Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Parliament Hill Ottawa. A Wordpress Production

Posts tagged “Faith

Thursday: Friends …

tumblr_oqzf5i6Wl71w7ypvvo1_1280

It has been a couple of weeks, and my strategy of keeping my friends close has sustained me, during this life transition I am in.

There are certain people in my life, that are anchors for my soul. Just seeing them come into a room is soothing. That look of hello from the crowd, as you are sitting in the chair, and it is your job to “Bring it” to the room.

Tonight was my second sitting in the chair, and both weeks, I really “Brought it.”

Last week was my favorite lady friend. Tonight, I had the pleasure of presenting another anchor friend, who is part of my life. There are only two Jeremy’s on the English side of Montreal sobriety. Myself, Jeremy the Elder, and my other friend Jeremy, the younger.

It is like a Solar Eclipse when you get us both at the same meeting at the same time.

I was chairing for a lady friend of the meeting tonight, and she had lined up my friend to speak tonight. A little serendipitous meeting tonight.

I enjoy listening to my friend talk. And as I listen I am reminded just how hard we fought to get to this point, when so many of the people we knew in rehab or early sobriety, did not make it and have since died.

That is very emotional for all of us.

I am also reminded, watching some of the folks I know, just have no desire to know me beyond saying hello before a meeting. Since my life event, I have changed my tack, so to speak. I’m concentrated on some young people, who need a little hope, and are willing, at this point, to get their hands dirty, ala Service and Reading.

It is Thursday, and after my Thursday meeting, I get to sit with a very close friend who is part of my life. And I am eternally grateful for his presence in my life. He gives me food for thought, and each week, I give him a faith challenge to go study, and I get his weekly bible studies, then I get his weekly lesson from the Book of Mormon.

Life could not be better right now. People I have not seen in some time, have been showing up at the other meetings I go to, which is nice. It is also good that I have changed in so many ways, emotionally and physically, and people are noticing.

I guess I am doing all the right things for now.

Time is of the essence, and if people don’t want what you are selling, then you find those who want to buy, and or, listen to what you have to say.

Sixteen is a very round number of time. Lots of wisdom to share. It is knowing who, really wants what you have and who doesn’t.

And not waste your time with people who don’t want what you have.

More to come.


Words of the Elder

18670946_10155321285782731_1664733400576378003_n

Jeremy,
.
.
One thing I know for sure is that if you were to make that call in a rage it would never bring you peace, but then again, neither would living without closure. The peace you are looking for will come to regardless of what your family does or does not do. That must be your goal, to reach conclusive harmony independent of what they choose to be.
.
.
Your question is insightful. What do we do with the horrible truth? What do we do with a justified rage? It is all fine and well to say “love thy neighbor, and honor thy father and mother,” but then those people do something like this. What then?
.
.
First, you cannot diminish or try to deny the fact that the rage is there. Sometimes good Christians try to bury emotions like these because they don’t feel like a christian should ever have them, but we do. We can’t just hope for them to disapear. Emotions, like energy, are neither created nor destroyed. They only change forms under certain conditions, and that is exactly what can happen to this last complex of work for you to do.
.
.
It requires certain catalysts in order to break down a mass of pent up anger. You have to fill your soul with so much light that it forces the darkness into submission. Coming to peace with something as entrenched as this requires your own personal Gethsemane. When the spirit of Christ is at work, it can literaly break down the worst in our lives. The spirit of Christ comes to us in the form of truth, so we have to saturate our minds and hearts with it. We feast on the scriptures. We pray with an intensity we have never known. We meditate on things as they really are, as they really were, and as they really will be. We plead with God to do the real work for us.
.
.
Then, slowly but surely, we start to feel our anger changing shape and flavor. It gradually undergoes a change from rage into strength. The storm becomes calmed. The huge tangle of emotions has been examined, undone, and ironed out into a clear vision. We realize that we haven’t cast aside the rage, we have transmuted it into something useful and not destructive to ourselves and others. When you can think of it all, all that they did, and all that they might yet do, with that calm inner strength, that reassurance that you are at total peace and they have no more power to effect you in any way, when you have achieved that firmness of mind not to be swayed in your resolve to maintain your peace, then you can do anything, even look them all square in the face, and whatever they do, whether they vomit up all their old bile over again, or beg your forgiveness, it would change nothing about how you feel in your own shoes.
.
.
At that point you have taken the high ground. If they lash out, it is like a man shouting at the sea to stop producing the tide. You have united yourself with a force of nature, the creator of nature, and you cannot be stopped or swayed. They might choose to struggle with their own poison for the rest of their lives, but you will be free.
.
.
As to what God thinks of you and your situation, if you fill your mind with enough light to dislodge this hurdle in your progress, his desires for you will be revealed so naturally you will hardly have to ask. Light shows us the pathway we need to travel. The light of spirit reveals the mind of God. God knows better than any of us what it is to endure injustice and shame. We took upon himself such a load of it that it defies human comprehension. There is no better source to go to learn to pass through it, because he knows it so well.
.
.
My advice? Find peace. Take the high ground. Then you will not be asking for closure from them. You will already have closure regardless of what they say or do or think. Then, if you feel ready, in your mercy, you might give them one final chance to have closure, and if they refuse it you will pity them, but no longer hate them.
.
.
Prayers,
Spencer


Sunday Sundries: Uplifted …

38fe635bfee4de485882ea79cb096d24

It is Sunday, the sun shone. It sprinkled a bit, otherwise it was a great day.

Read: A great day is a day that I can sleep in and enjoy my bed.

Three Jewish men, all of the Hasidim faith, walk into a meeting. One is new and knows God, The second is sober 6 years, and knows Spiritual Experience and God, The Third a man of faith says … “He does not know God, an does not connect to Him, and firmly believes that Once you’re dead, it’s Lights Out and nothing more.”

It was a bright Sunday and I wore my brightest and flashiest Flower Basket pants, and after the meeting, that man walked up to me and said:

I Feel Uplifted because of your presence…

We read from Bill’s story and the last few pages, where Bill explains his spiritual experience and his witness of God in his life. He had that conversation with Ebby T. in his kitchen, and that night, has his first radical spiritual experience in his journey.

He makes a sundry pass at the steps, within his story, Steps that will be fleshed out much later as the book comes into fruition.

I like to tell my friends that if they need proof that there is a God, they need only to look at me and listen to me talk. On Saturday, I will pass my twenty-third anniversary living with AIDS, and Mark and I are still alive to this day, when over 200 of our friends went to their deaths miserably so many years ago.

One of my elder friends went to a meeting this morning and heard an old-timer with 45 years sobriety talk about Meditation. For this man, the steps are there, but the ONLY step he concerns his life with is Step 11.

Prayer and Meditation.

Prayer and Meditation does not come easy to anyone. I’ve heard many, many, long sober people talk about attempting meditation on retreats, in religious communities and still, so many years later, they cannot connect like very few can connect with meditation.

Our man lives and breathes meditation. His story strikes many deeply, when we sit with him and he talks about just how deep his meditation changed his life, and has carried him through some of the worst times in his life, we are amazed.

Because many of us, cannot even begin to know, what that feels like.

In my life, to this day, I don’t connect to deep meditation beyond the practice I do daily. I can sit still, I can be quiet, but I cannot sit for an hour at a time stilling my mind all the way through. Because I don’t know how to shut it up for that long.

