Courage

I am despondency, not courage. I am challenged, not courageous. If my actions today are ‘right actions’ I’m not interested in courage. Have courage. I’ll take anger. I can’t escape this courage. It finds me, despite me. Me. I. I long for home. I am so, so sad. I am afraid today, and I have met that fear with courage and anger. God has met me within a community of hope, a sober community that I love, that loves me.

Joe pulled me aside today after high noon, took me by the ear and with an ever so gentle tug took me around the corner and told me to be courageous. He had me hold my finger out in front of my face and open and close each eye. I said, “parallax!” He said, “Yes!” This is what we learn, how to change our perpective. God shows us how to do this, and it keeps us sober. He asked me to choose, “Is God Everything? or Is God nothing?” I said it was “both/and” but that, “Yes, of course! God is Everything.” He said that God is a “ping” and it forged the stars and heavier elements, that those elements created me and that if God is Everything then God is Me too.

Mostly I am frightened by my light. “my” because it is not mine at all I think…  It is the light people see, they flock to it as the thirsty flock to water. God, through others, events, and memory, continues to remind me that I am courageous, my gifts are overflowing and all I must do is live them. Don’t hide.

Today I moved into the sober living house – 460 Ramsell st. – mark the date: 9/29/12. My month, my action, my movement. With mounting frequency I have thought of moving home instead. I have resisted this move more than any other move the past year. This move is a threshold and I can feel it. I am a living threshold. This threshold culminated today. My thoughts have driven me toward visions of relapse. I got to the point of planning, scheming. I raised my hand at high noon today for the burning desire and confessed that I was scared; that I wanted to move home. Joe’s presence among others brought joy. Throughout all these morbid thoughts I kept remembering that I agreed to speak today for Justin’s 4:00 meeting. Astonishing. In my most challenging moments, God comes in like this… I told Justin that if it wasn’t for this commitment I would have relapsed today. God knew. AND, I spoke. AND it was amazing. God spoke through me. No notes, no thought, no hesitations – just conscious connection, intimate resonance of folks recovering together. We laughed and felt the power of our common challenge.

So 460… better than 420. Little by little these steps accumulate into profound experience.

You can either hurt good or hurt bad, but discipline is discipline and it is met with courage or it is not met at all. Built up, compressed, intensity.

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“Thy Life’s A Miracle”

I am leaving 1282 in the morning. My time in the “house that connects” has been intense and lovely. Just yesterday I was shedding tears, having challenging conversation with a special man – a man I love and admire, Mikey; he has believed in me and seen me grow. I just learned he has a profile on IMD. He used to date Kristin Bell! Ha! Who knew?

Anyways, I am scared to move again. It has been increasingly difficult to move over the past year. I have moved so many times, some places I only crashed for a few nights, others I made my home for a little over a month at a time, like 1282 – also known as the “halfway house for awesome people.” Sometimes I’ll have this ego-conquering vision that sees my brief residencies encircling the Bay Area akin to a predator surrounding his prey… AND soon I will “go in for the kill!” Oh… San Francisco… Those visions are a pathetic defense against reality. They don’t help the fact that I have been waving through deep feelings of doubt throughout the week and especially over the last few hours. I have been asked to leave yet another place I value. It was Hamlet who spoke, “Time is out of joint.” I do know failure. Who am I that I trust God? My mind eats away at my serenity. I doubt the power of God, the potential that shapes my life. I think that moving back to Chattanooga, TN is the logical choice. Why have I refused to move back home, despite all the difficulties I’ve been faced with in the Bay Area. Addiction. Homelessness. Arrest. Bike Crashes. Lost. The narrative grows dismal. I have exceeded my intentions for the Bay Area.

I am bound to a dream, and I refuse to let it go. A dream to minister at Glide; a dream to finish my Ph.D; This is the reason I stay. I think it as insane as my obsession to use cannabis. Still, I am called to take the next step into sober living housing. It is a home where everyone is committed to living sober. We have evening meetings, there is a house manager. We’ll see how it goes for a month or two. If everything goes smoothly I’ll be able to take my things out of storage for the first time in over a year. I have been living out of a backpack for over a year. Sooo crazy different, difficult.

