Thursday … “Siempre Adelante …” Always Moving Forwards

20140127-pope-x624-1390859938Tonight, Pope Francis is in New York City.

“Siempre Adelante …” Always move forwards,

is a motto Pope Francis has shared for years and years.

I’ve listened to what Pope Francis has said so far. And he has stuck to a theme, a Catholic Theme of being “Our brother’s keepers,” “Charity,” “Being good stewards to the earth,””Respect for life,” and that we should go out from our homes and serve the least of these with all that we have, because as Christians, we are called to serve.

Along this process, I am reading, “The Great Reformer,” about Pope Francis.

Last night, as I was reading, I came across a sermon that the young Archbishop Bergoglio was giving to the church in Argentina. And I found that the message he was sharing so long ago about people, the “Pueblo Fiel,” and what a nation must do to build up its people, to care for the poor and to take care of the world, is the very same message Pope Francis has spoken in the U.S.

Along with his words, are words that come from politicians, who believe they know something particular of the Holy Father, and they speak with indictments against him. One Marco Rubio says that “The pope know nothing about the poor, and also that he wasn’t a scientist, so should keep his counsel to himself.”

I beg to differ…

Jorge Bergoglio was a Jesuit who worked in the Jesuit order for his entire adult life, until he left the order upon assuming the Throne of Peter. He worked in the slums of South America, with the poorest of the poor. Many Jesuit priests worked with the poor, much to the consternation with the church hierarchy, and at one point, with Jorge Bergoglio himself.

Which leads to the term the Pope of the slums …

Jorge Bergoglio is also schooled in science. He is very well learned for a pope.

It was the issue between many of the priests who worked in the favelas, who thought that their work was too important to be stopped. And two priests lost their licenses and ended up being kidnapped by the guerrillas and held captive and tortured.

When American politicians speak about what THEY think is the truth about the Pope, and try to indict him, those men should really shut their damned mouths.

There are common themes that Pope Francis repeats over and over again. They are themes that were born when Francis was a young Jesuit. And as he rose in the ranks of the church, his influence only grew. And the words became flesh for him, in the way he worked so hard for the “pueblo” and what he saw as justice, charity and peace.

We could all learn a little about the life of Francis, and what he sees and believes as important.

But we need to dig a bit deeper to learn that knowledge. The papacy of Francis is still young, but there is a wealth of words written about him, if you know where to look.

I think the themes of Charity, Love and Caring for others is universal. In his speech to Congress today he quoted the Golden Rule …

“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto You.”

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

It has been a challenging few days indeed. I work every day to be present and accountable; consistently. If it were possible, I could use a few more “me’s” right about now.

I had a conversation with a friend the other night. And I am confused as to why people are the way they are. I am powerless over people. And sometimes I place unattainable expectations on them, knowing, that I am flirting with stupidity.

To this end, still, people continue to astound me with their selfishness and self centeredness.

I am not preaching from some lofty perch, like God. And I am surely not arrogant to think I hold sway over anyone except myself. I hear my friends speak words, and they don’t ring true. I have implored my friends with things to do. Certain, Specific, things that need to be done.

We must succeed, or else, great failure is at hand.

We must go out and serve our brothers and sisters with all that we have, if we are able. I am able, and I devote serious time to that outreach work. The more I talk, the less goes into action, by any of the people I need to act. Before I speak, I consider my words carefully. And the other day I found an opportunity to talk and I did that. Hoping that it would bring results.

I am saddened to say, nothing has changed.

I was talking to my friend and I told her my story. Well, one big story. To demonstrate where I learned to be present, accountable and consistent. And she does not dispute my abilities.

But she said to me that There is only one of me. And she fears that I will burn out and go away when I have had enough. I’ve learned that lesson, I am in it to win it.

But she is of the mind that every human being needs three Strong, Present, and Consistent people to guarantee their survival. She doesn’t have those three people. She has me and one other woman, who’s mother is suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease, but when needed she shows up and attends to what needs to be done. The other couple of folks, are unreliable, and inconsistent and can’t be depended on, not for lack of trying, but the lack of desire to be 100% present.

We all have lives. But one of our number is in dire need of support and I do not know what to do for her but to repeat, as often as I can, that right now, I am here.

