Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. AIDS – THIS IS MY PRIDE – SURVIVAL !!! A Wordpress Production

Todd

Sunday Sundries … The Baby, The Pope, GOD and Me … Not Necessarily in that Order !

pope-francis-do-not-disturb cropPope 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.”

Herbert Spencer

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.

  1. I prayed for the desire to drink to leave me
  2. I needed an alcoholic to come to me, and
  3. 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 …


Crazy S.O.T.B. – More Memories 21 Years On …

b-down-gobo1

Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…

I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…

He wept.

Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…

So it began…

At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Dante would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.

The rule was set…

You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!

Yes Sir…

I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.

This is your life we are talking about…

The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.

Angry Larry…

When I got sober there was a man with AIDS named Larry, he was a drunk like me. But he was unique. He sat with a bottle on the table and a loaded revolver to shoot himself. He carried that gun with him and showed it to every one of us, and he told us relentlessly that he was going to kill himself. He got sober with the rest of us. Over the years following his spiritual awakening, he did something that no one else thought to do.

People with AIDS were being left in the streets. Mortuaries would not process sick people, they would not touch a body that had been infected with AIDS. Families would not bury their children. We did that. Larry opened his services to the community and he became another champion of the cause. I knew him. He eventually got rid of the gun, so I heard.

For a few minutes during transition, I would warm up the smoker, fire up the turntable and start the computer so that I could worship my God to the music of my soul. I did that every night. I worshiped whatever was going to save me.

I was servant to the men. I was servant to my Master. I was a slave for God, be he dressed or undressed. You never saw God until you witnessed true beauty of the soul in all its carnality. There is something sacredly profane about this part of my life. What went on inside the temple stayed in the temple. Many months would pass and I battled my demons of alcoholism before I finally fell into the pit of death, and there happen to be somebody watching from the sidelines.

Danny saved me that night. He was the man who cradled me in his arms, oxygen mask on my face and had called the paramedics to try and revive me. Danny took me home that night, and did not leave my apartment for a week. He fed me, bathed me and cared for me, under that watchful eye of my Master Todd. When the word was spoke, action was taken, and hell hath no fury if you did not jump when told to. Todd was very protective over his boys and men.

We were reminded that Todd had lost love to AIDS. Bob was buried across the street in the cemetery that faced our building. It was hard – it was painful, and it was sacred. Kevin and Larry did things for me that no man ever did for me in the real world. We were the three musketeers. We were the team to beat in bar management and service. We ran a tight ship and we were accountable, respectable and reliable. We proved a mighty force against the odds we all faced.

Let’s get it on…

Shift was begun at eight. The wells were filled the beer was stocked and the ice bins were full. Put your money in the drawer and let’s get the music thumping. Like clockwork at the strike of eight bells the first note hit the turntables. They were lined up around the building. Cars were parked all over the place. The temple worship had begun. Heaven was found amid the souls of suffering men who knew they were all marked for death, but for tonight, whatever you desired was fulfilled. You could drown away your sorrow and dip into the well of living water if you wished as well. You have never lived until you party like your dying with crowds of undulating flesh as far as they eye can see. The ghosts of those men now inhabit the fantasies and dreams I have still to this day.

One by one, two by two, they died in our arms. We held them until they took their last breaths. Memorialized in the careful and blood soaked threads of quilts, as the years went by, they started collecting by the dozen, then by the hundreds. If you’ve ever seen the entire quilt unfurled, all the men who were part of my life in those first years of my epidemic life, they are all together in death, as they were in life. Memorialized until the end of time. And we remember each of their names.

So many young boys torn from life before they knew what hit them. Men who infected them had died as well. Many of my friends were taken on trips that were detrimental to them, and just robbed them of life that was still left to live.

Todd saw to it that I would never go there…

You come to work, dress as you will, you obey me and do not waver from my eye, for I know your carnal desires and you are too young to tempt the devil with his dance. Because I surely did not know what could befall me if the right charmer enticed me into his web of desire, and they all knew I was fair bait. But in order to dine from my buffet, you needed explicit permission of my Master, who never allowed any man to defile me like many had been. I was off limits. I never crossed the line provided because that meant disrespect and I could never bear to break my Master’s heart with disobedience.

I loved Him, and He loved me – I had many problems. I was depressed and angry and resentful. I had the scars of traumatic visions of my dead lovers corpse in my head, and the words of his mother still ring in my ear today “I hope that every night until you die, that you see the corpse of my dead son in your field of vision.” That curse still lives with me and will go with me to the grave. Five day old corpses are not pretty. I had to identify the remains when all was said and done. Save that he was wearing jewelry that I could identify and part of him was still recognizable – God forgive me…

I remember that day, it was early afternoon the morgue called me from work to come and do the deed. I drove in and looked upon him in that room, I wept tears that burned into my soul forever. I just could not imagine – the pain was so hard to bear. I drove over to the bar. Bill was working behind the bar. I drank until I could not stand up on my own. I drank for a week, straight…

Todd and Bill needed to find me a solution and quick, because I was on the outs.

I started suicide therapy in a group setting that lasted 32 weeks. Nothing like rehashing death week after week, until the pain was purged from your soul, but is it ever? Months went by until I got my news.

But they cared for me in all my brokenness. A young angel would earn his wings back. Come hell or high water. In the end, when all was said and done, at the end of the day I survived, but so many did not. And each night I offer them prayers in hope that when I meet my death that all of them will be waiting for me in the Temple Of Earthly Desire in the promised land of the Kingdom of God, where the sacred and profane are mingled with the blood of the Almighty and the blood of my friends who have gone before me, on that day we will be cleansed of our sins.

And forgiven by God…

Amen

Goodnight angels of men

In a church,by the face,
He talks about the people going under.

Only child know…

A man decides after seventy years,
That what he goes there for, is to unlock the door.
While those around him criticize and sleep…
And through a fractal on a breaking wall,
I see you my friend, and touch your face again.
Miracles will happen as we trip.

But we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We get a little crazy
No we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We are a little…

Cray…cray…cray…

…Crazy yellow people walking through my head.
One of them’s got a gun, to shoot the other one.
And yet together they were friends at school
Ohh, get it, get it, get it, get it no no!

If all were there when we first took the pill,
Then maybe, then maybe, then maybe, then maybe…
Miracles will happen as we speak.

But we’re never gonna survive unless…
We get a little crazy.
No we’re never gonna survive unless…
We are a little…
Crazy…
No no, never survive, unless we get a little… bit…

Oh, a little bit…
Oh, a little bit…

Oh…
Oh…

Amanda decides to go along after seventeen years…

Oh darlin…
In a sky full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
In a world full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Crazy…
In a heaven of people there’s only some want to fly,
Ain’t that crazy?
Oh babe… Oh darlin…
In a world full of people there’s only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy…

Ohh…
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless we are a little… crazy..
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless, we are a little.. crazy..
No no, never survive unless, we get a little bit…

And then you see things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

They’ll break it

Someday…

Only child know….

Them things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…