I slept in today, UGH! But I did get to my evening class with Sara, my Celtic Christianity class, which I totally enjoyed. Sara’s classes are comfy and warm and cozy that you come in and you sit and allow the feeling to wash over you that “all is well in the world.”
That doesn’t speak of an easy ride mind you, but one of conscious thought and work. I have been reading the course pack and through tonight’s discussion we have learned a few things. That there is more to Celtic life than we may have known. That each reading in the book is set in its place for a reason.
Imagine standing before a forest, you boys out West can better understand this than I can paint a picture, but Sara used the forest imagery tonight. And I remarked how each reading, if laid upon the one prior paints a picture in successive layers of reading, and information. And the readings tease you to walk into the forest and turn leaves over looking for further clues to the real truth of the Celtic.
We are invited to start exploring the forest for clues to our study for this term. It is not all so easy, and reading about the past – we must use our lenses of hermeneutic suspicion, to read each text and article with a critical eye. I used that term tonight, and Sara giggled to the rest of the class, “oh Jeremy, you are so clever, aren’t you!” I had to explain this strategy with my fellows.
It’s all good…
And my young warrior from the West came to visit! You can check out his blog, The Life of Robert Wesley, he is a very special friend that I have known for some time. Joy of joys he has decided to continue writing!! YAY!!
On the way home I hit “Came to Believe” in time for the second speaker, just so I had some time to sit with myself and be quiet and listen to another speak about his trials and tribulations about recovery. I just wanted to sit and listen, which is always a good thing to do when possible.
Over all is was a great night. Now I am gonna hit some dinner and chill out…
A photograph from the Portfolio of Robert Wesley from B.C.
I was sick again this morning, and all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and sleep which is what I did – so I missed my morning class. But I am up on the reading and I also have the lecture slide from P.P.T.
Saturday I rented some movies, Sophie Scholl and Click with Adam Sandler, we love Adam Sandler movies. When I went to pay they were playing Home Alone in the store because we are hitting chilly weather, it seems that people are getting ‘into the spirit’ a little early!
Yesterday while we were out shopping we stopped by the video store and I found a special edition of Home Alone with deleted scenes and behind the scenes episodes which are really great. And I also picked up a box set of Charlie Brown: a Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!! Woo Hoo!!
Last evening before Big Brother, we watched Home Alone, and like any good person would I was sobbing by the last scene with my tissues and all! I am such a softee…
There are 99 shopping days until Christmas…
I am off to class in a bit…
It seems that God has something in mind for me, I am not sure what that is, but Summer is over and life now changes with the seasons. The Fall is upon us and this is my season to prepare for the great silence. Over the next few months school will become the norm again, and as the leaves turn and fall – you will witness God in ways you might have never imagined.
Once again, I have been put between a rock and a hard place by another group of people who left me with secrets and riddles about my ability to lead. It seems that my credentials and abilities are in question, and once again, I am not going to deal with the bullshit games.
You either like me or you don’t – You either align with me or you don’t – it is very simple. Ministry is not about ego, secrets or personalities. I’ve never been an egomaniac, in fact I think I am pretty sober for the most part. But I will not be undermined after working all Summer to build a community. Now that community is, as far as I am concerned, without a leader. Because I am not going to deal with the drama.
Life is too short for drama and politics
They say when people have problems with you that it is their perception of you that is the problem and also that what people think of me is none of my business. I do not like change, but after much time spent in prayer and meditation, and proper consideration, I am rightfully ok with the way I feel. And isn’t life all about “Perceptions?”
I am now free to concentrate on my studies, and to offer my services to those who used to count me among the chosen few spiritual advisers. I remember that I am not perfect and surely I am not God.
Cruise Ships coming to Montreal: Fall Schedule 2007
On October 8th I have been granted access on board the Fred Olsen Cruise Liner – Black Watch by GLP Worldwide Expeditions, who are representing Fred Olsen Cruise Lines in Canada. There are travel shows beginning in Vancouver and Victoria next week, and move Eastwards across Canada, calling in Alberta and as well Ontario.
On September 22 – and 23 the Arctic Sunrise will be ported at the Old Port in Montreal with open ship tours on both days from 12 noon to 6 p.m.
The Fall Foliage Cruise ship calendar is getting busy I will be posting other dates here as I get them.
22 – Spirit of Nantucket
25 – Maasdam
26-27 – Spirit of Nantucket
6-7 – Spirit of Nantucket
8 – Maasdam
8-10 – Grande Caribe
9-10 – Alexander von Humbolt
14-16 – Grande Caribe
15 – Christopher Columbus
19 – Veendam
22 – Maasdam
27 – Saga Ruby
1-3 – Grand Mariner
2 – Crystal Symphony
6-9 – Grande Caribe
8-9 – Black Watch
In my beautiful, my beautiful balloon !!!
You can find the story behind this photo at Carmi’s Blog.
I could not help my inner juke box from playing this song in my head as I read the entry!!
I am getting OLD!!
The 5th Dimension – Up Up and Away …
Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
We could float among the stars together, you and I
For we can fly we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
The world’s a nicer place in my beautiful balloon
It wears a nicer face in my beautiful balloon
We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky
For we can fly we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
Suspended under a twilight canopy
We’ll search the clouds for a star to guide us
If by some chance you find yourself loving me
We’ll find a cloud to hide us
We’ll keep the moon beside us
Love is waiting there in my beautiful balloon
Way up in the air in my beautiful balloon
If you’ll hold my hand we’ll chase your dream across the sky
For we can fly we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
Up, up, and away…..
Have you ever seen God? Would you know what to look for, if you knew for a fact that He would show his face? Do you know for sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists?
Of all the meetings that I have been going to over the last five and a half years, there is one true location that God seems to make his presence known to people in attendance. That meeting would be Tuesday’s Beginners. St. Leon’s is a hallowed church in Westmount. And the members of our meeting never shy away from the spiritual and better yet, none of our members take for granted the fact that they can talk about God as they would any other subject.