I fear that message isn’t going to be enough to ground her permanently.

If I can’t get any other players into the game, and things don’t start looking up soon, my friend is going to pack up herself and the baby and go back to New Foundland. Forever.

I don’t know what else to do. My words fall on deaf ears, and my friends are unable to rise to the occasion. And that IS a problem, that I have no solution for.

In the end, I am only one man. I am not God and I can only do so much.

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

I drank, I stank and I sank …

That is the short version of the share we heard tonight.

One of my friends spoke tonight. It was simple and to the point. In seeing another alcoholic drink, get drunk, loose his family, his job, his home and end up sleeping in the park, our man got sober.

Coming in, at first, he believed we’d all be brown baggers, dirty clothed, and sleeping in the park, but much to his surprise, we were happy, clean and well dressed people who welcomed him.

It was the commonality, the identity, and the honesty that kept him.

And for more than twenty five years, our man hasn’t had a drink since.

Tomorrow is Friday. We’ll see what that brings with it.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries, Episode #2 … Honor thy Father and Mother

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Exodus 20:11

יא  כַּבֵּד אֶת-אָבִיךָ, וְאֶת-אִמֶּךָ–לְמַעַן, יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ

עַל הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ.  {ס}

Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

The day passed without feeling or anger. And it would have gone untouched, had not a good friend of mine called me tonight, inquiring if I was “ok.” I knew what he meant, and I answered that I was. But after ruminating over this, I owe this letter to posterity.

In a months time I will be 48 years old. I have lived well past my expiration date, as doctors told me several times that I was going to die. God, it seemed, has other plans for me, because I am still breathing.

God spoke to Moses, and these words are inscribed on the stone tablets Moses brought down from the mountain. This is one commandment that I cannot abide with. And it doesn’t abide with me either.

How could one honor thy father and mother, when they could not honor their first born son. How could they create progeny, abuse them throughout their lives and turn on them with hatred and condemnation, and ask a child to “just die already” and expect to be honored themselves?

My father’s two phrases he used to toss around like the scripture he quoted from a bible that he never opened were:

  • Blood is thicker than water
  • Be careful the words you speak, because once you speak them, you can never take them back.

When I was a young boy, I listened well to everything that was spoken by both my parents. I knew I was Gay, before I knew what Gay was. But by the time I had learned what it was, and that I was Gay myself, remaining under my father’s roof was not something I could do and survive, because he tried several times as a child to kill me, chasing me around the house with a bat, only to be thwarted by vigilant grandmothers who protected me from him.

I moved away, but alcoholism followed me where ever I went.

I was a problematic alcoholic, what I did not know created rifts with my parents.
To this day, I don’t think they ever forgot nor forgave me.

I always lived apart from my family, mainly because I knew they would not approve of my lifestyle, and they did not. They made that perfectly clear well before I left the nest. When I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994, I turned to my family. I called them together to tell them and to ask for help and support.

How do you think that turned out? It didn’t …

Along with my then boyfriend, all of my friends, and my fucking family, everybody walked away. My mother worked in home health care, and knew AIDS patients in her line of work. She knew fairly well, what was going to happen to me, in the end.

Do you think that gave her compassion or love? It did no such thing.
No she just wanted the faggots to “just die already !!!”

That Christmas, 1994, I went home for the holiday, against my better judgment. I knew what was coming. I was locked in at night. I could not use the phone, nor could I visit anyone while I was there. On Christmas day my father set a card table in the living room with a plastic chair. He set me a plastic plate, and plastic cutlery and a plastic cup.

The rest of the guests sat at the dining room table and ate in front of me, while I was separate from the group itself. My father humiliated me in front of friends and guests. The son of one of the guests left the main table and came and sat with me so I would not be eating alone. The next day they invited me out on their boat and they asked me for forgiveness for what was done to me, and how horrified they were to see my parents do that to me in front of others.

I NEVER went home again.

I got sober the first time. And a few years in, my father granted me visits with him when he would travel to Miami from Sarasota. But every time he visited he would belittle me and ponder my death right in my face.

One night, on the way home from dinner, (while on the highway) he started in on me. I asked him to stop the car (on the highway) where I got out of the car (on the highway) and walked miles home by myself. I told him never to come back and see me.

