Broken Hallelujah

heart

 

“Oh, I love you so much. You make me feel so good about myself, about life, about my past and my future. You do so much for me, much more than I deserve. I will always love you and be here for you, no matter what..”

Pure horse shit!!

I realize this is going to sound terribly bitter and jaded, near emotionally tainted, but hey, I’m willing to take that risk, in my estimation it’s all part of the cycle.

I believe, and again this is based on my own experience, that there are several well known stages that a relationship, particularly a ‘romantic’ (sexual) relationship, but not necessarily limited to, goes through.

The first stage, after it’s been clearly established that both parties are interested, the way Doberman Pincers affirm each other after the sniffing period, is the ‘are you for real?’ stage. Are you just trying to ‘bust a nut’ here or are you genuinely feeling the same connection that I am? This is usually a very brief period, as for both parties, usually, the answer to this question doesn’t really effect how they are about to proceed.

The next stage I refer to as the ‘Taliban’ stage. The neurotransmitters and dopamine and adrenalin are pumping so hard, not much would alter what is about to take place.

“Oh, honey. I feel so strongly about you that it’s scary. But before we go any further, I have to tell you something about myself that a lot of people don’t know. I’m really part of a Taliban sleeper cell, planning to wreck havoc on some people pretty close to you.”

“Honey, I love you and I am so very proud that you have the courage to stand up for what you believe in….”

And consummation  does nothing but throw gasoline on this emotional fire.

The next stage is the ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ stage. The chemicals and receptors begin to subside, and the parties, more likely than not, experience the emotional death rattle at different intervals. As a result of which there is a void that exists where something very powerful and tangible recently existed. This causes confusion, second guessing, insecurities, blame and bitterness. Somebody’s gotta pay for this emotional tragedy, normally the other person.

“We don’t cuddle like we used to. Are you sure you want to be with me? Is it my hair color or the size of my ‘disposition’ that turns you off?” etc, etc…

Pathetic, yes, I know. And most people are cowards (myself included) when it comes to this stuff and would rather lie to spare your feelings than to tell you the truth which is simply, “I’m just not feeling it anymore.”

Which rolls us right into the next stage. The ‘messiah’ stage. Where we sit around waiting for something really profound to happen. It, of course, usually doesn’t.

“What are you thinking about honey? You’re not talking much..”

“Hmmm? Oh, nothing honey. I’m just tired. Long day..”

“Okay snookums… better get some rest..”

Gone, baby, gone…

The next stage is the ‘research and development’ stage, wherein we spend a good deal of time gathering the information together necessary to allow us to execute and make morally palatable the final stage of the cycle. By this time, the same things that used to titillate and inspire us about the other person has done a complete 180.

“It’s that thing you do all the time. It’s so annoying. That constantly breathing, in and out and in and out…”

And then there’s the final stage. The ‘severance pay’ stage.

Now this stage is tricky, takes practice and has several different, yet common approaches. The first of which, for people who haven’t totally acquired the required moral justifications, is by making the other person’s life so miserable, they are forced to make the ‘final cut’. This approach can have opposite effects, for example, if the other person happens to be somewhat emotionally tainted as well and interprets such unsavory repelling actions in a ‘reverse psychology’ manner. Which is to say, the harder I push, the more they want to be there. This is an awkward situation, and usually ‘sledge hammers’ are construed as form of affection.

“Please, just go away.”

“I know what your lips are saying, but, I also know you don’t really want me to go. I love you so much…..”

Puke..

Another common approach to severing ties, a more subtle, American way, is to lie through your teeth.

“Honey, I have an incurable sexually transmitted disease and insanity runs in my family and is now rearing its ugly head in my head.”

At which point she says something like, “What a coincidence. Me too…. I love you so much.”

Another approach is simply reverting back to the ‘messiah’ stage, and sit around (with or without a secret lover) and wait. This tends to speed up the aging process and give inaccurate information to the party in question. She thinks I’m content while I’m contemplating taping a hose to my exhaust pipe into the back window of my station wagon.

And then there is the honest approach. Some may consider this cruel, but I, on the other hand, believe it to be the most humane approach, inflicting no more pain than absolutely possible. Holding them under, ’til they can breath no more.

“What the matter baby? You don’t talk very much any more.”

“The truth is, I’m just disgusted with you and even having sex with you feels like an act of bestiality.”

Again, total truth here. Not very poetic. But it usually does the trick.

Unless, of course, her eyes glisten with excitement and she says, “Wow. You’ve been having that fantasy too. There’s a Shetland Pony down along side the road……”

If this happens, run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit. Pick up your things later or buy new things.

