Wednesday: Whisper From Heaven

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Today was the day when chores needed to be done. Shopping, Sorting, Laundry and the like. I was up early this morning and now my laundry is washing. Now it is drying…

By the By I had set my music to shuffle. That has been the norm for the past few weeks. I was in the mall, heading to do some window shopping, and my music sort of stopped, and there was a pause, the next item that played was an entire Pod Cast from the West Island Round Up, that took place in 2012.

We like to say in these instances … Is that ODD or is that GOD ???

The very same year that God shook up my sobriety, via Bob and Lorna Kelly.

I have two sober talks on my phone, located under Pod Casts. They don’t usually come up in musical rotation, but today Lorna came up. And in retrospect, I take that as a sign that I needed to hear her share today.

A whisper from heaven.

Lorna Kelly, died in June of 2016. She had battled Cancer and had heart operations and although she had all these problems, when asked to come to Montreal to speak, she did it gladly. Still to this day, many of the things she speaks of, are relevant to my sobriety, and to everyone else who would have thought to have a copy of her share ready to load up and listen to now and then.

I take time, a LOT of time reading and listening to people. Hell, that’s what we do at meetings right ? Listen to each other. Unlike my fellows around town, after such meetings or listening to a speaker, I come here and I write out my thoughts as they come to me. People think I am offensive when I do this.

Lorna was a student and a participant in the life of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She wrote an entire book on the subject. Mother Teresa once said to Lorna, in a moment of compromise,

“You must protect this special gift!” Speaking of her sobriety.

On her sickbed, prior to Mother Teresa’s death, several sisters, Lorna and Mother Teresa were in Mother’s room. A young Indian priest came in the say mass. As the mass continued and communion came, the young priest comes round the bed and offers Lorna a host, that was dipped in the wine.

Not wanting to make a scene and make it all about HER, Lorna passed on the sodden host, to one of the sisters standing at her side. Then speaking reverently to the priest:
Yes, I want communion, but please don’t dip it in the wine …”

Wherein Mother Responded with “Well Done Lorna, you must continue to protect your special gift.”

A second story takes place in Kentucky at an Epicurean Feast.

This dinner party spread over two nights took place in a very fine mansion, with a grand ball room dining room, elegantly appointed. Everyone dressed to the nines, several chefs, gourmet food, and all the wine one could possibly want or need.

The first night went off without a hitch. Lorna had told the chefs that she could not have alcohol in any form, in any of her food, none whatsoever.

On the second night, she was sitting at dinner, when the pasta course came out. As the chefs came out to explain the dish, the host offered wine from his own wine cellar, and the guests were fascinated with the choice.

Fascinated so much that the woman sitting opposite Lorna commented to her that that particular wine was just amazing. And that Lorna should just taste the wine for the effect it had with the pasta dish now in front of them.

All the while, Lorna had not taken a drink. Nobody took notice until the woman sitting opposite her said to her: “Lorna You’re Not Drinking? No, she replied I’m not.”

And the snake of alcoholism began slithering across the table, through the glasses and cutlery, along the table and the snake came up and nuzzled Lorna up her neck to her ear and it whispered …

“Lorna, It wouldn’t be a slip, you don’t want to drink the wine, you merely want to taste it.” 

In that moment of decision, what did she do ?

She set her cutlery down and folded her hands in her lap and she recited the Serenity Prayer, and after a moment or two, took up her cutlery and finished her dinner.

It was only on the next morning as she was packing, that the truth of what happened the night prior, with that possible SLIP. Lorna fell to her knees in her room and she wept.

She says over and over, in quoting the Big Book:

That at some point in your sobriety, a time will arise, when the only thing that stands between you and a drink, will be your Higher Power.

Many of my friends forgot this little piece of wisdom and drank again.

Lorna goes on to say that, “Only YOU know what goes on in your secret places.”

It is what we do in secret and the secrets we keep that impact if we stay sober or not. Sadly, many friends also forgot this wisdom. I don’t think many people think to bolster their spiritual condition by reinforcing everything we are taught and all the words that people have spoken to us. I know that I do.

Similarly – It all came down to One Decision, how the Fellowship began.

Heaven Held its Breath …

In Bill’s story, when he travels to Akron, Ohio to seal a business deal, that eventually falls through, Bill is only sober a short period of time. The meeting ends, Bill is shattered. The business has failed, and there he is standing in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel in Akron.

The SURE THING, the bar, off to one side of the lobby, the not so sure thing, the CHURCH DIRECTORY and the PHONE on the opposite wall, Bill stands at a cross roads.

In that moment of indecision, Heaven is Holding its Breath, waiting to see what choice Bill is going to make. In hindsight, the lives of millions upon millions of alcoholics, hang in the balance.

Bill is thinking the drink. It would be easy to just walk into that bar and escape his troubles. But, no, Bill says to himself,

“I don’t need a drink, I need another alcoholic!”