The first time I got sober, I was not of right mind in many ways. I was not very sober. As I am sober today. And I made several decisions based on self that were less than charitable.

My sponsor agrees that certain decisions were not self centered but were made out of self preservation.

I pissed my brother and his then fiance off, which afterwards, they would never communicate with me ever again. And that has been their story for more than twenty years.

I could not live up to the man they named me after upon my birth. How could a gay, HIV+ faggot live up to the honor of a man who died fighting a war in Viet Nam? I legally changed my name to be done with them. That was a direct strike across the bow of their battleship.

Years would pass. I would be sober, I would drink, and I would return to the program in due time.

On New Years Day, January 1st 2001, I was sober. I had not drunk. I had just returned from a job at a nightclub, where I had worked an all nighter. Just coming home and getting into bed, my phone rang. My mother was on the line saying that they were in Miami, and would be coming to see me on their way back.

A little while later, they rolled up and my father parked in a fire zone (read: No Parking in a fire zone) with the car idling. I said to them that we could go out for breakfast and that I would pay for parking and food. They said no.

I had twenty minutes to visit with my mother. We walked around the block where I lived. I walked her back to the car, she got in the car and they drove away. I had twenty minutes with my mother after years of no communication or visits.

I later found out that my parents has been in Miami for a week prior to them showing up on my doorstep. A week !!!

I never saw either of them again, to this day …

I got sober on December 9th 2001. I was sober a few months, when the lies my mother told us as children came up. My mother, being a Canadian citizen when I was born, lied to us, saying she was an American.

I got a letter from the Canadian Government soon after offering me a birthright certificate into the country if I met the criteria, which I did. I sent the check and the paperwork.

The way I was living in Miami was not viable. I was barely surviving, even when I got sober.

I turned my sights on Canada. I came up on Easter Ash Wednesday 2002. I stayed a week, I loved it, so I stayed another week. I found a doctor and a home. I flew back to Miami, for a few days, to pack and sent everything North.

Three day later, I left the United States for good. I never looked back.

Moving to Canada was akin to High Treason on my American Father’s honor.

For the following two years, I worked very hard at relationships with my parents. At the two year mark, my mother called and said:

“If me or your father get sick and die, nobody will call you. Nobody will tell you where we are buried.”

That was the last time we spoke.

It is now 2015. I am closing in on Fifty. I am sober. I am alive. I have a life, a home, a husband and all the things I ever wanted and more. I could not be any happier. The life I have today, would never have happened had I stayed in Miami, I would have probably died sooner.

I am an idealistic man who has dreams of grandeur.

I am a lot more sober than I was fourteen years ago, and much more sober than I was the first time, close to twenty years ago. I work very hard at living and being sober.

With the dawn of Facebook, several family member are on the site. And to this day, they refuse to communicate with me. Every year that goes by, and I am still alive, I get angrier and angrier.

All I want, before I die, is for certain human beings to acknowledge me and the life I live.

If I am to honor thy father and mother, they need to step up and honor me, if only for the fact that when they asked me to die, I lived … How can you turn your backs on your children in their hour of need? How can you live with hatred and scorn for so long?

Happy Fucking Fathers Day you hateful old man …

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Shepherds and Sheep

the_steeple_of_emanuel_african_methodist_church_charleston_scPhoto Credit: Spencer Means, Wikimedia Commons

Lifted from: Steve Wiggins – Sects and Violence in the Ancient World

The murders in Charleston this week are part of an epidemic. The members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church join, unfortunately, a growing list of victims of hate. Not only hate, but that subspecies of hatred that calls the unstable to attack in a church, or synagogue, or mosque, as if to defy the very gods with their misanthropy.

Growing up we used to be taught that any place of worship is sacred. Then we believed it was because God had made it so, but now it is clear that sacred space is made so by the intent of those who worship. We find places where we believe we’re safe from the trials of the everyday world.

A place where God will look over us. A place, dare we call it, of sanctuary. Sanctuary is a concept that has gone extinct. As children we all knew of the concept of “home” in chasing games—the place where you were free and need not worry about someone coming after you. Amnesty was granted at the cry of “olly olly oxen free.”