 

But this isn’t a document on relationships, and for God’s sake, it’s not an instruction manual. It’s a writing on love, believe it or not.

My question, to myself obviously, as I don’t really have a great deal of followers. (Understatement!!)- my question is where is love in all this?

What is love?

Now Webster tells us that love is  : a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person. : attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship.

My respect for Webster is dropping at a rapid rate.

Now the Greeks claim that there are 7 different types of love, ranging from ‘eros’, erotic love to ‘Philia’, brotherly love and ‘ludus’, playful love. This is ludicrous. I’ve been privy to the way Greeks love and quite frankly, I find their definition to be  pure horse shit as well.

Now Jesus, on the other hand, the trouble-making carpenter from Galilee, said there is no greater love than to lay down your life for those whom you love. Jesus, I love that! Say what you will about Christianity and weather or not Jesus was a prophet, the son of God, God Himself or simply a full flight from reality, but no description of love I’ve ever experienced even comes close to that. Jesus also said that we would know truth when we heard it. Nothing rings truer for me than this. I pray that I should have the courage to lay down my life for someone I love, should the situation ever require it.

I, on the other hand, having used that very same ‘line’ in the past and meant it, like to approach it from a different angle. “I love you so much, I’m willing to live for you.”

Back to Webster. I think is definition of love simply leads us to the satirical question Tom Robbins asked in Skinny Legs and All– an addition to the famous Albert Camus’ claim that there is only one serious question in life, weather or not to kill one’s self. Mr. Robbins added upon this short list a second question- ‘How do you make love stay?’

In my estimation, Mr. Webster’s approach to love will always make love ‘go’. Always!

He says it’s a feeling, usually involved with sexual relationships. For point of reference, please see the very first lines of this document. That ‘feeling’, always subsides. When it does. we are left with only few choices, and eventually those choices are reduced to survival instincts. Fight or flight.

I don’t think love is a ‘noun’, as Mr. Webster would have us believe. A person, place or thing. I think it’s a ‘verb’, an action word, thereby proving Jesus’ statement. Not only that, I think love is a paradox. The moment we try to hold on to it do we lose it. The moment we try to capture and contain it, does it’s lose its essence. The moment we try to force another to love us- gone, baby, gone. It goes from ‘eros’ to a hostage situation in the blink.

This is what I think about love. Again, this is not an instruction manual. For me to give advise on relationships and love is like a drowning man giving swimming lessons. Which is to say, is amusing at best.

I worked in the Virgin Islands for a while and the restaurant I cooked at was right on the beach, a part of the beach which was one of the only ‘nude’ beaches left on the island. Consequently, I took many breaks in the open aired dining room, sipping espresso and.. well.. admired.

So this lady comes up to the bar for drinks (Relatively clothed) and I notice her immediately. She is very attractive, middle aged, handsome and for all appearances, a ‘worldly’ sophisticated woman. (Yes, I judge books by their covers). So she’s getting some tropical mixed drinks and she is approached by a fellow, again, for all appearances, is far from sophisticated. It’s a common joke on St. Thomas that you can always spot a ‘first timer’ because they wear white tube socks with their LL Bean leather sandals. This guy was definitely a ‘first timer’. Ray Ban aviators, over-sized Bahama shorts and a Polo shirt that’s tucked in. Big no no. And he’s frumpy, balding and way too happy.  I was surprised to see that they were a couple. My first thought was ‘sugar daddy’. I was amusing myself with less than edifying thoughts when I saw something that humbled me deeply. It was a single look and a gentle touch that the handsome woman gave the frumpy guy. My articulation abilities are much too inadequate to describe what I saw. But it left me realizing one thing- well, two things actually. The first of which was that she ‘understands’ this guy. And that ‘understanding’ broke down some barriers, and the second thing was that, these two mismatched people love each other, and most likely they both know it beyond the shadow of a doubt without having to utter any words about their ‘intense emotional affections’. And their love for one another had nothing to do with swapping bodily fluids.

That’s the kind of love I want.

So, to answer Tom Robbins’ question, how to make love ‘stay’?

You don’t. Love is a plant, fragile at first. The best we can do is nurture it, protect it and hope for the best. Eventually it can become a tremendous stately tree, under which we can take shelter from the realities of existence. But even then, it’s not unbreakable, nor is it eternal.

“Ultimately, all relationships are temporary.” This Taoism claim is backed up by biblical scripture, when the Pharisees tried to back Jesus into a corner by questioning him about marriage in the ‘after life’. Jesus said, paraphrasing here, ‘You’re a moron. Please know what you’re talking about before you say it. All relationships, except that with that of our Father, are temporary.”

