Ms. Suze

“And then there is Larry.  Yep, Larry of Quest and Gabby Greywhiskers…that Larry.  Smart, yet can speak dirt farmer with the best of em…easy-going but can blast POTUS and the Minions for all he’s worth……a survivor and funnyman extraordinaire.”

Before I read this post tonight from SUZE, I was considering giving up one of my sites and revamping the other.  Soooo tired of ranting about politics and preaching to the choir about spirituality and sobriety.

One of my friends here in Homosassa is a man who is losing his vision.  We go places, do things.  I claim him as my “volunteering” assignment for the week and he promises to push me about in a wheelchair when my legs give out.  It’s a funny picture – a blind man pushing an invalid across a busy street.  C’mon, think about it.  It’s hilarious.

I’ve heard his jokes 100 times.  He, at 71 years old, still makes passes at women and invites them on a “real blind date”.  Think about it.  It’s hilarious even when hearing it for the 101st time.  I ask him, “RJ, why do you keep pulling that blind date joke?”

“Did you hear her laughing?” he responds with a smile.

Ms. Suze, if I can still bring a smile to your face, make you laugh or comfort you in trying times, then I still have reasons to keep on writing.  Love ya.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAW

smiley 3

Wimps

GABBY'S PLACE

Picture1.pngstep9 (2)               SOBRIETY IS NOT FOR WIMPS

The initial act of embracing a lifestyle which denies the greatest crutch available to mankind – substance abuse – is in itself heroic and worthy of Congressional medals.  OK, so the fact that the majority of people don’t use alcohol and drugs as crutches is irrelevant.  We’re talking about you and me – addicts who have been hooked on alcohol or heroin – not normal social users.  We’re talking about men and women who could not survive a day without a fix.  Denying our bodies and minds that which enabled survival in another day of addictive behavior was not a wimpy thing to do.  It took courage.

But, day one of recovery was just the tip of an iceberg.  Days two, three and four brought to our broken minds and bodies a realization of  the gravity of our…

View original post 222 more words

divide & conquer

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest beckoning me.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.

angry emoji

“If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.  The grouch and the sudden rage were not for us.  Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, but for us alcoholics it is poison.”  Bill Wilson, AS BILL SEES IT

When was the last time you screamed at or threw a middle finger to your TV screen?  Last week, yesterday, maybe a few minutes ago?  And did it accomplish anything? Probably not.

Today I understand how fragile my inner ecosystem can be.  My emotions are not like those of normal men and women who view or hear an outrageous story deserving of anger.  They process the news, digest it, and respond in a constructive manner.  I do not, although, I am infinitely better than I once was.  No, I can still be the guy standing in front of his TV screen flailing arms and fingers, hurling profanities at the image which has provoked me.  Do I believe that person heard or saw me?  No, of course not.  But I sure told him a thing or two, did I not?

Anger destroys every inch of peace and contentment that dwells within.  It alters the thought processes which lead to a God-honoring state of mind.  One minute of outrage can develop into 24 hours, or longer, of festering resentment.  Just one moment of anger can do that.  Am I willing, today as a sober man, to sacrifice my serenity for anger?

It’s one of the seven deadly sins according to numerous faith walks.  Let’s call it a character defect.  My inner demons use anger very effectively to divide and conquer.  When my mind is consumed with discord it cannot process the love that awaits in communion with a higher power.  All things spiritual are ushered to a back burner while the negatives boil away at a furious burn. Division conquers.  Calling 911 to God’s help line is the only solution.  Pray, pray, pray.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

I certainly cannot change the doofus on TV who has taken control of my emotional state of mind.  Lord, why would I willingly give a conduit of hatred and division such a presence in my world?  Divide and conquer is not only an inner manifestation that destroys my serenity.  It also works for political figures and world leaders intent on personal power and prestige.  Divide the people, then go in for the kill.

I don’t have to play the game.  Sobriety has opened a world of possibilities for a life apart from the games politicians play.  Religious leaders also sometimes deserve that middle finger of dissent.  Divide and conquer.  “My God is better than yours.  I’m going to heaven, you’re going to hell.  I am unique and special.”

Does that kind of rhetoric meet the standard set by Jesus or any of the messengers of truth which have been shared with us?  Many years ago, a wise old man advised me, a newly sober man searching for a better way, “If your religious affiliation doesn’t teach love and compassion for your fellow-man, then it is not of God.”

Take that advice with a grain of salt – or adhere to it like I did.  It has made the search for truth in theological philosophy mind-blowing and simultaneously comforting.  Consider these words from my foremost first read every morning:

“Buddhism affirms that there is only one of us, and therefore we are each responsible for every link in the web of being. Christianity offers us the unconditional mercy of an incarnational God who permeates the whole of creation with love. Judaism urges us to demonstrate our love for God in the way we treat each other and care for creation. Hinduism kindles the fire of devotion for reunification with the Beloved who is no other than our own true Self. Islam shares the peace that comes with complete submission to the One.”