In the biblical world, we’re told, those in danger could flee to the temple and grasp the horns of the altar and be safe. It wasn’t that someone couldn’t be pulled off, but it was that an inherent respect attended sacred places.

No place is sacred any more. Hatred has a way of overriding what we all recognize as civilization. Well-armed youth and a culture of hatred have never led to peace. Xenophobia may be natural, but it can be disarmed through education.

Unfortunately, in this country at least, education is not valued. In fact, in the culture wars, those who have the most sympathy for those who commit hate crimes will be among the first to cut education spending. It’s a luxury we can’t live without. We need to teach the meaning of sanctuary again. We need to teach the meaning of love.

Human beings shouldn’t have to rely on sanctuary to be safe. No matter what our racial heritage or gender or orientation, we are all simply people trying to make our way in the world. As a child I knew “olly olly oxen free” meant that nobody would try to tag me if I came out from hiding. I was also taught that the word “hate” was as bad as any swear and that it should not be said.

While my mother was teaching me the virtue of love, we were sending young men to kill foreigners in Vietnam. I grew up with no doubts as to which was the superior way. One way leads to life and peace, the other to constant fear and death. The people of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church have told Dylann Roof that they have forgiven him. They are offering sanctuary to one who has done nothing to earn or claim it. They, like children, lead us.

Friday … Calm Courage

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“… Indeed, that was the essence of A.A. itself; trouble accepted, trouble squarely faced with calm courage, trouble lessened and often transcended.”

We have tweaked the blog a bit. A little bit of change, with a few new images and a new header we are featuring. This photo comes from my preacher friend Gordon in Texas. This was his worship space where he ministered to his flock for many years, before giving up his church to go into the field and find God.

We are in a rain today, sun tomorrow, rain to come, and sun to follow kid of pattern this week.

Today we were on the upswing.

I spent time with a friend, and we followed that with a meeting. Tonight, the night was still bright at nine o’clock as I walked to the bus stop on the way home.

Tonight’s topic: Trouble – Constructive or Destructive

I listened to the reading twice and I did not think that I would have anything to say, until a friend drew upon this line from the reading.

Troubles … I’ve had my fair share of troubles. God has a funny was of making his presence known, and that usually happens when I am in serious trouble. Someone up there is watching me and keeping an eye out for me as well. Because I seem to have navigated this life, well, sometimes living on the edge it might seem, at certain times.

When have we transcended our troubles ?

And at what point point does transcendence take place ?

What would you call transcendence, how would you know ?

An old timer once said to me that, in order to see wisdom, you need two things:

The benefit of time, AND the experience of hindsight.

When we find ourselves in trouble, sometimes that trouble might seem, insurmountable when we are in the middle of it. And it might seem that trouble will never end. In most cases, save certain troubles, let’s say, life and mortality, troubles come and troubles go.

It is how we manage these troubles that matters.

As a young person in my family home, there was trouble. And I surfed it to the best of my ability. When I moved away, that trouble ended, but that did not last, because where ever I went, trouble seemed to follow. I must consider my youth and naivete. Add to that, my own blindness to the one trouble I had, that I never realized was a trouble (read: Problem).

Often when we read the Big Book, Bill had a certain way of writing. He never used the same word twice. If he was trying to get a point across to you, he would use as many words, that meant the same thing, without telling you that that was what he was doing, and I did not learn this until recently, when someone pointed this out to me.

You could use the word “trouble” or you could interchange the word with “problem.”

I skated through life, until I hit my mid twenties. I thought I was getting by, when I really wasn’t. I was involved with someone who was walking trouble. When that relationship went south, one night I walked into a bar, alone, and on that night, my life changed.

God began his slow emergence into my life. He knew better than I did, that pretty soon, I was going to need his help, because the trouble that was coming, would rock my world.

I can share these stories with you, because I know for a fact that in certain cases, I squarely faced trouble, and I transcended them.

TROUBLES SQUARELY FACED …

I was at work on a Sunday afternoon, and my mother called out of the blue. She tells me that my ex boyfriends mother called HER, to find out if I had seen him, because his mother could not reach him.

A few days would pass. Eventually, the police got involved. We found him a few days too late, and by that time he was long since dead. By this time, I also had the bar job at night. And God, in his infinite wisdom was right where He needed to be.