Our meeting has been in existence for over 56 years. Several incarnations later and decades following we have seen people come, and go and come and go and come again… And I can tell you with certainty that I have seen God move throughout the room. There is just a feeling, a visual of light that comes from above (the church) and comes down through the ceiling and rests in the middle of the room.
People are having spiritual experiences, and we see it happen week in and week out. People remark that they feel so safe and comfortable in our room. And we find that slippers come back to us to restart their “journeys” after periods of further alcoholic experimentation. Another woman returned to us after a decade of struggle. Today’s topic was “what do you do to guarantee your sobriety?” Nothing guarantees our sobriety better than intensive work with another alcoholic.
My friend KEN came up from Toronto – one of my readers here at my blog. We met some weeks ago at the memorial service for his brother Craig, at St. James United. I had invited him to a meeting when he came to visit. He came to our meeting today, and what a joyous time we all had. We get visitors from all over the world – come to our meeting, and they all leave with a sense of calm and sober understanding.
The last visitor who came to our meeting and told us that God did not exist and that he was a confirmed Atheist, left that meeting and never returned! ‘Coincidence?’ I think not.
On the way home tonight I was walking with Louise and I told her about my perception of God’s power and light finding its way into the meeting and she said to me, “You aren’t the only one to say that, many people believe that God visits our meeting because we honor Him and we talk about Him and we pray to him unified and believing.
So many people have come through our room, and we are as constant as the North Star. We are a place of safety and love. We are always welcoming and spiritually centered, even when we run insane and crazy, the one true fact is that I believe that tonight, like may nights before, God came, saw and shown his light to those who were there.
A woman who had returned spoke of God to me after the meeting. And I told her “you saw the light, have you!” He was here; he is always here, because we seek him with sincere and humble hearts. We gather in his name, there is not one non-believer in the group. Yet we don’t push religion – or faith. But we speak boldly about a Higher Power, who just happens to be God for many of us.
I have seen him change hearts and heal lives and He has made people well, and sober. He has carried their burdens and held them when they wept. He has blessed so many with good things, and people come to express gratitude for all great things, and we all know that there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. People are put into our paths for specific reasons if you are able to divine those reasons as the need arises.
I see the face of God in the people I serve. I see the Christ in those who struggle and I see the spirit in those who have been renewed and healed. Look out into the trees and see his divine hand in creation, in the fall, see him paint the city in colors as bright as the sun. And in the Winter I wait for the silence, for that one true night when the clouds fall and the hush falls over the city as the first flake of winter snow falls, I rush outside and I welcome the voice of God as he whispers to the city… “I am here…”
I have seen him, and I know his voice…
And if you hear his voice today, Harden not your hearts.
Tonight I am proud to present the last of the three very special writers who were commissioned to write for me during my birthday week. This is from Cooper – from Coopers Corridor out in B.C. He is a truly gifted writer and a father of two young boys. Without further ado, I give you Cooper and his writing on the Totem.
I stand in the great hall of the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, head bent back, gazing up forty feet to where precise images have been carved into cedar totem poles by craftsmen whose art has been almost entirely erased by time. Near the bottom of a nearby pole, a smooth-shouldered wolf rests in the shadow of a killer whale. The eye of the whale is a shadowed well.
This wood, these bones, trace the nature and purpose of a vast awareness, a living spirit in the grain, each knot and every growth-ring a secret hieroglyph worked carefully into many layers of meaning. The echo of leaves is here, the resonance of damp fields half submerged in twilight, of dark soil and tales of night. And long, interwoven strands of time knitted together by wood and human hands.
The wood has been coaxed into shape … whittled, chiseled, sculpted with broad, incising strokes … by tools of utmost antiquity, by weapons, by stones, by countless forms oiled by brown muscled skin.
The focus of the collections is northwestern …hundreds of examples … an eagle with a five-foot, intricately carved beak, a tenebrous skull shape, moons and ravens and wild spirits of the forest. There are objects of great power here. The spirit of creative work calls to whomever will listen, and as I gaze at these ethereal faces staring back from a lost age, their muted colors hiding a secret flame, once again I hear that whisper spiraling out from the primordial source of things.
This is my spiritual heritage.
The instant I reach my hand to the wood and sense a silent energy thrumming inside, I become aware of being pulled into an elemental state. The stillness of that source lies behind the dream of an ancient, verdant grove that sometimes wakes me in the night.
Dark sky, cold rain, and a ground made bright by the sinuous shapes of wood sawn fresh from the tree … ivory of birch, faded porcelain of maple, linen of alder. There is some cypress, too, its scent of lemons reaching to sting me with exhilaration. A black, rough walnut rests alongside the opened bole of a Douglas fir, its orange grain glowing from a sunrise heart. I reach down to touch the alder, and in the moment of reaching, of touching the silent wood with its living core of mystery, I become acutely aware of the life-blood of my ancestors within me.
I acknowledge that the wood’s redemption … its escape from dissolution … is also my own. We are bound now, fragments of becoming. We share the journey of the totem. The faces of the figures are hidden in my own hands and heart. The totem is a spiritual heraldry. It describes, through a vast shorthand, the indications of the unfathomable. It is a finger pointing to the beginning, a wind blowing from a pristine field of possibility. It relates the tale of meteoric iron birthed as companion to the sun. Totems are reminders to remember, and to act.
I step into the landscape of my own totem. I see my Nana, the falcon, her brow etched like the grain of rough cedar, weathered by pain, made bright with love. I hear the voice of my mother, the wolf … first a clear call, then a tremor, and finally a sorrowing wail. I feel the hands of my unknown father, the ghostly raven that I sometimes watch, looking for myself.
I am the eagle ….the one who carries and sustains, whose touch is redolent with solace.
My oldest son, to whom I gave the second name Cedar … the swift little deer … blueberry stains on his chin, shouting with joy as he runs through green fields. And my baby boy Rowan, the seal, cradled by wonder, darting into the light with luminous eyes.
