Sunday Sundries … Geez, It's Hot !!!

tumblr_n75epjZqad1rwtgp2o1_500 rugbysocklad

Courtesy:RugbySockLad

Can I tell you how “HOT” it is outside these past few days ! The heat and humidity have been the highest they have been this season. Thank God for air conditioning. But you know, a good thing never last for very long. There are storms in the offing overnight and into Tuesday.

The great tradition here in Quebec is in process, that is the tradition of “Moving Day.” It seems our building got the notice that if you don’t have to move, then DON’T … But June isn’t over just yet, and the First is Tuesday.

I haven’t seen much shit left on sidewalks like there was in years past. The warnings from the city have gone out to recycle where you can, and for God’s sake, negotiate if you have a pet, don’t toss them onto the street with no where to go.

Hopefully the weather will be kind and not rain on our parade this week. Ironic that it rained all over Ste. Jean Baptiste day last week. I was quietly applauding mother nature.

The end of the month week has been updated in several groups, so we have had repeat readings of traditions this week. Two passes at the same reading gets a second look and listening to more people talk about them, I see a bit more.

We had a good showing tonight. Meetings are hit and miss during Festival Season. The Franco-Folies, The Jazz Festival, and the International Fireworks Festival are all going on concurrently. Luckily, most of the entertainment is located down at Place des Arts and all points East. So it is not difficult to reach multiple events during the week.

Funny that my old sponsor came to the meeting tonight. I haven’t seen nor spoken to him in more than a year. But he came nonetheless. It was a bit awkward, people change, and it was a good moment.

Life is frenetic it seems as of late. I plan my days around who is in town and where they are on any given day, then I make my meetings, some are additions, and some are substitutions.

It’s good work, work that means something and means something to others as well. So that is a thing.

Another week begins.

Bring on the rain already …

More to come, stay tuned …

Forgot to Mention … MUSIC !!!

ed sheeran

If you haven’t bought a copy, I insist that you buy it …

The New Ed Sheeran, ( X ) Multiply album. It is brand new and I must say that from start to finish, this is one SOLID record. I cried a little listening to it on Tuesday.

FANTASTIC.

I am also listening to Thirty Seconds to Mars “Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams.”

This is a 2013 release, I seem to have missed it. It is a departure from their older stuff, but is also another SOLID record.

Add that to Linkin Park’s new record ( The Hunting Party) last week and you have hours upon hours of Good New Music to listen to.

Mercury is in Retrograde … Until July 1st.

tumblr_l9ye08McMu1qb0mibo1_500 fysnoopy

I learned of this offhandedly.

But all the same, make no life decisions during this period.

It has been an interesting week. Sunday I was setting up the hall, listening to some tunes, and my Skull Candy (Up Rock) phones dropped a channel. I’ve had them for 8 months, and I thought, because they are a flat wire operation that the threat of a line breakage would lessen. The music just stopped, I am not sure what I did, but my phone was in my pocket as usual. Oh Well.

So I had no tunes for my transit. F.M.L.

I came home and Monday I went to Target, where I bought them, and attempted to get an exchange, I actually had my original receipt, but they said NO. That I would have to contact Skull Candy directly, which I did on Monday, so I have to send them back for a return/new pair.

It was very easy to file a warranty claim online, then they give you a number and a printout for the claim and the address to mail them back.

Very efficient.

Tuesday, I took the headphones that I got for Christmas, with their UBER long cord to the meeting, which worked well. That night I was sitting here at the computer, and I felt a little off. I knew something was not right, and the headphones were plugged into the tower on the side closest to the screen, instead of the back.

I got up and the cord wrapped around my foot and I yanked the plug in two, efficiently killing a second pair of headphones over two days.

I was like, Fuck Me!

I turned the box off and went to bed.

Someone is up there taking the piss…

Today, Wednesday, I got up early because I needed to go shop for another pair of headphones. They aren’t cheap. I had looked at Canadian Tire and they had a few, but I returned to Target for the purchase. This time I bought Sony’s.

I am hoping that Skull Candy gives me a new head set.

