When to Speak

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I changed up my routine today, to make time for a noon time meeting, because a lady friend I adore was speaking. The first time I heard her speak, at the Thursday meeting one night not long ago, I was transfixed by every word she said.

Some of our women friends have similar tragic stories that have downward spirals that, at one point listening to her tell her story, I was saying to myself, “there is no way she can pull out of this death spiral she is in…”

Everybody around me is holding their breaths, waiting for the Miracle to Occur.

And for each of them, the Miracle really did happen. Miraculously !!!

Today I heard something I did not hear before …

At her worst, after loosing her kids, and in a funk, trying to get it together, her sponsor tells her … “Just call home, let your kids know you are still alive…”

Little pieces of advice that seem innocuous at the time, turn out to be the beginning of the building of the bridge, that will eventually lead her back to her kids AND sobriety.

She and I have something in common. A very special education in sobriety.

She came in twenty-five years ago, and I, almost seventeen years ago, respectively.

We both came in bedraggled. And we walked into a room and were overwhelmed by the people in those respective rooms. And by the grace, we both DID what we were TOLD to DO.

Without question. Without argument.

Because in her words from the other night …

YOU WANT TO ARGUE WITH HAPPY ???

The goal in this life is to be happy. Across the board, in all our affairs. Some find it, others do not. Some take the long road, others, get it right away and walk the short path.

She said to me today that, sobriety is too loosey goosey. People are too easily distracted by shiny things and their phones. Nobody wants to follow the simple plan that we both know works.

People want to argue semantics and Happy !!!

UGH.

Yesterday I was grocery shopping, as I am wont to do every few days. We collect plastic and we recycle at the store before we shop. While standing at the machine I noticed a familiar face at the can drop next to me.

I knew this man. He was sober, when I first came in, almost seventeen years ago, and worked at the rehab center I was affiliated with back then, where I had after care and my counselor sessions.

Key words … He WAS sober.

I’ve seen him around over the years. Many of the men and women I knew from those years back then, have all mostly disappeared from the area and the rooms. There aren’t many people from the Old World left in Montreal.

Yesterday, he was disheveled. His clothes were torn and dirty. He was wearing a white sneaker on his left foot, and a green high top sneaker on his right.

While I was depositing my bottles he stopped me amid swing to ask me why I was putting metal into the plastic machine. I stopped and responded with, “why would I put metal in a plastic machine?”

He turned away and walked ahead of me into the store. I did not follow him around, because I don’t know him, like I know my friends in town, so striking up a conversation would have been awkward to say the least.

I kinda wanted to ask him where he had slept the night before and had realized he was wearing two different shoes and why his clothes were ripped and dirty.

You kinda know the answer to those questions pretty quickly, on the first pass.

He had a bag of cans he probably collected from metro bins and garbage cans on his way into the store to get his meager change to buy whatever he could afford for that trip.

Outside the store another friend of mine who does outreach to the Indigenous Community here in the city, was standing guard in the hallway outside, watching his people gather.

Where ever people gather, there is bound to be strife among them. Thankfully he is armed with burger vouchers for McDonald’s in the mall right in that area.

People are more amenable when they have food in their stomachs. So before he steps in the say anything, he hands out food vouchers to anyone who wants them.

He does more than that. He is counselor, medic, affairs officer and the grand poobah of the downtown core.

There is suffering all around us. for those of us who live in this neighborhood. I’ve been here seventeen years now, and I know how bad things can get on a good day. Even worse on a bad day.

Sometimes you don’t have to say anything at all. And for the most part, not saying anything is the best policy, because you don’t know the back story you are witnessing at the moment.

Rather not embarrass people on the down and out with observations, they probably already know about themselves, so they don’t need a reminder of how rough they might look at the moment, even if what you want to say would be meaningful to YOU.

So I say hello. I nod. I observe. And I record data.

I know how many of the people I knew who were sober once, are out there on the street today, down and out.

Why some people fall through the cracks and end up back out on the street I don’t know. Some people just fall away. Was it because of people, from the past, who shunned folks away? Those of us who did not attach to certain cliques ?

I met a man who had fifty-eight years of sobriety today. He knew the Montreal Founders. Men and women who are still around from THAT FAR BACK, are few and far between.