FATHER RICHARD ROHR   Mirabai Starr in The World Wisdom Bible: A New Testament for a Global Spirituality, Rami Shapiro, ed. (Skylight Paths Publishing: 2017), vii-viii.

cropped-unshackled-21.png

 

 

 

YOU ROCK

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest beckoning me.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.

Picture40

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”  ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS step 3, pg 59 in How it Works.

When was the last time you read those words or listened to them recited at a meeting of recovering alcoholics?  Do we understand fully the significance of this life-saving concept which gave us the credentials to be a part of God’s family even after years of separation and denial ?

At my 1st AA meeting I was scared, I was sick, I was morally and spiritually bankrupt.  I knew I was going to die either by a black-out car wreck or by suicide.  My personal life was a disaster and my job was in jeopardy.  Most of my friends abandoned me, a few stood by me, but all knew that Larry was a sick puppy.  All except Larry.

You see, Larry had learned to play the game.  I’m talking about that mind game we alcoholics master at some point in our drinking careers.  I had my list of scapegoats lined up to cover every conceivable mishap in my life.  I conned, connived, and lied my way through the car wrecks, the lost jobs, the broken relationships, the days of alcohol-induced sickness.  In the end days of my drinking I truly believed my own cons.  Finally, reaching out to mental health services at the hospital in desperation, the psychologist assigned to me listened to my con for one minute before asking, “How much do you drink?”

My surrender was immediate because I was sick of being sick.  I replied, “A few beers once in a while,” but I knew then in the psychologist’s office that the only person I had been conning all this time was me.

“My name is Larry, and I’m an alcoholic,” I announced at my 1st AA meeting.

There, I had done it.  For the first time in many years I got honest with myself.  And then I listened.  I tried to convince myself that I was not as bad as they were.  But, I found myself relating to what they were saying and agreeing, “Yeah, I did that, too.  That’s me.”

Someone talked about God and I freaked.  “You don’t really believe that stuff, do you? There is no God.  Intelligent people don’t need God.  I sure as hell don’t need God.”

A fellow at the end of the table quietly responded, “And look where that got you.  You’re sitting in a room at a table with a bunch of drunks.”

Again, that moment of surrender.  “OK, OK, you’re right.  Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was.  I’ll listen to your stories about God.”

And so it began, my journey in sobriety.  The God of my understanding was nothing like the God of my childhood which had burdened me with guilt and shame for 34 years of my life.  It was a unique feeling, a devotion which I had never before experienced, this God of my understanding.  What an amazing concept!

Today I celebrate that I am no longer excluded from a worshipful relationship with a higher power just because I don’t profess the ‘right’ God according to other people.  I no longer feel unworthy just because I’m a broken man trying to be a better man.  I no longer feel condemned to hell just because I’m not convinced by their idea of heaven.

Are you in love with sobriety?  I am.  Do you remember your first meeting?  I do. Amazing, isn’t it, that we should be loved so much by a God of our understanding?

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Thy will, not mine, be done.”

 

SIMPLICITY

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest beckoning me.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.

blur-book-candle-207700

Book, Candle, Desk, Chair, Pen & Sleeping Mat.

This is what it has come to, my friends.  As I look around at the accumulation of stuff which has followed me around for 53 years since the day I rented my 1st living space, I sigh and mutter to myself, “Is this all there is?”

No, I’m not having a Peggy Lee moment.  I am simply tired of the baggage in my life.  Looking at the cupboard which I lovingly restored in 1972, the wash stand stripped of paint and returned to its original beauty, the rocking chair which rocked my great-grandfather as he listened to his floor model Motorola radio, and the old dishes in the cupboard which also set in my Grandma’s “shunk”, I realize that as I carted them from numerous abodes in Pennsylvania to Florida in 1995, the memories traveled with them.  And those memories will always be with me until the memory banks fail or die.

But the stuff, oh Lord, the stuff that keeps me from living in a cave or in a monastery, or in the woods in a tent, or in a room up in somebody’s garret.  Just a book, a candle, a desk, a chair, pen and sleeping mat today screams to me, “Freedom!”

Some of my recovering friends would say that I need a thorough housecleaning, an internal inventory to alleviate my travail.  But, although they are often right, this is not the case today.  I simply need simplicity.  I am tired and I am ready to embark on a different and exciting journey, a new QUEST.

You may challenge me with, “From what are you running, Larry?”

Truly, I have run from many things in my life, mostly myself.  But, I know what ‘running from’ is like.  This is different.  This is running towards the place where I hope to spend the last few years of my life – a simple, uncluttered life.  If I sincerely trust that a higher power will provide for my needs, then what I desire should not be impossible.  If I really believe that all my material needs can be packed in a suitcase and a backpack, then what is holding me back?