I went and did some Supermarket Safari and we have these points cards that we swipe every time we check out and we accrue points. Well I spent $30.00 on food, and I had $20 in credit accrued, so she asked me if I wanted to use my points, I said yes, so a basket of groceries cost me all of $9.00.

Take that Mercury !

I did three loads of laundry. And I took a long nap. Sleeping in freshly laundered sheets is the bomb …

Meanwhile, my emotional state is up in the air. I’ve been twisting and turning. And my sponsor says that I am in the right place at the right time, and that I just need to plod through it. That this 4th step process is turning more than myself upside down.

Then I get the news that Mercury is in retrograde …

Great, fantastic, just what I needed to hear.

That is why I am all fucked up this week. And it ain’t over yet …

Turn Your World Upside Down

tumblr_l5tfderl9f1qa4w2fo1_500 free minded

Courtesy: free minded

So it rained today. God is up there taking the piss. And rained on the big party today. At least the community got a good day yesterday to do what they do.

With everything closed today, it was a hunt to grocery shop and find a restaurant that was open, ala Subway. I’ve been craving a burger and wanted one and woke up wanting one, and the burger joint across the street was CLOSED !!!

I didn’t feel like walking all the way to the mall for some Micky D’s so I settled for Subway, it is right up the street and convenient. Laundry will have to wait until tomorrow. And that is fine because it is an off day.

I headed out for my transit and that went well. I got to my connection and the buses were all sitting in the bay with drivers doing this and that. I could’ve skipped the transfer and walked, but I was like, it’s raining, and probably folks would be slow on the arrival. As WAS the case.

We had a small showing. We have a smattering of newbies, a few with time, then those of us with decades or more.

The chair read from a Grapevine and the reading was on “The Serenity Prayer.”

The topic went all over, and folks were talking all over each other. And I sat there for a while pondering prayer, and nothing was coming to mind.

I was totally blank.

I mean On my way back I prayed. When I came in, I heard the prayers and participated in the meetings, but it wasn’t like I was PRAYING overtly.

Those first few months when it came to meetings, I mean, I went, I was there, I hit massive amounts of meetings, but it was all a blur.

When I got here, I hung out, got connected. Found a sponsor. And I worked my steps that first year in. So I did the prayers from the book with my sponsor, and that was that. I had my issues coming in that had to be abandoned. And I learned a few things.

I went back to school. I studied Religion and Pastoral Ministry and Theology. So all that time, it was all about God in His many forms. I call that religious education. At the same time I was going to meetings, year in and year out.

I did what we all did. I would not say that I was paying lip service to my prayers, I mean I was praying, but I guess not hard enough. I got through and life panned out. I did whatever I was told to do, by people I trusted and respected.

But it all came to a head at the Roundup of 2013.

One of the speakers got up there and hammered the message home that “if you have lots of time, you should be able to rattle off the prayers from the book” right then and there. And like I have said before, we here in Montreal, where sobriety is concerned, we say ” Aw, we’ll do it tomorrow!” Nobody in the room could rattle off the prayers rote.

Then it hit me.

If I want what these guys are talking about and the lives that they are speaking about, I really need to step up my game. And that game began with prayer. Ardent, on your knees, pound the book, PRAYER !!!

Three, Seven and Eleven, morning, noon and night.

And so that is what I did, for months on top of months. I prayed as if my ass was on the line, and I meant it. And then I waited for the payoff.

I changed up my meetings. I spent lots of time with guys I really care about and meetings with people I love, and I did that for months on top of months.

Then a new sponsor came into my life. And we started my steps, of which I am amid today. I met a young man, whom I sponsor today. Then one night my second guy walked into my life and I took him on as well. And they are working their steps today. And just a little while ago, after a meeting a third guy wanted to connect, so three’s a charm.

The girls work New York Sobriety. And I wanted New York Sobriety. And I was going to find it no matter what I had to do to get it. Our girls here won’t sponsor guys, but they do in New York, So I had to wait for one to come to me.

I got to go to Vermont in May for a Men’s Intensive Weekend. And that was a watershed event in my life. I hit the 2014 Roundup a couple of weeks later, and that was mediocre at best. And that was the general consensus.