I can say that, in my stillness, I can connect to God. I can connect to the Spirit. That feeling of connection is familiar to me, and it comes and goes. When it does come, I can hear the voice of God, and I hear what it says, and I listen attentively.

Inspiration comes at the oddest times, usually, in my morning meditations, and more often, at the end of the night, when I sit down to compose my Pastoral Letters to the Pastors I have in my circle. When I sit and read scripture, and write my Elder friend Spencer, or even, as I sit here, where I am right this moment, writing here.

Sometimes words come, that are not my own, they come from a place of inspiration and God. That is my belief.

I know that if I don’t hear from God directly, that I need to go to a meeting, and listen to my friends talk. My friends come from varied backgrounds. Some are just simple men and women, and some come from deeply religious communities.

Our man, this evening, who could not find God himself, just showed up, because his friends, other Hasidic men, in the program, bring him with them. They minister to him in their own ways, and do not push orthodoxy upon him, but they allow him to find his way, on his own steam.

He got to read part of Bill’s story, and he heard each of us share about God and Spiritual experience. Simply being present for a fellow-man on the path, sitting with us, after the meeting, he found the blessing of being uplifted, by a simple piece of clothing.

That simple piece of clothing I own is a story maker. Because it came from my friend Jeffrey, when he sent me them, saying that if I wore them, I would feel really good about myself, and I do. And in being in public feeling good about myself, others see and they feel good about themselves, because it seems, in recovery:

That we are so sunk in our disease, that at some point we need permission to feel anything other than self loathing and being depressed about ourselves.

I am in this place where I am more open to feel emotions. I am a bit more outspoken and rigorously honest, to a degree that sometimes scares my friends, but it is what it is.

I am more apt, not that had ever been different, to really tell you like it is, based on my life experience. I’ve been witnessing my friends fuck off on me for a long time, so I can tell you just what I think, in real-time.

July is a hard month for me. Because I am reminded of just how bad my life really got and how I almost went to my death, several times.

It is also a testament to the work that Todd (read: God) did in my life, to keep me alive, and the testament in the fact that ONE HUMAN BEING can definitely change a life.

And keep another human being alive, when all the odds are stacked against him/her.

It is also my birth month, and this year I hit the Fifty mark.

Another HUGE accomplishment, because I am still alive, all these years later.

There is definitely a God in Heaven.

This is my testimony. It is honest and true.

If not for Bill and Doctor Bob, we would all not be here, save for two drunks who happened upon one another, one night in Akron Ohio in 1935.

We are truly Blessed …


Friday: Faith, Action and Dr. Bob

18700146_10155327003917731_8702285340932903645_n

The weather has gotten dreary, wet, humid and miserable. Thanks to tropical storm Cindy. She stormed the gulf coast, and now she is making it rain here, and it is supposed to rain for the next three days.

Which meant numbers were down. But we had a good showing.

Faith … What is Faith. Not sure ? Take the action.

We talked about Faith and Action tonight. If you don’t have the former, then you need the latter. And how do we do the latter ? We go to a meeting.

As many meetings, as it takes, for you to hear someone who has a message or you identify with the words, and you take that EXTRA step and go talk to said person to see

  • What it is that they have
  • How did the learn what they said and/or did
  • And how do you replicate that piece of advice
  • You take a SUGGESTION and you RUN with it
  • As far as it will get you

So many of our young people struggle with Faith, and God and Suggestions.

Many people want the easier softer way, and only the die-hard newbies will listen when you tell that WHAT it is that YOU DID, and WHAT happened because you did that thing.

If you are new to the rooms. Sit down, open your heart, and listen.

Listening is an ACTION step. It will come to pass, that if you sit in your chair long enough, you are going to sink in and then you will hear just what it is you need to hear.

You might have to hit a number of meetings, over a LONG period of time. In Montreal, there are plenty of choices of where to go, around the clock, every day.

I know, I did not know what to do, and I needed people to show me what to do. And I connected to all the right people when I needed them. And over the years, certain special sober folks appeared, because I went looking for them, where ever sober people gathered.

Meetings, Step Series, Round Ups. Going out-of-town.

It may happen for you tomorrow, and maybe it won’t. That is the adventure, RIGHT ?

If you want to get sober … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, THEN you are READY to take certain STEPS…

It’s written in the book.

If you don’t have faith, let us show you faith. Sit with us and listen to our stories. At some point, even you will identify with at least one human being sitting in that same room as you.

The last Paragraph of tonight’s read mentions the first meeting between Bill W. and Doctor Bob, on that fateful night, I wrote about a few days ago.

Dr. Bob got sober, because Bill told him HIS story. And for the first time in his life, he met another human being, who knew what Dr. Bob was going through. Bill was speaking his language. On June 10th 1935, Dr. Bob recorded his first full day of sobriety…

And what did that take ? One alcoholic talking to another.

Honestly.

If you don’t have something, then take your needs to a meeting, and lay them down on the table and speak your words.

ALWAYS take your needs to a room. ALWAYS. Because you would be surprised how often you will find exactly what you NEED on a need to know/have basis.

If you glean everything a room has to offer, EVERY single human being who walks into a room has something you might need. All you have to do is ask. That is why we stress the 20 minutes before and after.

Every single person in the room has something to offer, even if they don’t know it themselves.

The forward action of faith, is showing up, every day or every night.

You might not know what that looks like, but if you just try, one day at a time, your actions will become faith.

I promise you that.

I spoke to three people on the way out tonight. Hopefully they will return the next week for another dose of Friday Night Sobriety.

It’s the Best night of the week.


Friday: Humbly, On Our Knees …

17191492_1866704746945038_5263523050693755398_n

In the Original Manuscript of the Big Book, on page 26 of that manuscript, Step Seven reads: Humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings, holding nothing back.

There are such religious notions, peppered throughout the Original Manuscript. Not all of them made it into the first printing of the Big Book in 1939.

I actually have a First Edition Big Book, printed in 1939.

Some of the more drastic “suggestions” that might seem, just a little too harsh for the sensibilities of those who see the Judeo-Christian influences in the Big Book, a problem in getting sober, were scrubbed from the final copy that went to print.

In one pass at my Steps a few years ago, in reading the Twelve and Twelve, approached Step Seven with this process: Read Step Seven, and find every word Humble or Humility.

Step Seven is the Step where we encounter this term. Humility.

  • What does it mean,
  • What does it look like,
  • And how do I find it for myself ?

For me, as I have stayed sober, Humility has been defined and refined over my years.

One friend tonight said that for him, “Humility was the recognition that he was not as big as he thought he was, but also that he was not as small as he thought he was either.”

Others talk about being “Right Sized” What does “Right Sized” mean ?

My definition of Humility, at this moment, means, “I don’t know.” I also add that, one specific old timer has offered to me that, “If I think I know something, I’d better sit down, and keep my mouth shut.”

Humility asks us to be Vulnerable to that Power Greater than Ourselves.

We constantly work towards turning it over, to that Power, which I choose to call God, every day.

Humility has been the lesson that has been hammered home in my life over the last year.

When the Orlando Tragedy happened, I threw in my spiritual towel and I cursed God. I fell apart in public, and fell to my knees, sobbing, pleading God to help me, because I was bereft, and had no idea how to begin to figure out why I was on my knees sobbing.

It all begins, when we get on our knees.

We might not know the reason why ? But to defer to God, and set one’s self before God in humble supplication, begins on one’s knees.

I learned that in Seminary. Why we prayed, and why we knelt and what it meant as men who came together to learn how to follow God. The men who were leading us, in the end, turned out, not to be the finest example of humility, based on the scandals they caused during their tenures in their priesthoods.