Commitments.  Yes, sadly I still have commitments to other people.  Those who have stood by me for many years now rely on me for comfort and security.  The shared responsibilities of a shared life with another person cannot be abandoned even when increasingly difficult.  Even Max, the cat, depends on me for his survival.  And who would clean this house and cook the dinners and make sure the bills get paid on time?  Who?  Tell me, who?

Ahhh, it’s a pipe dream, is it not?  Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.  Someday I will be free.  Until then I have my stuff and my responsibilities and Max.

grace that’s amazing

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest beckoning me.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.

blur-close-up-focus-531970

PSALMS 82

God calls the judges into his courtroom,
    he puts all the judges in the dock.

2-4 “Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough,
    you’ve let the wicked get away with murder.
You’re here to defend the defenseless,
    to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;
Your job is to stand up for the powerless,
    and prosecute all those who exploit them.”

Ignorant judges! Head-in-the-sand judges!
    They haven’t a clue to what’s going on.
And now everything’s falling apart,
    the world’s coming unglued.

6-7 “I commissioned you judges, each one of you,
    deputies of the High God,
But you’ve betrayed your commission
    and now you’re stripped of your rank, busted.”

O God, give them their just deserts!
    You’ve got the whole world in your hands!

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

This is a great reading from the Ketuvim, the 3rd section of the Hebrew Bible, set to contemporary dialog.  Why should I be surprised that social justice was a concern of the early Jewish culture much as it is today with our Christian tradition?  Apparently man, although he has conquered many technical impediments to enlightenment, has yet to master his own ego, that part of him which says he is better than, different from, and entitled to.

I often inventory these aspects of my own inner forces which determine who I shall be today – better, different or entitled.  And sometimes miraculously, I tune in to a greater self which tells me I am a son of that universal essence which created all mankind equally deserving of justice among their fellow-man whether wealthy and powerful or poor and needy.

I can picture the author of Psalm 82 standing before a panel of appointed judges reading the riot act to them for their lack of compassion towards the defenseless and underdogs.  In today’s society I am one of many, not only judges and politicians, who would do well to reflect on attitudes toward and treatment of those who have hit personal bottoms, endured unjust racism, struggled through financial difficulties.  The homeless, the emotionally challenged, the addicted, the prisoners, the broken, the afflicted – all are deserving of a day in the court of compassion and empathy.

When honesty hits me between the eyes, I would have to admit that I am unworthy of mercy and grace, that I should be sleeping in the woods, scrounging for food, sitting in jail for my disobedience.  That honesty tells me that I am not special nor gifted nor smarter.  No, I am merely luckier because I have escaped the harshness which afflicts my brothers and sisters.

Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found was blind but now I see
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved

How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed
When we’ve been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun. 

John Newton, 1779 OLNEY HYMNS

John Newton understood this undeserved gift from a gracious God.  He lived a profane and wicked life, but turned the page which all of us turn when we exclaim,

“Dear God, there has to be a better way than this.”

His actions endorsed social reform and supported the fight to abolish slave trade in the British Empire resuling in the British Slave Trade Act in 1807.

SHEEP

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest beckoning me.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.

animals-elderly-forest-40873

“There are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well.  They too listen to my voice.”  JOHN 10:16

“There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.”   GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Plays Pleasant, 1898

The one discipline which gives hope to my occasional hopelessness is acceptance that I do not see the entire picture.  My inner vision is limited by environment, by prejudices, by experiences.  Sometimes, in meditation, a window to  enlightened thinking is opened. Often, when reading the scriptures of wisdom, a metaphor pops off the page and it becomes a moment of eternal truth.

John 10:16 does that for me.  I love the perception which Jesus shared of his followers as sheep.  A protector, a guide, an admonisher who in all actions lovingly guides me through the perils of life.  It’s a comforting metaphor beautifully embodied in Psalm 23 which, assuredly, Jesus read as a young boy in the temple.

My ego wants me to think that I am special, that I am unique.  Multiply that egoistic need by millions of others who are seeking comfort and truth in a perilous world and the concept of exclusiveness becomes real.  “My belief, my religion, my theology is the only correct way to believe.  All you other sheep are misguided heathens. Baaaaaa.”

For me, this is the nugget of understanding which nails my ego to its cross.  I am not the only sheep that Jesus loves.  Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Baptist, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, etc., etc., are just a piece of the spiritual puzzle called  Christianity which is just a part of the message shared by all the great faith walks of the world.  Jesus leads my life personally, yes.  But, Jesus is also Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, Allah, and all the purveyors of the one message of truth.  That message is that I am a servant serving under a God of love and compassion.  That God is universal truth.

Labels are probably important for someone like me whose ego needs identity, but using that label to distinguish and separate me from all the other sheep is counterproductive to the messages of wisdom found in scriptures.

“My Father’s home is designed to accommodate all of you.  If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that.  I am going to make arrangements for your arrival.”  JOHN 14:2 The Voice