And not a minute too soon.

Suicide is never a good thing, for the one who kills themselves, nor for the persons they leave behind. How do I describe what it felt like to have a coroner call you and ask you to come and identify remains ? How do I quantitatively explain the gravity of such a request?

Do you know what a corpse looks like 5 days in ? I do…

His mother’s last words to me, after I identified him, and signed the papers to send his body home for burial were these …

“I hope for the rest of your life, the last thing you see when you close your eyes is my son’s dead body !”

I can tell you that twenty two years later, I can still see him, as I did on that fateful day.

I was still drinking. Let me tell you, I drank A LOT of liquor in the days that followed that day and that specific conversation. God was watching. Very closely. My friends, at one point, tried to intervene in my excessive drinking. They got me into therapy. Suicide survivors therapy.

For months, it seemed, I sat in a room, with family members, who were left behind. And I listened to them recount their specific war story every time someone new showed up. I kept on drinking, and I was working at the bar.

Todd passed an edict that nobody could drink while on the job. Ok, that was cool. There was plenty of time to drink after hours. And I did that. For a calendar year.

The second big trouble hit. I get a call from a certain friend, who tells me that my ex killed himself, because he was diagnosed with AIDS. Well nobody told me that !!!

Soon after that, I got very sick. I was in the middle of two tragedies.

One, facing the loss of a life, Two, facing the end of my own life.

That is when God stepped in definitively and took control.

Mortality, that, is one of those troubles that many don’t surmount and win.
Death is a forgone conclusion…

I can tell you that in both situations, I surmounted those two troubles, and I have transcended them. I have more than twenty years experience of time and hindsight, to offer.

When people began to get sick, it was inside a flurry of live fast and die young.

Where all of my friends decided to go out in a blaze of drugs and alcohol, Todd decreed that he would never let me go that way. He stepped in and kept me focused on living and surviving. He chose me, out of all those sick men to help. Probably because everyone I knew, including my family, tossed me to the gutter and I was alone.

All of my friends are dead. I am, very soon, going to cross my twenty second year, and I am still here. Those two very cathartic events in my life have come and gone. And while I was in the middle of them, it seemed that they would never end.

I can tell you squarely, my troubles came to an end.

I don’t know why I am still alive, nor why I lived and everyone else is dead.

God, is the only one who knows that answer, and He hasn’t shared that answer with me.

That means I get to tell this story as many times as I have to, to teach you all what can happen when one allows God to come step in and take control. Hopefully, these specific two stories will change a life for the better.

And maybe, just maybe, I will save a life.

I did not know what “Calm Courage” was. Todd did. I did not know if I would live or die. Todd did. I did not know life would end up this way, Todd did.

I don’t know how he knew, but he knew things that I needed to know.

I know … Now …

When I finally got to “that day” (read: the day I was supposed to die) And I was still alive, Todd helped me decide what I was going to do with myself. I was going to live.

I can tell you, that it was not the easier softer way, No, I took the long way round.

In the doors, out of the doors, back in the doors, I survived a third cathartic “trouble.”

God stepped in a third time and saved from me from imminent death.

Since I got sober the second time, my troubles seem insignificant, when I look at them against the lens of having survived suicide, my own mortality, and a near death experience.

There is no trouble I can’t face and deal with.

Unlike, many people on the earth, who walk around (some, blindly and not knowing from one moment to the next), I have someplace to go when I need help. It might cost me a loonie ($1) or a toonie ($2) at best, or it might cost me the price of a cup of coffee.

How much would you pay for someones life experience if you knew that experience would save your life? You can’t monetize life experience.

The rooms provide things for us, that normal human beings probably spend thousands or more dollars trying to find solutions to their problems.

If only everyone was an alcoholic.

They would have access to our fathomless bank of experience.

Today I have “calm courage.” I know this, because my experience has shown me where it saved my life, when I should have long since died.

I don’t often recognize it and sometimes I take it for granted.

All I need to do is stand in front of my medicine cabinet.

Instant gratitude…

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … “Thy Will Not Mine Be Done”

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It is getting warmer. This week we will see positive temps all week long. We are hopeful, that we’ve seen the last of snowfall, and sub zero temps, for the season.