When I ponder prayer, over the long haul, I did it in the beginning. And it went as it went. I stayed sober. I used the Serenity Prayer all along. I’ve posted it, I spoke about it, I’ve shared about it.

It is a pervasive prayer that is said all over the place. In many forms. Long and short. Meeting after meeting. And you work your steps and as they pop up you say them when needed and then you let them go.

But I’ve learned that sober prayers, if said correctly, from the heart in the right direction can change your life, in ways you can’t imagine.

Until you DO IT.

Our young people, (read: newbies) come and they sit, yet they tell us that they don’t understand the steps or how to do them. I don’t throw Big Books at newbies. I’d rather they come for a while and sink into their chairs and get comfy in them.

It has to happen organically. You can’t force someone into a book. It just does not work very well that way. And I said as much tonight to them.

It has been a journey. And at different times, different things pop up onto the radar that we get to work on, and Prayer was the last real lesson that came in the past year that I worked on for an entire year. And that has helped me and my guys immensely.

I know who God is and I know who God is not.

Education does that for you. So it wasn’t a wasted opportunity.

Can you recite Three, Seven and Eleven from Memory?

If you can’t then maybe it is time for you to practice.

Time to eat. More to come, stay tuned …

Omens … Signs from Above

RBWO_M

Al

Over my life, I have had omens appear throughout my life. I have had visitations from family members that have passed on to the other side. They not only have happened to me, but to other family members as well, thousands of miles apart happening at the same time. I cannot explain them as they happened.

The first one to appear was when I was a teenager. My grandfather (my father’s father) died on year and mysteriously a red headed woodpecker appeared at my bedroom window. And he pecked at the window. continuously …

It got very aggravating after while. The bird, the pecking and my parents besides themselves wondering what the hell was going on.

The bird would follow me from the house to my bus stop at the end of our block every day. This went on for weeks and weeks. The bird would then follow around the house to whatever room I was in. I could open the window and tell ( AL ) to quit, and the bird would go. I could also stand outside and call ( AL ) and the bird would appear.

Paul

Soon after, my uncle Paul died, thousands of miles from Miami Florida. He lived and died in Connecticut. Where my family originated. One day my uncle John was black topping the driveway and a blue jay appeared on the lawn.

blue-jay

Now, Blue Jays are known for being ornery birds. But this one was different. Like the wood pecker, the blue jay followed my uncle around the house to whatever room he was in and would peck at the window. This went on for weeks and weeks.

There was discussion between Miami and Newington about this occurrence.

Two deaths, two birds, miles apart, but telling the same message.

After a while, our woodpecker decided to go. We did not see him again. A few weeks later, my uncle called us to tell us that a woodpecker had appeared at his window along with the blue jay. They stayed for some time together pecking at the windows and following people around the house and yard.

After some time, both birds disappeared. Never to be seen again.

Grammy

When my grandmother, (my father’s mother) died, I brought home flowers from the funeral home and put them in my bedroom. That is when she began to appear in my bedroom. I always caught sight of her standing at the end of my bed. At first she freaked me out, but she returned nevertheless.

That took place over a period of time. But she was persistent.

Years later, I had moved to Fort Lauderdale Florida. I got sick and shit went down. I lived in a one bedroom apartment, with an ac unit in the bedroom. I always slept with the bedroom door closed.

That is when I began to notice things being moved or shifted.

Magazines on the living room table would fall to the floor. Pictures on the wall would be tilted. I could never explain it. But it happened over a period of weeks.

I was seeing a friend who was intuitive and a tarot card reader. I asked him to come over the house and tell me what was going on. We stepped into the apartment, and he said that a woman with red hair was in the apartment. And he also said that she told him to tell me not to sleep with the door closed.

It seemed that she could not get through the door, for whatever reason. But she could move things.

He did not know my grandmother, or that she was dead. I did not tell him anything about the situation, aside from the moved items. He explained the woman he saw down to a T. Yes, that was my grandmother. Early in her life she had red hair, she appeared as she had as a younger version of herself.

