Thursday: Clarity

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Most alcoholics don’t want to admit that they “feel.” Most would rather go back out and drink, when things get tough, rather than admit to their fellows that they are having a rough time of it. The Promise of the fellowship, is that, there will be good days, and there will be bad days.

And You don’t have to drink over the bad days.

Sobriety is not easy. And people struggle with emotions that come up, once we get sober. We heard tonight that, talking about where we are with our fellows, provides.

The Hand of the fellowship is always there. But not all people are able, and some are just not willing, to stick their hand out and offer it up.

However, there are those who will.

Finding those people, is like finding a needle in a haystack.

What is the key to that hunt ? You keep showing up and You keep talking. You keep talking, if in most cases, you are just hearing yourself talk, one way or another, the human who is supposed to help you WILL appear.

We also heard that a connection with a “Power Greater than Ones Self” can be a crucial part of who we become. This thought is a double-sided coin. Because not everybody in the rooms, believes in God.

The two minds are these … Those who find a God of their Understanding, and those who operate without it. There is NO right answer.

If you find the route to stay sober, more power to you.

Tonight, my friend who spoke, seriously relies on that power Greater than Himself, he chooses to call it God.

Many times, over the years, I’ve watched people come in, kicking and screaming all the way. They refute the Book, they malign the Book and the Work. Until they finally give in, and allow the program to help them.

God has always been the sticking point where we lose the most souls to alcoholism and addiction. There have been countless people, young and old, who just plainly will not accept that any God would help them, because of being burned somewhere in their past.

Over the years, I have worked tirelessly to find a route for them to find a way to get and stay sober. The whole first stage of my sobriety, people came and went over one word:

GOD…

Over and Over, people wrestled with God. Many did not make it and eventually they disappeared and never returned.

We know that there are no Atheists in Fox Holes. When it comes down to brass tacks, when we hit the bottom of our personal barrels, the only way is up, and with that up, comes a spiritual solution.

However you find that Spiritual Solution is up to you. It is there to be found, if you really go looking for it.

My friend, tonight, spoke pretty convincingly, that every day, he relies on God to direct the show. And I agree with him on this.

I’ve watched my friend get sober, and it was not an easy road to walk for him. Yet he persevered. Over the years, I gave him opportunities, in several meetings, to polish his story, and do some service. And he always stepped up and spoke confidently and honestly.

Six years, is a good chunk of time. My friend has certain clarity about his story today, that he did not have in the beginning. My old-timer friend, who thanked him, said as much, that when He was six years sober, my old-timer friend, lacked the clarity that the speaker has right now, having reached his sixth year sober.

Sobriety is not easy, and can be downright rough. And sometimes the rooms do not provide that hand we so desperately need when times get hard. So we keep showing up and doing what it is we were taught to do from the very beginning.

  • Service.
  • Coffee.
  • Chairs and Tables.
  • Shaking hands.
  • Reading.
  • Find a Home Group.

If you tack, one suggestion, on top of another, eventually, we learn how to put these simple suggestions together, a foundation will be built, that we can rely on for certain.

If You do these simple things, you will stay sober, one day at a time.

When Spirituality hits, it will hit when it is needed, and when it comes, you might be pleasantly surprised, with the How, the When and the Why.

The book is written they way it is for a reason. If you read the book, and follow what it says, and you work the steps in the order they come in, you will find a power greater than yourself, I guarantee it.

There is a God and I am Not God.

Thank God for that.

I do know, in 44 days, I will hit Sixteen years sober.

I have a little more clarity these days.

My friends never cease to amaze me with the way they see the world around us.

Grateful …

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.

Friday: The Beauty of Islam

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This is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Photographed by a friend of mine who lives in the U.A.E.

The week that I had crossed my first year sober, my addictions counselor asked me a question… She said, “You’ve been sober a year now, what do you want to do for you?”

I really had to think about my answer. In the end I decided that, at age 35, I would go back to school, and complete my studies in a field that I had begun in, when I was only nineteen years old.