I wonder what indelible traces I will leave … and they … what teeth marks from carved mouths? I reach toward a horizon of prophecy, to mentors and unknown guides, the gods and goddesses of an unbroken cord of lineage secured at the source by invisible hands.
This is where I begin.
Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte speaks to the media Monday morning clarifying his position.
This situation is a travesty. And workers that have been on strike, need to return to work and clean up this MESS of a cemetery and bury the Hundreds of dead now being stored on the property in the buildings and refrigerated trucks. These workers have no respect for the dead nor do they respect our community! It is time to get back to work and get this situation taken care of before Winter sets in on us.
CTV.ca News Staff
Montreal’s Roman Catholic archbishop has called out for an end to the labour dispute that has crippled a major cemetery’s operations.
“I have no button that I can push to say you get there, you get there, I have the power to bring understanding in a difficult situation,” Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte told the media on Monday.
About 500 bodies remain unburied in a refrigerated cemetery vault at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges because of the lockout.
All burials have been put on hold since May 16, when about 130 cemetery employees were locked out, prompting a strike.
The union and families have asked Turcotte to intervene on more than one occasion but the archbishop has said he does not have the power to meddle in a labour dispute.
“I have been asked to intervene and I must remind everyone that I can not do so,” said Turcotte in a press release dated Aug. 2.
“It is true that the law confers a certain number of powers to the bishop. However, the cemetery remains under the administration and management of the fabrique whose property it is.”
Citing a legal act governing cemetery management, Turcotte said the autonomy of administrators is required.
Turcotte still decided to meet with the families to speak with them about their ordeal.
Debra de Thomassis, a woman who has been waiting to bury her grandmother and is spearheading a class-action lawsuit against the cemetery to get it working again, said the families were asked questions.
“He basically asked us how we were feeling, how we came upon to be stuck in this conflict,” she said. “He totally understands out position and is with us all the way.
“I think he decided to get involved because he needed to let everybody know what was his real position, what were his real powers,” she continued. “He doesn’t necessarily have the powers to go into the management of the administration but he certainly has the power to let them know his position.”
The families also asked if the archbishop could work out a deal where they could have a requiem and see their loved ones one more time. De Thomassis said the archbishop is looking into it.
The union has said it will not return to work until at least some of its demands are met.
According to management, salaried employees currently make an average annual income of $49,000, while seasonal workers make $27,000.
The union is demanding improvements in five key areas:
- A defined benefit pension plan, in which workers can acquire previous years of service;
- A four-day work week;
- An increase in the number of weeks available to seasonal workers from 26 to 36;
- Greater departure allowances; and
Limiting the use of subcontracting
They have been without a contract since 2003.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Annie DeMelt
Time: 8:05 p.m.
High Heat and Humidity Warning still in effect…
They warned us last night that today the mercury would rise farther up the thermometer than we had seen it in a years time. They weren’t kidding. Not having air conditioning is a pain in the ass, and the fact that we face West with 2 rooms with full windows on both walls makes it even harder. I turned down the dark shades on the widows to try and block the sunlight from frying the apartment and both my wind towers are running at full speed. We can’t “hang” a portable AC unit 17 stories up because it isn’t safe, seeing that directly below on the ground floor is the entrance to the garage, and God forbid a unit falls and kills somebody.
I met with one of my friends today and we had a great discussion. I know that a lot of people read yesterdays entry but once again, nobody leaves comments, so I don’t know what the community at large thinks about what I wrote. I wish, at least, that some of you would engage in a conversation. but oh well. Never expect …
I guess I will leave it there for tonight. I’ve got a whopper headache and I can’t think straight, not that I could ever think “Straight!” mu ha ha ha ha ha!!!
OH GOD – SEND US SNOW!!!!
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
I never thought that doing something good for another would turn around and bite me in the ass. Christian ministry and emergent churches are the new faces of Christian worship and ministry. What I am is immaterial to Who I am. In the past few months as my degree was conferred to me by a University, I was thrust into a position of ministry leadership, not by my own choice, but by popular acclimation of the group who thought that I was the most logical person to lead them, in the wake of a colleague dying.
I have been working in my field here in Montreal for over five years. I work with the addicts, the alcoholics, the sick and the dying. I have probably spent more years in the ACTIVE practice of Christian Charity longer than most of you would even care to consider. When my friends were all dying of AIDS who do you think ministered to their souls, took care of their physical bodies, fed and bathed them and in the end buried them when parents of Christian faith walked out on them and left them in the streets to die alone!
My work was something that my peers and my supporters highly encouraged. I looked all over the world for the model that I would adopt to begin my work here. That church was RE:HOPE in Glasgow.
Let me stop for a moment and say this loud and clear. Just because I am a gay man, does not infer that any people I choose to support, or pray for, or attempt to raise funds for, speaks of the sexual orientation of anyone. There are straight writers on this blog and there are gay writers. They all have good messages and are people that I respect and admire. We all learn from each other.
So I know that RE:HOPE is trying to raise 12,000 GBP for their trip to the Holy Land this fall and I went OUT of my way to try and help them, because it was an easy choice and it was the right choice. I used the term “Partnered” and that has come back to me also.
You may not agree with some of my theology, and the obvious sane fact that I am a gay man of faith – speaks of just how much work I have done in 40 years of life to find my way through Christianity and Catholicism. I take what is good and I leave what is bad.’
Christianity isn’t perfect, and it is truly flawed. But Christ is perfect in his simplicity and direct in his message. People are flawed too in their beliefs and theology. People are imperfect yet God is perfect…
People have commented and Scott has commented about my choice of words and today he writes me to admonish me and to tell me about being careful of what I write, I got that.
What troubled me more – and to the point that – because I am a gay man in Ministry, some have gone as far as to question the sexual orientation of Scott Burns. I have to say that I am disgusted by this little piece of information. Don’t people have better things to do with their time than to wonder about the sexual orientation of people? Have we not grown past this little issue? Are we all adults here?
