understood by the LISTENER and responded to by the LISTENER.
God isn’t cryptic, God knows the listener better than the listener knows itself, but the listener can train itself to not understand the medium used.
We get a good idea, and think its just our own thoughts.
We get a miracle and think its just a coincidence, that it couldn’t be God that got us that thing.
We have dreams and think its just a dream.
We hear a sermon and think the pastor was just a genius.
He speaks constantly, he speaks loudly, and if we refuse to listen, then we miss out.
Another week in the books. The weather is holding. Our fair city has been lucky so far, from where we sit, geographically on the map, the latest round of nasty weather has passed us by, either to the North, or to the East and into the Maritimes. Right now we are in sitting in the sweet spot.
Did you brave the crowds to shop till you drop today? I wouldn’t be caught dead in a mall today even if you paid me. On the trek back from the meeting, the stops that are located in shopping complexes, there are two (McGill and Peel) there were hoards of people with bags and boxes and all kinds of holiday goodies on the train. Traffic was certainly up tonight.
Tuesday I wrote about Step 11 and the insights I had to this point on the topic.
Last night I was corresponding with a fellow who is sixty days sober, and miserable.
Now, there are massive numbers of subscribers to this blog, many of them are women, few are men, a good number of them are in varying degrees of sobriety. The interesting ones, I bookmark so I can go back and read and maybe participate. And I do that tentatively. Lately it seems that people are hit and miss when it comes to the program. I don’t overstay my welcome, and I certainly know when to leave.
… Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …
The word God keeps coming up for discussion, and the problem of the fact that the Judeo-Christian God is written into the book so boldly. There are a few points I want to make. Bill gives a caveat, in the four word phrase … As We Understood Him… But if you read As Bill Sees It, there is a paradox phrase that states … You can believe in whatever you want, as long as it works, BUT, it always comes back around to God.
Lots of people have problems with God for one reason or another.
- People have prejudices against God because of (C)hurch
- People don’t always believe in God
- People feel alienated by the (C)hurch or her ministers
- People hate God because of certain life story issues
I watch people get sober. I have done that for the better part of thirteen years. And I’ve witnessed every scenario you can think of. People who come with a negative spin on God, usually take a long time to (1) find a power greater than themselves, (2) They do it without ever mentioning the word God, or (3) they make peace with God in the end, and they find new ways to approach God.
In the past few months, several of our men, have expressed their disdain for God, especially, when we got to the reading in A.B.S.I. that says … It always comes back around to God.
Last night I said to someone who has a problem with the program and God, that yes, the word God is in the book. And not everybody is comfortable with that word, and they find ways around it. I’ve come to realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
God, as we understand him. As YOU understand him.
In the Past, there has been a desire to remove the word God from the reading, and the steps. And I’ve seen splinter groups form who have rewritten the steps to placate those who hate the word God.
You know, if you can’t stomach the word God, with its Judeo-Christian connotation, then we come to a new interpretation. Yes the word God is there. But if we remove the taint of religion and intention from the word God, and we re-appropriate the word with your own concept, then God can work for you.
And that is what I have said to the guys I work with, and that seems to work for the good of all.
If you are trying to get sober, all by yourself, there are ways to end your suffering.
This is where reading, listening and the powers of deduction come to bear.
I come and I read you. I listen to what you are saying, and I get a feel for who you are and what you are going through, and if I have words, I share them, from my point of view and my experience.
I’ve done that on several occasions.
One woman I used to read, came to the decision that the fellowship was a cult.
I walked away.
The next man I read, the one listed above is sober on his own, he can’t stomach God and he doesn’t do the fellowship. This after I participated in a discussion of what early sobriety can look like then I share some tips and suggestions that seem to work for the rest of us.
- Read the Book
- Get thee to a meeting
- Call another alcoholic
- Work with another human being
- Find ways to fill free time with useful work, passions, hobbies
- Read Living Sober
I left one comment about God (see above) and said a few words about staying sober on one’s own. If you think you can do it alone, then more power to you. I just know that for me and for many of the people I call my friends, we could not do it alone.
Especially going through the holidays, sober for the first time.
I know what worked for me, that solution may not work for you.
- We did not stop drinking because we were lonely.
- We stopped drinking because we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.
- I know that I did not get sober to be MISERABLE.
- I got sober to be Happy, Joyous, and Free
If you are miserable, then may be you should do something about it. Find a place to BE. There are places to BE that you won’t be ALONE any more.
People are who they are, I cannot change anyone, or get you sober. All I can do is point the way and tell you my stories and share my experience.
Step One – WE admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable. Part two of Step one is this … I am powerless over People, Places and Things.
That includes YOU.
**** **** ****
Last night, was a very bittersweet night. Our little men’s group that could, came to an end. A little over eighteen months ago, a handful of men, some from the Tuesday Beginner’s Group and a few from downtown, and a few from Verdun, came together to open this new meeting.
Since I have a history with the parish in Westmount, they gladly gave us space, and were happy to have us in the parish. We opened a modest meeting with a handful of folks. Over the last year, we have had our issues with one another. Winter last year almost did us all in. We learned about each other in ways only a brutal winter forced us to look at.