I wanted, so badly, to count myself as a man who would serve God. I made God that promise all those years ago, as a teen-ager, with stars of God in my eyes.

That promise to serve God would take my entire life to figure out.

It has to be the right time, the ground fertile, and I would be able to fulfill that promise, one way or another.

A year ago, I fell to my knees, and was rebuked by a man who was LONG sober, rebuking me that “You think you are so special, that we should treat you differently, You are such a child.”

I could have slapped the shit out of him right then and there. I could have hurt him seriously, in that moment, but my better judgment took over, and I got up, wiped my face and walked away, keeping my mouth shut, and not saying a word or acting on my impulses.

Thank God, Elder Spencer came into my life.

I don’t think I would have made it without him, today.

Sometimes, I have shared, that I need to be Bitch Slapped by God, in order for Him to get my attention.

Oprah has a better definition of this process:

God speaks to us in a whisper. If He whispers and we miss it the first time, He will whisper again. If we miss it the second time, He hits us over the head with a 2 x 4, if we miss Him the third time, finally, He drops a wall on top of us.

I actually lived this out a few years ago.

I’m not sure God was trying to get my attention, with a catastrophic massacre of kids in a nightclub to get me to notice Him. But He had my attention for sure.

Which led to an entire year of trying to find God, after I had cursed Him as I sat where I am sitting right this very moment.

Enter Elder Spencer … There are no coincidences. Only God.

I was there at one time, now I am here.

Now I Know !

The message is loud and clear. My life and sobriety are all about God and His goodness and kindness. I can let go of that old, tired and miserable story.

Sobriety today is about Humility, Faith, Love and the Atonement. 

The Atonement makes everything work.

Without it we are nothing, and can be nothing.

Humbly, on our knees, we asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Holding Nothing Back.


Sunday Sundries: The Changing Faces …

o-BRENE-BROWN-ORIGIN-MAGAZINE-facebook

It was another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Much warmer than it was yesterday, and we will take any day full of sun, as we can get. It might be the second week of June, but before we know it, it will be the beginning of September, and Summer will all but be gone.

For the past few months, I have witnessed new members coming to our rooms, that we have not seen, at all, in the past. Montreal’s Jewish community is legendary. When I got sober, this time around, it was the Jewish Chabad community, who took me in and cared for me when I needed it most.

Whenever I am able, I give back, until I am empty.

It seems, as of late that, we are serving the Hasidim community on a much more personal level. I’ve been listening to our men talk, about their struggles, their families and their troubles with addiction.

Addiction knows no barrier when it comes to the who and the why. Everyone is fair game. With communities that are insulated, they usually deal with daily problems, “in house, among themselves.”

Montreal is a city that is based in communal living. With many religious and ethnic communities existing side by side. But again, there are certain conversations that are only dealt with, inside the sacred circle of that respective community.

For a handful of men, they have left the security of their communities, and they have found their way into our rooms. And I have been paying attention to them, personally.

Today we read from the book, and the chapter: The Perpetual Quest.

It is a story about a woman, who reaches her bottom, and finds her way to the rooms, in her city. The portion of the read I focused on was the last three pages of the story, where she hears just what she needs to do to stay sober.

I chose the reading, because, if we could cut, copy and paste this portion of the story, and hand this document out to newcomers or, more to the point, to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking, we would have our work done for us, in one swing.

Many people talk about the suggestions.

Service, Meetings, Big Books, Steps and Sponsors.

Everybody hears the same message, from the get go. Many of us would rather eat dirt, than follow a simple suggestion.

This problem exists everywhere. There is a lot of anger being spoken about. Yet, we come to meetings, anyways. Because we are told that if we show up, the rest will fall into place.

Getting sober is just the tip of the iceberg for many members and my friends. Many people come with multiple problems, and are cross addicted, or have more than, “just a drinking problem.” And I heard those words spoken again tonight.

Our new men, who come from their respective communities have said to us that they deal with more than just drinking. And people across the board, beg the question, “what do I do with the twenty four hours, each day?”

One answer I heard tonight was, “well, as long as you are sitting in a meeting, you can knock that hour off the time line.” And “the more meetings you fit into your weekly schedule, the less time you have to spend in your head.”

When we come into sobriety from whatever addiction we inhabit, we begin to cleanse the temple of our bodies, that God has given us.

I was not sure how to approach this topic with our men, I just spent the last hour with my Elder friend Spencer and he gave me some sound advice, at how to bridge faiths.

Now I have an idea of what I need to do. God brings certain people and problems into our lives for a specific reason. We either know what to do, or, we know other people, who might know what to do, or we ourselves learn what it is we need to know, in order to serve the greater good.

I have faith. I have the book. I have my knowledge. And I have God, in my pocket.

If some have left the security of insulation, searching for a solution they need, because they have suffered and have transgressed their scriptures and proscriptions and doctrines and covenants of Judaism, they have come to places that I exist in.

I have a desire to help them, and tonight, I was taught, what it was that I did have, by someone I respect fully, and now from him, I know what I can do, with the tools God has already given me.

There is a three fold recipe that is necessary for transmission:

  • One, you need a Human Being
  • Two, you need the Book
  • Three, you need a problem that you can give context to, teaching wise

If you have these three dynamic pieces, miracles happen.

Spencer was at the MTC this week, and he met a young missionary.

While Spencer was here, in Montreal, he worked in Cornwall, a few hours drive from Montreal. While there he ministered to our young man’s grandfather, who was, later, baptized in the church.

His grandson, our young Elder in training, there in Utah, had met Spencer here, while on his mission. It was a Miracle Full Circle moment for him. Because our young man said to him, weren’t you in Canada, that answer was yes. Weren’t you in Cornwall, that answer was also yes, he put the pieces together that before our young man was called to his mission, he met Elder Spencer here in Canada, during His mission.

How often do you see someone in a foreign country, and meet them and share time with, and then find out that they are right in your own back yard, preparing to go on their very own mission ???

That is a miracle for sure.


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.


Monday: Thoughts

9c805eac4710cda268a840b735e273de

What does one say, after another senseless killing of innocents ? How many times can you say “I’m sorry, or I feel your pain, or I stand with you ?” If the world does not stand together every day and every hour and every minute, we aren’t doing our jobs.

This utter disrespect of life, needs to be eradicated from the face of the earth.

The governments who support terrorism, need to be stopped. The Radical Teachings of a religion that is based in peace, need to be eradicated from teaching institutions. Weeds like this need serious weed killers. The world is in a position that extreme measures need to be taken.

We need to stop the killing at any cost.

I’ve been hearing people talk about where the Islamic Order for killing came from, it came from Mohamed himself. Sadly, there are those who have taken his words quite literally, and this order of Jihad has brought us to he point where, the world needs to act decisively.

I am not a scholar of Islam. I studied Islam in University, and was the only branch of my studies that I failed. I just was not able write a paper worthy of respect and recognition.

Bastardized religion is a scourge on our world, and this problem is not confined to one single faith practice. This problem is well-known, and wide-spread, however some would never admit that they speak a creed, and follow a faith, that is not true faith.

This evening I had a discussion with a friend about what needs to be done. I’m not sure a radical idea would gain traction and work. We are just not in a place to radically change the face of our world.

Canada is a country that has had its share of religious violence. Canada has its issues with people from other places, and the length this nation stooped and did irreparable damage to entire populations of men, women and children.

