Thursday – August 30, 2018

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I haven’t written in a long while. Not that I did not have content to talk about. But life, as it has happened over the last little while, has not been easy.

I’ve not been feeling myself, for the last little while. I need medical attention, that we cannot afford at the moment. And as of 2 days ago, that need became seriously magnified.

Over the past couple of months, my husbands office, has gone through serious changes, and to that effect, by Monday afternoon, all the furniture in the office had been liquidated, and sold off. All the employees have been working from home, which has turned the office into no-mans land. Several employees quit, and on Monday night, hubby came home and was sullen and depressed.

Before dinner, he turned to me and said the following …

“They’ve sold off all of the furniture and computers. The refrigerator had been emptied and turned upside down, over the tub, in the bathroom, to defrost it. All the employees have vacated the premises.

By the close of business Monday evening, hubby was the last man standing in an empty office. The only furniture left, in the place, was his desk and his computer. He then told me that Tuesday, would be his last day at a job, he has excelled in over the past four years.”

On Tuesday morning, I was up before dawn, watching cruise ships sail into Nassau harbor, via web cams on my desktop. One, I could not sleep, and two, I had to be up to make sure hubby was alright and mentally prepared for the day as it was to transpire.

Sleeping in, and leaving him alone with his thoughts was not what I wanted for him.

We knew going into Tuesday that a severance package was in the works. As the last man standing, he was offered a healthy severance package upon departure. In the end, he was retained on a part-time, freelance option.

The office has been closed. And the other employees, that were let go, will be afforded a flex space in Old Montreal, for important face to face meetings, with the company owners.

For all intents and purposes, the company has folded major operations, and only a few employees remain. Hubby will work from home, on a part-time, 20 hour work week, making good money for the hours he is billing the company to remain, partially employed.

We will lose our much-needed insurance, that pays for our medications. Which prompted an emergency call to our pharmacy, and we ordered three months of medication to be provided in one drop, because the insurance is going to lapse, and while it is still in place, hubby decided that we should fill as much medication as needed, hoping that he lands in a new position, in that three-month period of time.

Meanwhile on Stream B, hubby had applied at another media firm, that he had researched and sent his updated cv and coordinates. He is able to see, in real-time, how many people have looked at his papers, and their movement up the chain of command.

I am told that this company may take its time in responding to a job inquiry, so he is in a holding pattern, for a second job, while working part-time to keep the money flowing from stream A.

His intention, from the very beginning, was to figure out all these problems by himself and not bother me into worrying about the job, the money and the loss of insurance, hoping that he would have heard from Stream B by now, but that did not happen, as he planned it. In the end, he spilled the beans in an emotional flush of words.

What was I supposed to do now ? All I could do was listen to him talk, and to be present in that moment. Once again, as I look back over the past week, and for the last portion of our lives, Someone Much Greater than we are, is watching us.

And every so often, that Power Greater than ourselves, sends us a sign. A physical sign that we are not alone. The last sign we got, was at the end of the trip to Hamilton in May. That trip was a shit show, but when we got home, a concrete sign was sent to us.

I know that we are not alone right now, for sure.

And at dinner tonight, I spoke these words to hubby. Reminding him that he was not alone, that I was here, and that someone is keeping an eye out for us.

On Stream C, all my kids returned from summer vacations, as school begins the next week for them. We have been welcoming them back a few at a time, over the last little while. The last remaining folks return tomorrow, Friday …

We are all reconnecting. For a handful of graduates who have moved on, they are all relocated in jobs scattered all over Canada and the U.S. Everybody is still sober and that is a good sign, going into the Fall.

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

Yesterday around 3 p.m. I was sitting at my desk, and in moments, the sun disappeared from the sky, and it got very dark, very quickly. Environment Canada sent out an emergency storm warning across the web and via text.

As it was dark outside, I stood at the windows and watched the rain move from East to West, across the sky. A rush of wind blew, and the demolition site, just up the block, where they are tearing down the former Children’s Hospital, the wind was blowing so hard that the mounds of dust and debris from the site, began to fly into the air in a flurry of motion.

The rain began to fall, earnestly. Had I not been watching the progress as it happened, I would have missed it. A few hundred yards from the building, I saw a rain cloud open and drop a burst of rain, falling so hard and so fast, that it obscured the sight-line of the buildings and land beneath it. I’d never seen so much rain fall in one concentrated spot like that before. It lasted all of twenty minutes.