We lost several members to work, illness, and extenuating circumstances. We tried to make it work, but in the end, we weren’t attracting new folks to come, albeit, the same faces came week after week, but that did not pay the rent. A few months ago, we began to consider closing. It was a bad omen for me, that our cabinet we paid a pittance for, broke. I did not fix it. Too much trouble.
Last night was our last night meeting.
We divvied up the spoils. We donated all the literature to other meetings, we sorted out stock of cups, coffee and materials, to the other meetings in the church and to our Tuesday meeting at Vendome and the Yellow Door. The only things we kept were the coffee urn and the tea kettle, because at the moment, there was no need from any of the groups we all go to on other nights.
So that was a thing …
**** **** ****
Tonight it was chilly. I layered appropriately. Arrived at the church early, and we waited for a key. We cranked out set up which affords the opening crew to chat about our weeks as they happened. The Friday meeting is the end of the week rallying point for those who come.
We are all sharing the holiday together, in varying forms of who is here and who is home for the holiday and who is coming and going. One of my sponsees is coming in from Pittsburgh on the 13th of December and he is triangulating dates and get togethers in advance to maximize his visit with the maximum number of people.
Holiday parties have been organized and sign up sheets for food are going around. Christmas and New Years fall on Thursday this year. Hopefully, everybody will be open because our little meeting is now closed. Which means, probably that we will hit St. Matthias Christmas Night.
Tonight we read from A.B.S.I. and “Selfish” …
“If we cannot or will not achieve sobriety, then we become truly lost, right in the here and now. We are of no value to anyone, including ourselves, until we find salvation from alcohol. Therefore, our own recovery and spiritual growth have to come first – a right and a necessary kind of self concern.”
We get sober for ourselves. Some folks take a long time to realize that, which ends up in several attempt to get sober, first for others, then finally they see the value in getting sober for ones self.
Yes, this is a selfish program, that is laid out in a way that the steps are, in the order that they are written for maximum usage, by those who work them dutifully. We get to look at ourselves, warts and all, we get to look at the wreckage of our pasts, we get to clean it up and clean ourselves up, we learn, we share, we clean, we pray, then we give at away.
- You cannot transmit something you haven’t got.
- This is a selfish program
- In order to keep it you have to give it away
- The past is our greatest treasure – there is great wisdom in that statement
- A Searching and Fearless moral inventory will lead you to Freedom and Hope
- It is in giving that we recieve
- It is by understanding that we understand
- It is having compassion for others, that compassion is returned
- It is by loving that we get love in return
- We have to love ourselves, before we can love another
- God cannot fill a full vessel, one must empty the vessel in order for it to be filled
- If we don’t clean house, how can we give to others?
“This great experience that released me from the bondage of hatred and replaced it with love is really just another affirmation of the truth I know: I get everything I need in A.A. – and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.” B.B.pg.552
Courtesy: free minded
So it rained today. God is up there taking the piss. And rained on the big party today. At least the community got a good day yesterday to do what they do.
With everything closed today, it was a hunt to grocery shop and find a restaurant that was open, ala Subway. I’ve been craving a burger and wanted one and woke up wanting one, and the burger joint across the street was CLOSED !!!
I didn’t feel like walking all the way to the mall for some Micky D’s so I settled for Subway, it is right up the street and convenient. Laundry will have to wait until tomorrow. And that is fine because it is an off day.
I headed out for my transit and that went well. I got to my connection and the buses were all sitting in the bay with drivers doing this and that. I could’ve skipped the transfer and walked, but I was like, it’s raining, and probably folks would be slow on the arrival. As WAS the case.
We had a small showing. We have a smattering of newbies, a few with time, then those of us with decades or more.
The chair read from a Grapevine and the reading was on “The Serenity Prayer.”
The topic went all over, and folks were talking all over each other. And I sat there for a while pondering prayer, and nothing was coming to mind.
I was totally blank.
I mean On my way back I prayed. When I came in, I heard the prayers and participated in the meetings, but it wasn’t like I was PRAYING overtly.
Those first few months when it came to meetings, I mean, I went, I was there, I hit massive amounts of meetings, but it was all a blur.
When I got here, I hung out, got connected. Found a sponsor. And I worked my steps that first year in. So I did the prayers from the book with my sponsor, and that was that. I had my issues coming in that had to be abandoned. And I learned a few things.
I went back to school. I studied Religion and Pastoral Ministry and Theology. So all that time, it was all about God in His many forms. I call that religious education. At the same time I was going to meetings, year in and year out.
I did what we all did. I would not say that I was paying lip service to my prayers, I mean I was praying, but I guess not hard enough. I got through and life panned out. I did whatever I was told to do, by people I trusted and respected.
But it all came to a head at the Roundup of 2013.
One of the speakers got up there and hammered the message home that “if you have lots of time, you should be able to rattle off the prayers from the book” right then and there. And like I have said before, we here in Montreal, where sobriety is concerned, we say ” Aw, we’ll do it tomorrow!” Nobody in the room could rattle off the prayers rote.
Then it hit me.
If I want what these guys are talking about and the lives that they are speaking about, I really need to step up my game. And that game began with prayer. Ardent, on your knees, pound the book, PRAYER !!!
Three, Seven and Eleven, morning, noon and night.
And so that is what I did, for months on top of months. I prayed as if my ass was on the line, and I meant it. And then I waited for the payoff.
I changed up my meetings. I spent lots of time with guys I really care about and meetings with people I love, and I did that for months on top of months.