In my estimation, this is the best, most healthy perspective I can take in any relationship, playful or otherwise, “This is going to end someday. I am so fortunate to be here right now. I love you so much, I’m going to love you and live my life with all of my might while it lasts.”

 

Who knows, maybe one day….

 

 

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An Honest Prayer

Really? You want me to pray to something that I don’t even really think exists? You want me to be one of those weak minded sheep who stand waving their hands in the air who are certain that You ‘have their backs’ and have ‘chosen’ them to be one of Your special people? Please, give me a break. We all decay at the same rate.

Let me ask You this: If You do exist, what do You consider Yourself? Absentee Landlord? Righteous? Forgetful? Uninterested? Cruel? The Divine Jokester? Or just plain Ineffective?

I believe, as human beings, as people in relative control of their emotional facets, what we truly know- what we can ‘only’ truly know, is what we’ve experienced. Having said that, I don’t know You. Moreover, I think You are unknowable. Maybe that would be an accurate euphemistic term for You- The Great Unknowable.

But I will give You this: I’m not doing a great job at living my life. Once I start drinking, I can’t stop. And when I do stop, the pain of simply existing becomes unbearable, and I start drinking. And when I start drinking I can’t stop….

I’m empty. I trust no one. Most people I know only do ‘good’ things if they’re rewarded for it. The people who claim to ‘know’ you, disgust me. They have really ‘good’ words and do ‘lukewarm’ deeds. By the very biblical definition , they are hypocrites. I’d rather be empty and trust-less than to be a hypocrite.

But I do want to know the truth, by any means in which I can find it. I’m not stupid enough to give you an Ultimatum that You must reveal Yourself to me so that I may believe in You. But I am asking for Your assistance that I may do the things in order to find and know the truth. If indeed You do exist- then I want to know You by experiencing you- not through someone else’s perception of You.

What I’m asking for is Grace- unmerited favor- receiving something that I don’t necessarily deserve. And I’m asking for Mercy- not getting what I truly deserve.

I’m asking that You grant me the Grace and Mercy that I may rise above my very nature to achieve an unprecedented life. Help me to paint upon this blank palate which lies before me. Grant me the courage and conviction that I may undergo and persevere upon the most important journey of my life- the one that lies within me- that I may discover my truth- and become the person that I know, deep down, who I’m supposed to be.

I ask this with skepticism, and doubt. But I DO ask it.

Independence Day

500px-US-original-Declaration-1776

There is a common joke, militarily speaking about France. It is said jokingly in regards to France’s lack of resistance to Nazi Germany who simply marched into Paris on June 10, 1840. “Oh, the French Army. A fictitious character.”

The truth is, there was resistance by the French Army and they were soundly beaten. On June 16, 1940,  the head of the French Government announced that all resistance must cease. This was done as an act of preservation.

“Those guys! I would have fought to the death!”

Hmmm? Yeah, I would have sacrificed the lives of my family, of my parents and children and neighbors in a conflict I had absolutely no chance of winning solely out of pride?

Well, I wouldn’t have.

Say what you will about the French and their softness, militarily speaking, but another perhaps not so well know fact is, without the French we WOULD HAVE LOST THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR!

This is not speculation.

Merci Messieurss! Merci Beaucoup!

What happened on July 4, 1776?

Well, first of all, WE were being soundly beaten. On June 17, 1775, at the famous Battle of Bunker Hill, which is actually a misnomer, as the battle was mostly fought at a nearby hill, Breed’s Hill, we got our asses handed to us. In the defense of the Continental Army, we weren’t outfought, we were out numbered- severely. Regardless, we lost. Actually the Continental Army wouldn’t see it’s first victory until October 7, 1777 at The Battle of Saratoga, under the command of General Gates and Benedict Arnold. (I’m not defending Benny here- he remains an asshole in my estimation)

So, on July 2, 1776, a well written trouble maker, Thomas Jefferson (my hero), submitted to the outlawed impromptu ‘continental congress’ a nice, eloquent and lengthy way of telling the British Monarchy, King George, to go fuck himself. This was the the ‘Declaration of Independence’. It was officially voted on, adopted and embraced two days later, July 4th, 1776.

Again, we weren’t on the wings of victory here. We were consistently getting our asses handed to us by the British. What’s more, King George had many more resources than we had. Having been in King George’s shoes myself, when my wife declared her own independence, I was a bit upset myself. Now I just brooded in self pity, whereas King George sent 34,000 troops (men with guns and sharpened bayonets) to our shores, indicating it would be a good time to recant, in response to his own ‘displeasure’. And please note, I am NOT defending King George, by any stretch either. If we are to continue the comparison of George and myself at the time of my divorce- I too was an asshole and dead wrong, and quite frankly, got everything I deserved.