I did not make it into ministry through the front door. And a lifetime would go by until the day I reached the point that I would finish my religious studies “in the field.” Almost a decade in studies took place, and I got my two diplomas.

World Religions and Pastoral Ministry …

It was odd, getting sober, in the rooms, AND studying Religion, by the book. I learned about God, by the book. I found Him as real, IN the rooms.

A requirement that we were invited to do was, at each unit of study, in whatever religion that was, we had to in-bed ourselves in that particular faith community. We did not just study the books and go to class, we participated in every religion we studied.

Islam, was a unit of study. The good thing about Concordia University, is that there is a very high population of Muslim students, from all over the world. And in the Hall Building, the university set aside two rooms that are dedicated prayer locations, so that students can come and make their prayers and participate in their own community and not have to leave the university while they are there.

I have Muslim friends. I am intimately familiar with the Muslim population here in the city, mainly because of my participation in the Muslim community when I was a student.

For many Friday’s, I attended Friday Prayers with my fellow students, both men and women. Those first few years, after coming to Montreal, I had to find my own footing. politically, mentally, and spiritually. The many faith-based communities helped me find my way.

The way people hate so hard is common, around the world, no matter where you come from. In my case, it began at home. I learned how to hate hard by my parents.

Thankfully, I never hated that hard in my life.

People tend to hate what they don’t know, it is easier to hate, then expanding their minds to learn about others, so that understanding is possible.

In the United States, Americans live in a predominantly Judaeo-Christian society. What did we know about Islam, for a very long time? I had NO exposure to any other religion than Christianity and Judaism.

I was not introduced to World Religions on a grand scale, until I moved to Montreal.

My father lived in the thought that, He loved his country, fought for his country, and you either loved it or left it. New comers to the states, be they immigrants or religious minorities or religious communities, the “Other” was always viewed with suspicion, as if something “New” had come to supplant what was already there.

The old Judaeo-Christian conquest conflict of East Meets West, Islam is coming to the West to take over the world mentality, is pretty scary to people who grew up in generations past, with all they know of is Christians or Jews, to have to expand to open themselves up to Islam, or Asian religions, or South East Asian religions was preposterous and not to be attempted.

People tend to freak out, as we have seen over the past fifteen years since 9-11.

It is easier to hate everybody and not know why we hate, then to figure out who we hate, and why, and not pigeon-hole Everybody into One Lump Hatred Society.

And by Everybody, I mean that because of some men who choose to do what they did, we hate all Muslims no matter where they come from, because we saw One thing and came away with One opinion. Because we were fed that opinion by the media.

We did not spend any time learning for ourselves what was either True or False.

And the way the media and society spins that hatred is mind-boggling.

And depending on where you live, that hatred is spun into an evangelical frenzy.

Evangelicals are some serious people who believe in a set way of life, with set scriptures and set teachers and believe they have ALL the right answers, no matter what ever info exists to the contrary.

Hatred, in many places, is as potent as Evangelical Frenzy.

Because Hatred that lives in an Evangelical vacuum is seriously dangerous. You cannot teach anyone who lives with evangelical truth or hatred, Anything… Because they know who God is and He is Christian, and nobody is going to teach them anything else, from any other perspective.

God said it, I believe it, that settles it …

I’ve spent a great deal of time studying the Quran. I’ve read it. Learned about it. I have a Quran in my reading library. Islam is part of my life today, because you know, there are Muslim men in the program of recovery here.

Many of them are my friends.

Before you judge ANYONE else based of country of Origin or Origin of Religious faith, take a step back, and think about respect and dignity. Think about their humanity. Think about their families.

You cannot go very far in Montreal, without meeting someone of Muslim faith in any shop, any restaurant, or any service industry, in this city.

The Middle East – all of the Middle East is fraught with serious conflicts.

Middle East religions were not part of educational curriculum when I was a kid in school. That was not introduced until University here in Montreal. Many, MANY people in the West know Nothing about Islam, but for what the media feeds them on any given night from television.

Or from the pulpits of their churches. 