Then it was over.

When all was said and done, over 100,000 Montrealer’s from on the island to off island were without power. Many trees were felled. Many roofs were knocked off their buildings, cars were destroyed by falling trees onto cars.

A man on a construction site, here in the city, was injured as he was hit in the face by a two by four, from debris flying through the sky, in his direction.

Off island, several barns were destroyed, including several houses. There was widespread destruction all over the place, from a storm that hit and only lasted mere minutes.

We know today that a type two tornado had dropped from the storm and severe destruction happened.

This was the second Micro-burst storm to hit this city. The last one to hit, had hit the city, West of downtown, in a section of town called NDG. In that storm, it dropped serious rain, and the micro burst destroyed a park full of century old trees. Snapping them into pieces like match sticks.

As it stands, the city is trying to decide what to plant in their place to repopulate the park with trees.

Right now, I am trying to remain calm, and not lose my mind, with the thought that these problems won’t go away very quickly. All we can go is just cope the best way we can, and not get stupid mental over the fact that shit happened in the last week, which we are totally powerless over.

Sometimes God needs to shake the tree because growth is needed, in one area or another. We may not like the tress shaking or the uncertainty of life, but I also know that someone, something greater than we are, has our backs.

At least I can trust God, as I understand Him.

I cannot afford to lose my cookies at the moment.

Friday: Tolerance … And It’s Price

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Sadly … Another friend of mine from my former second fellowship has relapsed.

That would be three in total …

It is a common theme over the past months, of people we know, very well, from around town, are stuck, and have either gone back out and are still out, or as in tonight, a friend I know well, for many years, who had some time, decided to jump out of a window and use again.

If you have decided what we want and are willing to go to any length, then you are ready to take certain steps.

Addicts and Alcoholics are terribly INTOLERANT people.

And the Friday meeting, is one of those meetings, that has been through the crucible of intolerance. In as many years, we have all stayed around, through adversity and intolerance, we survived.

Intolerance has cost us a great deal over the years. People with time, deciding at one point to be intolerant of some who come to that meeting, because they feel welcomed, were, at one point, asked to leave, because of intolerance of some of our number.

Tonight, one of the men who fled that drama, was sitting in the room. I have not seen him in many many months.

Everyone sitting at that table tonight, must have been thinking about what happened to us, a while back, when friends became enemies, and silence fell and people fled that meeting.

Because of INTOLERANCE.

God, in his infinite wisdom has done for us, what we could not do for ourselves.

Wisdom speaks to me tonight and says … If you stay, and you pray, God Will Move.

Once again, I am sitting in a room, and God is moving among us.

Last year, intolerance raised its ugly head and disbanded an entire community of people, sending people running for the hills.

Sadly, three of those intolerant people, used and drank again. And they have, over the past few weeks, returned to the sanctity and acceptance of the Friday meeting.

Is that Odd or is that God ????

I left a community, and people left me in return, because of intolerance.

I remained at the Friday meeting, making it my home group some time ago and I have been sitting in that room, doing service, and waiting on God.

God has not disappointed …

“Gradually we began to be able to accept the other’s sins as well as their virtues. We coined the potent and meaningful expression “Let us always love the best in others – and never fear their worst.”

“Finally we begin to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong. When this happens, we approach true tolerance and we see what real love for our fellows actually means.”

Shit happens in meetings, and more especially in business meetings.

Normal everyday alcoholics, while sitting in a meeting, practicing tolerance, will step into a business meeting, and the gloves will come off and dust begins to fly …

Tolerance goes right out the window.

I’ve seen what intolerance does to people who are terribly intolerant. And at one point, I pointed that out to a particular friend, and in doing so, cost me several friendships.

Some of those friends decided against their better natures to use again.

This is what happens when communities fall apart, and contacts disappear.

People use again, because they feel that they cannot talk to you because of

  • FEAR
  • SHAME
  • EGO

I sat with that friend, before the meeting, and I am sure that look of pity crossed my features when he told me that he was just a week clean and sober.

And I asked one question … What did you NOT do that you should have DONE ?

Those answers are always the same.

A Room is a Furnace. A Crucible. A Testing Ground. An Ego Buster. A Humility Teacher.