I never slept with the door closed ever again. And to this day, the bedroom door is always open.

Memere

Years later, when my grandmother (my mother’s mother) died, my mother forbade me to go to the funeral. God forbid someone see me in my sickly state.

For weeks after the funeral, Memere appeared to me. I would sit and write letters in her voice to my mother. In her handwriting. Signed with her name. As the letters were completed, I would mail them.

I am sure my mother kept them and never spoke about them, she probably thought I was going crazy and that it was me doing this stunt. She never mentioned the letters ever.

I moved to Canada in 2002. I worked very hard at a relationship with my family over two years time. I wrote every two weeks. A letter to get there took a week, and a return would take another week. I got no replies, ever.

The last thing my mother said to me in our final conversation was that if either she or my father died, nobody would call me, and I would not be told where they were buried. And that was that.

Fast forward to 2005…

One night, sometime after we got married I was in my bedroom, and I saw my mother appear standing in the room. She said she was sick, and that she was going to die. I attempted to prove this by calling, and got no response, in either case.

I cannot confirm nor deny that that actually happened. My father would never give me the satisfaction of that proof. He would continue punishing me for my adult decisions.

Aunt Georgette

My Aunt Georgette was a Grey Nun, who I met when I first moved here. My mother, miraculously, gave me that introduction. So we met and began a relationship that lasted a number of years.

She ended up in the hospital after being diagnosed with inoperable Cancer. They had tried a surgery, but it was too far spread to help, so they closed her up and sorted her out into the intensive care unit.

On her last night of life, she was all hooked up to machines with bells and whistles. That scared her too much, so they turned them all off and hooked her up to a morphine drip that took her life. (cue assisted suicide).

I sat with her all night, reading the Tibetan Book of the dead, while she wasted away. At 3 a.m. she spoke her last words. She wanted a priest, said the devil was trying to take her and that she was afraid. I could not find a priest in the middle of the night, so I prayed with her. She closed her eyes and went off.

At 8 in the morning the nuns from the house came to her. The nurse cleaned her up and sorted her out. I said to her that I was going home and that I would return soon. I came home and showered and laid down for a nap.

As I was laying in bed, I felt her move through me. Like a wave or a breeze. I could actually smell her move past me. A little while later the phone rung and it was the hospital telling me that Sister Georgette was dead, and if I wanted to come up to see her, I told them I would see her at the Mother House.

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

Now we are in 2014.

We live in a high rise apartment building. And there is a building to our right hand side that is not as tall as our building. There is a flock of about 30 pigeons that sit on the building side every day. I see them daily.

images

I’m laying in bed one morning, not long ago, and I hear cooing from outside the window, on the balcony. There on the balcony floor are TWO pigeons.

They stayed for a while.

We’ve never had pigeons come on to the balcony before. Ever.

But here they were. I did not think much of it, I thought that one pigeon was chasing the other one around and ended up on the balcony for some reason. So I dismissed the sighting. Thought it coincidence. And let it go.

The pigeons returned over a number of days. Always in the morning, while I was in my bed. And never during the day. (hmmm… strange).

They have not returned, however the pigeons still roost on the building next door. But none of them have come over to our balcony again.

Lately, I’ve been pondering the omens. And came to the conclusion that the visitation is truth and that the message is clear. Nobody called, yet something must have happened.

Because TWO pigeons appeared, not one. That is a solid message.

Coincidence?

Me thinks not.

I’ve always thought about this happening and what I would do if I could confirm that my parents died and nobody called. (cue pent up anger and rage).

If I am a portal and that all these omens DID take place throughout my life, not only to me but other family members, then the omens speak and have spoken.

God help the person on the other end of rage if I ever get the news directly.

So that is my omen story.

Sunday Sundries … Windows of Opportunity

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Courtesy: The Worlds Havoc

The weather has been on our side as of late. It has been just beautiful here on our side of the country. However not so much out West. From Ice Bergs on the East Coast to Sun in the Center and finally rain and floods out West, it hasn’t been a cake walk for so many. We are keeping many in our thoughts and prayers.