After last night’s adventure in building furniture, I am mentally exhausted. But we must get on with the things we need to do, because that is what we do. Last night, before I went to bed, I set the clocks forward, so in a matter of minutes, I lost an hour, and went to bed at 3 a.m.

I had obligations to my guys today, and I could not just, “take a day off.” I got to the church on time, having taken my sweet time to transit the tunnel. We sat a large group tonight. We were reading Step Eleven, and it is quite a long read, that went all the way around the room.

The St. Francis Prayer is part of this read. I had the blessed opportunity, back in October, to visit Bill’s home, and also to visit his grave, along side Lois, his wife. While we were there we shared with a group of women doing the same visit. And we closed our visit, with the St. Francis prayer, holding hands, standing on the spot where Bill W. is buried.

This prayer has a very special meaning in my heart because of where it has appeared in my sober life, and who I was with and where I was at the time. I have that prayer card, I got from one of those visiting women, in my Big Book. It is one of my most treasured possessions.

With the read completed, the same thought ran through the room, that:

Prayer, is the action of asking from God, and Meditation, is waiting for the answer.

In our busy lives, how many of us, take the time to sit still and listen? I’ve said before that I don’t hear God’s voice directly, He hasn’t stepped out of heaven and addressed me personally. But there was a time, when I walked with God, together, on this earth. I truly believe that during that period of time, God manifested Himself in a human being, for my benefit, and also for the benefit of all the men who lived and worked under that umbrella.

If God is going to speak to us, that communication is going to come from someone very close to us. It will come from a voice we recognize, and when we least expect it. We might say a prayer, and then hit a meeting, and as usually happens, an answer will come, if we are listening for it.

Hindsight is very useful, as we read this step tonight. I can see ways I employed the practice of prayer and meditation. When I got sick, I must have prayed, because God then appeared, in the guise of a man who would save my life. Was I lucky, or was I just in the right place at the right time?

The practice of coming to work, and leaving my life outside the building, and only having to think about what I had to do on any given night, was difficult at first, but I grew into it. The whole, “turning ones mind off of him/her self, to something higher” is the whole idea behind meditation.

I got to practice turning off my head. And it worked.

Today, my brain, is not a place I like to go alone. Sometimes it takes a lot of work, to shut it off. When I want to get still and quiet, that is when my brain goes on overdrive, because I have either started my day in quiet, or I end the day with quiet, and my brain says,

“Oh, undivided attention … Let’s Get It On !!!”

Prayer and meditation comes when I need it most. I have prayers scattered about my apartment that remind me that I can pray at any time during the day or night. I get on my knees during my day. I have to consciously practice gratitude, because I don’t necessarily think about it. I take it as given, which I think is the wrong attitude to have.

I talked about luck with a friend of mine.

Does God direct luck or does luck exist independently of God?

I have been in the right place at the right time, but I have also been at the wrong place at the wrong time as well. Am I lucky to be alive and sober? Was that luck, or divine intervention? Can I attribute survival and sobriety to living well, taking my pills, doing the right thing?

When my eyes are on the Prize (read: God), I am the luckiest man in my life. I don’t necessarily call this luck, I call it having a connection with the God of my understanding. It is historical fact that, when I turn my eyes away from the prize (read: God) I fall into disaster, and really bad luck. Every Time.

Living well past my due date, has been practicing mindful survival. Every day I stand in front of my medicine cabinet, as I pop my pills, I am medicating my body, nourishing my soul, and at the same time, I am asking for another day. This is an entirely silent process. And sometimes I am not even aware of the three fold action. I kind of forget gratitude, and take being alive for granted.

In that I mean, Thank you rolls off my lips at the end of every day, and not when I am in the medicine cabinet. Since learning how to pray actively, and meditate daily, part of my brain is always connected to that higher power. And sometimes, it even acts in my best interest, when I need to stop and breathe.

That happened last night, as I was assembling our coffee table.

In the moment that I wanted to hurl the screw driver across the room, I had momentary blinks of the thought that I need to take a moment, and center. and breathe, before I shot off my mouth.

it was an automatic action that came from within, my brain on auto pilot.

I don’t know what God’s will is for me or my friends. I just do what I do every day, without fail, I follow the same ritual daily. I hit the same meetings, I call my sponsor every day, I speak to my guys, every day, and I do the right thing, as often as I can.

