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

Posts tagged “Christianity

Tuesday: Sacred Spaces

st-porphyrius

St-Porphyrius Church

Today, I spoke a second time, I got to finish what I had begun a couple of weeks ago, when I spoke for the first time in years. Tonight, I spoke about God. And I was on fire. It went very well. Our Second Speaker knocked it out of the park. She was just amazing. I was so moved, the story was beautiful. I may get her to speak for me later on.

A thought that came to me as I meditated on my talk, last night before bed, came in a whisper. In order to find God, one must begin with Gratitude.

Sacred Spaces: Jeremy – Don’t Eat Trash

We are given the authority to label things. Then we live with the consequences.

As I sat in a building purpose built for worship, I watched as at least a hundred people walked in, crossed them selves, knelt, and labelled that space as sacred. The same naming has been done by thousands of people for decades in that place. The walls are painted and named on behalf of certain stories and blessings. And daily prayers and rituals are done in that space bringing even more purpose filled direction to that specific space.

It finally clicked. After watching my catholic housemates do things that my ex-evangelical mind didn’t understand for a few months, it finally clicked.

We label things, and that labelling holds with it such power.

Every time I walk into a Catholic church, I am filled with awe. A deep respect. Even if I don’t agree with every conclusion made about the physical building. There is still honour and awe enough in me that I take off my hat, and I walk around quietly.

I grew up in a church that was a white shoe box. No decoration. No labelling. No awe inspiring. Just dirty carpet, weird smells, and white walls. But there was always something special when a bunch of us would gather. We would gather around a campfire and sing into the night. We would gather on a soccer pitch and compete. We would gather to go on a road trip. And thats where our labelling was held. Not a building. But a gathering point.

So as we gathered for pentecost, we combined the two. This physical location that had been drenched in prayer and labelling and a gathering of a community. One that loved each other and celebrated a time that the spirit was first liberally poured out on the people of God. And the spirit fell again. I have journaled that much in a long time. I haven’t felt joyous shivers down my spine whilst songs I didn’t understand were sung around me for months or more. Tangible yet spiritual God, met spiritual yet physical humanity, and we celebrated the union.

Fast forward to this morning. A week ago I had finished reading a history of the orthodox church. And I wanted to see what I had read in action. So I figured out a place and a time. 8am, old town. And got there on time. I waited for an old lady to walk in, and following her I found myself in an almost empty giant church. I found a seat (not normal in orthodoxy, everyone stands) and got my journal out. A man started singing, occasionally responded to by another man behind a door. And after awhile a group of women started singing to. It was heavenly. It smelled awesome. And although there was only 5 people there, once again, this space had been labelled a place of worship. Of community. Of meaning. Once again I journaled like crazy, and then moved on to a second orthodox church. Smaller. More intimate. But just as beautiful.

We live in houses that get labelled “home”. We are educated in the halls of schools that are sometimes labelled as safe spaces, but are more likely places of tumult. And ultimately we are all apart of nation states that have labelled out populace, our neighbours and our history, one way or another.

And after a year and a half in a country not my own, watching my own from a far. I have this deep desire to walk nations through a process of conviction. We parts of our history we need to deal with. And what parts of our future we need to dream about and work towards.

I want to paint this world with life, because death sucks. And a life paint for ALL, not just an elite few. And i feel like God calls us to label sacred spaces, to connect with Him, but also to become sacred spaces that walk this earth, connecting with others so that God can work through our sacred spaces in his redemption plan for eternity.

Be a sacred space. Clean house.


Saturday: Odds and Ends, and Everything In Between

tumblr_ombbgjnhan1qbrivdo1_540

On my trip to see Alexander, we engaged in serious debate about the state of the world. I am not the best at politics, world issues, and everything in between. Our lives at home consist of one cable news channel, and at 11 p.m. we turn to CTV for our nightly news fix.

I cannot go to bed without the last word coming from Lisa LaFlamme.

I’ve never been totally political, as in, devoted to politics or politicians of any stripe. I’ve always known where I sit on issues of the day. But expanding my brain to other news outlets only began when I moved to Canada in 2002. And over the time I have lived here, I’ve explored other points of view.

Alexander encourages that I step out of my bubble and echo chamber to see the world from other points of view. And this is one reason I love my best friend, because he is from somewhere else, (read:Brazil) and he has world knowledge that I do not. He has a smarts about him that no one I know have themselves.