I’ve had a jumble of thoughts running through my head as I work on my fourth step work, and as that work coincides with readings from literature, my brain has been on overdrive for a few days. And rather than sit here and drop verbal diarrhea, I have spent the past few days sitting on my thoughts, allowing them space, and trying to find the balance of feeling what is there on the surface, and then being cool with letting them go, and not hanging on to shit that has nothing to do with today.

It is one thing to speak to my guys and then my friends and giving them sound advice, it is quite another thing to listen and take my own advice on board. I am a work in progress.

My fears, guilt, and resentment lists are short, but what is on the lists is strong and potent. The past is just that, the past. It has no bearing on the present, or on the day.

Estrangement is a funny beast.

I have problems coping, as an Adult, with how another human being can just shut off one’s light off and plunge them into darkness as a punishment for sin or non-compliance.

How does one live with themselves when you intentionally place another human being in the DARK?

You silence their voice and kill their spirit.

How does one go on with life, knowing that your voice is not important, and that your life is not important in the grand scheme of things?

When we are born, we have family. Whether good or bad, it is out of our control.

We grow up and find our way into the world, on whatever path we take. I certainly went through my fuck up phase. I did my own damage. But in the same breath, damage was done to me as well.

Post fuck up phase, we move into our age of enlightenment. I got it once, and I got it a second time. I made my series of life decisions that were meant to keep me alive, fed and a roof over my head.

Family is supposed to be thicker than blood. Family is the most important part of our lives, either the one we came from, or the one we create on our own. I did not choose my family of origin. They are the ones who shut my light off.

Today, I have my family of choice. And that has worked for me.

The time had come for me to sever the connection with family of origin. Because that was a toxic situation. Today, I am guilty of many things. I made self serving choices. Self centered choices, that were necessary for my life to move forwards.

But that light switch is still off. And it will never get turned back on.

OMENS

Some time ago, an omen came to me. It appeared and it happened more than once.

This omen has presented itself to me before. And always took place after a death. And I respect this omen as truth. But this time there was not one but two omens to appear. They came as a pair.

I blew it off as coincidence.

But the more I ponder them, the more it has become clear to me that it wasn’t just coincidence. They were sent. I had no part in the sending. But I was part to the appearance. I know what the omen means.

So that is a thing.

I know I can’t change what’s done. And I am coming to accept that I won’t ever get to speak my mind, as I think I need to. Because at this point, what is it going to matter? What good could come of it?

I made the shift. I had to make it. That was what had to happen, to guarantee my survival. People got bent. We are all adults. It is sad that as an adult, my decisions were seen as a slight and irreconcilable. How does that work?

Do you parents punish your kids when they make adult decisions? We all make decisions in life. And most likely, not everyone may be happy with the decisions we make, but I would have thought, maybe stupidly, that people would grow to respect and acknowledge our truth.

That did not happen.

And that is a thing.

One day, thanks to social media, and the progress of communication, the people who need to find me, when they get to make that decision, will. I am hoping that one day we will all find the pieces.

Because like Troy Dunn says, “You can’t find peace, until you find all the pieces.”

My puzzle is in pieces.

So that is a thing.

There is a storm blowing about, and I am in the eye of the storm, so to speak. As long as I stay in the center, eventually it will all work out.

You can either get stuck in the storm or you can navigate around it. I hope with my time (in) that I have learned how to navigate.

So that is a thing.

More to come, stay tuned …

Standing in the way of worship – the Guitars Journey.

Do you believe in Love

Lifted from: Jeremy – Don’t Eat Trash

I remember sitting outside in the middle of the bush in north west Sydney. I was surrounded by people I loved who stood in a ring around a raging campfire. I was at a youth weekend. The same youth weekend I had attended since I was a teenager. We were singing loudly into the night, to a God we loved.

We sang the words – “There is a God, he is alive, in him we live and we survive.” Words I could’ve sang in my sleep, written backwards, and a melody I knew four part harmonies too. But did I really understand what I was singing? Did I understand what it meant to have a God who was alive?

