In the Hour of Need

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“I know how you feel, let me tell you what I did …”

If you need to pray for spiritual help,
Saint’s John Paul II and Mother Teresa are your best bets…

You never know when life is going to turn on a dime and force you to face reality in a way you did not expect.

My best friend suggested I find someone (outside the fellowship) to talk to. And I had a contact up my sleeve. Last week, I made contact with a friend who was my academic adviser, mentor, professor and friend or many years.

We met when I began University in my second year of sobriety.

At that time, the run up to the Iraq war had begun, and expats here in Montreal, were marching in the streets. Not to mention everyone who joined in as Canadians. \

That was my first foray into Montreal Demonstrations. Let me tell you, Montrealer’s really know HOW to Demonstrate. We do it for any kind of reason, and we have the numbers to prove it.

Back then I was warned to sew Canadian flags to my backpack, so as to not get singled out and pummeled by demonstrators. That was a rude awakening for sure.

When I moved here, back in 2002, I was not settled in the life I wanted just YET.

I had one foot in the South, and one foot in the North.

I had not figured out my loyalty or where I stood in the world, because, I had made the move, but it took time to find my feet, so to speak.

Today I am 100% Canadian. Both my feet are firmly planted in Canada.

I have only one connection to the U.S. which is necessary, because it pays our rent.

I reminded my friend today of sage advice he had given me all those years ago, because it applied to our conversation today.

Not knowing where to turn or what to do, and not trusting myself just yet, I needed to learn how to navigate the city, the university and my life.

My friend said this:

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE TO GO, OR WHAT TO DO, SIT DOWN.

SIT DOWN RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE. TAKE OUT YOUR MAP, AND FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE TERRAIN AROUND YOU. TAKE STOCK, OBSERVE YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND GET A FEEL FOR WHERE YOU ARE.

CONSULT YOUR MAP AND FIND YOUR PLACE. WHEN YOU ARE SATISFIED THAT YOU HAVE THAT FAMILIARITY, AND ARE READY TO MAKE A DECISION ON WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NEXT, ROLL UP YOUR MAP, AND TAKE THAT NEXT STEP.

BUT NOT BEFORE YOU ARE SURE OF WHERE YOU ARE GOING.

I thought I needed to talk to my friend. In the end, I think he needed to talk to me.

My life is littered with little pieces of information, across a wide spectrum of topics. Like I said before, there are things I KNOW, for CERTAIN.

Life and Death are two of those certainties.

You never know what is gonna come at you. I sat with my friend, in the same cafe, that I spent 3 months talking to Elder’s Christensen and Sorensen. That is where I was introduced to the LDS Faith.

That was a whole other discussion. Let’s not go there.

Let’s just say that, that particular coffee shop, holds a very important place in my heart because that was where Spencer and I became best of friends.

I have a little of Spencer within me, which was very useful to me today.

My friend’s initial email said that … A lot had changed since we last saw each other, and somewhere, deep within me, I knew that the news was not going to be good. I was prepared for that possibility today.

I was right.

I know what it feels like to have someone tell me that I was gonna die. And I know what it feels like when someone close to you says the same thing, that they are going to die.

Today, my friend told me that he was terminal. That he had small cell Cancer, and that there was no cure, that every two months he goes for scans and right now, things are ok, but Fuck, you never know do you ?

What do you do in cases like these ? Swallow hard and try to find the right words to comfort and of understanding.

Been there, done that.

Spencer said to me earlier that I was in the right place for the right reason.

That my friend needed to talk to me, more than I needed to talk to him.

Spiritually speaking, we both are from Religious backgrounds. He teaches and IS an Anglican Priest. He was my teacher when I was working on my B.A. in Religion.

We both are Papabile.

And he knows my take on Saint John Paul II.

John Paul II always said that suffering is Salvific.

That there is saving grace in suffering, that suffering is something humans must do, it is unavoidable. Looking at it spiritually through John Paul II’s lens … We are saved through our suffering.

For many, many years, as a pope watcher, I studied John Paul II intimately. Like I have studied Francis intimately too.

I jokingly said to my friend today that maybe he should pray to John Paul. You never know when the intercession of a saint might work.

He admitted that he was in the Final Season of his life, and that he really needed to know what his calling was to be at this juncture of time. I asked him the very same question.

I told him what I did and how it felt. He told me to listen to God and to survey my life and see what I do well. And maybe, in determining what I do well, just might be, in certainty, what I need to do now.

We asked the same question of each other, HE had the answer for both of us.

Normal, mortal, human beings, never think about death and dying until it hits them squarely between the eyes.

We in fact, my friend as professor and I as student, had a class together called:
Death and Dying.

