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.
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.
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.