I have placed myself in a position of hyper-change, hyper-movement over the last year. The only stability has been the presence of my recovery, the grace that I see work for my benefit, independent of my will or power. I am humbled by the power of God that lives within me. My faith has grown significantly over the past year. Amidst the waning lapes of consciousness into fright and doubt I am super powerful. I have learned; I am still learning how to “let go and let God” – here God lives me.

Freedom is admitting powerlessness over my circumstance. I speak the serenity prayer so many times a day and the power to live it comes only momentarily. Increase those moments of lucidity. There is another line from Shakespeare that appears to me, “Thy life’s a miracle. Speak yet again.”

Add New

Add New.

I will be moving again relatively soon – like this week. Out of 1282 and into a sober living house. Ingleside it is. I’m having many feelings of resistance to this move which all seem like great indications I’m making the right decision. This whole year I have moved and moved and moved. More than any year I can recall I have lived by faith through reliance on God. Each move has felt like a leap of faith, but this one most of all. All my things – mostly books – have remained in storage for a little over a year now. This will be the first time since I lived at 420 32nd Ave that I will not be living out of my backpack, the first time I will (and the state for that matter) consider me permanently housed. Amen.

I’m so exhausted. I’m going to bed, but this story isn’t over. I need to tell you about my storage unit companion. And I especially need to talk about how powerful it is to make a right decision, to know exactly what to do and do it.

why glide

Tonight my roommate asked me why I would keep showing up to a place where I felt unwanted. Why continue to show up to a place that refuses to see you how you identify? I live in hiding at glide. It is terribly oppressive. I pray that I learn how to “come out of the closet.”

My intimate knowledge of glide is overwhelming. I am connected to the heart of glide. That heart flows from Cecil Williams, and now lives heavily within the Ensemble. The heart of glide is concerned with the Spirit of the Living God; it centers itself in liberation through recovery. I have spent hours, amounting to days and weeks, amounting to months participating as both a facilitator, contributor, and leader within groups at glide. I have brought my mind, sharpened through the crucible of doctorate studies in Social & Cultural Anthropology, to bare upon glide. I have seen its future. And the power of these visions are the sole reason I stay at glide.

Visions have a life of their own. They cry out to be born with their own agency and will. I am both midwife and laborer for these visions. I am in birth pain over them. The power of these visions shape the future of San Francisco, the people of the Tenderloin, and the institution of glide.

It is almost a curse; intimate knowledge carves this edge between blessing and curse. My knowledge of glide comes from my skillfulness as thinker and intuitive scholar, my capacity to integrate my mind with the power of my heart resonance. What I lack is vitality which shapes the perception of my leadership ability both internally and externally.

As I have been held back from vital empowerment, my knowledge has grown from the bottom up rather than the top down. Even today my service at glide came through the basement, the food program. More than this my knowledge of glide is built upon the community of clients in recovery; it is participatory because I am a client. I am in love with them because my story touches their lives. I am them. Addict, homeless, victim of police brutality, full of resentment and self-piety. Their bottoms might exceed the pain and devaluation mine assumed, but the spirit of disempowerment, the experience of injustice and the conscious feelings of shame, guilt, and anger bind us to a common struggle. I have their attention with my story. I have the power to communicate that struggle and share the light of change across race and class barriers. My gift is a ministry of liberation.

The future of glide is God’s story. And that’s why glide.

 

 

glide

Tomorrow morning I’ll get up at 6am and head over to glide to serve breakfast from 7-10. I also have an appointment at the health clinic at 9:10am – we’ll see how that scheduling pans out – hopefully, like GOLD. I struggle with resentment toward glide for not recognizing my exceptional abilities and insisting that I be put to use, for the benefit of our church. Aren’t I exceptional? Perhaps not so much, or at least not so much as I think. I was told by a good friend that so often things are not as they appear, but then again neither are they other than they appear. I am exceptional. I am what I am. 