I’ve never met Scott, but I believe in his ministry. Enough to put my own reputation and this blog on the line in the sense of credibility and respect. So what, I am Gay and Scott is not? Does my support of his ministry automatically make him gay or make him suspect? Have we backtracked that much in the year 2007, that doing good Christian work comes with parameters and judgments by some? Of course it does, I should know that.
All of you out there are Christianity Majors and have decades of Christian study and worship under your belts, right? All of you have spent years in University studying Church history, Christian History and Christian Origins. right??? And all of you have spent time in a Catholic Seminary in the pursuit of priesthood as well, I suppose?
I do not make choices rashly or out of one side of my brain. You may not agree with my stance of Church, and you can question my “take” on Christian Theology. I have spent over 20 years of my life studying religion, in seminary and in University so I do know much more about church and Christianity, than the run of the mill lay person or arm chair Christian.
Living with AIDS – over 14 years now gives me certain understanding of what charity and forgiveness and true unconditional Christian love is. I know what doing the right thing is, if you lived with the threat of death every day of your life, knowing just what is going to kill you and how, you either do one of two things, you find FAITH fast or you give up and die.
I took the high road. Seeking ministers, priests and bishops who were accommodating and understanding. I am part of the Anglican faith now because I was told, unequivocally that the Montreal Diocese agrees with the blessing of Same Sex unions. I, in fact, am Married, and have been for now three years. We had a United Church wedding before God and our families.
So if you have a question about my Christian faith – You Ask Me! If you have a problem with me You Tell Me.
I cannot believe that trying to help another ministry would come back with questions, inferences and disagreements. I love it when people come to read, and many do each day. I reach out to millions with this blog, we have even saved a few lives here and there with the work that we do here.
All my kids and my peers and supporters who are part of this ministry are straight. One of them is in Seminary this fall. NONE of them question my ability to serve based on my sexual orientation. My exploration of faith has brought me to this point. And I will even go so far as to say that I probably have a better Christian practice than most of you out there, because you have to deal with doctrine, theology and teaching.
I study Theology and though I may not agree with it, and for the most part I do not agree with any church that limits its membership to those who believe and are straight from those who believe and are gay. I have struggled with this issue for the whole of my life. And I have made peace with it.
I CAN reconcile being Gay and Being Christian, IF You CANNOT then that is your issue, not mine.
I do what I am called to do. I serve where I am called to serve. And I love unconditionally because I am commanded TO! I read scripture too and those six references to same sex, homosexuality and sleeping with a man as to a woman are all scriptures that I have spent a great deal of time, during my studies, trying to understand. I don’t think that you have spent as much time studying scripture as I have in 25 years.
Nobody has the right to judge what kind of Christian I am – or question the ministry that I work with. The reason that we have emergent churches and church plants and Christian ministries popping up all over the world is in response to the way Christianity has played out over the centuries. Nobody is pleased or agrees with the model we have, so we set out and create our own. I have done that after reaching the conclusion after prayer, study and academic work to know that Church Christianity will not work for me – it never has.
I have been a Catholic all of my life, I spent a year in a Catholic Seminary as well and I left because I would not serve Man and also because I was not a pedophile and I was not going to spend another year keep secrets for my fellows and the Catholic administration.
The members of the Anglican faith, here in Montreal, have been planting seeds in my heart for a year. They allowed me to come and go as I please. And they loved me unconditionally. And now I have made a conscious choice to become part of the Anglican communion because the Bishop himself has given the LGBT community a green light in his church. I have already written about this.
Can a Gay Man be spiritually centered – Yes of course he can. Can a gay man lead a church, Many do, quietly. I can tell you how many gay priests we have in Montreal and how many are open about it and they still have parishes and communities. I can tell you that I know a handful of Christian Ministers who will speak on my behalf and tell you that I am as true to Christian faith as I can be.
I hook up with a church I see does good work and I try to style a ministry by its example, maybe partner wasn’t the right term but still, I pray for that community and I work for the betterment of that community and I work tirelessly trying to help them.
I write letters to my supporters on my time to help You, and I get a letter of “this weighs on my heart too much” ok, that’s your issue not mine. I was just trying to help you out of a situation that you placed yourself in, then you wrote about it and asked for help, how many of us listened to you and went out of their way to help you???
And I am admonished for doing something charitable and good. I am told that Some do not agree with my theology! That’s your issue not mine. Some do not agree that a Gay man can be a good example to the people he leads, because of the inherent problem with being gay!
I will tell you here and now that sexual practice in my marriage is between ME – MY GOD and My Husband, and nobody else. Go read my writings on the Sacred and the Profane. Maybe you will learn something about how much I respect the two states of grace. You cannot have the Sacred without the Profane, because they inform each other.
They are married in a coexistence of grace.
I would like to know from you, my readers just what objections you have to what I am, Who I am and what I choose to do for a living? I put those buttons on my blog because the ministries that are there need support either financially or Spiritually. I won’t make that mistake again…
I choose to support the needs of many and they should be grateful that a stranger would put himself out there to help another human being because he believes in the ministry of Christ. So until further notice I will remove all connection and fund raising for any ministry accept my own.
If you cannot understand what it really means to be a Christian and you can’t accept that maybe a Gay man with religious leanings, a full degree in Christian Religion Study and a further pursuance of a Pastoral Ministry Degree in Theology can lead and be a good example and a wise leader, then I invite you to be on your way.
Don’t waste another moment reading here and please, do us all a favor, do not return to this place, because we have no use for you either.
Yesterday I turned forty years old, and I had my own issues with faith, life and death, but to receive a letter of concern, admonishment and as I read it a separation in Theology and Christian faith practice insulted me. And to know that people who have come by here have questioned the dignity of another minister AND question his Sexual Orientation just because his visage and ministry appeared on the side bar of this blog made me sick to my stomach. I thought we were all adults here and that we were grown up enough to lay down our judgments and issues for the shared communion of Christianity. I guess I was mistaken.
Like I said, if you’ve got a problem with me, that is Your Problem not mine. If you don’t have the balls to approach me and state your case, that is also your problem not mine. If you question the way I practice my Christianity, that is also your problem, not mine.
If you do not know enough to understand that I have struggled with Christianity for the whole of my life and that I probably know MORE about the intricacies and minutiae of Christianity than you do – that’s not my problem.
God speaks to me – and he knows I am Gay, He also knows I am HIV positive, so do all my kids, my friends, my peers, and even my husband. They all love me just the same. God Loves me Unconditionally. There is no separation between God and Myself.
I don’t have time to sit here and write sermons like this and justify why I can practice Christian faith because of …. to you. I don’t need to. You can sit your happy ass down and write me and tell me of your concerns with my theology and practice and if I feel moved I will write you back, or even take the time to embarrass myself in front of you by writing a rant like this one again!
I know a lot more about Christian Theological issues than you might think. I have battled with the best and the brightest when it comes to theological and ministerial discussion. And we agree to disagree. The Catholic Church allows me access to the sacraments because it is a RITE of my Catholic upbringing, I was baptized into the church and in all my years only ONE priest saw fit to condemn me openly and with that condemnation he lost his parish and his people, they all left his church! In the Anglican faith I am in full communion with the Bishop’s church and it is high about time. God WEEPS at the intolerance and judgment of Christians all over the world. And we pray for them just the same.
I have studied Papal History and I continue “on my time” to further that theological education outside the classroom. I know all about the Churches laws and decrees, I have studied at great length – the life of John Paul II one of the most important Popes in Modern History second only to John XXIII. I don’t agree with all of his writing, especially about women, birth control, homosexuality and assorted other dimensions of his writing, but you must admit that in the hallowed darkness of his chapel the Pope begged God for forgiveness for some of what he did in public, forced to speak so many words at the consternation of the Holy See and those Bishops and Cardinals who were close to the See of Peter. So I know all of your arguments.
Christianity MUST evolve or else crumble in the ruins of its own intolerance and judgmentalism and condemnations. The Church must change to accommodate the many people who have grown up in a faith and as adults we are divided from the faith because of the stance of those conservative men in certain positions. The curret Pope Benedict will never earn my allegiance or respect, because he is a dog of a man. HE is responsible for much of what John Paul II wrote as he was the man in the position of keeper of the doctrine of the faith, now he is Pope, God help us all…
Faith for me as a gay HIV Positive man is cut and dry. You do good for others, and you love others and you maintain a humble presence in the world and you do no harm. I think that this simple theological model works. Don’t quote me mumbo jumbo theological ideas because all the theology in the world will not change the man I am today and what I choose to do with my life.
Theology is too wrapped up in rules and dogma. I am wrapped up in simple Christian faith for simple Christian people. Faith is simple. Talking the talk is one thing, Walking the Walk is surely another. I can do both – I can talk the talk and I do walk the walk. You ask any of my people about what I do day in and day out, and just how much of my time I spend helping others because I am called to do that and I am sure you would be pleasantly surprised. Men of faith should be this “giving” of their time and talent for the little pittance I make in return. I work my ass off to the bone day and night, I write, I work with others because work was done for me when I needed it to. Ministry is not just about preaching the Gospel to people, but getting down in the gutter with them. How many Christians get out there and really get their hands dirty? Not Many.
So I see a group that gets their hands dirty and I start talking them up and I pray for them and I try to raise funds for them. I do that for my group too. All is not words and bible, show me the money at the end of the day – I don’t make nearly enough to support my house yet, and I have another 18 months to go before I hit my Masters and Pastoral ordination, but I am in the field, I have been in the field for years.
I have been a Christian presence in my Gay Community since I was a young boy, And I was in the trenches when Christians were fleeing like in the exodus from infected sons, daughters and children. I stuck and stayed. I raised money, stood in picket lines and I was there through the worst time when Christians turned their back on men and women who were sick and dying. I WAS THERE! I cannot tell you the countless and thankless hours that I spent in service to my community because NOBODY else would dare touch us or help us. So speak to me about active Christian Ministry. Tell me you know from what people like me lived through in our own lives! Tell me you know the words that self righteous Christians used to condemn people and people lost their jobs, apartments, lovers, family and friends. Were you there?
I can tell you about Christian families that THREW their sons on the STREET, Churches who REFUSED to perform funerals, Christian men and women who worked in funeral homes that REFUSED to process AIDS infected dead boys and men.
This is a double sided issue. Men acted with one another. Men did what they did. Do we condemn them as well? They are all DEAD and I am still alive, so God in his wisdom still sees good in me to fill my lungs with air and gives me life each day. I know how I was infected. I was trying to help another sick soul who LIED to me and then killed himself and I found out After the fact!! So fuck me right? I got what was coming to me right? I was a sinner just like the others. So fuck us !!! right??
Good Christian men kept me alive when all I wanted to do was die already. They believed I had a place in God’s kingdom, even if we did not go to any certain church. I learned Christian Charity from the best. I learned what Jesus meant by Loving others as I loved myself the hard way. I had no choice because good upstanding self righteous Christians could not stomach the horror and filth – the sickness and death. Yet, they could walk into church on Sunday’s and quote scripture and condemn from their Holy Pulpits and pews, UGH it makes me SICK to think about the past…
I can tell you that some of us angry gay men who were Christians who went to school to become morticians so that they could start funeral parlors to give our friends proper burials and I know renegade priests who WOULD perform funerals for us and the minions of people who worked behind the scenes behind the Christian iron curtain who DID walk the walk when we needed it.
I can also tell you about cemetery workers who refused to dig graves and those religious men who stood in the way of us burying those people in hallowed graves. Shall I continue? I can tell you about ministers, Christian ministers TODAY who still condemn us. And you want me to follow their theology?
I think Not!!