So I read, I watch, and I listen to other points of view. If you polled me online, I rank in the NDP sphere of thought. But I voted for Justin. And he is proving to be a challenge to me.

Alexander sits on the Conservative side of life. And that is NOT a bad thing at all. Because he forces me to see the world, like he sees the world. He challenges me to spread my vision and take in others words, and not just accept words by people I am accustomed to listening to.

Politics and world events are two different spheres for me. I care very little for U.S. politics. And I do not consume politics like I used to because I cannot be bothered on a daily basis to know or listen to repetitive redundant news about a mad man in the Oval Office.

Cannot Be Bothered.

I spend a good amount of my sober life, buried in books. I learned long ago, while in University, that reading “other literature” that situate itself “around” a topic I was studying, as it went along, was very useful.

Reading side literature around a specific topic whether that literature be fiction or non-fiction, built a world for me to engage with on a wider basis, rather than on a single note in time.

I read, Every night.

There are places in the world that interest me. There are social issues that I am passionate about as well. Issues in the world, and issues right here at home are on my dashboard, quite often. I worry about our less fortunate, our homeless, and our indigenous population.

Because I am in the rooms, I’ve seen so much suffering. Friends of mine, in the program have gone on to work in those specific areas of helping the less fortunate. So I am engaged in their work.

Studying Religion and Pastoral Ministry opened my eyes to World Religions, as well, taking care of those people I am engaged with on a daily basis. I have stayed away from posting anything incendiary on this blog, certain world issues, that I am not clearly well-rounded or well versed on, to write coherently or knowledgeably.

I’ve always been interested in Israel and Palestine. Our Jewish Community here in Montreal served my early sobriety solely. The Chabad organization does work all over the city for many people, I just happened to be one of those people.

During my studies I spent time at the Ghetto Shul at McGill during my Judaism studies. And I often said that if I would become anything other than a Christian, I would certainly be a Jew. Palestine is a new subject for me, since being introduced to that area by a friend who wrote a book on the subject, from a point of view we don’t hear about ever.

When I finished the book, all I could write about was what was in Ben’s book, by the words he wrote. Which began my reading slant into books that were written, on the ground, within the Palestinian community. There are not many in circulation, that don’t begin with a premise situated in Israel, and merely spits on Palestine.

I need to figure out what I know, what I need to know, and where I sit on the spectrum of politics and on the ground situations. I know where I would like to be, but that point needs to be plotted on a map so that I can see it clearly.

Israel and Palestine is such a deep topic with some serious history, people, and problems, that I am unable to touch because of the complexity of the state of that area of the world. But while in Ottawa, I picked up another tome that I am reading at the moment.

I just cannot read a handful of books and expect to be able to write anything that is worthy of print on this blog, because that would be stupid and green of me.

The entire Middle East is a quagmire of instability, political strife and religious intolerance. And we just cannot say, incendiary things about people we know little about or those points of views or lives that we don’t even care about informing ourselves about, because it is easier to hate outright, then find a point of agreement or understanding.

How many people do you know who really care about the Middle East beyond blanket hatred of those we don’t even know, or care to know ?

Because they are not “Christian?” or “Jewish?”

If we don’t read, or listen to other points of view and study areas of the world that interest us, and take the time to get informed, how can we relate what we are reading/studying?

That is a thing …

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

Colorful Metaphors

Any Star Trek fan knows the line from Star Trek IV the Voyage Home, where Kirk and Spock are on a bus, and Spock relates his confusion of people’s use of “Colorful Metaphors.”

I don’t know if it is age, or my sensibilities to certain colorful metaphors and words, used by people I listen to, or something else, but I’ve grown weary of people using certain language.

Since the dawn of the Pod Cast, when I got my I Phone for Christmas, my nightly bed time schedule was shifted when I started listening to Pod Casts. They competed with my traditional book reading time before bed.

Over the past few months, I’ve listened to a number of Pod Cast presenters. And I’ve come to the point that the Ardent Screaming Host, or the host who litters his show with the word FUCK, every other word, I just delete their shows from my phone.

I love me some Bill Maher. But he is incessantly insane. And over the last month, I’ve also grown weary of him as well, because his devolution into insane screaming by the end of the hour podcast.