I was in a leadership meeting the other evening with Karen and Theo, among others and the question was asked how to improve congregational life, giving, participation. Thinking back on this experience my spirit longs to cry out my truth. The way to improve congregational life is to make me the leader of celebration. Ahahaa~! It’s as crazy as it is novel. How does one say the truth they feel without being mocked because if I had said this… It would have come as a rupture to the continuity of the meeting; it would have subverted the power dynamics of the room, insulted, confused. I bow to these dynamics… which is to say that I bow to God and to people that I am called to love. I can’t change what happened in that meeting. I can live in prayerful contemplation about what I can change. I may pray the prayer of Jabes: “Do not forget, you are the nucleus of a rupture.” 

Today Karen gave a great sermon… for Karen. It was interesting because after the sermon today I wanted to tell Karen that this sermon was the best I’ve ever heard from her, but what came out was, “that’s the best sermon I’ve ever heard,” which of course is not true. Perhaps I will have to speak with her? I’ve heard amazing sermons and Karen is not amazing, ever, as far as I’m concerned. Granted I’ve consumed a great deal of amazing, inspiring talks. It’s not that fair to Karen, because I compare her to the greatest which might be a gift. I also compare her to my speaking potential, which is not yet actualized. My ability to speak is always about connection. In order to connect with people you have to be super conscious. You have to be able to see consciousness in others and be with it, be one with it – guide it. I can do this… when I’m at my best. In my most intimate relationships this is the norm. Speaking at High Noon on Friday I lapsed in and out of connection. Many people said it was a great talk. Connection is also about being one with God. Being One with God is an experience of collective mind, manifesting an experience of conscious resonance. This is done very often with the Glide Ensemble where a solid 90% of the church is completely connected with the event – single-pointed attentive. Which is always the reason why no speaker, not Karen, Theo, Don, Douglass, Cecil or Janice has ever been able to keep up with the energy put out by the Ensemble. The speakers all feel like a depression of conscious resonance because they are… when they follow the Ensemble. To each of their abilities comes moments of connection that will meet the power of conscious connection produced when the Ensemble sings. Douglass, who was very good at Glide, would hold a power level equal to the Ensemble maybe 10-15% of the time. The rest of the sermon dips below the Ensemble’s power and at some points completely looses the attention of the audience, most never holding more that 45-55% of the attention. At that point you have 30-40% of consciousness drifting somewhere else – thinking about their day, job, lover, sex, any distraction.

My aim would be to induce conscious resonance throughout the church reaching levels calibrating above the 600 mark, where love and joy are experienced. I would achieve sustained conscious power matching if not exceeding the Ensembles power. At that level the whole church will be experiencing the power of collective synchronicity and “religious experience.” That’s the solution to building a congregation. Non of that happens without God. “I” cannot do any of that, but this body can be a vessel.

MORE about glide.

       

Meditation

In fact, meditation is intensely practical.

I woke up today rushing around to get ready for church. The more I meditate the less I rush, the less I worry or resent. It seems deeply paradoxical. How can the act of sitting still, breathing deeply for 10mins morning and night help you be more efficient? It works despite the minds inability to see direct connections. Many studies have shown that there are overwhelming benefits to meditation. Meditation improves all dimensions of experience, especially attention, peace, and single-pointed concentration. I like that very much; I also like these definitions:

Definition / Characterization Review
•”[M]editation refers to a family of self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calm, clarity, and concentration”[45]:228-9 Walsh & Shapiro (2006)
•”[M]editation is used to describe practices that self-regulate the body and mind, thereby affecting mental events by engaging a specific attentional set…. regulation of attention is the central commonality across the many divergent methods”[46]:180 Cahn & Polich (2006)
•”We define meditation… as a stylized mental technique… repetitively practiced for the purpose of attaining a subjective experience that is frequently described as very restful, silent, and of heightened alertness, often characterized as blissful”[47]:415 Jevning et al. (1992)
•”the need for the meditator to retrain his attention, whether through concentration or mindfulness, is the single invariant ingredient in… every meditation system”[14]:107 Goleman (1988)
*Influential reviews (cited >50 times in PsycINFO[48]),
encompassing multiple methods of meditation.

 

I’m listening to this right now too: