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

Posts tagged “Spirituality

Thursday: Spiritual Principles

20258371_10155519310722731_9203320129068449292_n

What a day, what a week, what a life …

After two months of scheduling, one of my most favorite people, well, one of my most favorite young women, spoke for me tonight.

She Is Joy Overload !!!

A while back, my best friend turned me on to a book. The Spirituality of Imperfection, Storytelling and the Search for Meaning, by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham.

HE had read the book, previously, because a friend gifted him the book at a meeting some years ago. So, He read the book, and then gave said book to me. I read, said book, and while reading the book, time and time again, I saw my best friend within the read.

Meaning: He had learned, and then employed certain Spiritual Principles. Every time I hit a topic that he had learned, then employed, I noted it in the margin. I was totally impressed by the way he had learned and how he used what he learned with ME.

Now, my best friend, another one of my guys, and His Girlfriend, née fiancée, have read the book too. The book has made the rounds of people, in the rooms. I have certain friends, who have had a hard time with sobriety. I bought them a copy of the book, and asked them to read it, to maybe get a handle on simple spirituality, based on the premise that we are all that we are.

That we are NOT one or the other, or a This or a That.

That we are human, and imperfect and that to embrace our humanity to embrace ALL that we are, warts and all, in a tremulous balance of Love, God and Spirituality, there can be a beginning.

Our Imperfect-ness …

There are people, FEW, people I know, who haven’t necessarily read this book, but in knowing them, this far, in my journey, THEY live and inhabit spiritual principles. I can hear it in the way they speak, in the way they work with others, and if you listen closely, you too will hear it as well.

Back in June, I had spoken at the Thursday meeting, and that was a BIG shit show. The following Tuesday, I spoke at an evening meeting, talking about Step 11. Prayer and Meditation and God. Yes, I know this topic very well, and I can talk about it till the cows come home.

I was the opening act for my very favorite woman, Miss. Joy Overload.

When she finished speaking that night, I felt something I had never realized before. I had a feeling of spiritual truth, of honesty and of spiritual principles.  WHY ???

Because I had read this little Tome of a book, and I was listening with not only my mind, or my ears, I was listening to her with my heart and soul. I had learned this by reading the book. I have accepted certain spiritual axioms into my practice, therefore giving me the ability to “Experience.”

Experience is everything.

Spirituality is not a Sunday morning event. Spirituality is not a once a day prayer, or a once a night prayer. Spirituality is something that we LIVE, every day, every hour, every minute.

Spirituality is something we learn to LIVE. Every Day … Every Hour.

At this stage in my game, I’ve learned this way of life. I know what it looks like, and what it feels like. To walk near God. To live near God. To stay “On The Beam” for more of my day, than being “Off The Beam.”

The more we move Towards God, the better our life can be. Because when me move towards God, life tends to take a more spiritual tack. Learning this principle took a very long time for me.

For most of my life, in the In Between times, I thought I had to live life according to the worlds specifications. When I got sober the second time, I turned my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him, at that time in my life.

I’ve spent the better part of fifteen years perfecting my connection to the God of my understanding, by learning and inhabiting spiritual principles.

This did not come overnight, by any means.

Spiritual practice is like sobriety. You have to practice every day.

We need each other. We need each other’s stories. We need community, and the care, love and support it provides.

Together, we need to Remember, Together.

It is not good for man or woman to be alone. And we know, as my friend spoke words tonight, that together, we can do many things. And you know the axiom of “When two people get together, there I AM in their midst.”

When two drunks get together, there God is …

There is something to be said about the power the fellowship has to help each other heal those areas of life that need to be forgiven and healed. And the book does say, and we say as well, “That eventually, in a meeting, now or later, you will hear another human tell your story. The book goes on to say that “in community, when we hear our story mirrored back to us, we are forgiven and we are healed.”

The fellowship might give us a way to quit the drink, and never have to drink again, the truth is that, unless you live inside spiritual principles and come to learn and know the God of your understanding, your chances are less than average.

Because there are those too, who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. If you cannot be honest with yourself, How in God’s universe can you be honest with God ???

I have friends, they are friends, because we sit in rooms together, they might not call ME a friend, but they are … They who are just white knuckling it, who just won’t Let Go and Let God.

Tonight, my lady friend told us how to do that.

You never know when the message is going to sink in and settle where it needs to.

Which is why we keep coming back.

We stick around until the miracle happens …


Thursday: If I keep a Secret, Nobody will know …

17191492_1866704746945038_5263523050693755398_n

Lorna Kelly once said, in her wisdom about alcoholism,

“Only You know what you do in secret…”

The Book says, that at some point in your sobriety, the only thing that will stand between YOU and a DRINK, will be your Higher Power.

The Book also says that, the obsession of EVERY alcoholic is this …

“That one day, we will be able to drink normally like other people.”

The Thursday meeting did not disappoint again, tonight. One of my friends spoke. What goes on in Vegas, is supposed to stay in Vegas. Well, we know tonight, that adage is not really true.

All it takes is a shot of tequila while standing in a pool at an expensive hotel on the strip. Take a sober man, put him in a POOL with his fellows on a business trip, far from home, disconnected from his sobriety, and hand him a shot !!!

At first, he tosses the first magical elixir SHOT into the pool, much to the consternation of his fellows, so they hand him a second SHOT, this time, he downs that shot, and is off to the races. One shot devolves, from that expensive Hotel pool on the strip into seedy hotels off the strip, lots more alcohol, girls, and illicit drugs.

Thank God he had the presence of mind to STOP. He takes himself to the airport, a few days short of completing this business trip, and pays $2500.00 for a plane ticket, and comes home.

Straight men, in the corporate world have it really bad because we heard him say that the corporate world is COLD, and that MONEY is COLD.

14 months ago, that few night slip took place. Thank God, 14 months later, he is sober.

At the end of the meeting, the 12 step rep got up there and handed the chip.