So, consider the ‘atmosphere’. We’re in trouble. We’re systematically getting our asses whooped. Few of us believe not only what we’re doing is right, but can actually have a positive outcome. King George, in spite of his ‘invitation’ to lay down our arms and ‘let’s be friends again’ proclamations, hates our fucking guts. And this is a guy who has means and a reputation to hate people in a very tangible manner. Though the Battle of Bunker Hill has brought a sense of unity and harmonious cry for independence, there are still many people who are on the fence, if not deathly opposed in the direction there leaders were taking them. There were people in the continental congress who were saying to themselves and to anyone who would listen, ‘this is really gonna suck!’

And along comes Thomas Jefferson. Now I don’t know if it was humility, complacency or a fearful sense of self preservation, but Thomas Jefferson did NOT want to write the Declaration at first. In fact, he tried to convince John Adams to do it. And John said, ‘ummm, maybe not the best idea, Tom. Maybe you could do it’. When Thomas asked him why he wouldn’t, John told him, paraphrasing here obviously, ‘I suck at writing and nobody even likes me’.

God I love this man and his honesty! And contrary to the gentleman from Massachusetts’ claim, he was indeed a very effective writer. As well was he the very first Vice President of the US. A good way of asking any opposition that he may had, ‘How do you like me now, biaach?’

So, in a short period of just 17 days, Mr. Jefferson pens the declaration, most of the material for which he ‘borrowed’ from the his home state, Virginia’s, governing literature.

There is no ambiguity in the declaration. Though the wording today could be viewed as romantic or iniquitous in nature, it leaves little to be argued.

It says, first and foremost, going forward, we are not yours to push around, oppose, or oppress any longer. We are free! We are independent!

It says, this is ‘our’ understanding of what life is all about. It says we believe in our hearts ‘that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’. And it says that the moment you crossed this line, King George, you gave us not only the permission, but the responsibility to oppose you, violently if need be.

It says, King George, if you can’t help us, at least don’t hurt us with oppressive, dogmatic and despotic rules and regulations. It says King George, you’re an absentee landlord, collecting money for no services rendered. It says King George, you’re an asshole. You’re not a king. You’re a tyrant. And it’s not enough for us to tell you that, let us explain, point by point, exactly why you’re an asshole.

It says, your not a victim here. We’ve been warning you, asking you, pleading with you to hear us, to help us, to change your ways. You didn’t make a move to bring about change. Now it’s our turn, pal.

It says, for us to do anything less than we are doing would be immoral, lacking divine guidance and an act of self mutilation. We’re done. Pack your stuff and get out. Going forward, we belong to you no more. In fact, you can do whatever you want in response to this. You can battle us, send every man you have against us, convince all of your buddies to do the same. Hell, you may even defeat us. But even if we are defeated, at least will be so without being your bitch anymore. And good luck with that, by the way. We won’t just lay down and die.

 

In my laymen, vaguely educated, and obvious vulgar estimation, this is what the declaration of independence says.

Yes, very large ‘cajones’ our forefather’s had.

Maybe our current administration could grow some. Just saying.

 

And then we proceeded to get the shit kicked out of  us some more.

And then our French friends sent help.

And then we won.

 

And maybe we can say to those that ‘govern’ us today:

The minute you cross ‘that’ line, not only do you give us the permission to oppose you, you give us the responsibility to do so.

God is Dead?

nietzsche

God is dead! God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed evident and obvious in the evil and soulless society in which live? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of our sanctified murder?”

— Nietzsche, The Gay Science

As a small child, I often lay in my night time bed, with frightened opened eyes, feeling the hot tears roll down my cheeks, understanding that which children were not meant to understand. “I’m going to die.” Accepting the stark crushing truth that this life yields a %100 mortality rate. And I knew church- I was comforted by the Sunday morning bells, the smells of Frankincense, the flowery prose of the Priest man promising that we would never be abandoned like orphans, that the streets would indeed be paved with gold, that there was indeed life eternal- so long as we were able ‘to conform and repent and make sure to have the money sent.’

I’m not a total idiot. Not even back then and often grappled with the gnawing impending suspicion, that, what if the fat man in black is wrong? In fact, on a deep unshakable level, I was certain that he was. After all, I reasoned, we’ve often been wrong before. How about, thunder is God revealing His anger? Or how about, the earth is flat? How about alcoholism is a result of poor choice and social depravity? Or how about Bayer Pharmaceutical’s claim that the wonder drug Heroin was a “Safe and non addictive Morphine alternative”?