Nobody thinks about dying till they lose a parent or child. That is the ultimate loss. Friends and extended family, might be serious, but the further you travel from the trunk of the tree, the less the sting.

Having experience in Death and Dying, sets me apart from all of my friends and fellows. I have knowledge that not many people have inside of them, because I have been to the graveyard myself and picked out my plot.

Then I survived and realized that I did not need it.

While working at the bar, all those years ago, Todd’s lover Bob, lay in the graveyard that was located just across the street from the bar itself. Todd knew death already. And around us the next onslaught of death was taking place.

Todd kept me too busy to focus on dying.

That Pin Point Precision knowledge saved my life.

I know that with the utmost certainty.

If it were not for Todd’s Love and Grace,
(read: If not for God’s Love and Grace) I would not be here right now.

We all will die but it is not up to us to make the decision as to when.

However some want that choice here in Canada, to choose their own route, method and date. I want that choice for myself, I do really. I’m not going to end up in some hospital shitting in a diaper, unable to speak or feel.

I am going to go out on my own terms.

Today began another journey of walking someone I love to the final gate.

With Courage, Love and Compassion.

The Way to the Spring …

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I would like to tell you a story. A story about human beings, a story about a people, who only want to live. To Live in a land that is theirs, and not to know fear, death, or hunger on a daily basis.

I would like you to suspend you judgment about hatred, war or “Us versus Them.” I would like you to see human beings, and not Terrorists.

I’ve spent the better part of weeks reading

“The Way to the Spring, Life and Death in Palestine.”

Now I know what people think about this subject. We see daily, people killing each other and fighting among themselves, and we have branded certain groups as terrorist organizations. We are taught not to trust them, or those who are part of, that part of the world.

In the words of the most MILITANT Jewish settlers their common cry is:

KILL THEM FIRST !!!

I am not well versed on the intricacies of the Middle East, on any front. I have what I know, from what I have learned in my educational career, and by those I listen to in life.

I have to say though, that the simple Palestinian family, faces a uphill battle just to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, jobs to work, and keeping their children safe from the scourge of several groups of people.

Many people, who lead, those who were supposed to do good for their own, did not. Leaders were handed cold hard cash, hand over fist. Many of them skimmed that money into their own pockets and pet projects and off shore accounts.

The Israeli and Palestinian issue runs very deep. And they are no closer to a two state solution or better yet, PEACE, right now. Not Ever.

I don’t want to talk about Hamas, or Fatah. I don’t want to talk about the Palestinian Authority, or the IDF.

I want to tell you what our author saw, while he traveled and lived in Palestine, meeting people, reporting what he saw, and seeing for himself, the carnage that happened before his own eyes on a daily basis.

Israel is guilty of many things. Benjamin Netanyahu, is one of the most crooked leaders, Israel has ever seen. And in reading this book, you will find proof of just how he sees Israel, and the Palestinians.

I’ve never read a book, filled with so much hatred and death in my life. The simple Palestinian family, all they want is a life of freedom. But faced with utter ruin, what are they supposed to do?

They fight for a better way of life, by any means possible.

The problem with this action is that the Palestinian Authority is guilty because they themselves, work very hard to make sure that their own people are kept “Down.” Protests are shut down, so the every day human, cannot fight for what they need. The P.A. shoots itself in their own feet. They are more concerned with keeping some form of silence, forced upon their own, because they are complicit with the Israeli’s, in stopping any kind of revolt on the Palestinian side.

Talk of who owns what land, and by what right does anyone have to land that has been  contentious since Biblical Times. I don’t think we will ever see a two state solution to the Palestinian – Israeli conflict.

Why is that ?

Israel moves its settlers into Palestinian land, and they build settlements. They are constantly building Walls, and Checkpoints, and Prisons all along the lines of those cement walls that separate Israelis and Palestinians.

Segregation is the name of the game. Neighborhoods are carved apart by cement and barbed wire. Jews have supremacy when it comes to land and homes. Jews have supremacy when it comes to where one can drive, or where one can walk. Palestinians live in a maze of shuttered and destroyed homes, shops are shuttered, work is almost non existent.

EDIT ADDITION:

I did not mention on my first draft, the “Skunk Trucks” that the Israeli’s use against Palestinians. These skunk truck roll through neighborhoods, drowning Men, Women and Children, with SKUNK WATER. They also use these trucks on homes, where windows are smashed through and homes are FLOODED with skunk water. This unsanitary practice is a common daily practice as part of the terrorizing of Palestinians.

When ever a Palestinian is either imprisoned or charged with a crime, their homes are destroyed, no matter if other family members live in that home, the home is lost to them, and they must move elsewhere or with friends and family.

Many Palestinians, have work on the Israeli side, because they have been forced off their land, out of their homes, and out of work because of the Jewish authorities who spend day and night terrorizing Palestinians. The Jewish Military Machine, is terribly guilty of killing innocent Men, Women and Children.