Surprise, surprise, a man I know well, got up and took that chip.

Many years ago, a man came in. Reticent, and Unrepentant. At that time, I was not as sober as I am today. And what I did not know then, I would not figure out, what I did not know, until I was on the other side, looking back at it, right now today.

Nonetheless, one night, after a meeting, I sat with this man, and gave him the speech. Told him what I was doing, and how I work with others. Needless to say, he did not want what I was selling.

And to this day, he still does not want what I am selling.

You can only WHITE KNUCKLE it for so long. Because eventually, YOU are going to drink again. My gay friends, in the rooms, have not much love for me, because they all think I am a bit mental, and crazy, and they are, and have been the most judgmental about my personal appearance and my presence in meetings.

For the whole of my sobriety, I have watched people. I’ve listened to them talk. And I know what they are doing, and what they are not doing. I know, many things about my friends, that they don’t even know about themselves, until they drink again.

My particular friend, has been white knuckling it for a long time.

Here was a SURRENDER that was YET to happen…

My friend is a member at the Monday meeting. And for the last many months, he comes in, shakes hands perfunctorily, and sits down. For the last many months, he has been more OBSESSED with a light switch on the wall, rather than paying attention to reading the book, that we have been reading religiously for the last 14 months.

He is more concerned with that fucking light switch, rather than his sobriety.

Because he is the guy who shuts the switch, turns on the switch, and when to flip the switch.

He’s been doing this for months. Now I recognize that behavior, looking back at it, because I heard many times before, that if you are disconnected at meetings, that you really need to reconnect, at your own peril.

Over the weekend last, he thought to himself, and he said this to the room that,

“If I had a drink, one drink, in SECRET, nobody would know …”

Well, God knew. And He knew as well.

Stubborn pig-headed queer men are the bane of my existence. My gay friends don’t want to know me, and they are fixated on topics that I have already walked through myself, but over the past year, these are the same men who shunned me and snickered at me, while I was in my cups and at my worst, mentally and emotionally.

My friend took a drink, in secret, hoping nobody would find out.

FAIL !!!

I may not have been as sober as some think of me today. But the good God’s honest truth is, I am still sober, and I did not drink, even in the worst of my personal hell over the past year, I stuck it out, white knuckling it, as I figured this hell out for myself.

Yet, I have the presence of mind at meetings to pay more attention to my friends, than on my own self. I read the book, I share from my heart. My straight friends are A LOT more supportive in the grand scheme of things, than my gay friends.

Somewhere, deep in my consciousness, now that tonight took place, that the warning signs were there all along. I had seen them materialize. I knew what they looked like, now on the other side of an intentional SLIP.

Lorna warned me, warned us. Because this man was sitting in the same West Island Round up when she spoke those words to us about the Secrets we keep to ourselves and having to guard our secret moments, we keep to ourselves.

More than once, in her share, she said and I quote …

Alcoholism, is like a snake, slithering through fine china and wine glasses, across the table, at an epicurean feast fit for a queen, is always there. And on the second night of that feast, a fellow lady at the table suggested to her that she drink, to “enhance the pasta dish,” and in that moment she had a choice, to DRINK or NOT to drink.

She put down her fork and knife, put her hands in her lap and said the Serenity Prayer to herself. Thereby avoiding a slip at that table.

The day after, she had an emotional breakdown in her room thankful that she had God in her corner and that she knew what to do in that moment of choice …

She did not drink that wine, and was sober until the day she died almost a year ago, in the Thirty something sober range….

The Book of Forty is closing. The Book of Fifty is about to be opened.

I know God is in my life because my spiritual directors, Spencer and Randall kept me on that connection every day.

I am sober and made my Statement of Faith the other day in my Inventory …

Monday I will be Fifty … And I will be SOBER…

There is a God and I am not He.

Some of my friends are not so lucky.

The Book says, an alcoholic Will Drink Again. Lorna said that We must be diligent in our secret spaces.

And Mother Teresa said to Lorna, on her sickbed that…

YOU MUST PROTECT THIS SPECIAL GIFT … (read Sobriety)


Friday: God.Creation.Puzzle Pieces

1372165866_3865776220001_video-still-for-video-3865684819001

This post is brought to you by The Book of Mormon, No, the Real Book of Mormon.
Jacob: Chapter 5.
The Vineyard.

I have spoken in the past about God, the universe, and where I believe we exist in the grand scheme of things. That a little portion of the universe is in us, and the universe is the heavens. And if both exist together as a whole, yet in two places at once, we are eternally connected to all that is, which brings us into unity with the universe.

And God.

The Universe (read:God) knows all, and sees all, and facilitates all. Before we even think a thought, or have a feeling, or speak a word, the universe, connected to us intimately from within, already knows what is in our hearts.

The Universe Always Conspires to Help Us.

Even if we don’t want that help, or know it is there for us, but I know today, that over time, the universe reveals to us, the wonders of life, creation and inspiration.

I had an enlightening conversation with my Elder friend Spencer last night. While in Montreal, on his mission, that ended last fall, Spencer realized a progression of coincidences began to happen, in rapid succession, over long periods of time.

But we know, there are no coincidences, only God. For those who believe in God.

We met on a Metro platform, and over the weeks, as we sat together and talked about God, Faith and Life, that coincidental progression began again.

We did not know one another, but as the days and weeks progressed, our conversations turned into serious topics. And as God is, made manifest to us.

Spencer was LIT with God. This young man, knew his book, knew his faith, and knew his God. He was a miraculous presence in my life. And subsequently, we are friends to this day.

It was serendipitous.

On our last meeting together, I handed Spencer my 14 year chip to take home with him. He carries it with him to this day. I gave him a mission to take home with him.

It was the best piece of advice he had been given while on his mission.

I asked him to purchase a journal, and begin documenting all the lessons he learned while he was here. He had journal-ed while he was here and he had certain dates of importance and certain stories recorded.