We have irreparably tarnished our relationships with Indigenous people’s who were here well before we were all here. And even today, recognition and reparations are long in coming.

Radical Islam has found its way into our country. And terror has been visited on both Canadians and Muslim’s alike. This is just fact.

We are not a nation that is immune to terror related violence. Then again, we are not Europe or the Middle East. We are removed from those theatres by an ocean and we lie much distant from the center of ignition.

Our citizens far and wide worry that with the Canada 150 Celebrations and here in Montreal, for our 375th, are we really safe and insulated from terror, that which we have seen happen world-wide ?

The Answer is NO.

Millions of people will be gathering over the summer months to celebrate, and we wonder, are we next ? How will our governments and our authorities, provincially and locally, provide protection when we have seen the lengths some will go to wreak havoc on unsuspecting innocents ?

We hear the words, “Canada is safe …” “But we cannot guarantee you 100% that you will be safe in public spaces.” But life must go on. Our nation has spent some serious money, preparing the ground for celebrations.

Underneath, how can you openly celebrate your country and your life and your good fortune to live here, when in other big cities around the world, people are dying in the streets.

I just don’t know what to tell my friends, who live in other cities, when they speak their questions to me. They beg the questions, and they know the answers, but still, we live with uncertainty.

Tragedy has become commonplace around the world. The perpetrators of Islamic Terrorism, have infected our national conscience. Too many people have been killed in too many places, for us to be able to ignore this taint in our common lives.

Living with having to have eyes in the back of ones head, or living with the need to always be looking over ones shoulder is terrible. yet, this is where we stand today.

We are wary of our neighbors. We do not love each other as ourselves. We are suspicious of those who are different. We hate too easily. Hatred is such an easy out for us, as the “Go To” way to live… Just Hate Everybody.

Hatred is easier than knowing yourselves, or your neighbors. Hatred is too easy, when we need to understand and have compassion.

You cannot point your finger and your fist towards everyone at the same time. It is far too easy, to judge everyone and everything. But what other choices do we have, when the world seems to be complicit in the blind, financial, and religious support of those whose only goal in their religious observance, is to kill the Infidel Indiscriminately.

Is this what God would want ? Is this what the Greater Power wants of us, to hate, and to persecute and to kill each other ?

That answer is categorically NO.

We must go on living, but not accept what it seems to me, a world that has allowed this unconscionable killing to go on for as long as it has been going on.

This centuries long episode of Conquer, Convert and Kill has to end.

We must find the resolve to call on our governments and our leaders to do Something, Anything. Everything.

Living a life in constant fear is not a life at all.

THE WORLD NEEDS TO ACT. DECISIVELY. NOW


Friday: Emotional Bottom …

17191492_1866704746945038_5263523050693755398_n

“In the first years, those of us who sobered up in A.A. had been grim and utterly hopeless cases. But then we began to have success with milder alcoholics and even some potential alcoholics. Younger folks appeared. Lots of people turned up who still had jobs, homes, health, and even good social standing.

Of course, it was necessary for these newcomers to hit bottom emotionally. But they did not have to hit every possible bottom in order to admit that they were licked.

A.A. Comes of Age, p. 199

My fist is un-clenched and my hand is open to Heavenly Father.

I have traveled a long way over the past year. It will have been a year on June 12th. The day, a year ago, when a crazed gunman walked into a nightclub, in Orlando, and killed 50 young people, and injured many more.

I look back at this event as the most catastrophic event in my sobriety, this time around.

In the program, I know many men and women over the last fifteen years. Everybody looks good, smiles good, and speaks a good game. Everybody is so stoic and un-moving. Nobody would ever admit that they had hit a tragic emotional bottom during their sober time, however long that sober time was.

And God forbid, ever fell apart in public. Like I had.

I was one serious scary man, in the midst of falling to pieces in public.

I know of sober people, women especially, who seriously suffered in sobriety. Not so much the men. Many people, when they hit something catastrophic like that, went back out and drank a bit and maybe used along with it, some made it back, others, did not.

It is a serious blessing that I never contemplated a drink over the last year. I did not ever actually think to myself, “I should go drink…” It never crossed my mind.

That was a Blessing. Divine, Absolutely.

And I thought to myself as I spoke tonight that, a long time ago, I made a promise to Heavenly Father, that I was willing to give Him all of me. That is a running theme in my life, for probably, a good portion of it.

There was always something in the way.

I came to Montreal, seeking God. it was God who brought me here, and settled me in the life I have right now. It is all God. All of it. Every single day, sober …

I did everything I was told to do. I was pounding the pavement doing everything I could do to serve my fellows, without complaint. I was working myself sick.

I remember the night I sat here and cursed God and threw in my spiritual towel, so to speak. The sober men and women who witnessed my emotional breakdown, accused me of self centered-ness, and needing to be treated special by everyone else.

June turned into July, August and September. The screws were being tightened. Until the final peg was hammered into place, Heavenly Father had removed certain people from my life over the Summer, and the extraction continued into September.

I was still in the process of emotionally cracking.

And all of a sudden, Elder Christensen walked into my life on a Metro Platform, after a doctor’s visit one afternoon. Spencer is an angel. Sent to me, by Heavenly Father.

I am sure of that now.

God always comes when I need Him most. And Heavenly Father incarnated, in the form of Elder Spencer Christensen. That young man loved me, 100%. He still does to this day.

I see it now, all these months later.

The theme of Heavenly Father removing impediments from me, in order for me to be open and ready to serve Him, is ongoing. This has been going on for the whole of my life.

Many sober people, LONG sober and not so Long Sober walked away in fear.

Nobody knew what to do with me, instead of trying to help me understand what it was I was going through, they condemned me, walked away from me, and left me to my own devices. I had to figure out what to do by myself.

ALONE.

It was a good thing My Elder was with me, the rest of the way.

I changed up my meetings. I hung with people I trusted. Who did not necessarily have words for me, but they did have WORK for me to do. And I did that, without question.

Over the months Spencer and I would talk, and we would pray and we would wait.

There are no coincidences, but they came, one after and another, as Elder Christensen tells the story. He had never met a man like me, when I had come along. I welcomed him into my life and into my faith. And he returned the favor by sharing The Book with me.

I now know, how many people, and in what ways, citizens in my own city, spurned him, spit on him, insulted him, and chased him away with a meat cleaver.

I am so ashamed of my fellows here.

He took me as far as the Church would allow me, when it was time for him to go home, I asked him to remain my friend, and He did that gladly and willingly.

Where the church failed, Elder Christensen excelled …

I am a child of God. And Heavenly Father has seen me through the darkest time in my sobriety. I did not go back out. I did not drink, and I did not use. I survived this emotional challenge, not in the most sober of ways, because I am not perfect, but I did my best.

I went to a new meeting, with new men and women. We are reading the Big Book. I settled in and I was safe and protected. I met my new sponsor. We clicked on very personal terms, with tragically serious commonalities.

Along with Elder Christensen. And Heavenly Father. My sponsor has kept me grounded.

My sponsor said not long ago, that I was a little too tightly wound. And that I needed to back off and open my hand to God. All the While, My Elder has been ministering to my spirit. He showed me love, respect and dignity.

One never knows when they are entertaining and Angel.

Or Heavenly Father, for that matter …

There is no guidebook giving directions on how to survive an emotional bottom in sobriety. The Only Book, is the Big Book. On page 112, it says:

READ THIS BOOK.