Then a new sponsor came into my life. And we started my steps, of which I am amid today. I met a young man, whom I sponsor today. Then one night my second guy walked into my life and I took him on as well. And they are working their steps today. And just a little while ago, after a meeting a third guy wanted to connect, so three’s a charm.
The girls work New York Sobriety. And I wanted New York Sobriety. And I was going to find it no matter what I had to do to get it. Our girls here won’t sponsor guys, but they do in New York, So I had to wait for one to come to me.
I got to go to Vermont in May for a Men’s Intensive Weekend. And that was a watershed event in my life. I hit the 2014 Roundup a couple of weeks later, and that was mediocre at best. And that was the general consensus.
When I ponder prayer, over the long haul, I did it in the beginning. And it went as it went. I stayed sober. I used the Serenity Prayer all along. I’ve posted it, I spoke about it, I’ve shared about it.
It is a pervasive prayer that is said all over the place. In many forms. Long and short. Meeting after meeting. And you work your steps and as they pop up you say them when needed and then you let them go.
But I’ve learned that sober prayers, if said correctly, from the heart in the right direction can change your life, in ways you can’t imagine.
Until you DO IT.
Our young people, (read: newbies) come and they sit, yet they tell us that they don’t understand the steps or how to do them. I don’t throw Big Books at newbies. I’d rather they come for a while and sink into their chairs and get comfy in them.
It has to happen organically. You can’t force someone into a book. It just does not work very well that way. And I said as much tonight to them.
It has been a journey. And at different times, different things pop up onto the radar that we get to work on, and Prayer was the last real lesson that came in the past year that I worked on for an entire year. And that has helped me and my guys immensely.
I know who God is and I know who God is not.
Education does that for you. So it wasn’t a wasted opportunity.
Can you recite Three, Seven and Eleven from Memory?
If you can’t then maybe it is time for you to practice.
Time to eat. More to come, stay tuned …
By Nicole Winfield And Rachel Zoll, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press
VATICAN CITY – Signalling a dramatic shift in Vatican tone, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church had become obsessed by “small-minded rules” about how to be faithful and that pastors should instead emphasize compassion over condemnation when discussing divisive social issues of abortion, gays and contraception.
The pope’s remarkably blunt message six months into his papacy was sure to reverberate in the U.S. and around the globe as bishops who have focused much of their preaching on such hot-button issues are asked to act more as pastors of wounded souls.
In interviews published Thursday in Jesuit journals in 16 countries, Francis said he had been “reprimanded” for not pressing church opposition to abortion in his papacy. But he said “it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
“The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently,” Francis said.
“We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel,” the pope said in the 12,000-word article, based on interviews conducted by a fellow Jesuit, the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolica, a Rome journal for the religious order.
“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules,” Francis said. “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”
The comments contained no change in church teaching, and the pope said reform should not happen quickly. Still, it was the pope’s clearest declaration yet of a break in tone and style from his immediate predecessors.
John Paul II and Benedict XVI were both intellectuals for whom doctrine was paramount, an orientation that guided the selection of a generation of bishops and cardinals who now face making a dramatic turnabout in how they preach.
The interviews were conducted by Spadaro over three days in August at the Vatican hotel where Francis has chosen to live rather than in the papal apartments. The Vatican vets all content in Civilta Cattolica, and the pope approved the Italian version of the article, which America magazine, the Jesuit journal in the U.S., translated into English.
The admonition will especially resonate in the United States, where some bishops have already publicly voiced dismay that Francis hasn’t hammered home church teaching on abortion, contraception and homosexuality — areas of the culture wars where U.S. bishops often put themselves on the front lines. U.S. bishops were behind Benedict’s crackdown on American nuns, who were accused of letting doctrine take a backseat to their social justice work caring for the poor — precisely the priority that Francis is endorsing.
“I think what Francis is doing when he’s talking about these hot-button issues, he’s not saying one side is right or the other side is right. He’s saying that arguing over these things gets in the way of the work that Catholics are supposed to be doing,” said David Cloutier, a theologian at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland.
“This suggests a really different vision of what the church should look like in the world. It’s not a defensive vision. He comes out and forthrightly says we don’t have to talk about these issues all the time. I can’t help but see this as a potential rebuke to American leaders who have focused on these issues.”
Just last week, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., said in an interview with his diocesan newspaper that he was “a little bit disappointed” that Francis hadn’t addressed abortion since being elected. But Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, said Francis’ comments on abortion do not indicate any change in the church’s commitment to the issue.
“Pope Francis is reminding us that when we discuss the issue of abortion, we are not talking about some abstract issue or procedure. Rather, we’re talking about situations that involve mothers and their unborn children, and we must be mindful to help them both — something the right-to-life movement works to do every day,” Tobias said.
Two months ago, Francis caused a sensation during a news conference when he was asked about gay priests. “Who am I to judge?” about the sexual orientation of priests, as long as they are searching for God and have good will, he responded.
Francis noted in the latest interview that he had merely repeated Catholic doctrine during that news conference — though he again neglected to repeat church teaching that says while homosexuals should be treated with dignity and respect, homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.”
But he continued: “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?'”
“We must always consider the person. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.”