Events only, not what he learned, or how he felt, or how each situation made him feel.

It was only when he went home, with my direction to write, did he begin to learn the wisdom of his mission.

We have spoken here, at length, about being ON THE BEAM, when it comes to God and Spirituality. Spencer and I, are, On The Beam, together.

Returning home, he wrapped himself up in the transition of going home, beginning his university career, and over that first month, we had not reconnected yet.

He Fell Off The Beam, so to speak.

We had ventured up a mountain, saw and met God, and when we parted, we both came down from that mountain. Spencer into darkness, myself into unknowing.

We now know, that we have to carry that mountain within us, every day, to the best of our ability, some days are better than others. There is wisdom in that.

Spencer said that while he was off the beam and disconnected while we had not begun to talk again regularly, it was a very dark and disorienting time for him, one that he does not want to repeat.

Our subsequent re connection was the best antidote for the darkness that fell upon him.

We know this now, because hindsight is our best teacher.

Last night, Spencer mentioned God, and thus it went:

God did not just throw everything together in one fell swoop, and BANG, the Universe was created. No. God carefully selected and collected all the constituent parts together, very slowly and methodically. Every perfect piece that is everything, is gathered together, over long periods of time.

And then creation happens. God knows what he is doing, in the cosmic realm.

So it went with Spencer’s Mission, followed by our friendship.

In hindsight now, Spencer speaks of God, thus…

Over that two-year period, looking back now, through journals, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and effects, God sprinkled our paths with bread crumbs, puzzle pieces, so to speak.

Sometimes, we need distance between the past and the now, to see the wisdom of God, in the grand scheme of things.

These coincidences, or as the Big Book calls it, God Consciousness, are littered throughout Spencer’s Mission and my life. The past few months of his mission included meeting me and beginning our friendship.

There were many spiritual lessons to be learned by both of us, from one another. And as these coincidences began to unfold, it fueled our spiritual journey together.

Spencer knows now, the wisdom in his experiences, because he added experience, feelings and outcomes to those journal entries.

The DOT on the map, with one event, became a web of everything, that is still in motion to this day.

Over time, God reveals puzzle pieces to us, one at a time. And Not all at once.

Little by slowly, God reveals his plans and ministrations to us. It might not seem that way to many, who do not necessarily see things in Spiritual or Godly terms.

But we do. Because we have eyes to see and ears to hear and hands to work.

There is a tapestry that has unfolded for both Spencer and myself.

Every decision we make. Every person we meet. Every person we minister to, is on our path for a certain reason. We either have something to learn from them, and/or they have something to learn from us.

There are no coincidences, as to why Spencer was standing on that platform that afternoon, and we met, greeted and now we are here almost a year later.

God’s handy work, at revealing “Little Things” one at a time, takes time to reach the point where a partial picture, most of the picture, or the whole picture is revealed.

Both Spencer and myself know, today, the picture of his mission. In our discussions, we have greater understanding of those two years, now that we are removed from them.

And God had dropped puzzle pieces, one at a time for both of us.

Spencer was on his mission, and I was in my life.

It was on that Metro platform that God introduced us, for a specific reason.

Spencer to speak of God, and my needing some serious spiritual help at the time, because my life was in turmoil and had fallen apart. And Spencer was the spiritual glue that put everything back together, along with a few key people in my life.

The Vineyard …

In the book of Jacob, the master of the vineyard and his servants are caring for olive trees. Some had fallen fallow, some are doing better than others. And some are dying.

As the story unfolds, the trees that need help are rooted, dug out, watered, and cared for. In some of the trees, the dead branches are pruned, and in some trees, they graft wild branches into them to fortify and save the trees.

Over time, the wild branches take over the good tree, the roots are overcome, and the wild trees bear bad fruit. Unusable an unprofitable.

Over time, trees are moved from one location in the vineyard to others. Some to good soil, and some to not so good soil. The subsequent outcome is that some trees prosper and others do not.

And in the end the vineyard falls into disrepair and all the trees end up in fire.

The vineyard is lost.

What do we have ? Good trees, Bad Trees, Good Fruit and Bad Fruit and Wild Fruit.

Not all the fruit harvested is worth anything.

So it goes with people. People, like trees, and all living things, need nourishment, love and care. A vineyard can be small, or it can be huge.

In our lives, there are good trees and bad trees. Some trees take root and grow by the work of our hands and hearts, and some do not root, do not grow, and turn wild unto themselves.

Sometimes we have to prune our vineyards.

We are finite humans, with only so much capability of maintaining a vineyard.

Humans, cannot be all things to all people all at the same time.

Hindsight speaks once again…

Both Spencer and I were working in our respective vineyards, when we met.

I have shared with you, in the past, some of those encounters, after the fact, looking back on his mission. I also have hindsight into my own vineyard.

The pruning of my vineyard was beginning before we had met. As the trees that were wild, and the trees that we not growing accordingly, we pruned right out from under me, much to my dismay.

I had been in the middle of an emotional upheaval when Spencer came into my life, and the serious pruning had been done. Looking back, God, in His infinite wisdom, knew what He was doing. It is only now that we learn the how and the why…

Jacob Chapter 5.

In my work, I cannot be all things to all people, and I have only a certain amount of spiritual, mental and emotional energy to devote to my peers.

Some of my trees rotted out from under me. Some of my trees needed to be cut down and burned. And just a certain few of my trees still exist, are growing in good soil and are prospering.

My vineyard is much smaller today.

Those people who were not growing and sapping me of my good will and love, have been pruned away. Those people who remain in my vineyard are good trees who have grown up around me and they bear good fruit.

The Basis of Recovery is to have a spiritual experience, and for each of us, in our own ways, to expand our spiritual lives.

The basis of Mission is to meet people in the field. To bring them the Book, and walk them into a community of faith. The vineyard is full of different trees that respond each in their own ways, to our working in them.