An old-timer, last week, spoke those words to me. He had asked me if I remembered what page 112 said, I did not. Read This Book, it says.

The Book of Mormon is True, there is a God, Heavenly Father, and Elder Christensen is his angel in my life.

I’m here, sober. I did not drink today…

But for the Grace of God.


Friday: As WE Understand Him …

9781606410691

You never know, when the subject of Faith and God will arise.

Earlier today, I got a call from my Friday driver, to say he was going to make a 12 step call on the way to the meeting, and if I could take the Metro to the meeting, No Problem.

I met with a sponsee for an hour and made my way uptown for 7 p.m. I got there 10 minutes early. I cranked it out and waited for folks to show up.

Little did I know, that the 12 step call would be for someone I know, from the Monday meeting. This particular man, talks about God, in words and actions that nobody else I know use, in the rooms, across the board.

The other night, he was talking to an old friend, as they shared old war stories between themselves, and he ended up with a crack pipe in his hands, on a two night binge.

Where his faith went, even he does not know…

I sat and listened in, to a conversation, and then I asked him about his faith life, If he had lost his faith, or was he still hanging on to it. From what I had been hearing from him, I just shot into the dark with an idea.

Last night, I listened to several talks from General Conference. Thomas S. Monson, Carol McConkie, and Robert D. Hales. For some strange reason, I was moved to mention General Conference to my friend. I had no idea where he had been, in the way of faith or church, but I began to talk, nonetheless.

I told him what I had seen last night about Prayer, and Community, Service, and Discipleship. He Listened, then offered that he was indeed Investigating.

We had an entire conversation about faith from the L.D.S perspective. A few minutes later, we were sitting there talking, and my phone rang, and it was the Young Elder, who was new to Montreal, calling to say hello and to arrange a meeting with his new companion next week.

Is that ODD or is that GOD ???

I had a thought, I acted on that thought, that led to a familiar conversation, which then was cranked up a notch with a phone call out of the blue, from the last person, I thought would have called me at that very moment.

Tonight, Bill spoke to us, about Higher Power, as We Understand Him. In this reading he talks about the many ways you can find your way, into the program, with very little faith:

“They just don’t realize that faith is never an imperative for A.A. membership; that sobriety can be achieved with an easily acceptable minimum of it, and that our concept of a a Higher Power and God – as we understand Him – afford everyone a nearly unlimited choice of spiritual belief and action.”

This subject is treated in many different ways in A.B.S.I.

In a later writing in the book, Bill comments:

It does not matter what you choose to believe in, whatever will work for you.” At the end of the page he throws a wrench into the mix by then offering this nugget:

“That in the end, it always comes back round to God.”

Tonight, many of us who have been sitting in that room for years and years have seen people come in, sit down, say NO and Go. They come in, sit down, say NO and Go.

I’ve said it before that God, this three letter word, is the MAJOR stumbling block that prevents MANY people from getting sober. No matter how we couch, frame or talk about the “multitude of choices” one has to believe.

The numbers of people who have come, gone, drank and used again, never came back, or ended up DEAD are very high.

It Boggles the mind to ponder how many people we have seen come and go over the last three years.

BOGGLES !!!

They say that words are difficult in the beginning. But we all also agree, that the first simple action we take, leads to more simple actions, which lead to feeling better, which leads to sobriety.

If you cannot pray, to begin with, then say anything. You don’t need rote prayers or words you don’t identify with, and speak them to a God, you may not necessarily believe in, YET …

I have atheist friends who are sober today. And they do just fine.

We all agree that action makes the world go round.

  • Service
  • Making Coffee
  • Setting up chairs and tables
  • Greeting the Newcomer
  • Step Work
  • Reading the Big Book
  • Thanking the Chair
  • Participating in Fellowship

Simple steps of action, that done, over and over, DO LEAD SOMEWHERE.

It is not your word that matters, it is WHAT YOU DO that matters.

When you don’t have words, then do the next right thing. Over and Over again.

This is a program of action. We all agree on that. Once you begin to DO and to ACT, the rest falls in place as long as you stick around, and have an open heart.

When I leave my life open to Heavenly Father, He tends to amaze me in ways that I could not imagine.

I saw Him move in a room tonight.

In closing all I can say is this …

  • I am not the center of the universe
  • My world does not revolve around my navel
  • I have a God of my understanding, and that is great, as long as I remember that
  • I am NOT HE ….

 

 

 

 

 


Thursday: Coffee Maker …

coffee cup

Always pay attention to the coffee maker, at whatever meeting you go to…

Six months ago, when it came time to change up my meetings, I realized that there was a meeting, just down the hill from home. Essentially, a 10 minute walk through the tunnel to a little church of a building, not far from home.

The Padua Center, is a building that houses the remains (read: Altar, Statues, Lectern) of an old church that was demolished, but the core of that church had been kept, and now mass is held in that building on Sunday mornings.

Many years ago, there was another meeting that was began by an old friend, who has since died. I used to go to this little meeting, when it was up and running.

Fast Forward to November 2016. I looked up Love and Tolerance in the meeting list and headed down one Monday night. Every meeting, has its resident coffee maker. One of the most unsung jobs in the fellowship. Nobody cares WHO made the coffee, but it better be damn well perked by the time those ungrateful alcoholics walk through the door.

Hell hath no fury like an Alcoholic, with coffee not ready to go…

Danger Will Robinson, DANGER !!!!

I’ve known some crazy coffee makers in my time.

That night I met our coffee maker extraordinaire. Back then, the meeting was sparsely attended, and only needed a small, 12 cup perk coffee maker. Over the last six months our intrepid coffee maker invested in a full bore 60 cup, standard issue, coffee urn.

The number of meeting attendees, has more than doubled in six months. And all of us are grateful for the coffee maker. He is there every week, busy or not, making coffee.

This past Monday, I asked him if he could give me “thirty minutes?” He understood that I was asking him to come to a meeting to hear ME speak.

Funny that …

This afternoon around 1 p.m. he texted me saying that he could not make our date for the meeting. I was on my way to the bank to prepare for my trip to N.L. next Thursday.

I came home and made two phone calls. One came back as a NO, and the other message was not received prior to the meeting. I took that as a sign, to trust God and head to the meeting as usual. While setting up, I told one of our women that I needed a speaker, and she volunteered to speak for me.

Not ten minutes later, my coffee maker texted me saying his late meeting at the office had been cancelled and that he was on his way. Little did he know that HE was the one who was speaking and not ME.

That realization came about 5 minutes before I introduced him to the room.

Color him surprised…

It all went as God had ordered it. He knocked it out of the park.

After the meeting I told him that newcomer quote I heard a couple of weeks ago that:

If you get asked to Speak at St. Matthias, You Have Arrived …

Our little Monday, Love and Tolerance meeting is a wealth of Sober Experience, that I have been tapping since I joined St. Matthias a few months ago. Lots of sober men and women who don’t usually hit the Thursday meeting, so, fresh minds are fresh stories to hear.

Last week, into last weekend, New Foundland was hit by a severe blizzard, which prompted some serious considerations of not making the trip next week, due to weather concerns. I called Air Canada, and spoke to them about weather. Then I called the bank, and tried to get some insurance on my $650.00 airline ticket. (That was a bust)

Tuesday would be the day that I would decide to either get on a plane or cancel my trip, because getting an airplane into St. John’s is dicey, frequently. Wind, Weather, Snow, are a given on any day. Tonight, it seems that the weather will be looking up, thanks to Environment Canada’s six day forecast.

