Today's Map "includes" ( Feb15th)
I remember the first retreat, The One on One, where one found his connection to Jesus and committed their lives to Christianity and the love of Jesus. Do you know the peer pressure that came with that decision? Coming off the mountain at 16 into the world that was so "not Christian" was the hardest decision I ever made. Carrying around a bible every day was like carrying a red Target on your back. But I can tell you now 20 years later that was the best decision I ever made. The camp was blessed by God, it sat on a lake, we slept in cabins demarcated boys and girls. Everyone was equal, no one was above the other. The love of Christ was the glue that held us together as Community. We spent three glorious days at that camp.
God was there, we knew that. And every visit to that retreat ground was sacred and divine.
Jesus loved every soul without prejudice. Back then there was no Gay or straight. We had not come to that point in our lives yet. We loved each other without lables. Boys, girls, men and women. With God everything was possible. Life was hard as a young Christian. We had to live in our parents houses, and i have to tell you, many of us came from broken homes. Divorce, abuse, alcoholism and drug addiction. NONE of us escaped.
So you say, but you had God! Well, we had God, but without proper support from parents and others and stress at school to be "christian" was a tall order. There were three retreats every school year. (1) the One on One, (2) The Life in the Spirit and (3) The Growth Retreat.
I have to say that John Scarano and Sherry Pointdexter were two of the most incredible youth leaders a youth group could ever have. That's because they loved us and taught us and helped us along a very tedious journey, young people in the early days of their Christian Journey. That was like having no less that 400 kids to mentor, on top of your own family and spiritual needs. We all worked together, so well, that it changed my life.
But, then things started to happen. Boys and girls grew up, and sexuality became an issue in our lives. Many of my friends who "came out" of the closet were abused at home. They were ostracised by their peers, that "Love of Jesus" became conditional. How could we love you the same way now that we know you are GAY??? That was the biggest lie I ever walked through. Now we were "other." Our peers walked away, and so did the church. YET, the youth leaders and SOME of the adults, remained steadfast in their love and support. Many did not. That broke my heart as well as many others. It caused many of us to walk away from church and God, most of us turned to addiction and sin. Families were destroyed over the Gay admission. Parents could not deal with it, I mean having a gay son or daughter. Many of our parents beleived that we could be "Reprogrammed." And many of them tried to reporgram their young adults. That only drove a wedge between them, us and GOD. All we wanted was to be loved. And we were taught that GOD loved everyone, and Jesus saved the christians. We were taught to love unconditionally as Jesus loved unconditionally. Was that too much to ask? It was !!
For the whole of my life, I have kept to Christian tenets. I love my friends because they are my family. I have no family to speak of since my being Gay, HIV + and live in Canada are the three strikes against me. I go to church, and I pray. Some days, it takes all I have to get down on my knees and beg God to help me. I have been across - I have seen the garden and I have faced my death valiantly. GOD does save, and Jesus does love, because I am a walking, talking fucking miracle of God's grace. I love God, as any other person does, but probably more, because I know what He wants of me. And I use my life to minister to anyone I meet on my journey. They say as robbymac has shared that the pay is all the same. Yes it is my friend. Some days I am a preacher boy, some days I am down and silent. But most days, I am a walking encyclopedia of religious teaching. That's what I do all day at University, talk, share and learn about God. One cannot but be moved to tears, well at least, I can't and be moved to change as God moves around me throughout the day.
I can close my eyes and stand in the chapel at the retreat ground and in my minds eye I can walk around the campsite, and then end up on the pier on the lake and sit there in my minds eye and talk to God, as I did as a young person. And I did. I saw Jesus in action in the actions and love of my friends and fellow retreatants. This is one of my most cherished memories. This was the most incredible 6 years of my life. If I could have one thing from my past, it would be one weekend with all of these people at that camp, singing and celebrating the love of Jesus, without prejudice and without conditions. I don't know many Christian's who I think would openly love me for the man I am, not the gay man that I am.
Therein lies my gripe with Christianity. How can you say you love God, yet have conditions with His creations. tell me Christian, where does your Christianity lie in your heart ?? And can you truly minister to all of us equally without prejudice??
Well, today I climbed a mountain. i try and climb the mountain every Tuesday. It is my favorite day of the week, because of the class I have today ( Women in Christianity) with Donald. I have my home group meeting, which I love. I get to spend time with the many MYSTICAL Women in my life for a few hours in my day. I went to class and got a ( B+) on my Jerome paper, which i posted here for you to read. I took a midterm and I went far beyond anything that I have written on a midterm essay exam. I love the study of religion. Because I can grow and learn, i understand and I change. I see women as mystical people, I know that they have something that I need to complete my journey. And each and every woman i have in my social circle have only good things to say to me about life, about God and about sobreity.