Some trees took root, grew and prospered. Many did not.

Spencer came and planted me a tree. It has grown, prospered and bares good fruit.

Our relationship is the fruit that was bore, so many months ago.

Not everybody IN our lives, are meant to BE in our lives forever.

Some are meant to be there for just a season, others, may be around longer. It just depends on God’s plan.

The people meant to be in our lives, stay for one reason, because we invest in one another, to the degree that we thrive on each other’s presence.

The bane of recovery, not everyone who walks into our lives, will stay.

Some will take root, for a bit, hang on for dear life, and many will fall away, go fallow and end up in the fire.

Then there are those who will take root, grow, prosper and bear fruit. The odds are stacked against the many, but a handful succeed.

Knowing who to invest in, and why is the key.

Knowing when to prune our vineyards is key, also.

I thought that pruning my vineyard on my own was a bad decision, until I learned that I did not need permission to prune my vineyard.

In the end, God did the pruning for me.

Now I Know…

Spencer read me excerpts from Jacob chapter 5, last night. I read the chapter myself today, and the lesson about the vineyard was instructive and divinely appropriate for me right now.

I know that if I pray, and don’t get a direct prompt, then I have to go listen to my friends talk, and usually, an answer comes, if I have ears to hear it and eyes to see it.

Living On The Beam takes a lot of work, patience and commitment.

One either decides to invest in a Spiritual or Godly life, or you don’t.

Those who do invest, seem to take root and live much better lives.

Last night, I spoke to a friend about gratitude, after the meeting.

Our visitor was from out of the city, she was sober a while, and had a fresh new message we had never heard. The story about loosing everything, coming into recovery, and then getting most or all of it back, are few and far between.

Our woman last night had lost it all. And now 11 years later, she is eternally grateful for the rooms, and of us, who took care of her.

And a thought came to mind last night as we were walking home …

People who come from the First world have huge problems with gratitude. They don’t know the rest of the world from Adam.

People who come from the Third world, have much less a problem with gratitude than their peers. Because they know what going without means and feels like personally.

And so it went in my vineyard.

My First world trees fell fallow and ended up in the fire. My Third world trees all prospered and are doing better than the others.

Not sure where that thought came from, but it made clear sense to me as I shared the words with my friend.


Thursday: Now I Know …

18670946_10155321285782731_1664733400576378003_n

It was a full and beautiful day. And Now I Know …

After a year of searching, talking and listening, Now I Know, what it is I am supposed to be doing. Now I know, what brings me joy. Now I know, who I need to be with.

Now I know, that friends I am connected to, friends I have known for a long time, that I never really connected to intimately, like those that I HAD been intimately connected to, have come to the fore.

There are friends and fellows, searching for connections and solutions. And over the past week or so, new connections have been forged. And working with others has come in small and simple ways.

They say … “IF you build it, they will COME.”

A Booking (read: Big Booking) series that began last Summer 2016, with Joe from New York City, with a small intrepid group of First Gen students, worked the 12 week program. We then endeavored to find other like minded folks on both the French side and the English side.

At that time, we hosted an Open House for the French side, and 50 women showed up and a handful of men. We opened a dedicated meeting serving the French side, to sister up with the Sunday evening meeting on the English side, doing the same format.

Big Book in both French and in English.

That 50 plus group of men and women were partnered with men and women, on both sides, and over the calendar year, all those men and women, went through the Book.

Now, all those men and women are taking another generation through The Book themselves. And the 2017 campaign has opened. The initial Gen Booker’s from last Summer, are beginning a new Summer session with another Gen of men and women.

I begin my next Gen Booking myself in August, for the second time.

On Sunday last, a young man who has been showing up on Sunday’s came and asked me if he could do the Booking himself. Today, we sat for our first Booking Session, that will run 12 weeks.

Tonight, at the regular Thursday meeting, a very good friend spoke. The same man, who, when I spoke a few weeks ago, did the Thanking.

Before the meeting I sat and listened to a Fifth Step from one of my men.

Then at the meeting, I heard my friend speak. He hit many salient points that I had spoken earlier in the evening. My friend has spirit, and he has God, and He lives in the solution, every day.

And as I sat there listening, I said to myself, Now I know.

I know my message. I know my experience. And I said to my friend afterwards that, I should have known better, when I got up there and made a fool out of myself.

Now I know, what I should have said. But like a good alcoholic, breaking the rules about intention, I had to have a fucking script, thinking that I needed to tell a specific story, for whatever fucked up reason I had.

When I should have really spoken the message that was supposed to be spoken and wasn’t, and listening to my friend talk tonight, I Got The Message.

I’ve spoken my displeasure. I’ve spoken my words. And I’ve said to those who needed to hear it, “I Don’t Give a Fuck anymore…so Fuck It.”

I’ve had spiritual teaching from my Elder friend Spencer. Who is a very bright light, whom, it seems, God smiles upon, every day.

I have faith. I have God. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me, and wants the best for me, and so I am surrounding myself with really good people.

Now I Know.

I know what I want to do, and why. Every day I am presented with choices of what I AM going to allow in, and what I am NOT. Every day I am presented a choice of what I want to do. How to Pray, and what I am going to engage with.

I don’t have to engage in thinking, and acting like a miserable dry drunk.

God has been very gentle with me. And gives me that persistent PUSH in the right direction, because I hear it in my heart, and the prompts come, and have been coming far more often, maybe because I am paying attention to that Still Small Voice Within.

Tonight Elder Spencer said to me that, “if he had the chance to go back to the beginning of his mission, with what He Knows Now, he would do it in a New York Minute.

His younger sister is just a few weeks into her two year mission in Montana. And a brand new crop of young Elders and Sisters are engaged at the M.T.C. Elder Spencer is right back at the beginning of a new mission, sharing stories about His mission, with a new crop of missionaries.