They usually come out of seclusion for their cakes to show us, that you CAN be sober for decades and be happily married and happy in general.

Many people at that noon meeting suffer needlessly.

They just don’t connect, even though they know where to go and who to talk to.

And for that we are grateful for small mercies of sobriety. And we utter that slogan, that people usually ignore or don’t know what it means …

THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD …

I could be one of them.

Paul Lanza – Needs a Kidney in Montreal

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Paul Lanza – Face Book

I have no idea how to post this kinda stuff, so I’ll just dive right in.

Almost 3 years ago I began to reject my transplanted kidney, I spent a month in the hospital trying to save it. Almost a year later, it was no longer able to keep me healthy, so I started dialysis. In the last two years, I’ve been on dialysis waiting to be placed back on a waiting list for another transplant, but there are all kinds of things that need to go right for that. Right now, I’m waiting for a surgery to remove the rejected organ, forcing me to take some time off work, and more time not on the list.

To have a (mostly) normal life, I need another kidney transplant. The rejection was so severe, that I’ve developed a large number of antibodies, and my donor pool is incredibly small. They’ll need to place me on a nation wide donor list, which presents more complications. The wait could be decades.

I need help, I need someone to donate one of their kidneys to me. This isn’t easy to ask. I don’t expect anyone to do this, it’s a huge burden. But I want my life back. I want to travel, and eat, and not feel like shit all the time, and have free time. If you’re willing, and truly willing to donate a piece of yourself so that I can live, I can’t put into words the gratitude I’d have for you.

If you want to get tested, ideal blood type would be O+, but since I’m so tough find a kidney, there are ways around it. You need to contact the following number, and speak with Laura Gilbert. (514) 890-8000, poste 24840. She’ll give you all the information to move forward. I don’t expect anyone to do this, how do you ask someone to put themselves through this for you?

It feels so selfish. But what are my options? To wait for someone to die, and hope they’re a match? If you have any questions you can always message me as well. Thank you to anyone who even reads all this.

Wednesday: Thoughts and Things

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It is pouring down rain at this very moment in Montreal.

The time has come to make some changes again. The writing has been on the wall, and Heavenly Father is gently pushing me in new directions. I can trace back, not so long ago, what this looked like, when the Elders came to me and ministered to me. Elder Spencer is still a part of my life today.

General Conference took place last weekend. I participated via stream. Lots of good things shared and spoken.

I guess I want to talk about gifts and movements.

I thought about this the other day, and I’ve been ruminating on it ever since.

Am I the only drunk who goes to meetings and pays attention ? It seems that not many people pay the amount of attention to what they hear, like I do. You hear that Anonymity Statement, we have a few in the rooms here. Each of them different.

But the one I go with is this …
You can carry the message outside this room, but names and personal details stay here. We use this one on Friday Night at the A.B.S.I. meeting.

I go to several meetings, or have been. I’ve since cut my meetings by one.

In talking to my friend Sean the other night, he’s got time, like I have time. He is sober as long as I am sober now. He has a family, kids, (plural) and he does business in Asia a lot of the time. Seeing him often, is hit and miss. But we spoke.

Getting back to Heavenly Father and the prompts…

You know it’s time to go when these things begin to happen.

  • When your ideas on certain subjects begin to lose traction, and people begin moving away from you or avoiding you, it’s time to go.
  • When what you are hearing from your friends, push you to realize that, between us, we are on totally different pages, in sobriety, it is time to go.
  • When you realize that some people just do not like you. When you realize that some people do not respect you, and treat you differently, among your peers, it is time to go.
  • When you begin to regret walking into a particular meeting because of the people you share that room with, and the purpose of that meeting, becomes inconsequential to the people in the room, it is time to go.
  • And finally … When sober people you either know, for a long time, or men and women you work with, find out you are human and not Vulcan, and they turn on you and walk away, IT IS TIME TO GO !

I’ve been going to meetings for the whole of my sobriety. This blog is a testament and a record of most of the meetings I have attended over the past 16 years.