I have cash in hand, and a good weather forecast, at the moment. In New Foundland, weather is never a given. All it takes is a little weather headed into that area, and Mother Nature can dump up to sixty centimeters of snow on any given day.

It has been pissing rain in Montreal for two days now. A Rain/Snow mix may fall tomorrow night, and more rain. We have heard, mentioned, double digit positive temps for this weekend … Let Us Pray …

Keto-Genic Diet

Reddit Keto Info Page
Keto Nutrition Page

Friday, last week, a good friend of mine witnessed me, two nights in a row, drinking my favorite Orange Soda. He was not impressed with that. On Friday night he said to me that I needed to stop the sugar intake and that I needed to look into the Keto Diet.

Saturday night, I did some serious investigating and came away with a diet plan that I was willing to work with. The Keto Diet, is strict. Lots of No, No’s. And very little leeway in the eradication of sugars and carbohydrates.

The Keto diet has a scientific basis. On the second link, you will find all the scientific data with Diabetes and Cancer patients.

I haven’t had a sip of soda in five days. I haven’t had any sugar whatsoever, in five days either. I wrote down the dietary restrictions on the fridge, and now we both eat very well, based on the Keto Diet restrictions in place.

Let me tell you that Detoxing from Sugar is BRUTAL … The first three days, I thought I was going to loose my mind. I was hormonal, and seriously demented. I had headaches, and I was terribly, emotionally, cracked.

One of my women, whom I work with, read my F.B. Page and she has serious time invested into the Keto Diet. So she called me the other night and we tweaked my plan, with a few changes and substitutions.

I spoke about having realized in February that I had, in fact, lost ten pounds, which spurred me into a radical lifestyle change, personally. I want to feel good, and look good, and look good doing it too.

People are noticing.

Thursday, after the meeting, is my “teaching night.”

My Elder friend in Utah, and I talk weekly via Google Hangout. We get to see each other and talk about how his life has changed since he ended his mission in Montreal. It was important that we kept our friendship going, because i want him in my life and we are friends, and each week, I get a little Faith Boost from him. General Conference was last weekend, this year, he got to see it live and in person. I get to watch it here at home.

His takeaway was this:

Community is important. Faith is Important. Charity is important.

Distilling a theological message to three points …

The number of walls you can knock down when ministering to your community, friends, and family, the better. We don’t need any more walls, we need community, we need love, we need charity and we need to love one another fully.

This message, in three parts, is familiar to me. I’ve heard it repeated many times on many fronts over the past month or so.

The Blessings of Easter is quickly approaching. The whole reason the Atonement is central to the church and her people. The sacrifice of the Cross makes this life possible and grants us life, love and faith.

Tomorrow is the Best Night of the Week.

Surely more to come.

Tenzin Palmo, Buddhist monk once said:

“The more you realize, the more you realize that there is nothing to realize. The Idea that there’s somewhere we have got to get to, and something we have to attain, is our basic delusion.”

 


Monday: Memories, Promises, Spirituality

20140127-pope-x624-1390859938

Our story tonight, comes via a man who is of the Jewish faith. This story highlights the conundrum that many face, when they come to the rooms. The dichotomy of a program of recovery, that operates on a Spiritual, rather than religious model.

You can’t get away with calling a program of recovery “Spiritual” when the word “GOD” appears in the Book, and through the steps. This One Single Three Letter Word, keeps many from getting sober, no less, having a spiritual experience that everybody needs, at some point in their journey.

How do you separate the Religious from the Spiritual ?

…The last big hurdle was closing the meeting with the Lord’s Prayer. As a Jew, I was uncomfortable with it and decided to talk to my sponsor about it. So I said, “The Lord’s Prayer bothers me. I don’t like closing with it.” “Oh,” he said, “what’s the problem?” “Well, I’m Jewish and it’s not a Jewish prayer.”

“Well then,” he said “Say it in Jewish.” I said, “It would still be the Lord’s Prayer.” “Right,” he said. “Then say something else that you like. Your Higher Power, whatever you call it, is helping you, and you need to say thank you.”

That was a big step for me; I finally began to separate the religious aspect of my life from A.A. Spiritual program. Now the big difference to me is that religion is the RITUAL, and we all differ there, and SPIRITUALITY is the way we feel about what we do. It’s about my personal contact with my personal Higher Power, as I understand Him.

I laughed to myself as I read this story. This man, who came in, and against his better nature, did get sober, and found a life beyond his wildest dreams. He, a Jew, comes in and has problems, not with G-d but with The Lord’s Prayer, and its recitation to close a meeting.

I’ve spoken about the promise made to God, by Memere, about me, when I was just a boy.

Last night, I was reminded of that promise, by a passage in a book I am reading at the moment about Pope Francis.

The biographer is telling the story of the child, Jorge Mario Bergoglio and how his grandmother introduced him to a life of faith and prayer. A story, very similar to mine.

It was my grandmother who took me to church, promised me to God, and faith followed me, and God was always there, I just wasn’t always interested in listening.

Until I got sober the second time.

I read this passage last night and it rang so very true for me …

May the Man not betray what he promised as a child …

I had not made that initial promise, but I HAD made a promise to God, in church, as I was being groomed to enter the seminary. And while there, I did promise God my life, from that point in my limited life, to the extent I believed I could.

It only took me thirty four years to figure out that I needed to rekindle that promise and make my way into life with God in the drivers seat. And to be honest, I was good for that.

Life is there, for you to choose what you are going to do with it.

But if you are on Train B, and you are on your Do Over, better buckle up and do this right, because you may never get another kick at the proverbial can of sobriety.

Petty complaints, and a lack of trust and faith will destroy someone coming in the rooms with an “I Know Better” attitude.

It was Chabad, A Jewish Organization, who pointed the way for me, and IS the bedrock of my program of recovery. An Organization that still operates in our city today.

I find it funny, that our writer tonight, is a Jew who has problems with a Christian Prayer, and it was a Jewish Organization that helped me get and stay sober.

I owe them a debt of Gratitude.

A factual memory that rises to my mind when reading this story… The story of Louis and Irene Ziff, survivors of the Holocaust, and the Auschwitz concentration camp. I knew this couple well, they were friends of the family when I was a boy. They used to dine at our table for many years, before they both died.

I remember them fondly.

 

 


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.


Friday: The Beauty of Islam

100910_grandmosque03

This is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Photographed by a friend of mine who lives in the U.A.E.

The week that I had crossed my first year sober, my addictions counselor asked me a question… She said, “You’ve been sober a year now, what do you want to do for you?”

I really had to think about my answer. In the end I decided that, at age 35, I would go back to school, and complete my studies in a field that I had begun in, when I was only nineteen years old.

I did not make it into ministry through the front door. And a lifetime would go by until the day I reached the point that I would finish my religious studies “in the field.” Almost a decade in studies took place, and I got my two diplomas.

World Religions and Pastoral Ministry …

It was odd, getting sober, in the rooms, AND studying Religion, by the book. I learned about God, by the book. I found Him as real, IN the rooms.

A requirement that we were invited to do was, at each unit of study, in whatever religion that was, we had to in-bed ourselves in that particular faith community. We did not just study the books and go to class, we participated in every religion we studied.

Islam, was a unit of study. The good thing about Concordia University, is that there is a very high population of Muslim students, from all over the world. And in the Hall Building, the university set aside two rooms that are dedicated prayer locations, so that students can come and make their prayers and participate in their own community and not have to leave the university while they are there.