There it is. The seminal decision that starts the Fellowships ball rolling.

Bill walks over to the directory and begins making calls. having failed on several of them, he decides on Just One More Call. Henrietta Sieberling picks up and sets up the most important meeting of Bill’s life and sobriety.

The next meeting that Bill has is with one Doctor Bob Smith.

Offering Bill fifteen minutes for his troubles, their first talk lasts six hours. And Bob relates his thought that for the first time in his life, he had met a man who spoke his language and had been able to help Dr. Bob get sober, (not on the first round) but eventually Bob did get sober, it was all down to Bill’s life experience with alcoholism, from his own life that turned Dr. Bob’s life upside down.

And it is in that meeting that the fellowship of A.A. is born.

Lorna talks about Nikos Kazantzakis where he says:

TO ALWAYS CHOOSE THE SURE THING IS TREASON FOR THE SOUL.

Bill could have chosen the sure thing, the bar and a drink.

Lorna could have chosen the sure thing and taken a wine sodden host, or a sip of that wine at the dinner.

Both of these people, actually chose to do something different.

Both decisions, changed their lives, and in turn, enlighten our lives with their wisdom in not choosing the sure thing.

These are Spiritual Principles.

Spiritual Principles are truly the SURE THING in sobriety.

They never lead us to the wrong decision, if we remember to Stop-Drop-Pray and then:

Decide the better of the two options.

No, Mr. Trump, One is Never too Many

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Post lifted from Carmi Levy. Written Inc. London, Ontario, Canada.

A number of my friends have better words than I could ever write.

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day, and like many righteous folks – Jews and non-Jews alike – I felt the need to mark it in some way. Originally, it was a simple thing, really: A quick screen grab, shared to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, with a similarly simple set of hashtags:

#HolocaustMemorialDay #Holocaust #NeverAgain

However we choose to do so, we mark the day because failure to do so dishonours the memories of those who died simply because of who they were. As a Jew, it is my responsibility to shine the light on racism wherever I see it. Not only because of what happened – and continues to happen – to my own people. But to all others, as well. Because if we stand by in silence, we may as well be party to the atrocities in the first place. Until, of course, they come for us, too. Take your pick of identifiable groups – gays, Latinos, African-Americans, whoever – and think about how easy we make it for anyone to marginalize anyone else if we fail to step in. It doesn’t have to be directed at you for you to take action.

That should have been more than enough. But then the newly minted president (lower-case deliberate) of the United States, Donald Trump, signed another executive order (he really does love those things, doesn’t he?) banning anyone from seven Muslim-majority countries –  Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – from entering the U.S. for at least the next 90 days. The order also indefinitely suspends Syrian refugees from coming to America, and also pauses the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. That last program will be reinstated only following the implementation of a so-called “extreme vetting” process, and even then only for countries that meet the new administration’s yet-to-be-shared criteria for entry.

The irony that Trump would sign such an order on Holocaust Memorial Day should not be lost on any of us. Adding another bizarro element to the story was Trump’s own statement on the day that left out any mention of Jews. Or of anti-Semitism. If these actions don’t make us sick to our stomachs as members of the human race, I’m not sure what will.

During the Second World War, the U.S. famously closed its borders to refugees from war-torn nations. European Jews tried – and failed – to gain admission to the U.S. as the country maintained strict immigration quotas against Jews from Eastern Europe and from Germany in particular. Anne Frank’s family tried numerous times to obtain U.S. visas, only to be denied every time.

A ship, the St. Louis, packed with 937 European refugees, mostly Jews, was turned away from the Port of Miami in 1939 after being similarly denied entry in Cuba and Canada. The ship had no choice but to return to Europe, and many of those on-board were subsequently murdered in the Holocaust. This story loomed large in my upbringing, as the phrase “One was too many” echoed through my home every time my parents saw a news report of another country saying no to those in need.

It sickens me to no end to think of what might have been had xenophobia and self-serving silence not prevailed during that era. Of the lives that could have been saved. Of the entire family trees whose branches would have continued to spawn new branches. Instead, they were amputated right then and there, by leaders lacking humanity. And by everyone else who stood by in rapt inaction and let it happen.

Now, it’s 2017 and those echoes reverberate more strongly than ever. In the actions of a man who dwells more on the size of the crowds at his inauguration than the profound needs of the country he now leads. The question we must ask ourselves is whether we’re willing to stand by in silence. Or do something about it.

One was too many then. And while it may be too many for a certain leader of the free world, it shouldn’t be for those of us standing by and watching this seems-like-fiction circus play out in front of our disbelieving eyes. Unfortunately, this time it isn’t fiction. And this time we’re a little better equipped to get off the sidelines and actually put a stop to this nonsense.

My ancestors weren’t slaughtered so that a couple of generations later we could forget they were ever victimized and allow the entire episode to be repeated. When we say Never Forget, we mean it.