This is conscious active work – every day – without fail.

Sometimes I think about God, and last night, I said to my friend that I seem to have God’s favor, because my life is full, I have everything that I need, and I am satisfied with having enough, I don’t always think that I am worthy of God’s favor, what ever that favor is ?

I just do my days. like I have been doing my days, for the last twenty odd years now.

And it seems to work. Why is that ?

Many of us have to take medication for one reason or another. And I firmly believe that a drug is only as good, as the positive thought you put behind that pill you take. It is akin to prayer. I will take my pills and I will (WILL) those pills to do their job, every day, with all the positive energy I can throw at them from within.

Let me tell you that that took decades to learn about.

Let me tell you that there is IMMENSE POWER in Negative thinking. Negative thinking will kill you. It almost killed me. But I was taught how to turn negative thinking and negative thoughts, into Positive Power to change my life. So add all that shitty negative thought, and turn that into powerful positive thought, you have a double whammy, Total Positive thought Bomb.

It changed my life, and it can change your life as well.

Living life is a full time job, and needs all the help it can get, because of my certain disabilities and medical issues, and add to that recovery. If I sink into the morass of self pity, doubt or any of the plethora of negative self talk I can do, I am a dead man.

I still do not know, and I have asked God this question over the years, “Why did I live, and all of my friends died?” Why did you choose me, and not them? Why did they not get a fighting chance like I did? Was I in the right place at the right time, with someone to take care of me and give me a chance as I had?

At that time, everyone was begging for one more day. My friends didn’t get them, like I did. Why? Was God there? Why am I still here and they are not? These unanswerable questions haunt me, and I think about them often. But there are no answers. All I know is that I survived.

You can’t do without prayer and meditation, just like you can’t do without air, water or food.

I’ve learned how to pray, and I know how to listen. And I take the time to sit and listen.

That is grace.

I am so grateful that I am satisfied with having enough. And not having all the answers. If I had them, I would be God, and I am surely Not God.

More to come, stay tuned …

Thursday … It Is COLD !!! … If You are Breathing, You have a Chance …

tumblr_lm5d60Hzy01qzhzruo1_500 flickr jamesclearCourtesy: James Clear Flickr

Boy, is it FRIGID outside tonight. We are sitting at (-15c/-21c w.c.). We got a little snow, and city workers, are tonight, hurriedly trying to clear snow from the streets. There is good news coming in the way of positive numbers beginning on Sunday with a trend moving from Zero to plus (+7c) by Wednesday next week.

That warmth cannot come sooner, as February was the coldest month on record here in the city.

Yesterday I welcomed a friend back from the U.S., the long nightmare that was Pittsburgh is over.

We had lunch, did some shopping, and sorted out various things that he needed to do so that he can reconnect with the community here. I had not been to the core malls in some time, so while we were there yesterday, we happened into Indigo Book sellers. and I invested in the next two books by Kathy Reichs, in the Temperance Brennan series, and last night, I could not get to bed early enough to start reading them.

Today was quiet. I was sleeping, and at one point, the same dream scene kept repeating itself over and over again, so I knew it was time to get out of bed, to try and reset the cycle. As I can only sit so long in front of this box, I spent some time surfing and stuff like that, and when I completed my circuit, I had two hours before I needed to get ready to go… I went back to bed for a short run.

Winter has not been kind to our folks. They are choosing to stay home, instead of venturing out in this frigid weather. I’ve been noting as well, some of our old timers have been MIA for a while. Which is out of character for some of them.

One of those men, returned to the fold this evening. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and I was starting to worry about him. Weren’t we all surprised when he got up there and spoke.

My friend has a number of years in, twenty seven to be exact.

For a while now, having listened to old timers talk and share at meetings, I know some things about them. Each of them approach the program differently. No two of them do it the same way, and I’ve written here, recently about folks who are just comfortable to warm a chair and occupy space.

If you hit enough meetings, and listen well, you sometimes get nuggets of wisdom, here and there.

I’ve talked to my friend who spoke tonight, in great depth over the months that have passed, and asked him why some folks, have put down their roots and roost where they are, and others keep to the notion that there is always something new to learn, and if you have the time to invest, they why not do that ?