We are all wounded, one way or another. And at times, the best of us, gets swallowed up by the worst of us. And usually that happens in front of and to our friends, who are closest to us.

The chair spoke tonight and he said … We are evilest to those closest to us, and we are gracious and accepting to a perfect stranger …

He also added: Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, and Hate leads to Suffering …

We quote the Jedi in our meeting on Friday.

All I can do is be present.

 

 

 

 

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

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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 !

Finding may help doctors target dormant HIV

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This is big and important news. If this works, it will change the ball game in our favor. Dormant HIV has been a long and unsolved mystery. Now, the mystery begins to unravel.
CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Monday, March 20, 2017 10:13AM EDT

European researchers say they have identified a key protein that can help them identify immune cells that are harbouring dormant HIV, opening up a new way to target these cells and pave the way for a cure.

Although HIV medications can greatly reduce levels of the virus in patients, there is still no cure. The drugs can’t kill all the retrovirus because HIV has a way of infecting immune cells called T-cells and then going dormant. The virus can remain inside the cell for years or decades, hidden from the drugs designed to kill it.

But if an HIV patient stops taking her antiretroviral drugs, the dormant retrovirus will “awaken” and rapidly begin reproducing.

AIDS researchers have long sought a way to find these T-cells infected with dormant HIV so that they can target them with therapies. But it’s remained a mystery how to identify them.

Now virologists at the University of Montpellier in France think they may have found a way to recognize these “sleeper cells.” They have identified a protein called CD32a that sits on the surface of HIV-infected T-cells.

Their experiments showed that healthy T-cells do not express the protein, and neither do cells carrying active HIV. Only T-cells hiding dormant HIV make the protein.

The team made their finding after placing T-cells in lab dishes and then exposing them to fluorescently tagged HIV. They watched cells become infected and searched for differences in the gene expressions between the infected and non-infected cells. That’s when they noticed the CD32a protein marker.

The researchers then tested their theory by taking blood samples from 12 HIV-infected people who were on antiretrovirus medication. Using an antibody that sticks to CD32a, the researchers were able to extract all the cells expressing the protein. As expected, all the cells were T-cells harbouring dormant HIV.

The research team says their finding paves the way to a better understanding of viral reservoirs. It’s also possible that CD32a could one day become a reliable marker of cells that are infected with dormant HIV, which could help in the creation of drugs to target these latent cells.

The findings are published in the journal Nature. France’s CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) has now filed for a patent for the diagnostic and therapeutic use of the biomarker.

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Insitute of Allergies and Infectious Disease in Bethesda, Maryland, told Nature that the next step will be to replicate the findings by screening blood from patients of different ethnicities, ages and stages of the disease.

Fauci said he is excited about the potential of CD23a but remains cautious about the finding given the decades of research that have gone into HIV without the discovery of a cure.

Friday: The Language of the Heart

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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 ?

 

 

 

 

Monday: DENIAL is not a River in Egypt

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The book says that “The only thing that has to change in sobriety, is Everything.”

The book also says that “Anything you put before your sobriety will fail, that sobriety must come first, even if we think it doesn’t have to be.”

They say that “Once you take away the drugs and alcohol, and we sober up, we learn that we begin to FEEL. The question is, what do we do with these feelings?”

A meeting that falls after something tragic, or politically charged, is hard. Because people are trying to figure out what they do with their fear, or their sorrow, or their pain, or their anger or their rage?

My friends are trying to navigate that fine line between Chaos and Order. To navigate being Responsible, or to deciding not to be responsible. That is the fine line we walk, in the rooms.

When we get sober, and we leave behind the chaos that followed us around for all the years we drank and used, order comes. This usually throws people off.

  • What do I do with that order?
  • How do I engage,
  • How do I become responsible, and finally,
  • What is my place in the grand scheme of things.

Nobody should ever tell you, inside a room, that what you feel is wrong, or irrational, or childish. Nobody should ever feel that they have to tone down their feelings when they are coming at you at 100 miles per hour.

A young lady I know, was in pieces tonight over all that has happened, here in Quebec, and worldwide. She needed to know what to do with her feelings, and how to deal with them…

Feelings come and go. And sometimes they are overwhelming. I know from emotional catastrophe. I also know what it felt like for someone to call me irrational during one of the hardest moments in my life, not so long ago.