People who talk on the Pod Cast, are not bound by ethical language rules. Although many men and women, do take listeners into consideration when it comes to words. Others, not so much. I just don’t have the mental energy to listen to people swear and use foul language. It is just no longer appealing.

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

Social Media

Over the last year, I have had to unfriend many people from my Face Book Profile. Certain friends litter my time line with shit I am not interested in, and they persist. Others, all they can do is post POST after POST of political bullshit, incessantly.

I went as far as to neuter my feed from showing me anything related to topics I have no interest in. That meant turning certain people off, for my own well being and sanity.

Aside from news online, that I do consume, Face Book and Twitter are two sources of news and current events that I utilize on a daily basis. But I don’t do either on my phone, so I deleted the apps from my phone.

  • I make phone calls on my phone.
  • I listen to music on my phone.
  • And I Pod Cast on my phone.

That’s it.

I am trying to set some news boundaries for myself. I have built a wall around me on social media that is useful, because I have a life, and I am not connected to social media 24/7. That is insane.

I turn on my computer when I wake up, I run my set. All those sites I look at and participate in and when I am done, I just shut off the computer until I need it again, and I go read, or better yet, I nap …

All the time…

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

Sober Realizations

I wrote to a friend of mine recently …

I no longer have the desire to engage most people who believe so strongly what they do, contrary to any evidence of acceptance and respect of humanity in others. Religion, like politics, are two areas I intentionally stay away from, because I know who I am, and what I know, and that is good for me. Sobriety teaches me that I don’t always have to argue when it is not necessary to do so.

He replied that this portion of my comment is a post in itself.

I spend my days working with others. I spend a few nights a week in meetings. Only three meetings a week now, instead of my prior, six meetings a week, spread over two fellowships.

I love what I do. Because the men and women I work with are accountable. We are all moving forwards. And that is a really good thing. Because I am not a born leader, however I think I “could” lead. I’ve had time in the past where what I did and what I said meant something to those I spent time with.

You never know WHO you are going to meet or what conversation you are going to have with them, until the meeting happens, and conversations take place either before or after.

I want a clean break going into my fifties.

God has made that something that I work on daily. Recently, certain friends have gone dark, for one reason or another, that I am not understanding at the moment, but it is what it is.

I have a routine that works. I have a life that is fulfilling. I have friends whom I love and adore. And a best friend, second to none.

Discussion was brought up the other night, by someone I trust, when he asked me why I just did not adopt the baby, and give her a father, who wants to be in her life, and someone she can rely on, because I am reliable and accountable to her and Mama.

And my reply was this … I want the biological father to pay his dues like the law states. Because he is a dead beat and a looser. And I want him to pay up.

I don’t want to step in and absolve him of any responsibility towards the baby.

I need to research this before I head to New Foundland in April.

I think I know what I want of life and of myself. But that is subject to change because sobriety is not a one trick pony.

Shit happens. Life happens. And you never know what to expect when you walk into a room full of your friends and fellows.

You might just learn something you did not know, or realize something you had not before, and it wasn’t until that particular moment that God opened up your eyes and spirit. And you heard something you realized you really needed.

But did not realize you needed it until right then.

This is the filler that happened between the lines over the last little while.

Sobriety is Magic. Sobriety is Miracles. Sobriety is God, it is Us and it is We.

I love the “We” that I am part of today.


Thursday … Of This I Am SURE

tumblr_lrtxm8xb4v1qlwnn3o1_500 wrestlingisbest

I just got home from sitting with one of my spiritual children, and several ideas came to mind as we spoke together.

  • In Life, there is no dress rehearsal
  • Do Over’s are not always a given
  • Your Life Path is YOURS to choose
  • We are NOT our parents
  • We are living in Canada in 2016, not anywhere else in 1960
  • Go into the world and do good, to the best of your ability
  • There are some, in our lives, who are our spiritual children, in the best way possible
  • What we have to give, on any given day, is what we have to give
  • There are some people who are “Spiritual Sandpaper”

Oprah says that “Doing what you love to do is important. Because what ever you put out to the universe, will eventually come back. Some people, put stuff out there, and make money from it, which is good as well. But if you put something out there, and you’re not making money from it, that’s even better.”

I consider myself a teacher of sorts. I don’t do videos, and I don’t have a page on Facebook where I espouse my ideas for public consumption. All I have is my experience and this blog. I haven’t made a penny on my universal investment, but I can tell you that what the universe has given me, is more than I ever thought could be mine.