There is a couple of traditions in the church that adhere to the idea that guitars are the devils instrument and shouldn’t be used in the church. A tiny part of that sect of thought have come to the conclusion that, there is no proof in the new testament that the early church used instruments, in fact some verses refer to the strings of our heart, so we should just sing. With our voices.

I have also stood in a circle of lovely people, a tight knit group, who, with only a guitar as accompaniment, awkwardly stood around. Kind of singing, kind of into it. But not really. I spoke later to one of them who confessed, they couldn’t get into worship unless the music was loud.

Somehow, the guitar stood in the way of worship. Either because it was considered of the devil, or without it, we are in shock.

Amongst all of this tho, I have stood in groups, passionately loving the lord through song in the midst of a huge, well orchestrated band, and I have stood around awkwardly looking at my feet singing accapella. So what are we missing? If it has nothing to do with the music, then it must have something to do with the lyrics.

Have you ever sang words in a song that your heart passionately belts out but your logical brain is just like …. “what does shekinah mean? What does hosanna mean again?” But your whole heart is in it. You know deep down that what you are singing is good, but you don’t know why. Do we need to know the why? If worship is just between me and God, and the depths of my soul knows I’m praising, then words are irrelevant. In the same way that tongues is our heart praying prayers that our brain doesn’t understand, can our souls not sing also?

But when we worship as a group, is it different? Or is it merely solo worship in a room of people? If you took most of my corporate worship sessions and putt them in a graph, 99 per cent of them would’ve looked no different had I been in a large room or my own bedroom by myself. And I feel there is a disconnect there. We are the community of God, and as echos of the trinity shouldn’t we be connecting together like the trinity?

I heard a one liner this week that made me stop and think – If in worship your not listening and hearing God and your only thinking and singing about and too God, then it is no longer a relationship but you are stalking God.

Let me reword that – If you don’t let God speak in worship you stalk him. Have you ever stopped in the middle of worship and just listened? And some songs are written from Gods perspective, so I suppose that counts. But sometimes I feel like we need to give God more room to move.

I tried to experiment with this once. We were camping, in the middle of the bush and we circled up. I started playing my guitar and then I stopped. “Today I’m going to just play a soundtrack.

I have songs to play, but I don’t need to play them. If God puts a song in your heart, if God prompts you to speak out to the group, if God wants you to pray over someone – DO IT. Irrelevant of what I’m doing, I play this guitar more as a back track to improvise off” The next 40 minutes God broke a lot of freedom over our group.

Some things were prayed and sung out that would echo powerfully through out the next 7 weeks and beyond. We gave God the room and he used it. We saw this again two weeks ago at our national leaders meeting. And again even more recently in a worship time on base. We gave God room to move and he did.

I feel like the guitar stands in the way of God moving. If worship isn’t about the music, and its not about the words (necessarily – tbc) then its about US and GOD. And us and God can relate off the back of anything. In Uganda they don’t have guitars as much, but they do have drums and amazing voices. So we would worship for ages on beats alone. In India it was synth, in Ukraine it was a mixture of Korean, Russian, English and Danish – we related amongst different language. But when we put stipulations on worship we limit God.

– It has to have guitar
-it has to have no instruments
-it has to be thee and thous
-it can’t have slang words.
-It has to be the lyrics of the people
-it can’t be too loud or too quiet
-it has to have flute.

My relationship with my father is liberated from stipulations. I love him, we converse a lot. And he doesn’t need to be playing guitar.

When we worship God, we unite with our brothers and sisters through a common wording of a song. And God uses ALL to speak words over each other.

So some questions –

could you passionately worship God in a room full of people you love without any music?

Could you passionately worship God with 6 people and a ukelele?

Could you passionately worship and converse with God to hymns? To New songs with only 8 words in it? Dancing, kneeling, with no words?

Can you give God space?

Or is the guitar a security blanket? Because if it is, maybe we should set them all on fire.

A thought before I end…

I have now been working with young people for two years directly discipling and empowering. And the amount of time I hear this statement is saddening “I can’t be a worship leader because I can’t play guitar”
#oneofthedevilsbiggestlies.

Stop believing in limitations that aren’t from God.
God frees us to be what HE CREATED.

GET OUT OF HIS WAY!