I have Muslim friends. I am intimately familiar with the Muslim population here in the city, mainly because of my participation in the Muslim community when I was a student.

For many Friday’s, I attended Friday Prayers with my fellow students, both men and women. Those first few years, after coming to Montreal, I had to find my own footing. politically, mentally, and spiritually. The many faith-based communities helped me find my way.

The way people hate so hard is common, around the world, no matter where you come from. In my case, it began at home. I learned how to hate hard by my parents.

Thankfully, I never hated that hard in my life.

People tend to hate what they don’t know, it is easier to hate, then expanding their minds to learn about others, so that understanding is possible.

In the United States, Americans live in a predominantly Judaeo-Christian society. What did we know about Islam, for a very long time? I had NO exposure to any other religion than Christianity and Judaism.

I was not introduced to World Religions on a grand scale, until I moved to Montreal.

My father lived in the thought that, He loved his country, fought for his country, and you either loved it or left it. New comers to the states, be they immigrants or religious minorities or religious communities, the “Other” was always viewed with suspicion, as if something “New” had come to supplant what was already there.

The old Judaeo-Christian conquest conflict of East Meets West, Islam is coming to the West to take over the world mentality, is pretty scary to people who grew up in generations past, with all they know of is Christians or Jews, to have to expand to open themselves up to Islam, or Asian religions, or South East Asian religions was preposterous and not to be attempted.

People tend to freak out, as we have seen over the past fifteen years since 9-11.

It is easier to hate everybody and not know why we hate, then to figure out who we hate, and why, and not pigeon-hole Everybody into One Lump Hatred Society.

And by Everybody, I mean that because of some men who choose to do what they did, we hate all Muslims no matter where they come from, because we saw One thing and came away with One opinion. Because we were fed that opinion by the media.

We did not spend any time learning for ourselves what was either True or False.

And the way the media and society spins that hatred is mind-boggling.

And depending on where you live, that hatred is spun into an evangelical frenzy.

Evangelicals are some serious people who believe in a set way of life, with set scriptures and set teachers and believe they have ALL the right answers, no matter what ever info exists to the contrary.

Hatred, in many places, is as potent as Evangelical Frenzy.

Because Hatred that lives in an Evangelical vacuum is seriously dangerous. You cannot teach anyone who lives with evangelical truth or hatred, Anything… Because they know who God is and He is Christian, and nobody is going to teach them anything else, from any other perspective.

God said it, I believe it, that settles it …

I’ve spent a great deal of time studying the Quran. I’ve read it. Learned about it. I have a Quran in my reading library. Islam is part of my life today, because you know, there are Muslim men in the program of recovery here.

Many of them are my friends.

Before you judge ANYONE else based of country of Origin or Origin of Religious faith, take a step back, and think about respect and dignity. Think about their humanity. Think about their families.

You cannot go very far in Montreal, without meeting someone of Muslim faith in any shop, any restaurant, or any service industry, in this city.

The Middle East – all of the Middle East is fraught with serious conflicts.

Middle East religions were not part of educational curriculum when I was a kid in school. That was not introduced until University here in Montreal. Many, MANY people in the West know Nothing about Islam, but for what the media feeds them on any given night from television.

Or from the pulpits of their churches. 

And the more evangelical that news presentation, the harder the hate and misunderstanding and misinformation. The harder the media tries to paint ALL of Islam by ONE brush, with ONE vision, and only ONE understanding, what does that do to those who are fed that message ?

They hate as hard as they are fed that message.

100910_sheikh-zayed-grand-mosque02

Do you know Muslim men and women, Do you know their families ? Are there Muslim citizens living in your community ? Do you know or do you even care ?

Hatred and Islamophobia is alive and well here in Canada. We are not immune to the messages of Hate and Exclusion. Social Media and right leaning news organizations fit that bill very nicely, not to mention the media that comes out of the United States.

You cannot blame ALL of Islam, for the failings of certain specific communities. We should not paint every Muslim man, woman or child with the same brush.

For decades, the Middle East has exploded into calamity. That portion of the world, that is so Steeped in Religious history, is fraught with complications, like I mentioned earlier.

The Powder keg that is the Fertile Crescent has fallen into mass civilization destruction and genocidal death.

Where do all those people go to flee war, killing, death, starvation ???

Europe is on their doorstep. And we all know how that turned out.

For the Christian West, as happened, was the bastion of freedom, of life and of the pursuit of happiness. Why would people NOT come to the West, to seek a better life for their families? And why as we, as Christians, not welcome the refugee ???

I mean, why does the Statue of Liberty stand in that Harbor, welcoming the huddled masses from all over the world.

We have forgotten or refuse to admit, that North America began with people who came from someplace else FIRST…

I mean, do we all get that Jesus was a refugee ? That when he was born, his parents took him from his home and fled to Egypt because of King Herod wanting to kill him ?

Do we all get that Jesus was not a Caucasian white man ? He was of Middle East parentage, and had Middle Eastern looks, and a life spent living in the Middle East, and preaching there as well ?

So why do we hate so hard, when Jesus taught us how to treat each other with Love and Charity ? I don’t get how you hate so hard and believe in a God that taught you what you should do, and in reality, you could not be bothered to accept the “Other” and love and respect them as God has taught you to.

All because they worship God in another form and tradition, and that threatens your safe and sound ideology that does not serve you well.

In fact it makes you hate harder, instead of Loving your neighbor better.

If we loved as hard as many Hate, the world would be another place …

That is what the rooms teach us. How to love ourselves, and each other. And we learn to serve each other, in the least of these on a daily basis.

Lessons the world at large could really benefit from.

Right now, here in Quebec, our Muslim communities have opened their mosques to the public, for us to come and participate in and learn from their community.

Will you participate ?

Hatred is NOT a Christian Value.

In fact it goes against EVERYTHING that Jesus taught us.

The reason so many people hate as hard as they do, is because they listen to only those people who feed that kind of fire. I call it Evangelical Hatred.

Evangelical hatred is much more energetically potent vehicle because God is behind that kind of hate. Gay men, during the AIDS crisis and to this day, suffer that same hatred by many.

Now the world is saturated with this kind of hatred of Islam and the “other.”

Hate everybody, because that’s what we are told to do by those who teach hatred from their pulpits. And all those people, voted for the man, in great numbers, who just banned Muslims from seven specific countries in the Middle East and Africa.

But he did not ban Muslims from countries where the President has business ties.

Hmmm … Business Security comes before National Security. 

We cannot live in a world of peace, until we end systemic and evangelical hatred.

Systemic evangelical hatred is poison for the soul.

It tarnishes our souls, and separates us from truth and love.

It pits One God over Another, Allah.

Jesus against the Prophet, Blessed be His holy name.

Religions of the world exist.

And we are all here, because our God created us, and gave us a faith of origin. And what right do we have to be judge, jury and executioner, to say that one religion is the Ultimate Religion, and Truth, and that No Other Religion or Truth will be Listened to, Learned about, OR Accepted as Legitimate.

We sit in the balance of the war between the Christian God of the West versus that Muslim God of the East.

Nobody will win this war … More will die to defend their faith, than will survive it.

Where will you stand in this religious battle for truth ???

Will you love or will you hate ?

God weeps that we have let our world fall into this abyss of conflict.

When it all comes down to LOVE.