Palestinians march in their streets to protest the grotesque ways in which they are treated by their own Palestinian Authority, by the Israeli Government and the Israeli Military Complex.

And what happens ???

I don’t think a day went by, during this read that Palestinian Men, Women and Children weren’t gassed, shot with rubber bullets, AND LIVE FIRE ammunition, beaten in the streets, arrested and imprisoned, and even more Men, Women and Children are killed senselessly by the Israeli Military, who shoot first, and don’t even ask question later.

The Israeli Military who shoot and kill, Men, Women and Children, in almost all of the cases, are never investigated, never reprimanded or judged for their crimes.

Almost every bullet that kills a Palestinian, usually has no legal justification.

On a daily basis, Palestinians die for no reason, at the hands of soldiers who will never face justice. On the face of it, Palestinians are always guilty of one thing or another. If questions are asked, peaceful human beings, who mean no harm or just trying to get home, or cross checkpoints, are pulled out of cars, shoved to the ground, beaten and shot dead.

Several accounts of in discriminant killing were trumped by the soldiers. Non existent guns, knives and other killing instruments were put in their hands to make sure the Israeli’s are always right and justified in killing those they think are trying to kill THEM.

The Israeli Military are consumed with being killed, and that reasoning, always justifies they way they kill with impunity.

And when Palestinians go to court or ask for the TRUTH, what they get in response is usually SILENCE, or LIES, or a COVER UP at the hands of the Israeli government.

Truth is very lacking when it comes to Israeli’s killing Palestinians.

Israeli settlers, are just as complicit in these kinds of situations.

Palestinians march, they shout, and they throw rocks.

Do you know what the most useful job in Palestine is? Shoveling up rocks at the end of every day.

Settlers, do not only throw rocks, they throw cinder blocks, they bomb homes and shops, they shoot Palestinians, they mock them in the streets with impunity. There are many incredibly militant settlers, who think they own ALL the land that Palestine occupies.

They not only buy land from the Israeli government, they buy land from Palestinians. They encroach on Palestinian land, one foot at time. They take away ages old grazing land for livestock, they bully Palestinians out of their homes and annex them into Israeli settlements.

Step by Step, they are methodically taking for themselves, what was once Palestinian land.

And they act with impunity, over and over again.

The Israeli government spins stories that are false, when Israeli’s are kidnapped and killed, they automatically blame Palestinian Terrorists and they repeat lies over and over, as if at some point, they believe their own lies.

For the most part, Men march and are imprisoned, leaving their wives and children to carry on the cause. So the women and children march, they scream, they throw rocks at the soldiers.

The soldiers shoot back with Gas, Rubber Bullets and Live Fire Ammunition.

Kids throw rocks, some never hitting their intended targets, and one can be sure that where a rock is thrown, a soldier is going to respond with mostly deadly consequences.

Amid all this strife and sorrow, our writer tells stories of some of the men he met and befriended. And these men are peaceful, and care about family and love.

One man in particular, Eid, a Muslim man, educated in the U.K , who comes from a large family, is idealistic. He is a mixture of Muslim faith and Buddhist practice and thought.

Eid believes in humanity and goodness, peace, and LOVE.

He builds replicas of Catepillar machinery that the Israeli’s use to demolish Palestinian Homes. Some have ended up in museums on display.

His brothers do not necessarily agree with his philosophy, but they allow his simple eccentricities, because they love him.

Love is a very strong thread that runs across all familial lines in Palestine. Brothers, Sisters, Husbands, Wives and Children are held close. Marchers mark arrests, they mark killings and they mark assassinations.

All I want you to know is this … Peace will never take root as long as this field of killing remains. The Israeli’s are guilty of many things. And they perpetuate stereotypes that damage the honor of human beings, just like themselves.

When Israelis speak the words, Kill Them First, what does the world at large make of this declaration?

Israel does what Israel does. World leaders look on and pledge 100% support for Israel. Ambassadors come to the region and make nice, trying to build some consensus on both parts to reach some kind of Peace, that goes no where.

As long as divisiveness and hatred remain, Peace will never come.

And where do Palestinians go when they all have been forced off their land and out of their homes? Their fathers, mothers, sons and daughters are beaten, imprisoned and killed ?

What do they have left ? Dignity should be something important.

HUMAN DIGNITY is so far from the consciousness of the Israeli oppression.

How can you kill the spirit of an entire people ?

You deny them Rights, you deny them Humanity and you deny them Dignity.

Ben’s book is a serious story of terrible circumstances for people who are shown NO Respect nor Dignity.

Is it a Political Statement ? Yes.

Is it an Indictment of Israel ? Absolutely.