And I know good Christian people who loved me when my parents disavowed me and wrote me off as infected goods. I was not immune to judgment and condemnation. I got it from my own family which speaks to the effect that my family has no role or place in my life today – and I am 40 years old and I am still here writing this story.
I was there with Jesus, changing diapers, cleaning up shit and puke and feeding people – And I sat with them until they died, while Christians all over the world sat on their tuffets condemning us and alienating and judging us and telling us that
“AIDS was God’s punishment for our sinful lifestyles.”
I SPIT on the people who did that and I will SPIT on whomever says that to me today.
And God WEPT!!!
Christians could learn from the ministerial work we did in the trenches when it really mattered. So nobody owns the right to judge or critique my Christian life, ministry, theology or practice. Because when I take my last breath – it will then be God and I in a discussion of life review and I know for sure that he will look at me and say:
“Well done, good and faithful servant!”
1 Corinthians Chapter 13:1-3
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Deuteronomy Chapter 6:4-7
Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one, and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. These words, which I command you this day, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
End of Sermon…
I got up this morning and My desktop had been changed to say Happy Birthday and that’s how it started. I showered and went to the Cathedral for Shirley’s memorial mass, which I asked to have said today. Louise showed up for mass today which was a treat and the Reverend Canon Joyce said mass. I thought that it would be good to honor God and Shirley, so I started this birthday with Mass and Prayer. To thank God for life and air and family and friends. This is the Cathedral by day!! Beautiful isn’t it!!
When it came time for the Eucharist, I went up to the dais and knelt and Rev. Joyce laid her hand on my head, she blessed me and prayed over me, as well she traced the sign of the cross on my forehead as she was praying. I almost fainted.
After the mass I went to the Diocesan bookstore to find something to honor my spirit. And I found this icon of the “Annunciation.” It is one of the most beautiful Marian Icons I have ever seen. So this was my spiritual gift to myself. I bought a book as well called “Discernment – Acquiring the Heart of God.”
I got home and I got the best gift in the world. Jacob had called me and so I called him back and he wished me happy birthday and he then told me that they were giving me the digital camera that Angela had loaned me to do some photography with Jacob. Now, I was like “Seriously? Seriously?” and he said “Seriously!!” I was totally overjoyed. It is a finepix S5200 Fuji film 5.1 mega pixel digital camera! O M G !!!
I had to call back and make sure I heard them right!
I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am today!
So I set off for coffee with Ms. Nikki and we had fun as usual. We went to set up the room for the meeting and we had a Birthday Party in the space, it was FUN!! Louise brought me the most beautiful Apple and Caramel cake drizzled with caramel, honey and chocolate. YUM!!! I got a book from Louise called “Discover Your Destiny with the Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma.
I got cards and gifts from friends. Ms. Nikki gave me a $100.00 gift certificate to Indigo Booksellers and other sundry items, like chocolate and grocery gift certificates. My friends are too generous. And I am totally grateful for the gifts. I did not expect such an amazing day that today turned out to be.
I came home after the meeting and now I am writing this. I have one more gift to open, so I am gonna go do that and get back to finish this. So Peter got me Dan Millman’s No Ordinary Moments and The Calendar Girls on DVD! Sweet!!
I have more to say – but not in the same post as this one. My head has been all over the place today and there are a hundred thoughts running through my head right now. So I will write more later on tonight.
This is the Ceiling over the Main Altar of the Church
This is the first of several writings that have been written especially for my birthday. This is a most wonderful and amazing piece written by a young novelist from the UK, Mr. Ben Leto. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Maybe it was the light.
The words seemed harder to focus on in the blunt milky glow of the evening. Their bare stark scratches on the coarse paper stared up at her without meaning, without images, warmth or sound. She brushed a loose strand of hair from her face, crossed her legs and persevered with a sigh.
Maybe it was the wind, biting at her cheeks with the threat of rain, catching strands of long hair to float out of her like streamers and lifting up the pages of her book like a little girl’s skirt as she runs. Each time her eyes seemed to settle on the text, the page would rise to hover cluelessly on its spine, and her focus would be lost.
From the end of the road an engine roared as it turned the corner. She looked up. It was just a truck. A red truck. Another sigh. She let her head fall back against the bench and rolled her eyes at the clouds looming overhead – rugged bandages against a bruised sky, bulging greys and swollen like rotten fruit.
Slowly she closed her eyes and let the cool clutches of the evening grope indifferently over her. Her stomach was heavy with hunger, her knuckes mere white beads on fingers frozen red with the cold, clutching her disinteresting book like a handhold on the world. Her mind, dizzy and battered and numb, could focus only on the thought of getting home, getting off this damp cold bench, bitten by the perpetual hiss of the wind, and being warm and quiet before the clouds tore open and drenched her.
But there was nothing she could do but wait.
Suddenly she was aware of someone sitting next to her – a slight pressure against the wooden planks at her back, the sound of fabric being crumpled and folded – an undeniable yet inexplicable sensation of another person close by. She shuffled slightly in irritation at this new presence, too close to her own space but not close enough to warrant any more than that, and let out a deep but quiet breath. She would just keep her eyes closed until the bus arrived. If it arrived. Where was that bloody bus anyway? And how long had she been waiting out in the cold already? Another breath heaved through her. Not to worry, it would be here soon enough. Then she’d be home before she realised it, wrapped up safe and warm in her favourite…
“Interesting weather we’re having isn’t it?”
Her eyes snapped open, the milky light of the fading afternoon again flooding her brain.
“I’m sorry?” she asked, glancing to her left.
A short looking man was seated on the bench next to her. It was difficult to tell with him sitting down. He looked about fortyish – perhaps fiftyish with good skin or thirtyish with a bad diet – not too thin, but not too overweight. He was wearing what looked like a faded beige pinstripe suit and a grey motheaten shirt. His hair looked like it was thinning.
“The weather,” he repeated. “Interesting isn’t it?” He spoke softly, with a slight whisper, the way people mutter unconsciously to themselves when they’re deep in thought. Her gaze flicked up. His hair was definitely thinning.