Friday – 15 Years Introspection

tumblr_lx332xnumf1qajbwho1_500-justathoughtfulmind

A comment that came in just now, I will explain in detail …

I’m curious about your change in church allegiances; first it was banners all about the pope, pope, pope, pope! Now it’s LDS. You know that neither of these institutions will ever accept you as a gay man, right? LDS has even given you the ultimatum.

My observation about you is that you seek a system of rules that will keep you sober and safe; The Catholic Church was first, now it’s the LDS church. Both absolutely and completely anti-gay. Although, let’s face it: the Mormons are ever so much more polite about it.

It’s our relationship with our Higher Power, independent of any institution, AA included, that is at the heart of our sobriety.

That’s why the lady stomped out when you asked her to delay her trip: she didn’t have that internal strength in place and was relying on external institutions to manage her sobriety for her. She knew it in that moment, and was pissed off.

What are you looking for outside that you don’t already have inside? Work on *that* rather than wanting people to like you. It feels to me as if there is an ancestor (Father? Mother? Aunt? Uncle?) who you are trying to please. Ignore them and please Jeremiah. For once figure Jeremiah into the equation. Be self-centered in a good way, because that is where your center IS.

The stewardess tells you to put your oxygen mask on first: if you’re not conscious, you can’t help anyone else. Jesus tells us to take the beam out of our own eye before even thinking about trying to help our neighbor. We can only give when our own cup overflows.

Just like the lady who couldn’t tell her adult children she couldn’t come to England, I know that you have a lot of rules about why you can’t put yourself first. Examine them. AA is supposed to be all about self-examination first, and helping others SECOND, AFTER you get truly sober. And I’m not talking about white-knuckled strict adherence to the rules as a substitute for true inner serenity and sobriety here.

Alcohol is not cunning, baffling and powerful — I don’t care what the big book says: the ginormous hole in your soul that needs constant feeding IS. Fix that. See it. Acknowledge it. Fill it with good things. I wish you the utmost best.

So, I’ve spent fifteen years adhering to the rules and suggestions of those I most trusted. And they have served me well, because I did not CRACK UP and I am sober still. And I think I am a little more sober this year, than I was last year.

At this time last year, there was open rebellion in the Best Night of the Week Meeting, and the alcoholics and the addicts were in open combat, and I chose a side and stuck with it. That almost ruined certain key relationships in my life, and when I took my chip last year, it was very apparent that I was terribly upset with one of my best friends in the world.

For the last two and some odd years, I had been serving a second fellowship almost entirely, and at the end of my run, my cup was empty and I left them to seek my own renewal. That has only been a few months in the works today.

I also left another meeting that was totally unhealthy for me, because of the toxic people in that meeting, so that cut me back to just two meetings a week, where I am homed today, the Thursday meeting and the Friday meeting where I open and set up as well.

I had come to the realization that I was not taking care of me, opting that if I served others dutifully, that I would stay sober. This was not a really good tack, because I know now that I really want to take care of me. And I wasn’t…

Which leads to the LDS.

On that fateful day a few months ago, the elders appeared and opened dialogue. If you have read back some ways, I explain how we get around GAY in the LDS. The marriage issue is just a paper formality that is the stumbling block NOT my homosexuality. I am on the back side of Gay today. Been there, done that.

There is a reason and a method behind my pursuits. I’ve explained in detail in several posts listed below.

I talked to Heavenly Father prior to the Elders coming to me and set my 50th birthday as the cut off day to sever ties with everything that was not serving me. HE, in his infinite wisdom, set that plan into action much earlier than I had expected it to begin.

Hence where I am right now.

After seeing my friend crack up last night, I realized just how hard I worked to stay sober, by following the rules like Gospel, because had I done things that I saw my friends do, or had I taken a tack that some of my friends did, I would not be of such sound body and mind as I am today.

You might have the time, but you may not be very sober …

I’m really not in a bad place. I am happy, all things considered. I have everything that I need, and I seek contact with Heavenly Father on a daily basis. And for the most part I find Him when I seek Him. I know that for sure.

In reaching this anniversary, I was prepared to do what I needed to do for me, spirituality was one segment, and self care was the other. I am just trying to work out what I need to do, where I need to go, and whom to seek for advice. Because I am nothing without those I trust. And there are just a chosen few that I do trust today.

Over the last year, it has been made plainly aware that there are just some people I should stay away from, even though they are WELL double digit sober.

They might have the years, but they are certainly not sober, and I really do not want what they are peddling. So I’ve moved on from those folks over the last year.

Approval … As alcoholics and addicts, we are always seeking approval, one way or another, and I admit I am guilty of that myself. I want to be seen as a human being worthy of love, and human decency from people who will never give that to me, and that has been a thorn in my side for the whole of my life, and I am turning the page on that, and I’ve been working on that for some time.

That is going to take some more work, to be honest.

Self centered and Selfish for me … I’ve never been keen on doing things for me, however I do do thing for me on a daily basis. Meanwhile in the meetings, the plan of action is always to serve everyone else, to the exclusion of ourselves, because in serving others, we get to stay sober. Working with others also suggests that that work will guarantee sobriety.

But I know from experience, that throwing myself into serving others on a one to one basis is all time consuming and taxing on my spirit and I am glad that I have just my two guys that I work with today.

I am trying to find the balance, and I am seeking balance in places that most of you tell me are unwelcoming and judgmental. That may be the case, but I have found the work arounds, to a certain degree. And I enjoy the LDS community and the people in my ward. They are loving and kind people who only want the best in each of us who are part of that contingent of men and women. Elders and Sisters included.

I know what I need to do, these realizations have been coming for some time. And I have listened to my spirit more, and stepped up my prayer and spiritual life, and I am seeking spirit in the LDS church, because when they came to me they offered a way of life that was truly engaging and open to possibilities. And I was ready to hear their message and become part of something I had not found in the Catholic, Anglican and other faiths that I had studied and been part of for the last decade and a few years here in Montreal.

I know where I come from, and I may not know where I am going, but this journey is still ongoing, and I am seeking the way, the best way I know how and I am trusting Heavenly Father, that He knows the way and in time will show me, one day at a time.

Heavenly Father has a plan, I just need to Trust, have Faith and Believe.

Over the last few months after working this round of steps, and seeking a New Experience with the women who were in my study pod, I did have a new experience, and at the end of those studies, I learned just what I was seeing for the first time, and found out just who certain people were, on their insides, and I chose to walk away from that toxicity.

When people show you who they are the first time, believe them …

I’ve encountered old timers with LOTS of time, who turned out to be charlatans and fakes. And that truly turned my stomach and sent me into a tail spin earlier this summer after the shooting in Orlando. That was a totally catastrophic emotional bottom that I had never experienced before. And it took me months to work myself out of it.

I don’t suggest anyone go through that kind of emotional bottom if possible, but you know, shit happens.

Sobriety has been a challenge, and for the last year, I pounded service till it bled me dry and my cup was empty at the end of the summer and I have been endeavoring to refill that cup with good meetings, good people, and a smattering of service because I still feel that a little service goes a long way to keeping my head on straight.

It keeps me rooted in the basics of sobriety and keeps me mindful of where it all started, and why I still go to meetings, and why I want to stay sober.

Because I don’t want to CRACK UP like some of my friends are CRACKING UP.

At least that suggestion is still in active motion. I can’t NOT do service.

It’s like tossing a loonie in the basket …

My chip and its giver are stuck in San Diego at this hour, so we postponed my anniversary for one week, until next Friday.

More to come later tonight.

Thanks for your comment Bill, it was very much appreciated.