Indeed, he spoke his intention to return, so God has brought him full circle to return to the beginning of a mission for a group of young men and women, with ALL of the wisdom he learned on his mission here in Montreal, that ended last Fall.

When Elder Spencer went home, I gave him homework. Home work to record the wisdom he learned here, on paper. Which he did gladly.

And that homework led him to this new job. One he had not anticipated when he got home and finished his first semester at B.Y.U.

Successfully I might add.

Now he has come full circle. And I reminded him of this blessing that he intention ed himself. We both believe that when we met and through today, that there were too many coincidences between us, that were confirmed spiritually before our eyes.

And we both acknowledge that there are No Coincidences. Only God.

I feel renewed with a new solution, based in Love and God and the Book and Prayer.

It is all about the Daily Surrender and the Quality of that Surrender.

The work is there to be done. And Now I Know…

NOW I KNOW …


Friday: The Quality of Surrender

17191492_1866704746945038_5263523050693755398_n

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The first really BIG weekend in Montreal has begun. The F1 Grand Prix, is the penultimate event of the season for the city and the millions of people who come from far and wide to participate.

It only gets better from here, with the Festival Season that opens over the next month.

I did nothing all day. I did my shop early and came home and crawled back into bed. I’m not opening any longer, which frees me to head out a little later than usual. I got ready to go and took my time in getting to the church. The transfer out was quick, and I arrived at the church to find a friend sitting on the church steps, enjoying the sun, so I sat with him for a bit and chatted.

A new group of young men are on the stage to open and set up. We, (read: the group conscience) spoke and we handed the keys and responsibilities to them, so that they would be responsible and show up and become service hounds in the process.

Experience over the years has taught us one true thing …

Service will keep you sober.

The reading WAS Step Three …Actually … The Step Three Prayer.

I heard many things spoken. But one young man said something that I actually wrote down. Step Three is an important step. It is the first step where a prayer is asked of us.

It asks of us to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.

Step Three reads: Made a decision, to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

This appears on Page 63 of the Big Book.

The three most important words in the Big Book, appear on page 112.

Read This Book …

This young man said: Surrender has to come first, before we utter this prayer out loud. Our surrender affects everything else that comes afterwards.

The Quality of my surrender dictates how everything will turn out.

How much do we surrender when we pray ? 10%, 50%, 100%

I can concede that I need to “Turn it over,” But in my case, my surrender usually has conditions, or the usual, “Yeah BUT.” My sponsor said to me, not long ago, that I needed to open my fist and turn my hand towards God and Let Go Absolutely.

With No Conditions, or Explanations or Expectations.

Surrender is the whole point of getting sober.

I can’t – He Can – So I will let Him.

We cannot do this thing alone, which is why we need to go to meetings, and we also need others. I know, for me, that when I pray to God, I am either going to get an Up/Down response, or if the Up/Down does not come, I need to go to a meeting and listen to my friends and get a vertical person to person response.

If God does not talk to me directly, I usually find that He speaks through other people in any meeting I go to. It usually works that way for me.

Lately, God needs my attention. And I either accept that or I do not. I know that when God needs my attention, he removes something from me, in order that I have more of me to pay attention to Him.

That is either the removal of people, places, things or activities.

We believe that we always need to be engaged. Always doing something, helping everyone else, trying to wrest control over a situation that might be OUT of control.

I’ve been spread too thin for too long. People have taken advantage of my good will. And eventually, I get pushed over my personal limit of Fuck It …

So I sat in front of the church this evening, with nothing to do, talking to a friend.

That was a particularly good God Moment.

When I got sober the second time, I was ready to surrender. And in the moment when I got on my knees and prayed to God, I surrendered.

The rest you can say is history.

Because I am right here, right now.

And We did not drink today.

And together, the entire room, spoke with one voice, The Third Step Prayer.

It was a good thing …


Sunday Sundries: Yes, We are Back. Bringing Order to Chaos

38fe635bfee4de485882ea79cb096d24

The Odyssey of self has returned to where it all began. It has been a long time coming, and after listening to Brene Brown talk about Vulnerability this afternoon, I got dressed and took myself back to the Sunday Evening Meeting.

Where they elected me Chair for the month of June …

My sponsor said that I needed to un-clench my fist and open my hand to God. The only place I thought that I could begin that process, was in the church I first got sober in over fifteen years ago.

The woman who led me through my booking last Summer, is important to my spiritual path, and has been for many, many years. I need her in my life, and anything that took place in the past, was amended tonight.

In sobriety, you either grow towards God, or you wilt, and drink again. I don’t want to drink again. I know who I need in my life right now, and returning to my roots, just reorients me back into spiritual truth.

“We are responsible for the energy we bring into a space…”

Urban Legend says that this thought is in Oprah’s office. Brene Brown spoke those words during the talk I heard earlier today. I was watching her talk on the Good Life Project.

We are still working on the subject of vulnerability. And I am still a work in progress.

Today the woman who led me through my booking spoke on Step 5 …

Admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. It was a pertinent subject, seeing that it was in that particular church that I worked my last round of steps, and in turn, took my very first sponsee through his steps in that very same church basement.

Working your steps can be life changing, if you allow the process to work, as you are able, and to the level of honesty you employ yourself in your step work. Then turning around and booking a sponsee and seeing them through their steps is another life changing event for sure.

Only someone who has been through the process themselves, can lead another through that garden of self discovery, and be able to receive someones steps.

I walked to the church, overland and not through the tunnel because te sun was shining and I wanted to collect light form the sun, as I walked back into the church, and also, to have the right state of mind and be able to have a moment of repentance.

Elder Christiansen has been speaking to me about repentance over the past few weeks we have been talking. It is the lesson he is teaching at the Missionary Training Center in Idaho. My Elder is a wise young man with insight I appreciate greatly.

I need to feed my spirit and commune with God. The first place I learned how to do that is in the Church Basement of St. Leon’s Church. The location I first watched God move among my friends.