Today we know, without ambiguity, these widely held, indisputable certainties, were wrong. And in some cases, dead wrong. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 200 American people a die from Opiate overdoses, the majority of which from the “Safe and non addictive Morphine alternative”. Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous once said, ‘hold your face to the light, even if at the moment you do not feel it’s warmth.’ When a person dies of a Heroin overdose, the don’t simply lay down and go to sleep. Their respiratory system begins to fail, they slowly begin to suffocate, and even within the stupor of the ‘safe, non addictive’ Heroin, their survival instincts begin to kick in, but by that time the body is unable to move and great panic sets in. As their body begins to die, their lungs begin to atrophy and thick foam like mucus begins to pour from the mouth. The sphincter muscles and the urethra open fully and the by then corpse begins to soil itself with urine and feces. Let us hold our face to that light? Do you feel its warmth?

Or how about the 6 million Jews being marched to the soot covered crematoriums during the final solution who were sure Yahweh would lead them to the promised land?

Is there God alive. Or is God is dead?

In my own life I search for the fingerprints of God. As a small boy who loved puppies and matchbox cars and his mommy’s meatloaf, I was repeatedly, viciously and inhumanely raped. And let us not find solace behind politically correct terminology. A man forced his penis into my small mouth. He savagely forced his erect penis into my small anal cavity until it could no longer function and I was forced to wear a diaper so the feces wouldn’t run down my legs while I simply walked to get my sloppy joes and chocolate milk from the cafeteria.

Are you there God!

As a teenager, my father’s suicide attempts was blamed on my misbehaviors and my evil sins.

God, please be there?

As a young adult, my beloved beautiful wife, the girl who was my childhood sweetheart, the first girl I ever kissed, the incredibly brave who gave birth to my 2 beautiful daughters, began a sexual relationship with the man who was my AA sponsor, who promised to help my find a power greater than myself to assist me to recover from a fatal malady. My sweet wife became my ex-wife by way of fucking my sponsor.

Please God, help me!

My beautiful sisters son, a devout Catholic, sat in the family room praying with the most sincerity and desperation he could muster, asking, begging for God’s help. And when God didn’t help him, he took his own beautiful God given life..

Dear God!

And my mother, my hard working, long suffering mother- who nursed me with her swollen and painful breasts, who comforted me through toothaches and heartaches, who would have laid down her very own life to spare me of a moment of hardship- suffering from massive debilitating depression and alcoholism, mourning for the loss of her true love, for the loss of her sweetest grandson, for the loss of her hope, slurring into phone, begging me to abandon my sober life and my children and my hope just so she herself could survive. If not, she eluded, she would have only but one choice left. With a heavy heart I hung up the phone paying homage to belief that ‘god helps those who help themselves’, only to get a phone call several days later that my mother had died in her empty home and was not even fortunate enough to have broken her neck and therefore suffocated slowly to death on a wooden ladder in her empty living room.

Oh, God!

Today, my sense of God, my belief in spirituality, my idea of religion, was introduced to me by a Jew from New York City.

After 3 months or so of abstinence from drugs and alcohol I met a girl also in early sobriety.

She grew up in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and though I’ve never actually been there myself, I understand it to be a fairly, umm, unique place.

After a few months of abstinence, Amy’s mother was sick and it was imperative that Amy return to the city to visit her mother. She made it very clear that she was absolutely terrified about her trip. In fact, she seriously doubted that she would be able to come back with the same sobriety date. She spoke about it in all of the 12 step meetings for the prior 3 or so weeks before she went.

There was a commonality in some of the ‘feedback’ given to Amy in regard to her situation- and that was, in essence, ‘If you hit a brick wall, call the 12 step number and ask for help.’

When Amy returned from her trip, she told me of her experience.

The day she arrived at her mothers, the ‘wheels came off the wagon’, so to speak. One of her 4 older brothers approached Amy and offered her Heroin. After politely and timidly declining, her brother became very angry.

“Oh, I see. So, now you’re better than us..?”, he asked with seeming hatred. “A couple months in a 12 step program and all of a sudden you’re better than everyone else.”

“Let me ask you,” her brother said. Do those 12 step friends of yours know all about you? Do they know about how many times you spread your legs just to get high? Do they know about all the cock you sucked just to fill your crack pipe?”

She came undone. She knew she could not refute any of her brothers accusations. With her learned Pavlovian approach to intense emotional conflict she then wanted nothing more than to anesthetize herself with opiates and alcohol. In her extreme emotional anxiety, the only thing she could remember from the meetings was, ‘if you hit a brick wall, call the 12 step number and ask for help’. Which she did. Not so much asked, but begged for help.