I got a letter from my friend in TO today. I was so glad to hear that the operation was a big SUCCESS. He is home resting comfortably, and everything went well. He is still alive and has been given a reprieve on his death. I hope he takes the advice of those of us who live with HIV as long as I have and he sees the urgency of living each day to it's fullest, that addiction and alcohol will only kill us faster than necessary. I hope he knows that if he screws up again, that I will personally travel to TO to kick his ass, until he learns the lesson.
"Those who make mistakes will relive them and make them over and over, until they learn the lesson and move on." Life is just a string of lessons, strung together over the years. Hopefully as the lesson comes we learn it, and then move on to the next one. AS we learn each lesson, another one presents itself to us. It's all about the journey, who you meet along the way and what you learn on the journey.
Angela posted up some new baby pictures of her sisters baby Hannah. Well as usual one of them was with "daddy Marc" and Hannah. Oh! he looks like a natural. I think that a baby would be so great for he and Angela, but as she says, maybe one day, but not today !! Allright, then WHEN??? he he he he he he he
If you have not read the newest essay written by our friend the Real Live Preacher, then go over there -----------> yes you know the drill, go click his link and go read. It is worth at least a few moments of your day. He talks about Creede Colorado. A little town up in the high country. This is where our good preacher goes to meet God face to face, in a little church that has at one time brought him to tears. I love this man. His spirit is as Big as God, yet we know on a daily basis, that we are not Jesus, even though we both try. Some days we succeed.
That's brings up some more memories. When I was a junior in High School, John Scarano took 14 of us to the Hills of the Appalchian Mountains to hike for 14 days. We started from Front Royal ( I think N.Carolina and hiked South through the mountains. ) That was one of the most incredible experiences I had with my friends and with my best friend in the world David. I have spoken about David alot here, he died during my year at seminary, many years later. We had to collect water from streams, each of us had a chore to do, cooking or cleaning the pans we cooked with. Each of us carried heavy loads one day or another. But the most incredible experience was this. Each person on the hike had to prepare a BIBLE teaching for each night of the trip. There is nothing more fulfilling then to sit down and talk about Jesus to fellow christians UP in the Mountains of God's Creation. I've seen some tall mountains. And I've walked through them in life, and I have climbed a few more as an older man. I see life as a series of mountains that we must climb, lest we fall and fail. There is no failure in God's kingdom, as long as we do our best on a daily basis.
What is todays lesson: well I saw an old friend today named Marie. She lives in Chateaugay, across the river. Before she left the meeting I asked her what "she knew today?" This was her answer, she told me that for today ( Don't question what you feel today ) because your gut is the thing that won't lie to you, so listen to it.
Today's meeting was all about FEAR !
hmmm Fear, what can we say about fear........If we admit something and give a name to it, we can work to overcome that problem(fear) or we can continually worry about it and talk about it and give it power over us. A healthy knowledge that fear exists is good, because it keep us mindful that it is there. And as long as I know what i fear, I can avoid it and overcome it. You know what i fear? Midnight. I fear that stretch of time from midnight to 7am in the morning. I have always had a healthy fear of the darkness, Not the dark. Make that distinction. That time when Peter is in bed asleep, and I am sitting here right where I am now, left in the silence of the space between my ringing ears. When silence finally comes to me at night, when I am alone with my thoughts. I used to dope myself to sleep, because i would obsess over my death. I was afraid to go to sleep at night, for fear that i would wake up dead in the morning. And I think I suffer from a little of that today.
MY PTSD is better. In the beginning I could not leave the house I was so fucked up agoraphobic. I had to learn to sit on the front porch, then work my way up to walking around the block. I had a friend who was a cop, who used to escort me to work and back, following me in his car as I walked. That went on for two years. I was in such fear for my life. Now that I live in a totally different country that agoraphobia has left me. That did not come over night, but it did take me years of hard work, alot of tears and many days and nights facing my fears.
But you see, boys and girls, I have faced the ultimate fear, That of Death. I know what it looks like, and I know what it sounds like and smells like. I know what death is. And now I live life knowing that I have faced a fear that many of you still have. When am I gonna die, and how am I gonna die.... I don't know when, but i can tell you why! At one time, doctors had given me a specific date period so I knew in a general sense when I was supposed to die....But you know, I am still kicking around here on God's good earth. He must think it is important for me to still be here writing to you tonight.
I need to get going, I have a paper for Ancient Judaism to get read, written and spellchecked before 1:15 tomorrow afternoon, and I have to study for my moral ethics midterm after that. One hour at a time. Once I get to 4pm tomorrow afternoon, I will be on Spring Break until the 28th of February. The boys are broke so Spring break will have to wait till the end of Summer.