We are still in “New Experience Territory, and have come full circle tonight.”

We have all changed over the past nine months. New people are in the room, some old people are still in the room, new relationships have blossomed, and we are all the better for the spiritual journey we are all on.

That IS a good thing.


Friday: Episode 2 – Mentally Drinking !!!

38fe635bfee4de485882ea79cb096d24

This morning, first thing, before I did anything else, I called my sponsor.

He picked up the phone.

I went about my day, with a clearer head, and a lot more calmer than I was before I went to bed last night.

I took the Metro to the meeting, and cranked out set up until a fellow showed up to help me finish. And one by one, I spoke to other men, who are much longer sober than I am, who were sitting in the room last night, while I spoke.

I am told, by one, that if there is someone in the room, who I don’t like, or who does not like me, for one reason or another, THAT is the person I need to speak to, from the chair.

And really, when are things, at any time, all about me ? But my perceptions…

I know, some, have problems with me, because I am prosperous, doing well, have good friends, and am somewhat sober.

In most cases, it is NOT all about me.

My friends tell me that I carried the message. And that my friends sitting in the room, only wanted to help me along. That’s good.

Another friend, I had dinner with prior to the meeting, tells me that at this stage in my sober life, I should be at the jumping off point, where I have not had a drink in a long time, I’ve done The Work, I am living life, well, it is time to seek spirituality a little harder.

Wednesday afternoon, my sponsor said to me that, he sees that I like regimen and structure, and order. Not in a “controlling” fashion, just orderly. He tells me that I need to let loose my fist, being clenched so hard, trying to maintain order and control, and open my hand and Let Go and Let God.

I need to practice, a little harder and trusting God.

I’m not quite there yet, even now.

And tonight, I said to the room …

My head is not someplace I should go alone. That my thoughts are dangerous, and I was reminded that, if I think I know something, and plan on talking about that, really, I should just keep my mouth shut.

When I got sober the first time, and Todd was guiding my little ship of horror, I would go to work, leave my problems outside the door, and I allowed Todd to do the thinking for me, because that is what was needed, Todd knew that if I fixated in my brain, the thought of dying, that I WOULD DIE.

And He found the way to keep me out of my head, while I was in the building. It took years upon years of hard work, to be able to do that OUTSIDE the building.

When Alcoholics told me to “go and not come back,” what was left, but the thoughts in my head. Once that happened, the disease of alcoholism, that sick little voice in my head, began working its magic, which lead to my slip.

Because I was thinking, and not thinking very well, left to my own devices.

And over the past months, as feelings and emotions came on, hard and strong, the rat in my head had become overpowering, and what happened ?

I began to mentally DRINK.

In the beginning, there is an idea. Then the thought follows. If not controlled, that thought becomes an action, which leads to a drink.

I didn’t physically pick up a drink, I just went there MENTALLY.

I planned my share last night, down the the finest detail. I THOUGHT I had something particular to say. I ran those thoughts past my sponsor, and got approval.

I sat up there last night, knowing that a major pain in my ass was sitting in the crowd, and I allowed that individual to crank me up, which sent me off script and into my head.

I got home and I was IN my head all night long.

And now I know what that feeling was, it was a Mental Drink.

At fifteen and a half years sober, I still don’t have it, that something I thought I had, looking back at all my friends, knowing where they are. I am not like many of my friends, I’ve said before, who are emotionally and mentally cracked, in double digits.

I am my own worst critic.

I know, right now, that I probably will not get up and talk in front of a room of drunks again, any time in the near future.

I had a message I wanted to speak. I wrote it down. Prepared myself to speak my truth. I can do that in meetings, talk with clarity and faith and meaning. And when I talk, inside a meeting, I am good, for the most part.

I don’t speak, often… I’ve not spoken in front of a group in over six years. So it isn’t second nature. I might hear myself talk inside a meeting, speaking to a Speaker crowd is much  different than sharing in a meeting.

And I don’t have it.

Whatever, I think I should have. Clearly, it was not my night, and I wasn’t spiritually full, and I was easily swayed into homicidal thoughts because of a single man sitting in the crown, who slept through my share … Whom I loathe with all my soul.

My sponsor repeats the thought that:

Your Sobriety and Serenity are the only things that matter now. And anything you allow in, that affects either your Sobriety or Serenity is dangerous. Because if you are not vigilant, and you allow (people,places or things) to sway you …

That is going to lead you back to a drink.

And now I know that I’ve been mentally entertaining a fucking DRINK…

Whatever I think I have, I don’t. No matter how hard I fought to get to this point, I thought I had it, until I got up in front of a room, and opened my mouth.

FUCK ME !

It matters when you get up in front of a room, to have IT.

I did not have IT, at all …

Thank God I am not perfect, nor God. I am not a saint by any stretch of the imagination.

The Books reads … We are Not Saints. Progress not Perfection. Willing to go to any lengths. Then you are ready to take certain steps.

A. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
B. The probably no human power could relieve our alcoholism.
C. That God could and would if He were sought.


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 ….

 

 

 

 

 


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.

 

 


Thursday: I Don’t know but I am trying to find out, OK !

1372165866_3865776220001_video-still-for-video-3865684819001

Last night, I heard from my Spiritual director, who lives in another province, tell me that his doctors have told him that he was terminally ill, and that he has an illness that will eventually take his life, as it had taken the lives of his grandfather and father alike.

God is really the most important vital sign. If he wants you to stay, there is not way you can go, and if you are meant to go, there is no way to keep you here.

I am a very lucky man, to have a young man in my life, who has this kind of Wisdom.

I have walked many people through this minefield, that is the most unknown of places. That place of One day, being alive and fearless, to the next day, when a doctor tells you that your days are numbered, and that eventually, your body will not be able to do what is had been doing for over fifty years, and death is imminent.