You know, not many people visit death, as intimately as I have and watched his friends die, and lived to tell the tale. I got a DO OVER. Now, in sobriety, we get a DO OVER as well.

I’ve had several chances at a Do Over.

How many people get the opportunity (read: Do Over) to grow up and do it well, and take that offer and run with it? Not many …

So the question came up … When do you know you are sure? When does the security come, when you know what you are doing is sure? Confidence?

You know, I know many things. I’ve studied, I’ve been tested on that knowledge, I’ve read a ton of books, I’ve sat in over 5,000 hours of meetings, had thousands of conversations, met thousands of people to this day, and lived almost forty nine years on this earth, and today I know a few things about God, and the universe.

When doctors told me I was going to die, I set out and I read every book that was on the shelf that spoke about AIDS, life, death, the afterlife, and anything else that had to do with the stage of End Of Life.

I even went so far as to consult not one, but two mediums, to contact family on the other side, so that I would know they were waiting for me and that there actually was someplace I would go when I shuffled off this mortal coil.

I am constantly studying, reading, listening, participating in my life and in the lives of my friends.

I read books written by people, who talk to people, who talk to God.

I also read books, written by people, who they themselves, talk to God.

Pope Francis is one of those men.

Over the last 25 or maybe 30 years, I know for sure, that God exists, that He showed Himself to me and He continues to reveal Himself to me to this very day. And this I know for sure, that the day Memere took me to that church as a small boy, and presented me to God, that she struck a deal with God for my safety and my life.

That is a long story, going into my book, that is still being written.

Of that I am sure, 100%

Pope Francis calls us out of our homes to go out to the fringes to seek out those who we would help, in any way possible, because that is what we must do.

My friend has colleagues at work, who are younger than him, who hold positions above him in business. He is older than them in age, but beneath them on the office totem pole. Yet each of those young people are “spiritual children” for him, because in our discussion tonight, I asked him, if he saw his colleagues as spiritual children, and he looked askance, and replied, that he had never thought about them in that way before. Because, every day he goes out and he does good, because that builds faith and character. Now he knows more about that job.

Every day we go into the world, I.E. work, recreation or at home, and we are with people. Our colleagues, our friends, our fellows, our peers, and our wives and children.

Then there are those who we call “Spiritual Sandpaper.”

Each person we come in contact with, IS an OPPORTUNITY to teach, whether by word or action. And we all know that actions speak louder than words. But, what if we are not sure of ourselves, our words or our actions?

Each one of us is a spiritual child of someone in our lives. Each one of us have someone in our lives that we go to for help, to talk to, to get advice from. And for some of us, we have spiritual children ourselves.

If there are young people in your life, is what you do or what you say, something you would do or say, for your own children, if you have them, or for those children, you might one day have? Every opportunity to teach a young person, about life, is great experience, that you will one day teach your own children.

There are are those spiritual sandpaper cases, those people who we don’t know so well, those we don’t know at all, but are in our lives for some reason, or those people who rub us like sandpaper on a baby’s ass… Those people exist.

These are the situation where we really get to practice spiritual truth and in the end spiritual growth. One of my lady friend sponsors, talks about this idea with her women, and I listen to her as well.

Life is not a dress rehearsal, this is the real deal. There are no do overs. You only get so many chances at getting it right. I am only as sure, as all the banked experience I have to speak of and the contents of the hundreds upon hundreds of books I have read  to this date.

I am sure of many things. Fourteen years of sober experience was not wasted on me, I know I live on borrowed time. The end will come, when it is going to come, but until that happens, I live free and I do what is best, as it comes to me, on any given day.

I may not have all the answers, or the ones you need, but as I spoke tonight, sharing perspective and stories that relate, and drawing on my entire life experience, of living, almost dying, loosing, gaining, loosing and gaining, I know certain things for sure.

I would bank my life on that confidence.

Because it is tested and proven.

God exists. Of that I am sure.

The universe always knows, even if we don’t. Of that I am sure.

We are made of star stuff, therefore, a little piece of us, is always in contact with all that is, in the universe. Of that I am sure.

Go Hard or Go Home !

This is your opportunity to teach, live, love and learn.

And right now, is the most opportune moment to live.

OF THAT I AM SURE.