New Ways Ministry, a Catholic outreach to gays and lesbians that has been rebuked in the past by church leaders who accused ministry leaders of straying from church teaching, called Francis’ comments “a new dawn.” Equally Blessed, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian Catholics, likened Francis’ remarks to “rain on a parched land.”
“Catholic progressives are wondering if we’re dreaming and going to wake up soon,” said John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy group in Washington. “It’s a new day.”
The interview also showed a very human Francis. He seemingly had no qualms about acknowledging that his tenure as superior of Argentina’s Jesuit order in the 1970s — starting at the “crazy” age of 36 — was difficult because of his “authoritarian” temperament.
“I have never been a right-winger. It was my authoritarian way of making decisions that created problems,” he said.
The key, he said, is for the church to not exclude.
“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity,” he said.
Religion Writer Rachel Zoll reported from New York.
The interview can be found in the original Italian at La Civiltà Cattolica: http://www.laciviltacattolica.it , in English at America Magazine: http://www.americamagazine.org , and Spanish at Mensaje: http://www.mensaje.cl .
They say the weather is going to change for the worse overnight and into tomorrow. The usual plans are now up in the air depending on whether or not the heavens open up and dump torrential rain upon us like out in the prairies.
Just thinking about torrential rain brings back terrible memories because of what happens to our city when it rains a little too much. Highways flood, streets flood. Our 1800’s drain system of the city become overwhelmed and water goes everywhere.
If we are lucky the church won’t flood like it did some time ago. Hopefully that much rain won’t fall, and we will escape the ills of the city along with mother nature.
It has been a quiet couple of days. Lots going on down south to which I am proud to witness in my lifetime. Not the balance of the U.S. states who DON’T have marriage equality, in my opinion, once the tidal wave begins will fall like dominoes and everybody will be a participant in being “equal” — still Florida does not have marriage equality so it matters not to me or my life at this point. So we can be hopeful of the future.
It was a breezy night and I arrived at the church with plenty of time to set up and enjoy the weather in the garden before the meeting. It is my belief that if we get one, or better yet two newcomers at the meeting, we get to do our jobs and do God’s work well.
As was the case tonight, new faces came and participated. As the meeting progressed and the shares began we learned a great deal about each other. And what we have learned is that there is a whole “other” group of people out there suffering in their addictions and one of our men is part of that grouping.
Sadly, I have to concur that there aren’t many open and affirming A.A. groups that openly support and welcome LGBTQ members. I have seen it in my own life.
And today I ONLY participate in groups that folks are Open and Affirming to ALL and not just Some.
I was sorry for them and inquired at the end of the meeting what I could do to help, hopefully we will see our new friend again and be able to reach out and minister to those who need it and are afraid of coming …
We shared on the run up to Step Three … “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”
The notion of changing our lives, turning it over, letting go of ourselves and become interested in others, coming to know a Higher Power and allowing him to guide our lives from this point on.
But so many people get stuck here and some never move past the log jam. And this is all down to what the world, society, and religion has forced down our throats about who God is and what he will do to us if we err and sin …
I heard something that resonates … When one of our men came in and got to this point, his sponsor said this to him … God is God is God. However it falls, God is God. Find him in your own way and come to believe that He will help you if you are ready.
Group of Drunk
Going Out Doors Good Orderly Direction
It’s all the same thing. The biggest help that Bill and Bob gave to the fellowship come in one short sentence. “God … As we understood him.”
It opens the door to those who have had such issues with God that they can’t come to believe because of the hang ups. No two powers are the same. No two alcoholics are the same. But eventually we find a power greater than ourselves.
What is His Work, and how do we do it well ???
That line shows up on page 63 of the Big Book. In the beginning it was all down to service to a group. To begin rebuilding your life, you had to give of yourself at the group level and become Part Of so that you can become One Of.
Suit up, Show up and be one of many, instead of alone and lonely.
I’ve said in the past and I repeat it often that “PRESENCE” is the greatest gift we can give each other. The meeting before the meeting and the one that follows the meeting is very important to outreach and working with others.
I come early, I set up and make coffee so that when YOU show up, we can have a coffee and chat a bit and i can get to know you better. That’s the whole purpose of community. Man is not meant to be alone. But there are those out there who are alone, and it is always my hope that one day I could walk out into the field with my fellows and welcome and affirm folks who are out there suffering.
Changing Attitudes, Tuesday Beginners, and Sunday Niter’s, Vendome Beginners and North End English are ALL open, welcoming and affirming.
We will welcome you and be part of your lives. We have all known suffering and pain, and through our groups we will help you heal your souls.
That is what I believe that Jesus would have wanted us to do. Because He always did what was right in front of him, he never really had a plan, it all played out day to day. But he welcomed and affirmed. Loved and cared for the least.
And that is what we do too … What is in front of us.
Tonight we had work come, and show up, right in front of us. Hopefully the words we shared tonight will nest and foster our guys to come back and visit us again.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
Courtesy: Sam Kittner NatGeo
For our friends who celebrate Chanukah … A very blessed holiday to you.
Tonight’s post is brought to you by Step 11 …
“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 a busy day today. I was up early to get out to Wood this morning. Not sure how long that is going to last because I am not getting proper sleep, with late nights and getting up so early and trying to nap during the afternoon, this hasn’t been very fruitful.