What did I think of the book ? I felt, many emotions. Mostly ANGER.

I just don’t understand how we can treat each other with such disdain and deny basic human rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Wait, I know this isn’t the United States here, but come on.

Everybody should be able to live life freely, have liberty and be able to pursue happiness without having to constantly look over ones shoulder all the time, and stare down a soldiers rifle or machine gun.

And wait for that soldier to either shoot them or better yet, Kill Them.

Read This Book …

 

 

 

Sunday Sundries – Women Suffer Too

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The weather took a definite turn into crap today. It has been pissing rain all day.

Things around town are on pause right now. With rain forecast until Tuesday, pouring concrete is going to wait until things dry out. Season has come to Montreal, with the closure of sections of the cities streets, and turning them into pedestrian only access.

This is a yearly event, to attract residents to explore their neighborhoods, and to encourage tourists to come, sit, stay, and spend money. The open space of terraces, more than double in car free zones, giving restos and bars, traffic and profits, beyond what they usually make with only indoor service.

Everybody was out early today, and when I got to the church, the room was set up. I had forgotten that we had a newbie coming for coffee, so I cranked out the rest, and had ample time to sit and read, because sitting outside as ruled out by rain.

We read from the Big Book tonight, and the chapter, “Women suffer too.” Men who read the back of the book, it seems, and we heard tonight, from some men, that when it came to women’s stories they actually skipped those sections, because:

“What do I have in common with a woman?” Well, A Lot actually …

Zeroing in on pages 206 – 207 … Then the miracle happened – to me !!!

Themes such as:

  • Coming Home
  • Salvation
  • We cannot live with anger
  • Freedom
  • Being able to contribute to your fellows

I read this passage with my friends, and my friends read as well. Some of my friends remarked that they had never read this story, because it was a woman’s story, and wondered out loud, why they intentionally skipped the read, when they identified with our lady storyteller.

I grew up in a family of alcoholics, who drank, got pissed off and copped resentments, that lasted years, decades, generations. The old “I’ll Show You…” been there, done that.

After seeing my parents do this to family, I swore that I would never do that to people I loved. And I did not. But honestly, when I first got sober, I engaged in “I’ll show you” behavior IN sobriety.

When you are sick and dying and you need friends and family, and they fuck off and walk away, the only one left in the game is YOU, and whoever is in the game with you.

I made two “I’ll Show You” decisions in sobriety. In the same retaliation form as my drunk parents had done to me. And I was Sober !!! Not as sober as I could have been, but it is what it is.

For the whole of my life, I was trying to find my way into communities that I thought would supply “acceptance and support.” That did not happen.

What I thought I needed to do, to be part of, did not materialize, until I got honest and returned to the rooms in 2001. All that I had been looking for was there for me to find, without having to seek “the outside world” for it.

Alcoholics suffer a great many things; fear, anger, resentment, sadness, isolation, just to name a few. Over time, we learn how to get rid of, to mitigate, and to change those negative feelings and learn to turn them into positives.

Salvation comes, with time and investment, when we allow our untreated alcoholism to get washed in the machine of The Book, The Work and The Steps. Recovery is a full time job. It isn’t just an hour a week, or a few hours a week, in meetings.

How freeing is it, for men and women, to know, that for the last time in our lives, we see how to get rid of all that shit that saddles us in our misery, anger and fear ?

We learn to Let Go, Absolutely, as How It Works says.

Some come to this readily, right from the bat, but others, hang on for dear life, because who will they be without this anger, fear and resentment to show others, who we are ?

Freedom comes, but not without work on our parts. Osmosis does not work, you have to Do The Work, to get the results.

I’ve spoken about freedom recently. The purpose of sobriety, is to get to Happy, Joyous and Free, and also, sobriety “real sobriety” comes when we allow the past to go, and we stop holding onto shit we don’t have to, and we come to the point where we can:

LIVE IN THE NOW.

This lifetime investment in the betterment of our lives, and the betterment of the lives of all those we meet in the rooms, brings wisdom and peace. When we are free, and we have spent time working on us, at some point, YOU will begin to see what you have to GIVE BACK to your fellows.

You never know when something you say, in a room, or in a conversation, that just might change a life, in ways you never imagined.

What better place to be, than in a room with your friends, OFTEN, and seek the same goals: Happy Joyous and Free …

Read the Book, all of it. Don’t skip. That’s why the back of the books is there. So at some point, you realize that You aren’t crazy, that You aren’t alone, and that We all suffer.

One of my friends said tonight that, “If they print a Fifth Edition, of the Big Book, they should call it simply … WE ALL SUFFER …

Come and join us, and find what you’ve been looking for. Then stay until the miracle happens for you…

Because, it will.

Promise …