While we were out there, most people have experiences of certain individuals who step in and stop us in our tracks which begins the slow grind out of hell, into life. As was the case for my friend.

He was working in a hospital, barely hanging on to life, trying to dry out after another ritual alcohol infused dance with massive amounts of cocaine trip. He was ordered to get a medical check up by his boss. So he goes to this office and sits down, as the doctor has his back to him. He, “the doctor” turns around and looks at my friend squarely and without skipping a beat says quite bluntly …

“Alcohol and Cocaine huh !!! ” Exclamation point …

He had not set eyes on my friend, nor knew his state. But he pegged him substance for substance.

That doctor knew him and began to sort him out and get him help.

The doctor tells him emphatically …

“You go and talk to this guy, do it now, Do it now, DO IT NOW !!!”

In a few months time, and after a few ins and outs, the miracle happened.

  • The admission of powerlessness over his chosen substances
  • The realization that there was a kernel of faith inside of him from his childhood
  • And that that Power Greater than himself could actually help him

This was another example that most of us are either born into – or are educated in, some kind of faith background. And for some of us, when we come in, are provided the grace to be able to appreciate it for what it was and is, and allow that grace to save us.

I am very keen to know and to learn perspective from my long sober friends.

That kind of dictates or allows me to see where I am in the grand scheme of things. I’m not just walking around aimlessly not doing anything with my time. That I am, in fact, using my time properly, I’m invested in my own sobriety, and I am invested in the lives of my friends at large, and then, on a daily basis, I am invested in the lives of the guys I work with.

Constant. Daily, By The Book.

My friend tells us that “If we are alive, and breathing, we have a chance to live a life of our wildest dreams, in the program.” Simply, “if you are breathing, YOU have a chance !!!” Exclamation point !

You never know when God is going to step in and sort you out. Be mindful.

In my life, God, or angels, or particular people, stepped in when I most needed it and gave me a chance to get out of hell and get sorted out and clean up my life. When that happened in my life, it was not by my own steam, or by my choice, in those cases, it was divinely ordained. There are no two ways about that.

My friend tonight, had that same experience, when he most needed help.

God stepped in and rescued him from hell.

One day at a time, this past January, he celebrated twenty seven years sober. And in April, he will turn sixty six years young, Some old timers, with oodles of time, have aged very gracefully.

Others, not so much.

I remember the words spoken by another long sober member here …

CONSTANT VIGILANCE !!!

Alcohol and drugs are pernicious, patient and deadly.

If you go back out, it is a foregone conclusion that you will return to where ever you left off, when you quit, and will wind up in a much bigger jackpot that you could have imagined.

Meetings, Prayer, Meditation, Working with Others …

When you come to us, you get the recipe for life. My friend lives in that recipe.

i want men like him in my life, because they challenge me to cook.

What are you cooking ???

More to come, stay tuned …

This is what Religion has done to Us.

5057 Take a look at these horrific images that depict two men thrown from the roof of a building as a crowd watches them fall to their deaths, and they purport to show the bloody Islamic State (ISIS) carrying out public executions before an audience in Iraq’s Nineveh province. And the two victims’ alleged crimes?

They are believed to be GAY.

5058This is extremism at its WORST. Ideology that dictates this kind of atrocity is not religion. Once again, we see that (1) If your religion tells you to go into a public place with a gun and kill people, you need to find a new religion. And (2) If your God tells you to toss a human being off the roof in front of spectators, that is NOT God speaking to you.

These are unequivocal. There are no two ways about it.

I repeat myself when I say that killing an innocent for any reason is a crime against humanity when it is grossly dictated by someones ideology. This is utterly disgusting and repugnant.

These people, need to be stopped.

What do we capture them and send them through War Crimes tribunals, or do we administer vigilante justice and just kill them outright. Crimes such as these warrant the biblical punishment of an Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth.

This is just how this kind of atrocity makes me feel.

God – NO GOD – demands human lives for glory or Jihad. NO GOD !

Where is God while all these kinds of atrocities are taking place? If God did exist, He should act definitively and without mercy. Let the punishment fit the crime.

Smite these men into eternity. No virgins, No redemption, and NO mercy !!!