The person on the other end of the phone, told her where to wait.

She waited outside in a cold misty rain and eventually a car pulled up beside her and a kindly old man asked her to get into the car so that they could both go to a 12 step meeting.

A sense of relief, coupled with the extreme frustration caused her to weep uncontrollably as she sat in the passenger seat of the old man’s car. When the tears began to subside, the old man looked over at her lovingly, patted her knee, and said to her, ‘Now I know.’

Now, Amy, being from the Lower East Side, not known widely for her eloquence in speech nor for her brotherly love, looked at the old man and asked: “Know what!? Now you know what? What the fuck are you talking about? Are you mocking me, old man?”
The gentleman continued to smile, and explained. “You see, I’m a Jew from Poland. I came up through the second World War. My family and I were in a Concentration Camp know as Dachau. I was separated from my wife and from my mother upon entering the camp. I never saw them again. My father was marched of into what was supposed to be a shower, and I never saw him again. I was training to become a Rabi. When I was eventually liberated, I hated God. I cursed Him every day for a very long time. Why God, would you be so cruel? Why would you make me suffer such pain and not even have the decency to take my life as well?”

The old man paused and wiped some tears from his face, and turned his glassy eyes back to my friend and smiled softly. “But now I know”, he said. “It seems that I had to go through all of that just so I could be here for you.”

He turned his gaze away and drove my friend to a 12 step meeting. My friend is still sober today, some 25 years later.

Where is God?

With a heavy heart, laden with the ugliness of humanity, I prayed to God. God, in spite of my disdain, my confusion and my pessimistic tendencies, I do know that You exist. But where are you? In Your benevolent countenance, how can you allow such evil, such desperation, such sociological horror to exist amidst the people whom which you love jealously and without condition?

As I sat beneath the Lotus tree of my ambivalence, this is the response I received.

‘You are right in what you say- I am indeed the God of love, the God of mercy and the God of grace. I do indeed have the power to sprout food in the sands of desperation, to smite those who would purposefully and unthinkingly hurt my little ones, to make whole the broken and to comfort the despaired. But I will not do your work, for this is the precise reason I have sent you. And this is precisely the reason why have placed the sands of discontentment in your heart, that only the helping of such situations will bring about comfort for you.’

My 25 year old daughter sat next to me in an AA convention. Wide eyed and excited, she grasped my hand before several hundred of us began to recite ‘The Lords Prayer’.

“Hey, you wanna hear something really cool?”, I asked my beautiful child.

“Very much so”, she replied, barely able to control her childlike Christmas morning like excitement.

“Let’s listen to the voice of God,” I said.

She looked at me with curiosity, “How do we do that, daddy?”

I explained, “After we recite the words, ‘… Thy kingdom come…’ let us ‘be still’ and listen for the voice of God.”

In unison, several hundred beautifully broken people began to recite the Lords Prayer. At my request, after the words, ‘Thy kingdom come’, my daughter and I remained silent.

It is impossible for me to describe the indescribable.

In regard to the ever present argument/ debate as to the omnipotent, all loving, all knowing powers of God- ‘if God is all powerful and all loving then He did allow this ‘bad’ things to occur’ versus ‘God is all loving and all powerful but will not compromise ‘self will’’, this is what brings about comfort for my mind and soul today: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Weather God specifically created these occurrences, permitted their existence, sadly sat back and allowed ‘self will’ to prevail- even my darkest errors and most traumatic events can and will work together for His good.

And who is God? Who is right, thereby proving everyone else wrong?

When the Israelites pleaded to a God they didn’t understand to deliver them from bondage, God led them into the dessert- towards the promised land. They eventually grew weary, restless and suspicious. They began to question God. We don’t even know who we are following? Who are you? Where are you taking us? What do we call you, at least?

To this God responded- Listen people: I am the One that set you free. At this point, it’s pretty much all you need to know about me.

 

I have no idea where I am going. To quote Thomas Merton, “I do not see the road in front of me. And the fact that I think I’m doing Your will, does not necessarily mean that I am doing so..”

But I am free today. I’m an alcoholic who doesn’t have to drink today. I’m a Heroin addict who doesn’t have to die by a Fentanyl overdose today. Freed by something outside my own self.  Something much bigger than myself. I guess at this point, it’s all I need to know about God. But I tell you now, without doubt, without ambiguity, with genuine hope, now I know’.

 

Shut the F*** Up! (Dealing with Apathy)

Shut Up and Stand Up!!!

Jim Young and Sid Phillips were inseparable friends. Growing up together in Mobile Alabama from the time they were 6 years old, they answered the call of duty together after December 7, 1941, the “date which will live in infamy”. After boot, they ended being carted into the Pacific ‘theater’ on the U.S.S George F. Elliott and landed on the beachhead of a small unheard of island named Guadalcanal.