In those sixteen years, I have had to shut down, export, import and re-Domain this blog three times. Each reason is different. And usually has to happen when flamers and hackers and Evangelical Christians come knocking on my front door.

I opened this domain and blog in response to an alcoholic who thought I had broken his anonymity by telling a story about him on my former blog. He never bitched about what I wrote about until I started talking about him specifically. Yes, he lives here, and goes to the same meetings I do, but he has no respect for me, nor my presence, nor my life.

Anyways … I was thinking, Am I the only drunk who pays attention at meetings, pays attention so hard, that I come home after a meeting, I transcribe what I heard for you here and for me as well ?

I mean, how the fuck do we learn how to get sober, if we don’t study our friends behaviors, choices and actions over time ?

That’s how I got sober. By watching my friends do STUPID things over sixteen years.

Watching other people ACT is the best way we learn how NOT to BE.
Which is how WE Become US.

I am done with going to places where people don’t respect me. I am done going to meetings where people ignore me around other people, and treat me disrespectfully.

Sean, told me to go to meetings where I am a trusted custodian. Those would be the Monday Central Meeting and the Friday North End English Meeting.

Newcomers.
Simple Service.
Respect.

We all have gifts. Heavenly Gifts. Before we got here, Heavenly Father, or the powers that be, handed us a script. A job, so to speak.

Past Lifers would say that if we got here again, then, there was something we missed or screwed up, on our last visit. And now we get to work it out all over again, hoping we hit the mark this time, and not have to do this all over again …

Re-incarnators talk about how we get to reincarnate with people we knew in the past life we just left, or several lives before that. The proviso is that, we come back with a contract, which is unlike the former contract we were on. This time around we may be together for the whole journey, or maybe part of it.

There are reasons God put us here. Mainly, to learn Love, Dignity and Respect. To help our fellows and our friends. To learn how to GIVE, and not take.

The world need to learn how to LOVE … AGAPE LOVE …

Gifts … We all have them. We may not know what they are, it is our job to figure that out while we are down here, in the ways we relate to others, the work we do, and the service we give to our friends, family, peers and fellows, men and women alike. The love we share, the respect we give, the dignity we attribute and give to others.

Do you know what your gifts are ? Are you aware of them ? I am of Mine.

And to a greater degree now.

I’ve listened to my friends for a LONG TIME.

I hear them, they make stupid decisions, do stupid things, they hurt, they drink, they use, some get back, many don’t.

I seriously pay attention to every human being who talks in front of me. I KNOW all of my friends intimately. They probably don’t know that, until I walk up to them and say such things like …

  • Been there, done that.
  • Maybe you should try something else.
  • I can help you through this portion of your journey.
  • I see you did this, and paid dearly for it, now I am giving you a tool to make sure you don’t make that same mistake again …

And you know what they do ?

  • They take a step backwards,
  • They look at me with those eyes like
  • Are You Fucking with Me ?
  • You can’t be serious ?
  • Fuck your advice, even if you are sober sixteen years and haven’t drank or used in all that time.
  • Even if you have experience,
  • I don’t want YOURS !!!

Fuck me for trying …

When these things happen, IT’S TIME TO GO  !!!

I have ears to hear, and eyes to see. I mean that’s what God gave them to us for right ? I use those gifts to help my fellows, and I know today, none of that matters to a majority of them.

Which is why I need to move on to better pastures where the grass is green and the sober time is low, and people who want my message may be receptive to it. Because a few people with little time, and a lot of people with A LOT of time, have no need for me or want me around.

Thanksgiving is Sunday, here in Canada.

And I joked with a friend who works up the block that, within days of Halloween Night’s end, Christmas decorations will go up. Every year it is a contest to see who is gonna jump the gun this year and play Christmas music in their stores, and put up decorations in their shopping malls or stores.

Monday: Wisdom, After the Storm

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What happens after a storm passes ? Well, that depends on the severity of the damage, that was wrought by said storm.

After Andrew, in 1992, it was very dark, for a VERY LONG TIME.

Where my family home sat, geographically, was on the Northern edge of massive total destruction of every structure that once was whole. My parents home was destroyed, along with everyone else’s in this general area.

When power goes down, having light, is scarce. Finding light is the key.