And the more evangelical that news presentation, the harder the hate and misunderstanding and misinformation. The harder the media tries to paint ALL of Islam by ONE brush, with ONE vision, and only ONE understanding, what does that do to those who are fed that message ?

They hate as hard as they are fed that message.

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Do you know Muslim men and women, Do you know their families ? Are there Muslim citizens living in your community ? Do you know or do you even care ?

Hatred and Islamophobia is alive and well here in Canada. We are not immune to the messages of Hate and Exclusion. Social Media and right leaning news organizations fit that bill very nicely, not to mention the media that comes out of the United States.

You cannot blame ALL of Islam, for the failings of certain specific communities. We should not paint every Muslim man, woman or child with the same brush.

For decades, the Middle East has exploded into calamity. That portion of the world, that is so Steeped in Religious history, is fraught with complications, like I mentioned earlier.

The Powder keg that is the Fertile Crescent has fallen into mass civilization destruction and genocidal death.

Where do all those people go to flee war, killing, death, starvation ???

Europe is on their doorstep. And we all know how that turned out.

For the Christian West, as happened, was the bastion of freedom, of life and of the pursuit of happiness. Why would people NOT come to the West, to seek a better life for their families? And why as we, as Christians, not welcome the refugee ???

I mean, why does the Statue of Liberty stand in that Harbor, welcoming the huddled masses from all over the world.

We have forgotten or refuse to admit, that North America began with people who came from someplace else FIRST…

I mean, do we all get that Jesus was a refugee ? That when he was born, his parents took him from his home and fled to Egypt because of King Herod wanting to kill him ?

Do we all get that Jesus was not a Caucasian white man ? He was of Middle East parentage, and had Middle Eastern looks, and a life spent living in the Middle East, and preaching there as well ?

So why do we hate so hard, when Jesus taught us how to treat each other with Love and Charity ? I don’t get how you hate so hard and believe in a God that taught you what you should do, and in reality, you could not be bothered to accept the “Other” and love and respect them as God has taught you to.

All because they worship God in another form and tradition, and that threatens your safe and sound ideology that does not serve you well.

In fact it makes you hate harder, instead of Loving your neighbor better.

If we loved as hard as many Hate, the world would be another place …

That is what the rooms teach us. How to love ourselves, and each other. And we learn to serve each other, in the least of these on a daily basis.

Lessons the world at large could really benefit from.

Right now, here in Quebec, our Muslim communities have opened their mosques to the public, for us to come and participate in and learn from their community.

Will you participate ?

Hatred is NOT a Christian Value.

In fact it goes against EVERYTHING that Jesus taught us.

The reason so many people hate as hard as they do, is because they listen to only those people who feed that kind of fire. I call it Evangelical Hatred.

Evangelical hatred is much more energetically potent vehicle because God is behind that kind of hate. Gay men, during the AIDS crisis and to this day, suffer that same hatred by many.

Now the world is saturated with this kind of hatred of Islam and the “other.”

Hate everybody, because that’s what we are told to do by those who teach hatred from their pulpits. And all those people, voted for the man, in great numbers, who just banned Muslims from seven specific countries in the Middle East and Africa.

But he did not ban Muslims from countries where the President has business ties.

Hmmm … Business Security comes before National Security. 

We cannot live in a world of peace, until we end systemic and evangelical hatred.

Systemic evangelical hatred is poison for the soul.

It tarnishes our souls, and separates us from truth and love.

It pits One God over Another, Allah.

Jesus against the Prophet, Blessed be His holy name.

Religions of the world exist.

And we are all here, because our God created us, and gave us a faith of origin. And what right do we have to be judge, jury and executioner, to say that one religion is the Ultimate Religion, and Truth, and that No Other Religion or Truth will be Listened to, Learned about, OR Accepted as Legitimate.

We sit in the balance of the war between the Christian God of the West versus that Muslim God of the East.

Nobody will win this war … More will die to defend their faith, than will survive it.

Where will you stand in this religious battle for truth ???

Will you love or will you hate ?

God weeps that we have let our world fall into this abyss of conflict.

When it all comes down to LOVE.