How do you tell someone you care about, that they need to remember to breathe, and as long as there is air in their lungs, they should live ??? That was the exact advice I gave my friend, along with those wise words from my Elder.

If your heart, knowing it is, at some point, going to give out on you, turns towards the finality of death, and you forget that living is still on the table, that usually hastens death quicker.

No matter how dire the warning and the knowledge that all the cards are on the table, and death is going to come sooner than later, My friend, at least, HAS a game plan, a plan of action. I just thought that reminding him that he still had a life, a family that needs him, a wife who is living the journey with him, children flung all over God’s world, who still need a father, I needed to remind him, that right now,

LIFE is the most important thing in his life.

If we wake up, every morning, and we are alive … Then that IS a GOOD day.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !

Every Thursday night, when I get home, I dial an Elder on my I Phone. And with the latest technology, I am in the presence of a young man I love, who is my friend, and spends some of his time, with me. Just like we did when he was here.

I learned this week, that my Elder friend is Pre-Med. I am totally in awe of him, knowing who he is, and how he sees the world, Folks, we are going to have one really great doctor some day, I’m just sayin ….

I am truly grateful.

NO, is not part of my vocabulary…

Last week, I was on the hunt for product. And Google had led me down many dead ends. But from those Google results, those results were coming from the Pacific rim. Australia and New Zealand.

I know someone who lives in Australia. So I tweeted him asking him for his help. I got a reply, and that reply said two things. NO, and I cannot help you.

Never say NO to me. Ever.

I mean that in the best of terms. I don’t ask my friends or people I know for many things. And after doing whatever homework I needed to do, and I get to the point that I need to ask someone for some help, and you tell me NO, from the get go … Before you even hear the WHY I asked you for help You can …

FUCK the right off …

In recovery, NO is not part of our vocabulary. Obviously, there are some people I know who are too self centered and selfish to want to even ponder the thought of being of some help to someone who asked for it.

Anyways, This week has been very good. I found product I wanted. One of my friends helped me as a mail drop, because I could not get delivery to Canada, and that package is on its way today. Two other packages are also on their way as well, another from the U.S. and one from the U.K.

I returned to major seller platforms and U.K. Websites that proved to be genuine.

I heard it said to me that if you get asked to speak at St. Matthias, then you have MADE IT.

This is what our young lady said first tonight.

Obviously, I have not MADE IT YET … And I’ve been sitting in that room for more than twelve years. And nobody has ever asked me to speak there.

We heard a newbie girl speak tonight, just over her first year. I thought to myself, I did not speak for a very long time, when I first got sober. There is some wisdom to putting a newbie in the hot seat, early on. Because they get to hear their story, at that specific point IN their journey, from their own mouths.

ONE, it gives them early perspective. And TWO, they get a baseline in where they are, because after the meeting, they are going to hear everyone in the room, thank that person for their share, and then offer them some wisdom from their own journey.

In the end, our young lady told her story, and then heard from the rest of us, what she might expect if she sticks around …

On Being a Man …

We are MEN, trying to figure out what it means to be a MAN, AND trying to figure out HOW to get there.

In our little group of friends, all of us at various ages, in the rooms, are trying to figure out what our manhood’s are going to look like, and what we want our lives to look like, and some buzz words that pop up are Humility, Integrity, My Elder also adds the words God and Spirituality to the mix, these, I think are crucial for a well rounded life as a man, in the rooms of recovery.

We all agree, among ourselves, that a Spiritual Foundation laid with care, can be one of the most important components in someone’s life.

Man or Woman.

And by extension, One of my guys has Million Dollar Millennial on his watch.

We are fathers to boys, who don’t really have fathers in their lives, trying to figure out what to do for the most people, to the best of our abilities.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !


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 Language of the Heart

tumblr_lxerkgwvpi1r556eno1_500-followeed

Why, at this particular point in history, has God chosen to communicate His healing grace to so many of us ? Every aspect of this global unfoldment can be related to a single crucial word. The word is “communication.” There has been a life saving communication among ourselves, with the world around us, and with God.

From the beginning, communication in A.A. has been no ordinary transmission of helpful ideas and attitudes. Because of our kinship in suffering, and because our common means of deliverance are effective for ourselves only when constantly carried to others, our channels of contact have always been charged with the language of the heart.

There is a reason that the Friday night meeting is the BEST meeting of the week. There are times when the depth of gratitude appears and we are reminded just how lucky was all are to be sitting together in a darkened room for an hour.

They say that the opposite of addiction is not recovery, but CONNECTION.

We all need someone in our lives to stand in our corner and cheer for us. We all need that one particular friend, who is going to show us love and encourage us to step out of our boxes and expand to meet the world head on when we get clean and sober.

The words Gratitude, Silence, God and Rooms came up in discussion.

Another friend spoke about how scientists found Seven planets orbiting a cool dwarf star, Trappist One, some 39 light years from Earth. And if we can prove LIFE on another world, in the coming decades, that is going to blow all of our socks off and change the face of humanity as we know it.

I talked about silence. And how important Silence is to me. I also talked about “The Spirituality of Imperfection,” a book that is making the rounds with the men I work with. And just how important that book is, in teaching us to be spiritually aware, connected to God and connected to one another.

One of the things I think, is important in the lives of my men, is that we learn how to pump GOOD into the world. To ourselves, to our spouses, to our friends, and also to the people we work with on a daily basis.

Pumping good into the world, just for the sake of it, is not the goal here, but for us to engage our fellows with communication that may, one day, come back to us …

Juan works with our young millennial who is stuck in tunnel vision which I wrote about a few days ago. Juan’s job is to pump as much good into his young friend, that one day, he might sit in his office, and have a moment for himself, maybe a moment of clarity, and walk up to Juan and say … “Remember when you said “this” to me, well I get it now !!!

We need to communicate on many levels every day, with many people. And this is something we work on every day, to engage, polish and hone our messages. Because one day, all that work will come back to us, when we least expect it.