It has been said, by the tv people, that those who have more, more money, more ability, more access, THEY will get what they need much faster, and cheaper, than others, who Do Not Have …

I know, that every day for months, I drove into the destruction area. I needed a special I.D. to get in, and out, outside of hours, because the national guard and the armed forces were guarding the areas most destroyed.

I drove in, in the morning, and I took orders from all the neighbors, of what they seriously needed, that I could procure, farther afield and bring back.

That’s because Andrew was an East – West Storm.

IRMA was a North – South Storm.

With the East West trajectory storm, you could go North of destruction to get whatever you really needed and could bring it back where things were needed.

Irma was a South to North trajectory storm. The storm encompassed the entire state of Florida from one coast to the other. Really, there is nowhere to go, in any direction, to get anything you need, and bring back to where you need it.

Community spirit degrades when we go without. People panic when they go without basic comforts like Water, Light, Warmth, Safety, Food, etc …

The list goes on and on.

Looters are famous for tossing grenades into an already bad situation. They just steal, because they believe they have a One Up on the authorities, and the residents of any given area, they decide to steal from.

They have no scruples.

With the Power Grid down, things get bad. Thankfully, Winter is not an issue. But going without creature comforts, the longer the duration of going without, get worse and compound daily. The longer one is in the dark, trying to protect what is yours, can seriously make one crazy.

I remember sleeping in a car, at the end of a street, with a gun in the front seat, so that families could sleep at night, knowing that someone had their backs. Guns were necessary, because looters and assholes were a dime a dozen in bad situations.

People, across the board need to make a list of serious needs, and then groups need to be formed by those on the outside, who can procure needs, on a need to have basis.

Food, Water, Toilet Paper, Baby Food, Blankets, Batteries, FUEL, Generators …

A working toilet is a luxury when there is no electricity nor running water.

Let me tell you …

A disaster can either make you or it will break you.

People learn how to be inventive and smart. Pooling talents and money and things one has with your neighbors, breeds trust and honor. People working together to get LIGHT and FOOD and MONEY and FUEL, works better than everyone fending for themselves.

Going from creature comforts, lights, toilets, kitchens, food, ELECTRICITY … to total darkness, no light, no running water, no electricity, is a very hard lesson.

We are so comforted knowing that we take for granted all that we have, that when a storm comes through and takes all that away in a matter of hours, and the after effects can last days, weeks, months and years …

THAT is a CHALLENGE …

When entire areas go dark, when the sun goes down, you don’t necessarily see it, but when it gets DARK, it really gets DARK. There are no BUGS, No hum of electrical lines, Nothing, Nada, Silence.

When all you see at night are stars for months on end, because it took months on end, after Andrew to get power back.

Thankfully, people did what they were told, before the re entered damaged areas. They bought generators out of location and brought them with them. And many of us supplied fuel for months on end to run those generators.

Yes, Irma was destructive, But Andrew was terribly destructive on every building for miles and miles as far as you could see and then some.

As long as you have solid structures that may be dark, but you still have a roof over year head, you are farther along than you think.

It is when there is no house or roof, or walls to live within, then you got to think fast on your feet. Where are you going to go and who is going to help you ?

Flood waters will eventually recede.

Clearing trees and clearing downed power lines come FIRST.

Electrified Power Lines can kill. We know this. Avoid them …

Do no trust a power line is NOT electrified, just because it is on the ground.

It takes some serious mental gymnastics to power through continual days and weeks of darkness.

And having a storm that blanketed the state of Florida, makes it harder to procure whatever it is you need, because in any direction, those people too, need the same things you need. There might be locations nearby that can provide, finding those areas is a MUST, and SOONER than LATER.

In times like this, it is in the Giving that Matters so much to THOSE who have very little or nothing at all.

When you leave your home to evacuate, you return to maybe something. Anything.

For many, returning to something becomes a return to nothing.

So where do we start ???

We start by helping one another, NOT stealing from one another.

We practice being our brothers and sisters keepers.

Charity begins at HOME.

If you live in a place that you HAVE, now is the time to GIVE, to those who DON’T.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

Do what is right. If you can help, HELP.

Friday: The Lighthouse

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Timber Hawkeye, talks about being a lighthouse.

A light house is a static structure. It is located in one place, and does only one thing, it sheds light. Up there on the rock, the light house gives light to those at sea, warning them of danger, rocks, the shoreline.

A light house does not move around, shedding its light in ones face.

For a long time, in sobriety, I thought that because I “had” light, that in order for people to see it, and pay attention to it, I needed to shine that light in their faces …

WRONG !

A meeting IS a LIGHT HOUSE. We give light, We share light, We offer light.

Last night, I took the stupid liberty to shine light in someones face once again. Reminding him that I had “Seen” him and was paying attention to him.

That really means nothing to him, because he thinks little of me.

Tonight, one of my long sober friends, who was sitting in the room prior to last night’s meeting and knew of my plans ahead of time, spoke to me before the meeting tonight. And he asked me why I was wasting my time, with someone who doesn’t seem to need light, or want it for that matter, from me at least.

He told me that there were plenty of people who want light, and that I need to stop and notice who they are in the future, thereby not wasting a perfectly good opportunities to

BE LIGHT.

On the way home, I was talking to another friend driving the car home, and I told him about an observation that I had about people in general. And he said …

For God’s sake, you have fifteen years of hard-fought sobriety under your belt. WHY are you worrying about those fuckers who really don’t give you a second thought. They aren’t worrying about you, and you really don’t need to be fixated on them either.

Nuff said about that …

A few weeks ago, an older man showed up on our Friday doorstep.
More like, came down our staircase.

I noticed him.

He shuffles in before the meeting for some coffee. He keeps to himself and doesn’t say much, that I also noticed. Tonight, he shuffled in, just as I finished setting up and was going to go sit outside. He sat in the chair next to the one I was sitting in.

I took a breath, and asked him how he was doing …

Be the LIGHT.

People suffer unimaginable terrors and mental pains. And mental illness is NOT strange in our business. We see it all the time.

A conversation began. And I learned a great deal about this man, in a few minutes before the meeting. He IS where I WAS, many years ago. With a shattered life, nothing to call my own, nowhere to go, and a soul devoid of LIGHT.

I was carrying The Spirituality of Imperfection, in my bag.

He spoke of God. And said to me that he was devoid of spirit and did not know how to find it. AND he told me that at least, an ember of fire was still glowing in his tummy.

When a fire burns down, what is left in the pit, is charred coals, burnt wood, and maybe an ember just simmering, waiting for kindling to get it to burn once again.

That ember was still within him. And with that knowledge, I ran with it.

I told him that we all have, or hopefully still have, when we hit the rooms, an ember still there, inside us. I wanted to blow some air on his ember, and hopefully reignite the fire.

Ever so small it may be.

We spoke about foundations. We spoke about structure. We spoke about doing small things, small acts of kindness for ourselves and for others. And hopefully build some self-esteem and self-respect.

He has a plan. He is housed at the Old Brewery Mission, here in the city. The Mission is a Homeless Shelter. He has a paid room, and structure.

That is a beginning.

He has a roof, 3 meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and he gets a shower every day.

He has everything he needs, very simply. His cup is not full, but he’s on the way.

I gave him some suggestions. And as the meeting began, he whispered in my ear:

I have thirty days today.

I had a thirty-day chip in my wallet, I have several in fact, should they be needed.

At the end of the meeting, he got his thirty days.

We shared our light with him again tonight.

We dropped him at the Metro, and I gave him my number.

You never know when someone will need your light, at the right moment, for the right reasons.

Friday: God.Creation.Puzzle Pieces

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

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

And God.

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

The Universe Always Conspires to Help Us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was serendipitous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He Fell Off The Beam, so to speak.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In hindsight now, Spencer speaks of God, thus…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Vineyard …

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

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

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

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

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

The vineyard is lost.

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

Not all the fruit harvested is worth anything.

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

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

Sometimes we have to prune our vineyards.

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

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

Hindsight speaks once again…

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

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

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

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

Jacob Chapter 5.

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

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

My vineyard is much smaller today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing when to prune our vineyards is key, also.

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

In the end, God did the pruning for me.

Now I Know…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so it went in my vineyard.