I go to the meeting, open the door, open the kitchen and start set up. And I am beginning to nurse a resentment. It is one thing to ask someone to come aboard and do service because they really need people to get involved. Then have someone (insert name here) always running up your ass, correcting what you did for set up because it has to be “this way and not that way”
What do you call an alcoholic with control issues?
A PAIN IN THE ASS…
You just can’t come in and sit your ass down in a chair and let things be, I am far from being a perfectionist, and I do have my own routine when it comes to set up of my meeting, and others have their way for set up in their routines.
No, you got to get up and fix this and do that and put this here and that there.
Chill the fuck out for Christ’s sake.
And then after the meeting I am putting stuff away and I hear the snide remarks under ones breath about “there is a reason we put things away this way and not that way in the cabinet!” As if to say you are not doing it right !!!
So I walked away from the cabinet and left the kitty envelope sitting there and walked out of the building and off to Alexis Nihon to puck up hubby’s pills.
You ask for help and then you can’t just let someone else do what they are going to do, not that I forgot to put everything out properly or stand this book up here and not lay them on the piano, because God forbid someone not be able to see the freaking book there, like anyone is buying literature lately !!!
If you want help then you need to let go and accept help and not always walk behind someone sniffing up one’s ass all the time.
So I started putting out chairs this morning and a member came in and said that I was setting them up too close, that he needed to spread them out farther. That was one. Then I set up and it was not good enough. Someone needed to correct what I did wrong. That was two. And then another member came up to me after the meeting scolding me about counting the kitty before the end of the meeting, that was three and then cleaning up I get a smart ass remark about putting stuff away. That was four…
I am SO NOT dealing with this petty shit.
I left the hall and went on to do what I needed to do today. I got walked home and got here about 9, so I left to go vote. And I voted for the C.A.Q. candidate in a heavily Liberal riding.
Then I had to go to the bank to set up a new bank account. I got there early and sat and waited. The girl came out and I stepped into her office and she tells me that she tried to call and all she got was our voice mail and she didn’t leave a message.Why the fuck do we have voice mail but to receive messages.
(Later when I got home, there were no calls on the ID box). I don’t think she called, but was making up some excuse. The she proceeds to tell me that she can’t open the account as I was told WOULD BE DONE at the bank by a service man on the phone a few days ago. She said I needed either a Quebec Drivers License (I don’t own a car) or a valid passport. (I am not going to go spend more than $100 cad for a new passport just to open a bank account.
So fuck me, all those calls and setting up appointments were pointless.
I left the bank disappointed. I went to get some lunch at B.K. and came home on the metro. I was home around noon. And I attempted to nap for a few hours, but that turned out useless as well.
I got up and took a hot shower and set off for the church early as usual because the weather was going to go downhill this evening. Thankfully I got in and done and plenty of sit time before the meeting with no rain. It didn’t start raining until the meeting started.
We read from the Big Book. Step 11 …
Prayer is the act of sharing what is on our hearts. Asking for things from God, and meditation is the act of sitting and patiently waiting for the answer to come.
I’ve recently been wondering if I wasn’t doing enough for God. And I asked several holy men about this recently and they gave me their answers. Then God came through and answered me himself.
There have been a series of deaths in my circle of friends. Parents of long time friends coming down with illness and one father fell and is now paralyzed.
Another friend’s husband drowned in a river in Vermont about 2 weeks ago and he died and was resuscitated. And now is recovering at home. So God has given me things to pray about and people to pray for. It isn’t always about me.
I have enough on my plate. Thank you God.
One another side note:
The conversation of why the girls at T.B’s won’t sponsor gay men has been put on the table. I talked to a one of our women, who said that she would work with gay men in the future but at T.B’s she wouldn’t upset the apple cart because a silent mandate was given that the women would not sponsor gay men.
We heard this mentioned by a New York Sponsor last week that she (straight woman) sponsors Gay men. And it is a precedent. Because there was a standing need for gay men who needed sponsors so they got taken on by said sponsor. And those men came from a fellow (fellowship). And also were a part of AA.
That does not mean that all women at any given meeting are sponsoring gay men in another city.
I went to the woman (vivacious lady) and asked her directly why she made this proclamation. And she told me the story of WHY these few gay men are being sponsored by HER sponsor and not her sponsors Sponsor, her sponsors sponsor does not sponsor gay men. It is just something that was needed in New York.
Now, Gay women here in Montreal do sponsor gay men. But those women are based at the Sunday Niter’s meeting, and other meetings around town. That does not mean that all our women forbid sponsoring gay men. I think it has to be a case by case issue.
This is what I think …
If you are a gay man and you are seeking the spirituality of some of the women at T.B.’s you should directly approach the woman of your choice and speak to them privately and not through the group and let them decide what is best for both of you. It is possible to make change in the way things are done, but if you don’t ask then what good is the question first of all ???
At the end of the meeting we had a 15 year cake. Gluten free cake at that.
It was a packed house. A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
The week has started off on a good foot. I’ve been seeking answers to questions that I’ve been ruminating over for the past few weeks. I wrote some letters to friends, I’ve been listening to ministers preach, I met with my spiritual director yesterday and I hit a meeting tonight.
I get daily meditations from Neale Donald Walsch and those meditations have been spot on. It’s almost like having someone send you notes from yourself that you were thinking about yet you had not put voice to those thoughts, YET !!!