“Um, yes, yes it’s very indecisive,” she smiled politely. His eyes were perhaps too big for his head, or seemed to somehow bulge out of their sockets. As she looked on she realised it was neither. The man hardly blinked at all, making his eyes appear heavy and unreal. She broke her stare and returned her attention to her book.
“Indecisive,” he mused, before chuckling suddenly. “Yes, I suppose it is that.” She looked up and smiled again briefly, before politely continuing to read, hoping that this peculiar conversation was now over.
“Is that a book you’re reading?”
She sighed, and closed her eyes briefly. “Yes, yes it is.”
“I only ask because a lot of magazines look very booky these days.”
“What’s it about?”
“I… I don’t know. I’ve only just started reading it.”
“Is it any good?”
“I really couldn’t say.”
“She dies at the end. I don’t like people getting unpleasant surprises so that’s why I’m telling you. She dies at the end.”
She looked up again. “Who does?”
“The girl in the book.”
“There isn’t a girl in the book.”
“Oh,” he replied, suddenly crestfallen. Then he smiled. “Perhaps you just haven’t got there yet. But you will,” he beamed.
“And when I do… I know she’ll die, right?”
“Right. Well, thanks very much for that.”
“You’re welcome. I do hate people getting nasty surprises.”
“Yes, you said.”
A pigeon slowly shuffled past their feet. It glanced up at her in that way pigeons seem to look at people as if pretending they’re not. She shot it back a look of irritation and it looked away again, pretending it had never looked at her in the first place.
The lights go down, the smoke machine is fired up and Seal is on the turntable. I stand in a large space, it is just me, the smoke and my music, as I ready for the nights events. This visual is very useful because it takes me back to the most important time in my young life as a gay man – and an HIV positive man.
I have spoken of this time and place at great length in the pages here on the blog. But I invoke it as I write because it taps that part of my brain where all those memories are stored.
This is supposed to be my “40th Birthday” retrospective. None of my friends have offered up any wisdom to turning 40, and several of my blog reads reached 40 before I did, and they seem to be well adjusted and the same men I knew before they turned 40.
I am not feeling any kind of depression or do I have any problem with my body image the only vain thing I do for me is cut and color my hair, to hide those ugly grays!! That reminds me I need to make an appointment for Tuesday!! It is Sunday Late night as I am writing this.
I was 26 when I was diagnosed in 1994. The doctors gave me 18 months to live. And here we are celebrating my 40th birthday. All the men I loved, liked, followed and idolized in my young gay life are dead, and I am still here …..
I have much to be grateful for. I have many men to thank for getting me here. The men who saved me from death at the Stud, the councilors who helped me cope and heal, the doctors who treated me, the men and women who “Loved” me into existence. Little did I know then, in 1994, that we would be here celebrating. I guess as a gay man with AIDS I see the world differently than most of you.
I am not consumed with the trappings of wealth. I am not a rich man nor a rich husband. We live on modest means and I work a modest job doing God’s work in my community. I don’t obsess over things that most gay men obsess over.
Image, money, wealth, sex, men, drugs and alcohol and going out to the bar to socialize. I guess I have mellowed with age. I have grown into the man I really want to be. And I can’t complain, because I have everything I need today. Being sober is another additive to this perception.
I get tired of reading whine after wine. Marriage has tempered me – life has taught me how to be married. That you find one to love – and that one loved you in return without question, argument or issue. Hell, I had no idea I would fall in love and get married when I was 26. I was concerned about getting through the day alive!
For many months after my diagnosis I kept a daily calendar, marking the 560 days until my death. My first sponsor kicked my ass several times over this. He was apt to tear the calendar off the frig and I would, as usual make another one. It was my way of coping then. When I reached that “Death Date” and I was still alive, it was only then that I started to work on a future.
I was sick an awful lot in the beginning. I was in the hospital all the time. I was sick as a dog for long periods of time. I haven’t had a major illness in many years. “knocks on wood!”
When I turned 30 that was in 1997. I had been sober three years, I was living in Miami, and going to the Coral room for meetings. I made it four years sober. The good thing about hindsight in sobriety is this: I can see what I DID and DIDN’T do right. From 1994 until my slip after four years of sobriety, I was just learning how to survive. Granted staying alive on the U.S. Medical system was a chore, let me tell you.
This is not racist but I was on social assistance and HRS assistance for a long time until I got on Medicaid. And I have to tell you that I had to go to places that “little white boys” did not go in the daytime! Let alone after dark. In order to get services I had to work the system before I either got denied, got sick or DIED! In the United States, Miami, in fact, until I found the loop it was kill or be killed. People were not going to help a little white boy with AIDS, that was clear. And the Government, sure as shit thought i was better off dead than to give me assistance. That is where I learned to be a “Cast Iron Cunt!!”
More than a few times I had to stop taking my pills and get deathly ill to get someone to help me. When I applied for disability I was so sick, I thought I was going to die. I stopped bathing, stopped taking my pills and walked into that government office that day, I was green. I coughed all over that poor women who signed off on my application and finally I made headway and I was able to get what I needed to live.
I became the Cast Iron Cunt from hell. Because I knew where all the contacts were. I had files at home, phone numbers and names of credible people I had amassed for myself. And more than once I was called to a hospital to help a friend who was set in chairs for 13 to 15 hours waiting for a bed, unpilled and unfed!! Those hospital administrators were truly afraid of me, because I was fucking kidding.
These people, my people would be helped or they could find other jobs. We got a lot of nurses and care workers fired over those years. There was no time to train you – your a health care worker, then do your fucking job asshole! Because we aren’t getting better with you worrying about getting AIDS from someone, unless you were fucking us or using our needles…
I was a Little Mean Asshole.
My parents did not help me. My parents traumatized me as an adult and that is their shit, not mine. I got them back years later. Never tell lies to your children because eventually they get washed out in the laundry.
So where are we 1997, I was 30. I was still alive. I set out on a number of really BAD decisions, a geographic that almost killed me a year later. That brings us to the year 2000.I was back in Miami in July of 2000. I stayed with friends after my relocation back after I was hospitalized with facial and bodily trauma.
I was agoraphobic I wasn’t eating and I had to reconnect to the system after being away from 18 months while I tripped to hell and back. I found a place to live, I had a job and my doctor took me back as a patient. That man saved my life. I tested every drug on the market from 1994 THROUGH today!! So Thank me….
I had to learn how to live again. I had to learn how to go outside. I had to take back my life. And Andrea, my therapist saved me once again. I was so god damned lucky you know that, I met some incredibly amazing people in my life, and they all played a part in getting me here. People who believed in me when I could not believe in myself. People who loved me until I could learn what it meant to Love Myself. That took YEARS !!!
And I was on the fast track plan, because people with AIDS were not living very long in Florida. Every time I saw the quilt, hundreds of more quilts were added yearly. This is the period that I learned that Dana Manchester had died. He was a drag queen artist that I knew when I first came out at the Parliament House when I was 21 – in Orlando. That’s where I came out!!! All good gay boys who live in Florida come out at the P-House!!!
God, Ive been though some serious shit in my life. AND I Lived to tell the tale! I am one lucky son of a bitch!! Someone up there likes me. I guess in a way, loosing the people I loved early in my life “family wise” steeled me to either live or die. My grandmothers deaths affected me in ways that nobody knows, not even my family.
And I don’t have any family to speak of left in my life today, and I haven’t had any family in my life since well before I left the states. My parents condemned me as an abomination. Funny that I went on and got a Degree in Religion from Concordia University in Montreal and I did it all before my 40th Birthday…
I showed you, you Fuckers !!!
I’m sorry, but Itty Bitty Bad Ass creeps up on me at times, when I reflect….
I have ever right to be angry … Their loss. My Loss. Nobody won that fight…
I miss my Master.
I miss my friends.
I miss the past – the laughing – the fun – the Joy of drag shows and of being young again.
My mother told a strategic lie to her children. And in 2001 I capitalized on that lie. My mother had retained her Canadian Citizenship until AFTER my brother was born in 1970. She was naturalized in 1974. I had an out – and I took it. They fucked me over and so the last fuck was mine and it was going to be a good, wet and dirty one…
I was 34 years old when I left the United States. I packed everything I owned and I set off for the new world. Hell, I was still alive!! And I had not even started living yet. I was just merely surviving. But I was SOBER when I pulled that next geographic and I STAYED sober during the move.
I came for Easter 2002 to Montreal. I stayed two weeks, I just LOVED this city. And I still do. It is not Miami… that’s when I returned home packed and I left. My parent’s were horrified and insulted that I would gain Canadian Citizenship because of my mother’s well told lie… She almost got deported over my application. She was so angry at me she was spitting!! It was great! Payback is a bitch!!
Itty Bitty Bad Ass…
The last conversation I had with my mother was in 2003. She said to me and I quote:
“If we get sick and one of us or both of us die, we will not call you nor notify you of any funeral or tell you where we are buried!!”
How do you like that line? I had to cope with this news the best way I could. So I had to bury them in my heart forever. We had hurt each other to the point of severance. I was going to have the last laugh. But my mother cut me to the bone. I have seen her twice here in my apartment. She came on my 1st and 2nd wedding anniversary. I saw her here and I spoke to her.
I have always said that the one thing that would send me over the edge and I would drink over is the thought that she is dead, and nobody called to tell me. I am sober and I want to keep it that way. But I tell you, if this secret ever becomes reality, I will surely go insane!!
to you all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from you no secrets are hidden.
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
So you know the rest of the story if you’ve been reading this blog. All the stories and achievements are there to read about, including the history of Jeremy. I came to Canada to conquer death. I did that. This will be my 40th birthday, and I am still alive. There surely is a God. I know his voice and I’ve seen his face. I am loved.
- I came to Conquer Death
- I met a man in sobriety
- I married that man in 2004
- I went back to school at age 35
- And I graduated in June of 2007 with a Degree in Religion
- I am still sober – by the Grace of God
- I am still alive – by the Grace of God
I don’t worry about dying any more. I don’t worry about the past any more. Save one truth of secrets would probably kill me, so we don’t talk about it ever. I trust my gut to know what God is telling me. My psychic abilities are strong enough to know the truth about death. And I know for myself today. And I have accepted the truth in my heart and I am the man I wanted to become and am still becoming. So join us at Tuesday Beginners tonight and let’s celebrate my birthday Big Brassy and GAY!!!
When I had my near death experience in 1997, I went across and was seated in a garden of the most beautiful flowers. They sent me back without any answers that I had questions about. I met a wise man one night who said to me, “Why wait till you’re dead to ask your questions, ASK them NOW! So I did that…
I’ve never told anyone what I am about to share with you…
In 2001 – I had two “visitations” in my South Beach apartment. One by the Lady in White. She came to bless me. She brought the scent of roses, that I could never find the origin of and never did. I never smelled those roses ever again after that …
The second was the “taking” where I was lain on a table, in a room where beings were present. They pricked my arms and told me that I would be healed and that I would live, that all would be well. Somewhere inside I knew it and I felt it, that was the first time my t-cells ever hit 1000 – in my labs in the Spring of (2001), on the last round in July my T-cells were 1186!! My T- cells have been hovering at 1000 since 2001. They had never gotten that high before ever before…
Someone is protecting me … My faith has saved me, and Christ has redeemed me, and God continually blesses my life. Thank God for all of you.
Thank you to all my readers and friends and fellows. And as always, if you like what you read, please, by all means let us know. It is always nice to hear from my readers. I am not your “run of the mill” Christian, but quite the opposite.
I just do what I am called to do
I help where I am directed to
and I love because I am commanded to
And from the Old Testament I remind of these most important words:
“The most vital commandment in the Old Testament is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deut. 6:5…
Bye for now…