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

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

Sunday Sundries: The Changing Faces …

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It was another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Much warmer than it was yesterday, and we will take any day full of sun, as we can get. It might be the second week of June, but before we know it, it will be the beginning of September, and Summer will all but be gone.

For the past few months, I have witnessed new members coming to our rooms, that we have not seen, at all, in the past. Montreal’s Jewish community is legendary. When I got sober, this time around, it was the Jewish Chabad community, who took me in and cared for me when I needed it most.

Whenever I am able, I give back, until I am empty.

It seems, as of late that, we are serving the Hasidim community on a much more personal level. I’ve been listening to our men talk, about their struggles, their families and their troubles with addiction.

Addiction knows no barrier when it comes to the who and the why. Everyone is fair game. With communities that are insulated, they usually deal with daily problems, “in house, among themselves.”

Montreal is a city that is based in communal living. With many religious and ethnic communities existing side by side. But again, there are certain conversations that are only dealt with, inside the sacred circle of that respective community.

For a handful of men, they have left the security of their communities, and they have found their way into our rooms. And I have been paying attention to them, personally.

Today we read from the book, and the chapter: The Perpetual Quest.

It is a story about a woman, who reaches her bottom, and finds her way to the rooms, in her city. The portion of the read I focused on was the last three pages of the story, where she hears just what she needs to do to stay sober.

I chose the reading, because, if we could cut, copy and paste this portion of the story, and hand this document out to newcomers or, more to the point, to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking, we would have our work done for us, in one swing.

Many people talk about the suggestions.

Service, Meetings, Big Books, Steps and Sponsors.

Everybody hears the same message, from the get go. Many of us would rather eat dirt, than follow a simple suggestion.

This problem exists everywhere. There is a lot of anger being spoken about. Yet, we come to meetings, anyways. Because we are told that if we show up, the rest will fall into place.

Getting sober is just the tip of the iceberg for many members and my friends. Many people come with multiple problems, and are cross addicted, or have more than, “just a drinking problem.” And I heard those words spoken again tonight.

Our new men, who come from their respective communities have said to us that they deal with more than just drinking. And people across the board, beg the question, “what do I do with the twenty four hours, each day?”

One answer I heard tonight was, “well, as long as you are sitting in a meeting, you can knock that hour off the time line.” And “the more meetings you fit into your weekly schedule, the less time you have to spend in your head.”

When we come into sobriety from whatever addiction we inhabit, we begin to cleanse the temple of our bodies, that God has given us.

I was not sure how to approach this topic with our men, I just spent the last hour with my Elder friend Spencer and he gave me some sound advice, at how to bridge faiths.

Now I have an idea of what I need to do. God brings certain people and problems into our lives for a specific reason. We either know what to do, or, we know other people, who might know what to do, or we ourselves learn what it is we need to know, in order to serve the greater good.

I have faith. I have the book. I have my knowledge. And I have God, in my pocket.

If some have left the security of insulation, searching for a solution they need, because they have suffered and have transgressed their scriptures and proscriptions and doctrines and covenants of Judaism, they have come to places that I exist in.

I have a desire to help them, and tonight, I was taught, what it was that I did have, by someone I respect fully, and now from him, I know what I can do, with the tools God has already given me.

There is a three fold recipe that is necessary for transmission:

  • One, you need a Human Being
  • Two, you need the Book
  • Three, you need a problem that you can give context to, teaching wise

If you have these three dynamic pieces, miracles happen.

Spencer was at the MTC this week, and he met a young missionary.

While Spencer was here, in Montreal, he worked in Cornwall, a few hours drive from Montreal. While there he ministered to our young man’s grandfather, who was, later, baptized in the church.

His grandson, our young Elder in training, there in Utah, had met Spencer here, while on his mission. It was a Miracle Full Circle moment for him. Because our young man said to him, weren’t you in Canada, that answer was yes. Weren’t you in Cornwall, that answer was also yes, he put the pieces together that before our young man was called to his mission, he met Elder Spencer here in Canada, during His mission.

How often do you see someone in a foreign country, and meet them and share time with, and then find out that they are right in your own back yard, preparing to go on their very own mission ???

That is a miracle for sure.