That is why, working with others is crucial for our recoveries. The communication of self worth, faith, love and charity can change a life, in ways we just cannot imagine. Which is why we hone our skills together, so that we can welcome a newcomer and spend precious time with them “showing them the ropes.”

God, is the hardest word to communicate to new folks. As we heard tonight, from one of our young men, who is in rehab here, who came from an evangelical home, who later turned his back on God, and went down the addiction rabbit hole, only now, “Coming to, to finding out, who the God of his understanding is, one day at a time.”

The words, keep coming back are appropriate here, because each day we return for another dose of sobriety, we hear communications and we see God (read:Higher Power) move in the rooms.

When I realized this, early on when I got sober this time, watching other people have spiritual experiences themselves, proved to me that there was something outside of myself that was working on my friends. And I wanted that for myself, so I kept returning to particular meetings, watching my friends get sober.

It was the chase for spiritual experience.

Something I tell people who are new, is the most thrilling aspect of going to meetings. Instead of chasing a buzz or a high, or a drunk, we chase healing, spirituality and in the end, God.

Last week, I got on a bus, traveling from Montreal to Ottawa. That ride, is the most peaceful ride. I can find my seat, usually, two rows from the back, on the right side. I sit down and I sink into my seat knowing I am turning my life over to the driver. And however long it takes us to get from point A to point B, is how long it will take.

I just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The return trip, both times I made this transit, is a quiet ride. The “coming home.” People usually sit quietly, not necessarily listening to music or reading, but it is like, we all know, we are, “returning.” And this ride is almost silent, aside from the bus moving and creaking along.

Last fall, on the way home, we were rewarded for our silence. Because as we entered Downtown Montreal, on the highway, a bright, Rainbow stretched from one side of the city to the other. It was magnificent. Everyone on the bus was stunned by the beauty of God.

What do we do at meetings is, we learn to turn off the chatter in our heads. We learn how to sit still. We learn how to listen. And we learn how to communicate.

And one day, it will happen for you, when you sit in a room and you share from your heart, and someone walks up to you afterwards, and says, “what you said changed my life…”

In the rooms, we expect miracles, because where else can you go and witness the miraculous ?

 

 

 

 


Sunday Sundries … The Spirituality of Imperfection

people

It has been steamy HOT these past few days. We have seen a string of 30+c days, with humidexes in the mid thirties. Rain is on the way for the beginning of this week.

On Friday, I was at Rafa’s house and he gave me a book, well he gave me several books, the one I chose to read was “The Spirituality of Imperfection,” Storytelling and the Search for Meaning by Earnest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham.

If you are a Big Ole Drunk, this book, is spiritual Gold, as a friend said to me earlier tonight. The book came to me at a crucial point in my spiritual quest for understanding.

“You cannot expect to receive anything, if you don’t extend the same courtesy.”

Meaning: After considerable thought and conversations with my inner circle, and reading about spiritual imperfection, I have come to a new understanding of life, my character defects and my shortcomings.

At the beginning of the modern age, the nineteenth-century nun Saint Therese of Lisieux rediscovered the original sense of prayer as a cry for help. From total darkness, in utter desolation, she cried out, echoing the call of the crucified Christ: “J’ai soif”… I thirst

The insight is constant: our darkness – our sins, our doubts – it is a thirst … for “God,” for “the spiritual,” for whatever might alleviate this painful side of the human condition, for whatever might somehow fill the empty hole in our human be-ing.

We seek help for what we cannot face or accomplish alone; in seeking help, we accept and admit our powerlessness. And in that acceptance and admission, in the acknowledgment that we are not in control, spirituality is born.

Spirituality begins in suffering because to suffer means first “to undergo,” and the essence of suffering lies in the reality that it is undergone, that is has to do with not being in control, that it must be endured. We may endure patiently or impatiently, but because we are human beings, because we are not at each and every moment in ultimate control, we will suffer.

When I read this passage, I almost fell out of bed, because that is where I was reading, because the words “I thirst” have serious meaning to me. Firstly, I found that passage in a book about the late Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

When I turned 10 years sober, I had that phrase tattooed on my right bicep. Later, during the Roundup where we met Lorna Kelly, a woman who had been long sober, came to speak to us, and she tells the story about going to Calcutta to meet Mother Theresa.

In her book, “The Camel Knows the Way,” Lorna travels to Calcutta, and in the chapel of the Mother House written on the wall, adjacent to the crucifix, are the words …

I Thirst …

I have come full circle.

For the third time in sobriety, the words, “I Thirst,” have appeared.

Knowing that we are all human beings is too easy. But to understand that humans are imperfect, and that we have to understand the phrase:

I’m Not All Right, and You’re Not All Right, but that’s okay – That’s All-Right.

You cannot begin to expect to receive, let’s say, compassion or kindness, or understanding, or forgiveness, until YOU can fully, have compassion, give kindness, forgive, and have understanding.

The next thought that hit me was that, and I almost choked on these words myself, when they came, but, I have to forgive, and then let go.

I can either remain stolid and resolute in my hardened heart and punish and incriminate another human being, thereby, never allowing myself spiritual growth, OR, I can admit my powerlessness and lack of humility, in this case, and say, God help me, because I cannot do this on my own, I don’t know how!

This is where I am tonight.

We’re entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.

I am ready. For God to remove my defects of character.

READY — To Be Prepared…

Steps One through Five are preparation for Six and Seven.

The Spirituality of Imperfection is an ongoing process.

 


Thursday … Of This I Am SURE

tumblr_lrtxm8xb4v1qlwnn3o1_500 wrestlingisbest

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve had several chances at a Do Over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis is one of those men.

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

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

Of that I am sure, 100%

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would bank my life on that confidence.

Because it is tested and proven.

God exists. Of that I am sure.

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

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

Go Hard or Go Home !

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

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

OF THAT I AM SURE.