I think, in my opinion, that we should feel what we feel, in whatever degree it comes to us. And when that happens, if we do this thing soberly … Depending on how much time you have, not to allow our feelings to push us out to either drink or use.

Having people around us when the waters are choppy are crucial, so that we are not alone in the boat, whilst navigating choppy seas.

  • I will stand with you, and allow you your space,
  • And I will support you,
  • In whatever way I can.

Pandora’s Box is open, and the Monster I warned everybody about is wreaking havoc in the United States. We must find a way to stop him.

Uncertainty rules the day. Fear is ruling the day as well. Sorrow has filled the hearts of many, because on Monday night, we meet in a church, INSIDE the church. Where we are safe, warm, and secure.

Last night, in a similar sacred space, the sanctity of life and the sanctity of the practice of religious faith was rocked with a deranged young boy, with Far Right leanings, a boy who WAS a Navy and then an Army Cadet …

A fucking Cadet … for God’s sake …

Walked into a prayer service and began shooting innocents. Six are dead, many more were injured, some critically. Reports are all over the map, so I stuck to the basics. But today I had to post the face of this young boy, one of our own Canadian boys, who lives in this free country, where he was educated and lived.

And in a split second he took on the role of Judge, Jury and Executioner …

It was not a Muslim man, perpetrating injustice on his own people, it was a Francophone CITIZEN who killed a handful of innocents.

If we deny what we feel,we minimize our own expressions of those feelings. Because for so long we drowned what we felt with booze and drugs. And now so many are in this place, of not knowing what to do with themselves, because we are all feeling a wide expanse of feelings …

Anger, Sorrow, Fear, Rage, just to name a few…

People are sad, people are angry, people do not know what to do with all that is going on in the world. And we also know, or will find out, that on a grand scale we are powerless to affect change or do anything but express how we feel, to whomever will listen.

We can attend memorials. We can march in the streets. We can sign petitions.

We can sit in our depth of feeling and let the water roll over us and take us and drown us, or we can allow the water to wash over us, and we learn what to do with what we are feeling in a positive and constructive way.

The only thing I can share with you is what I do when I am feeling any one of the above referenced feelings … I talk, I cry, I scream, I rage, then I write.

We must Stand as ONE, we must Speak as ONE, we must Act as ONE.

Defiantly.

To the bitter end.

We must not give up our rights or our freedoms, where ever you live, in what ever country or state. We must fight for our dignity, respect and rights of every human being, as the Constitution gives us as Citizens.

If the government thinks that they can just rip the Statue of Liberty off her plinth and forget the words etched on her tablet and spit in the face of the millions of people who passed by her looking for a better life, they are WRONG. Very WRONG.

Here in Canada, we must state categorically that we abhor violence and the killing of innocents. The houses of religious practice are sacred, and should be respected that way. Because if you come and taint our house of worship with your violence, you incur the wrath of the very God you seek to destroy.

We will punish you to the fullest extent of Canadian law.

We Remember, We Mourn, We Feel, We are Sad, and we are With You.

The killing of innocents is abhorrent.

The banning of people from achieving a safe, secure, and solid home, where they can live without war, suffering or hunger, is abominable.

Do You Hear Me Mr. Trump, It Is Abominable.

You are abominable.

Hear us, as we Speak, March and Rise as ONE.

We Will Never Be defeated. We Will Never Bow to Terror. We Will Stand up and be Counted.

We are Québécois, We are Canadians. We are Americans.

We Are the People.

 

Thursday: Never Take Anything for Granted

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You never know when something you do, or something you say, will impact a life.

I’ve learned in my life, that it isn’t about STUFF, really. It is about connections, love, giving, sharing. Where in the world can you go, on any given day or night, and know, that every single soul in a particular room, has your back 100% ?

The most important job I have in this life, that I live, is to make sure, the meeting I do service at, is opened, set up, and ready to receive whomever walks through that door.

Service is a thankless job. If we don’t do service, the men and women who count on us to be there for them, will be left standing outside in the cold, with no where to be among their own for the hour they chose to visit us.

When I was young, Christmas was a family event. We all participated in decorating the trees, and bushes and anything that stood still long enough to be lit up with lights, to make sure, our house was the best LIT house on the street.