I’ve been seeking counsel because I am not sure where I am going and what I am supposed to be doing and need to find something to do to get me into some loop or community of people, and that starts with a conversation.
I got out of the house early this afternoon because the sky was leaden for the most part and it looked like rain was in the offing, yet I didn’t carry my umbrella on the way out, and when I got downstairs I decided to chance it. In any case, it did not rain.
Set up was breezy, and I spent a good amount of time sitting out front watching the construction workers do their work across the street. And I find myself wondering what these guys were doing.
The street is blocked off in the up direction, therefore only down traffic can pass, as Clarke is a two direction street. Now, there are piles of dirt haphazardly piled up here and there. And there are trucks, and big machines, dump trucks and accessories for those trucks piled here and there. And it seemed to me that these guys did not know what end of the street these things should go because they kept moving things from one end of the street to the other and back and forth. It was all very odd watching them work. Let’s move all the stuff here and put it down, No, let’s move it over there, No, let’s put things on a truck and then take them off, I don’t know whether I am coming or going…
I’ve been watching these guys work on this street for weeks now and there is no method to their madness. I find it amusing and confusing.
The gaggle of girls came in early to drop off a cake for later in the meeting before heading out for a bite of dinner before the meeting.
I finally got the FINAL WORD on the bells in the bell tower from the concierge. There are four stationary bells in the top of the tower that have clappers to ring the bells, they do not swing. (The group of drunks have been debating whether there were bells in the tower because they could not see them, and the thought was that there was just a big speaker to play bell ringing…) They were wrong.
There is actually a remote control that can be used to ring the bells when needed. Each night at 6 p.m. the Angelus Rings, the ring differs between the Sunday night song and the Tuesday night song. I get to set the record straight this weekend.
It was a packed house tonight, we sat 46 folks. And as usual it was a huge push ten minutes before the meeting started for people to jockey for a ringside seat.
We finished reading “The Doctors Opinion.” From the front of the book, written by Dr. William D. Silkworth. This professional letter written by this influential doctor to the very early readers of the Big Book with Bill and Bob, was an important endorsement for the movement.
He closes the letter with these words …” I earnestly advise every alcoholic to read this book through, and though perhaps he came to scoff, he may remain to pray.”
I’ve read, read and re-read this chapter in the book over the years and every time I make a pass through this story, something different rises up. And as we read and the shares went around the room, this thought came to mind:
As you read these opening pages of the book, there is an implied conversation going on for the writer of the book, the doctors and ministers who participated in vetting the text, and the drunks themselves. In this chapter Silkworth talks about the different types of alcoholics and the conversations they are having with themselves and others involved in their lives.
I can see this conversation going on as I read the text. I read it for myself.
And all I could think about for the moment was that when I was drinking, there was no conversation going on with anyone. Not even with myself. I lived alone, I had few friends who I used to drink with, but they had better recall of the events that took place the night before, than I did. There was nobody to tell me to STOP, or for me to talk to about my “problem.”
I was stuck in a vicious cycle that began on Sunday and I ruminated about the fact that I had to fit in to this group of people and to do that took lots of work, beach visits, tanning salon appointments and working out insanely. And this vicious cycle culminated with the Big Saturday Night Binge to the bitter end.
I was stuck in play. I prayed for God to make it all stop because I was no longer fit to run this vicious cycle any more. It was going to kill me. And it took another alcoholic to bring me to the STOP SIGN. I had to get off the cycle I was on and I needed a new cycle to bring me some sanity.
We all identify with one or the other as Silkworth writes, and if we don’t he encourages us to keep reading the book, because there is a solution for all of us who want it. This is a WANT IT program.
The writers of the book, encourage us to read it with others like us, which brings us to meetings of like minded people who all suffer from the same illness of mind, body and spirit. And in these meetings we begin the conversation, and this same conversation is what keeps us coming back for more. Each time we read from the book, the longer we stay stopped, the more meaning we can wring out of the text.
My home group is a community of like minded folks who come to read, think and share. This has been my touchstone for more than 10 years now. And I told my spiritual director yesterday that I was thirsting for something more. And his reply was this … “Maybe you need another community to bring you into where you want or think you want to go?”
I raised this longing with the group tonight and another of our members came up to me after the meeting saying that she was looking for the same thing, “community.” We spoke about Ignatian Spirituality and churches and hopefully in the coming weeks we can go seek community together. We shall see.
Meetings are a good place to find community, and we get fed at these meetings week in and week out. But for me, I am longing for something more, I’ve been waiting for God to show me the way. And my spiritual director said that we may be waiting for God to show up, but sometimes it takes us getting off our asses and do something to step towards Him.
I will get up in the morning to hit a 7:30 meeting as long as grasshopper is driving, or I will get up at 8 am on a Sunday morning to hit the Dorval Sunday Breakfast meeting, but I don’t get up on a Sunday morning to go to church.
I need to start making the effort to get to service on Sunday morning because in the words of my director he tells me that by suiting up and showing up, community will open itself to us. But we have to make the effort to show up.
And it isn’t that I am averse to going to church, faith is very important to me and I pray and meditate, in church basements for the most part, I don’t usually walk upstairs to do it, but I should. So that is a new goal to work for, to complete the 5 pillars of Christian practice, I have been missing the last pillar which is a spiritual community (Church).