It wasn’t but a few hours before Jim was ‘gut shot’ by a Japanese sniper and Sid, in horror, watched his best friend writhing in pain laying on the ground, covered in blood. Sid was terrified as he knew what he did over the next few minutes could effect greatly both of their lives.

“I need you to listen to me very carefully,” Sid told Jim, interrupting his pained sobs.

Sid was able to take his attention away from the seemingly unbearable pain long enough to receive Jim’s instructions.

“I need you to do two things right now,” Jim continued.

I need you to SHUT THE FUCK UP and I need you to STAND THE FUCK UP!!”

Jim looked at his best friend with a sense of anger and betrayal and disbelief. But he followed his friends advice.

With much toil, they ended back on a Navy Hospital Ship where Jim’s life was sustained.

Several weeks later, Jim approached his best, lifelong friend and inquired of him to his rude words the day that he was shot.

Sid gave him the answer:

“You are my best friend in the world, Jim. I love you. It wasn’t sympathy you needed from me that day, it was motivation. In pain, sympathy may give us comfort, but it takes away from motivation. I knew that if I gave you any sympathy that day that you would have laid down and died. And because I love you, I would much rather hurt your feelings than to have to bury you.”

I am a civilian. I am not a Veteran of the US Armed Forces or any armed forces for that matter. In my defense, I did try to join the Marines when I was 20. But not out of patriotic fervor or sense of duty. I tried because I didn’t want my wife to leave me as I was messing things up at a rapid progressive rate. I was turned away because of my ears.

I have always wondered, from the time I saw my first ‘war’ movie, if I would every be able to summons what it would take ‘under fire’, not so much to endure, lead and inspire, but rather, simply to survive. I’m not, by nature, a very courageous person. I sometimes suspect that my nerve and courage would fail under fire. But I guess, like most things in life, until I actually experience it, it remains pure speculation.

To the best of my knowledge, I was the very first civilian, non-Vet to live at the VA in Canandaigua. It was nothing short of a blessing and a privilege for me to be here.

Having said that, my experience here was very eye opening. When I first read the sign coming in that says, ‘The Cost of Freedom is Visible Here’, I was a bit skeptical to both it’s caliber and the ability it had to actually make a difference, be it public perception or the motivation of the Vets that lived within it’s walls.

At a local ‘gathering’ a few weeks ago, a Vet spoke up and was offended, as the coffee maker was given more applause and recognition than they Vets were, even though this very day was ‘Memorial Day’. I was ambivalent to his angered response.

To my Vet friends, in the risk of sounding disrespectful or mocking or ungrateful, (which is by no means my intention- but I know all too well about ‘good intentions’ and what they pave), I leave an excerpt from one of my favorite authors.

God bless you.

 

A Call To Arms

ATTENTION!!!

West Point’s Cadet Honor Code reads simply that

“A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”
You are all cadets today!! Cadets in the academy of life.
You shall not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do!!
You shall not tolerate the stealing of accurate perception of what a Veteran of the US Armed Forces is!
You are uniquely equipped to battle the conflict which now stands before us- that of apathy. You shall not lie about your own ability to be of help to one another!
You shall not cheat your own ability to feel the love of God by reaching out to one another and to give without expecting to receive in return!
Cadets accused of violating the Honor Code face a standardized investigative and hearing process!! We must hold one another accountable for our Honor Code! We must have the courage to stand up to what is not right with our brothers and sisters, with our communities, with our societies, with the way we deal with one another!!
Cadets! Veterans!! You are not dismissed!!
During that French and Indian war, a group of American soldiers known as Roger’s Rangers fought for the British against the French, using a combination of pioneer techniques and native-American tactics to outsmart enemy soldiers in wooded terrain where traditional militias struggled. They were also known for holding a certain standard which was to leave no fellow soldier behind.
In the midst of the Vietnam War in 1974, Army Chief of Staff General Creighton Abrams created battalions called Rangers, elite infantry soldiers derived from the Rogers’ Rangers of the French and Indian War. He also developed the Ranger’s Creed, which says “I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy…”
Cadets! You are not dismissed!!
There are still men ‘behind’. Right here amidst us. You are not dismissed. You are commissioned to help one another!