My parents provided wonderful Christmases throughout my life, until of course they found out that I was gay. Then all that good cheer went out the window. It did not matter that I was still family, what mattered was that I was a confessed homosexual.

Baby Jesus and Homosexual did not compute  !!!

I remember my first sober Christmas, this time around. It was the year 2002. I had met my then boyfriend just a couple of weeks before Christmas. He lived in the apartment we live in today. But the home we live in today, is light years from the apartment we had back then.

He was going to Ottawa for Christmas. And he gave me a set of keys to this apartment. And he said that I could stay here while he was out of town.

I never left …

We did not get a Christmas tree until Christmas 2003. Because by then, the world had shifted, and not in a good way. The mental illness roller coaster had left the station, and for the first and last time, I went home with him for Christmas. To guard his privacy and protect him from everybody else, because nobody knew the struggle he went through, and to this day, nobody knows about how hard he struggled and what we had to do to keep him safe and sound.

Christmas is an important event in our lives. For a long time, and for many years, after we first got together, Christmas was very paltry. We could not imagine participating in the holiday to the degree that the family participates in Christmas. We just did not have the money to pull it all off.

Peter’s Brother and Sister, have more money than we will ever see. Every Christmas, it is guaranteed, that we will get three sets of gifts. Baskets full of nice things. Useful things, stuff, we would not necessarily purchase for ourselves.

I remember the first year that we could spend money on gifts for everyone. All the adults, and especially the kids in the family. There are five young men and women today. Everybody gets a gift.

Christmas is a well planned event.

Over the years, we have learned the value of a dollar. We live in a very spartan apartment, so there is not a whole lot of room to put STUFF. We do share gifts together. But our lists are very short. And we get to open presents on Christmas gifts on Christmas morning.

For the last ten years, I have opened our home to friends who do not have families, locally, and I invite my friends to our dinner table, both on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a tradition that my step mom taught us about.

There is an incalculable gift when you invite your friends to dine at your table on the holidays. It isn’t about anything but the simple gift of sharing.

Two years ago, Mama and the baby came into my life. Lu’s first Christmas was spent visiting grandma and grandpa in St. John’s. I was here, they were there. This is Lu’s second Christmas. And I am all in.

Today, the shipment of gifts I sent to St. John’s arrived. Lu and Mama will have Christmas in the best possible way. Even if I am not there with them.

I will win the best Christmas Gift EVER award this year for sure.

The most important job I have today, is making sure the meetings I go to are opened, and ready to receive.

I’ve worked in the nightclub business for a long time, when I got sober the first time, and I know very well, the lengths that people go to, to party on holiday nights. Holidays are some of the best nights in club business.

Alcoholics, in recovery, need just as much attention, as their drinking friends and family.

I’ve seen many, many people suffer through the holiday’s. I know what they are going through. I’ve spent fifteen years watching people make choices during the holidays, that were not necessarily, well thought through.

I once spoke my mind to a suffering alcoholic, at Christmas time, and we never saw her again. Where she went, or if she is still alive, is unknown.

I know today, that the best thing I can do for my friends, is to make sure that whatever room, I am in, on any given holiday night, is open and ready to receive.

The hour that people come to the rooms is sacred. You never know, 100% what is going on in someone else’s head, but we all have a idea. We are all there for the same reason.

It is in that hour that we can affect change. You never know, to what degree, an act of selfless kindness, will do for someone who is suffering or just needs a place to be themselves for an hour without judgment or argument.

The room is set up. There is coffee ready to go. And usually, there are treats on the coffee table as well. We really know how to do holidays right, in Montreal.

Spend enough holidays in the rooms, and you will see just what a difference you make in someones life, every year they return to spend an hour with you.

That is the way we form relationships with people. One cup of coffee at time.

One conversation at a time.

One day at a time.

We are called to be kind. We are called to be just. We are called to be merciful. We are called to care. And we are called to do good in people’s lives, because we must.

That is the message of Christmas.

There were no smart phones in Bethlehem. And there was not a single Big Box Store in all of Sinai.

We give because we can, if we are able.

There is so much suffering in the world today. The world needs a day where EVERYONE is kind and just and merciful.

All we can do, is what we can do, on a daily basis, for someone else, because that is what we are called to do.

Find a kindness and do it …