This god damned computer is going to be the death of me. Now I have to retype the last paragraph that got deleted when my browser crashed…
I am hopeful that in sharing this need with others, that I can get together with my fellows to seek community within a community of faith. That is a new goal to work towards in the coming weeks and months.
Never leave the meeting without talking to someone about what is on your heart and mind because you never know what kind of response you will get. And that happened tonight for me.
We had cake because one of our women celebrated two years this past weekend and she got her chip tonight. There were lots of people to help celebrate and a good night was had by all.
Where will you lead the conversation ???
More to come, stay tuned …
Friday has come and gone. The week was uneventful. I am hating psychology but one must slog through to the end. We had our midterm in Geography on Wednesday night and it was ok. I plodded through it alright I think. Monday is my other midterm and I still need to work on my study guide.
It is (0 c) out and they tell us that snow will fall after midnight. The city is still trying to plow and clear snow that fell this past week. NDG is still under piles and piles of snow. We ran into plows on the way to the church.
It has been three weeks and not a word from Miss Lizzy. Dropping off the radar like this is not like her. I am hoping that she is ok. I have tried calling her numerous times but she doesn’t return my calls, and other members have not heard from her either.
We got to the church around 7:40. Country man was there, and he was not in a good mood. We just went about our business with chairs and urns. Grasshopper makes himself useful and is working on his membership dues for the next three months.
The meeting was well attended – our matriarch came with her brother from Vancouver. She was first in the building tonight, and all the rest of our members were in attendance. We had lots of goodies at the end of the meeting.I got the secondary coffee urn to perk a good pot of coffee and it seems people were happy with it. So we will use it again next week.
Our speaker came to us from Ottawa tonight. He drove in to make the meeting and he got here in time for the meeting. Our chair said that we all come to sobriety at the right time, one way or another.
There were many similarities between the speaker and myself. Like our speaker I was an altar boy as well, and on many a Sunday sacramental wine was part of the job. We used to serve mass under both species (bread and wine). And you could save the blessed host in the tabernacle, but once wine was blessed it would either go down the sacred drain – and not into pipes or we drank what was left, so it did not go to waste. I never equated sacramental wine as part of my alcoholism as a young person. It was part of my religious duty to take care of the sacristy before and after mass.
And our speaker also partook in sacramental wine in his day. One of the themes of his share was the facade. Putting up a good facade so that we looked good and right in front of our parents and friends, when really behind the mask we were very different people. How many times did we put up brave faces or bold faces to make ourselves look better than we were?
It just seemed that our speaker tonight had several passes at signposts that he named that were markers in his drinking career that should have said “stop already, don’t you know you are headed for no good?” Troubles in school, troubles with girls, troubles with the law, and troubles with wives. His alcoholism spanned the rainbow of his life hitting several areas over a long drinking history until he came into the rooms.
He spoke of the rainbow … Not the multicolored rainbow with the pot of Gold at the end – but his was a rainbow that was in shades of grey – and not a pot of gold at the end but a “plot” at the end … As he drank, alcohol touched many areas of his rainbow and one after the other, the troubles began and only got worse.
But like most alcoholics, we really don’t heed the warnings do we? We take our ego and say, “Ah, I can do better. It’s not a problem, I can handle it.” But when you are on the inside looking outside and the grey bars stand between you and the outside world, alcoholism has become a real problem.
At the age of 25 he had his first taste of A.A. going to a meeting and coming in he saw a coffee pot, a bunch of old farts and egg sandwiches … Who likes Egg Sandwiches??? He did not stay for long. There was still more drinking to do. It took a further fifteen years to get here, 1990. It was the right time. Did he have a slip? yes, one big, LONG slip that lasted fifteen years.
But once he got here he was broken and he did what ever he was told to do. And all those little slogans and saying we use on any given day began to work their way into his vernacular. He began to listen to the old timers and even becoming friends with many, all over North America. Over the last 22 years he has been to meetings all over North America. He worked as a volunteer at the San Antonio 75th anniversary this past year and met people from all over the world.
It’s all about letting go the ego. And looking at ourselves from the inside out. We can’t do it ourselves, but we can do it with each other. Still 22 years later he still goes to meetings, he still does service, he speaks and he participates in a fellowship that gives back to him in many ways. And that is what we all must do. Show up, stick out our hands to the newcomer and share our experience.
The equation is very simple. It is just that for many of us finding our way to the rooms costs us much more in dignity and self esteem, and when we get here we are broken and in hopeless conditions. And it can take a long time to regain all that we have lost during our drinking careers, and that is why we must do what we are told by the old timers.
It was a good share. And at the end of it all … Our speaker ate Egg Sandwiches …
My friend and his wife from the West Island came to the meeting tonight. I’ve finished reading Pass it On – Bill’s story and the story of A.A. with the hope that my friend would fill in some blanks for me and tell me some of his stories.
Because he was there – getting sober after coming home from the war. Just a year and a half in, he would travel, a lot of the time with others there to New York to attend dinners and meetings with Bill and all the old timers. We talked about Dave B. The old timer who started A.A. here in Canada. And he had some stories about him too. He suggested that I get a copy of Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age and read it and it just so happens that we did have a copy here on the bookshelf.