They prayed to you, Dear God

They prayed at Bunker Hill and the snowy banks of Valley Forge and Fort Henry. They prayed to you at Bull Run and Antietam and on the shallow hill of Little Round Top. They prayed to you at Appomattox Courthouse. They prayed, heavenly father, on the Western Front and the Lorraine Offensive. They prayed beneath their gas masks in their shell shock. They prayed on the Day of Infamy and on the sandy shores of Normandy and Guadalcanal. And they prayed on the Bataan march, Dear God. They prayed to You on top of Mount Suribachi, where they raised our flag. From the skies, Dear Lord, they prayed above Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They prayed during the battle of Seoul and as they inched their way up Heartbreak Ridge with their Battle Fatigue. They prayed during the Tet Offensive and at Khe Sanh and on Hamburger Hill. They prayed at Baghdad and at Fallujah. They prayed at Kabul Province and Kandahar City. They prayed with Post Traumatic Stress disorder and broken hearts.

They prayed, Heavenly Father. You heard their prayers then.

Please hear our prayers now.

It’s not enough, Dear God. Our words are disrespectfully insignificant. We speak of the gratitude in our hearts for the lifeblood of our country, for the Veterans of our Armed Forces. We make proud speeches, flowery sermons, erecting walls of our thanks. It’s not enough, Heavenly Father.

We pray that you may help us to close our mouths in regards to the thanks we have towards those who have laid down their lives, lost their best friends and lost their way home, literally and emotionally speaking. Close our mouths and open our hearts Dear God. Close our mouths and let us speak with our actions. Let us make the conditions optimal in order for Your heeling to take place. Let us love, Dear God- with our patience and with our giving of our selves, allowing ourselves to be out of comfort zones in order to help those in need. Let us understand, Lord, that our being uncomfortable or inconvenienced in the actions of our love, pales exceedingly so, to the discomfort and inconvenience that they experienced for us.

Please remove from us our hypocrisy, our socialized politically correct conception of what truly was given to us and the true price that was paid for it.

You are the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the God of wonders, the Lord of Lords. You are the Sovereign King of ALL mankind- not just some of us.

In Your name do we pray.

Amen

Drunken Rant

It’s annoying and embarrassing. And I’m a busy guy. Honestly. Who really has time for these phone calls that last up to 45 minutes, sometimes an hour, where I feel like I’m being held hostage? And repetition? The inebriated aren’t known for there subtleness.

But she’s my mother. What am I to do?

No, mom. I’m not too busy.

Of course, I love talking to you.

Yes, the girls are doing very well. Yeah, it’s crazy how big they’ve gotten. Yes, they ask about you all the time.

I know mom, but it was her decision. She’ll be just fine. No, she never talks about coming back. Yes, she is still seeing that other guy. He treats the girls very good. They like him.

I know, ma, but there’s nothing I can do about that now.

Yes, ma. I’m still sober. I haven’t felt this good in a long time. Did you check out that meeting I was telling you about?

Oh, I know, ma. But they’ll warm up to you after a while.

I know, mom. I miss you so much too. I wish I could come back and live with you. But my life is hear. Please don’t cry, mom. I love you. I’m here for you. You should come stay with me. It would be no burden at all.

Yes, the girls are getting so big. They miss you. They had a really good time when you were here last. They ask about you all the time.

No, mom. I don’t think they would ever forget about you. But please don’t talk like that. The best years of your life are ahead of you. I promise you, mom. I feel like I’m finally in a position, financially and otherwise, where I can really help.

Mom, I wish I could move back with you. But there is no work for me there. And my children are here. And so is my support network. It’s very important to me.

Mom, I can’t come home. Not now.

Mom, are you still there?

Ok, I you must be tired. I love you so much. Please go back to that meeting. They’re not a cult mom. Once they get to know you, they’ll open up.

Goodnight, mom.


Dear God. It’s my sister. She always calls when I’m on my way out the door. Doesn’t she realize I have a life, and don’t always have time to hear about hers?

But she’s my sister. What am I to do?

Hello.

What’s wrong? Just say it.

What? What are you talking about?

You’re wrong! I know you must be wrong. I mean are you sure?

When did they find her?

She did what? Are you fucking kidding me? Are you fucking lying to me?

Oh, dear God! No!

I can’t do this.

I have to go….


Almost dying changes nothing.

Dying changes everything.

I Heard You

beethoven

I heard you,

Standing atop your soap box

spewing misinformation

that killed my friend.

 

I heard you,

giving swimming lessons,

though  not a single toe of yours,

has felt the water

 

I heard you,

telling me how to love,

while hatred coursed through

your veins

 

I heard you,

tell them to never quit before the miracle,

yet your calloused demeanor

took away their wind

 

I heard you,

proclaim your own greatness,

while your consenting freedom

destroyed my child

 

I hear you now,

your open invitation

into your doorless club

 

I will miss

the cello concertos

but I’m better of deaf