The week has come to an end. And the week was insightful, enlightening, and also, very hard on some. Life on Life’s terms sometimes requires, hard truths.
The week also brought gifts, in the form of books, that arrived in the mail today. Indigo is very good at sending “get this book now” notes via email. And that is exactly what I did.
First, is Pope Francis’s first book of sermons and memories, called “The Name of God is Mercy.” Then to add to my Donna Tartt collection, I got her first novel called “The Secret History.” If this second book, is as GOOD as The Goldfinch, as in brilliantly written, and a must read, then my heart will sing again.
It was a full week of work and discussions. Much of those discussions revolved around God, and Pope Francis. Tonight, we read a page from A.B.S.I. and the topic was humility.
In the opening chapter of the Pope Francis text, We get a reading from the Gospel of Luke 18:9-14.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
It was something that I began reading this book, at the coffee shop, prior to the meeting tonight, because it related to the topic on the table.
God, has always been a presence in my life, even when I ignored Him. After graduating High School, I did a stint at Junior College, because I had a free ride because I earned a scholarship. It was a start, but not where I wanted to end up.
Along the way, I was active in Church. And by the time I ended that first year, I was on my way into the next chapter of my life, that of a seminarian, studying to be a priest. This was the period of time where I intentionally set out seeking God.
It only lasted a year. At the end of that year, my desire to seek God, did not match up with those who judged, my seeking God, saying that I wasn’t what they were looking for.
I was a good Catholic boy, the pride of the family, having entered the Holy Life, so it seemed. But that was not to be. I had not decided what side of the fence I would end up on. I saw too much, and knew too much, and that may have been the deciding factor, in my exclusion from a fraternity of liars, and deviants.
When I left seminary, I left God as well. I was angry, and who wouldn’t be, after having the experience I had, and being told, “You’re not good enough.”
I got a really good job, a REALLY GOOD job, that should have been the beginning of success, as young as I was. Sadly, my alcoholism took precedence. And that stunted my growth, for years to come.
Life went on. I stopped talking to God, and I stopped seeking God.
That road took me to utter terror and despair. Hindsight speaks to the reality that God was always there, for me in particular, for some reason. That blood line began when I was just a child.
The grandmas, I look now, with the eyes that I see with, and feel that they had organized my life agenda, knowing in the way they knew it then, that I was destined to walk a different path.
My life took a certain trajectory, with God intertwined. I had been introduced to God and Jesus, on a retreat, where in the end, we turned our will and our lives over to Jesus, and pledged to live good, honest, Christian lives.
Do you know how hard that was to do, in the 1980’s where carrying around a bible was tantamount to heresy on teen age culture.
Life took its time. Alcoholism was raging. And in my mid twenties, I began to hit tragedy after tragedy. In the beginning I turned to the bottle to blot out the pain. It was then, for the first time that Todd stepped in and said No.
I didn’t listen. Meanwhile, He kept me on at the bar, as an employee.
When the second tragedy came, I again, turned to the bottle, this time, to not only blot the pain, but to kill myself, because what was coming was far greater than what I was prepared to suffer.
This time I called Todd.
The night I told him that I was going to die, was the most important night of my life. But that was not to last, because there were plenty of night’s after that that were the best/worst/and most important nights of my life.
When everyone else scattered like rats off a sinking ship, Todd stood tall and He took my life into his hands, and He decided that I would be the one. He would save me, if it was the last thing he did in his life.
Once again, Hindsight gives me particular insight into the mind of God.
God was there, I was just not connected. Every time I disconnected, life went down the tubes. Now, life was in the gutter, and there was no other place to go but Up.
I turned my will and my life over to Todd (read: God) as I understood him.
And I can safely say that God came out of heaven and incarnated. There is no other rationalization I can make to explain, just what that means to me and my survival.
It was Divine. I know it, I lived It, and I have the tale to tell of it.
I was given a plan for life, as I was getting sober, and being taught by Todd (read: God) about how I was going to live and how I was going to survive. I had someone physically, in my life, calling the shots, because I sure as shit did not have the ability to call them on my own.
When Todd moved away, God was still there, but I did not see Him, and had no idea what to do, left to my own devices, alone in a world that I did not see a way into.
I did not know what to do.
Sobriety turned into Sodriety, which landed me in a well planned and orchestrated SLIP. Sobriety Lost Its Priority.
When I was on my way back, And I got to the bitter end, I was hopeless.
Once again, I am reminded that it was I who sought God out again.
The Good news was, He wasn’t lost, I was.
I said prayers, in a specific order, and I asked for specific things to happen in a certain order. I began to turn my hopelessness into faith, then I waited.
I speak about the Universe, as alive, sentient, and aware of us.
Well It knew, It listened, and God rearranged the heavens, and the answers I sought, came to pass, in the order I needed.
Troy showed up. You could call him an angel. Over a months time, I came to believe that this was an answer. I admitted my truth, and I humbled myself, and I asked him for help.
I had already crossed Steps One, Two and Three off my list of things to do.
The rest they say, is history.
Now, today, I sit with my spiritual children, and I do what I am called to do, to work hard, to be honest and humble and to help those people in my life, to the best of my ability, no matter what.
I once, went to God, seeking admission into His Church, to minister to His people as a servant of God.
In the past fourteen years, I went to church. I also attended University and earned degrees in Religion and Theology. Meanwhile I was getting sober. I did not find God in the book, nor in classes. In fact, I didn’t find Him in Church either.
Where I DID find God, was in the basement of those churches. The first time I saw Him move, I was awestruck. So I stayed and waited to see Him again.
I’ve turned my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood Him.
And I do that on a daily basis.
And I get a daily humility check, every time I stand in front of my medicine cabinet.
Then, when I wake in the morning, and I am still breathing and alive, I get a moment of gratitude.
Francis calls us to be humble and loving, servants of a God who wants us to seek Him in all things, in all people, at all times. And finally …
To be reminded that in all humility, we are all sinners, and that we should never be afraid of asking God for forgiveness, because God NEVER tires of Forgiving.
Because God loves us, and because we are all children of God.