The more I read and study the history of A.A. the more I have to talk about with my friend – I always say that if you know an old timer, talk to them. Listen to their stories and what it was like all those years before. He told me that later on in the month that one of those founders will be taking his 57th year cake in Boucherville. That would be a cool event to attend. 57 years, that’s a long time in sobriety.
It was an exciting night – a little drama – a lot of people. And a good speaker and lots of special conversation. I was informed that many of our members are reading this little ole blog, looking for my weekly rundown of the Friday night meeting.Welcome aboard …
Ron is up and down and could still benefit from your prayers as would Linda.
A good night was had by all. I got to spend some quality time with grasshopper since we haven’t been able to get to coffee during the week. He is doing real well. He is amazing really. He chairs several meetings here in the city, takes care of literature as well, and he is all over the place on any given day. It’s a good thing that he makes the most of all that he does and I am proud of him. He is earning his keep at Friday West End.
Reminder: Group Conscience on March 8th at 7:00 p.m.
And that about wraps it up for this week.
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 !!!
Courtesy: Billy Pazionis
F0r every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Whatever energy you put out, in return that energy is coming back to you.
When a lesson comes to you, What kind of energy comes with it?
The energy you generate creates your life …
Your life is reflecting back at you what you are at all times.
The person you are attracts like people to your life.
If there are loving people in your life, then you are loving…
If you are an angry person, you will attract angry people into your life.
What are you doing to draw people towards your self.
Who do you want to be in the world?
Sometimes you have to divorce your friends and sometimes your family, because at some point, you learn who you are and who you want to be and you will say, I will not allow you to treat me this way …
Maybe they will come back around and you will be able to reconcile. And sometimes that doesn’t happen.
I had to divorce myself from m y family because of the way they were treating me and they took it as a slight and hence, the silence. One day they may come back around and if it happens so be it, and if it doesn’t so be it.
An intention is a soul goal.
Being assertive isn’t being negative. If you come from a position of love, it is truth. You are speaking truth.
Learn by observing your day. Listen for the whisper before the brick wall falls down on your head.
Open yourself up. Whatever you need to be the best person, bring it.
The universe is so big. Align yourself with it.
ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION or are you just going through the motions???
When you ask for it, you get the opportunity to do it.
When you pray for courage, you get an opportunity to be courageous.
It’s not like God is going to zap you with courage, but brings you to the point where you find it yourself.
Put it out, and watch what comes back to you.
Here we are on the door step of 30 days until my cake.
This period of time, most sober people will tell you is the pre-cake roller coaster. it follows that if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen now. It has been observed over the years that people go though all kinds of insanity and craziness leading up to their cakes.
I’m sad that I don’t have a copy of what we read from tonight, Came to Believe. it was a short reading on the Spirit of God. I read the passage. But I wanted to write on a specific passage and I can’t, which leaves me with writing free hand …
I reflected on what happened over the past weekend, which I wrote about already but it came up again tonight. I’ve been waiting for something BIG to really happen, some sort of awakening or spiritual experience since I am coming up on my cake, I’ve been waiting for God to hit me with something … exciting …
I am involved in a 17 week step intensive. And I am there on Sunday nights with my fellows. I may be the one person with the most time. I know most of the guys there are in the low numbers and I watch how they treat me and each other. One week we are all friends and doing things for each other, and the next, we couldn’t be bothered. You never know where we are going to end up after the sharing portion of the meeting. So I am waiting …
I wrote about last Friday’s meeting and the concert we were given by that young lady. Tonight I touched upon that night in saying that when I let go and live in the moment and let God do whatever he is going to do things usually happen and I find that I have these moments of “everything is fine.” These momentary flits of serenity and peace that come upon me when I least expect it.
Friday night it happened. While Maria was playing I was sitting in the church listening to this heavenly music, and for a little while, everything else in my head was silent. We could shut our eyes and be content because in that moment, “everything was fine.”
Here I am looking for something complicated and BIG, and I wasn’t micro managing my life. And so I showed up to do service and I and the others present were blessed with these moments of grace. I think God laughed at me and I could hear him say … “So you were waiting for something big, but let’s say here ya go, something simple and divine!” how does that work for you?
My eyes were too widely focused waiting for something big to happen, but in reality, if I look back over the last week, there were a series of little things that made all the difference. As alcoholics we tend to make everything complicated and the whole goal of spirituality is to look for the simple things in life.
One of my friends spoke about a meditation that says that the soul is an active part of us. it attaches itself to memories, thoughts, actions and life, and the soul works out everything that needs to be worked out until it is spent, then it moves on to the next thing. I think it went like that …
But nonetheless, prayer and meditation has been on everyone’s minds since last week. It has stirred up people, it has pissed some off and troubled others. And tonight the thought came back around full circle. If we want to find that serenity we all look forwards to, we need to stop and do those things that we find troublesome because there is a lesson there. Because it will come for those who are diligent and work with the tools given to us. God, I wish I had the text on hand to finish this thought.
Prayer and meditation is something you have to work into. And I need to be present in the moment and honor all the quiet little things that are happening in my life today because they are little graces I take for granted while I am waiting on the BIG things to come around.
I am hoping that my friend Fonda gets to make it up here for my cake. She might even have a chip for me, if she can find it. Let us pray she finds her passport and is able to make it.
That’s all for tonight. I don’t know if you will get a life class tonight, because it is all about money … so we’ll see later on.