Meeting Reflections 01-05-2017

“Deus ex Machina”

The Third Step Prayer:

God, I offer myself to Thee To build with me & to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy love & Thy way of life.

 I love the Third step prayer. It is the solution talked about in the Big Book. It is the way out. For some, for many it is the only way out. Turning my will and my life over to God was the only solution. It is deus ex machina. 

For the uninitiated that’s the term from the old Greek tragedies when things get so fucked up there is no way out so they literally send the Gods down in a machine to set everything right. Deus ex machina – God from the machine. For a more timely reference think of the explanation at the end of the Clue movie.

Maybe it was this one:

No wait….

My life was a God-damned Greek tragedy. I had made such a fucking mess out of my life I couldn’t understand who was friend or foe or who to trust. My family and friends were bewildered by my behavior and could not make sense of what was happening in our lives.

There was no way I could fix that shit-storm, hell I caused it. I was beyond my own power and beyond all human aid. I do not think another human could have helped me no matter how much they loved me.

Finally being willing to turn my life over to God (as I understand Him/Her) was…relief. I didn’t have to know how to fix it I simply had to be willing to do what was necessary. I had to do the work not the decision-making. You see Step 3 doesn’t mean I give it all to God and leave nothing for myself. It means I do what God tells me.

It’s a lot like being in the military. If you’d known me before I joined the military you would have never seen that as a good fit for me but in reality I excelled. All I had to do was what I was told. I just had to do the work. The few times I ran into trouble was when I did my own thing and I did not listen to my superiors. That’s how I fucked up my life-I thought I was in control.

I was one of those drinkers (like many) that was on a path to drink myself to death. If I kept drinking and kept behaving in the way I was I was going to die. The kicker is: now that I’m not doing those things now that I’m sober and living clean and right:

I’M STILL GOING TO DIE.

The thing is that the time I have left will be longer and it will be better. It is better. I was a sorry miserable fuck before. I’m happy now and I want to live as long as I can to be of whatever service I can to those around me.

All I have to do in order to make that happen is keep doing what I’m told. Keep listening to somebody else. That’s why I keep going to meetings. That’s why I keep listening to God and to you.

Thank you for being that somebody else.

For the record: I adore Madeline Kahn.

Another 15 Years in Chicago

Last time we left off (a long time ago I know) with Lisa and I visiting the Bahá’i House of Worship in Wilmette. What is in store for our heroes you ask?

img_1150
What is the next exciting adventure?!?!

Hamilton! That’s What’s Fucking Next!

img_1154

I learned that Hamilton was showing in Chicago only after I planned the trip there. Then I learned that there was a Digital Lottery where you can enter to win tickets for $10 each. I entered as soon as we landed in Chicago on Day 1. No dice.

So I entered again in the morning on Day two. We were at the Temple in Wilmette when the email came through…no dice. I didn’t win the lottery. So I hopped on the web and quickly procured some very expensive tickets and surprised Lisa with the news on the L back into the city.img_1282

The show is fucking amazing. It is worth all the hype. It exceeds all the hype. If you have a chance to go see it. GO SEE IT. If it is even relatively close to you, GO SEE IT.

I woke up with the songs still in my head and have been singing them ever since.That includes the Mixtape which we promptly bought. I will say this about the Mixtape: it is so good it has me listening to rap, which I don’t do. It has introduced me to new artists I want to follow and reintroduced me to artists I knew briefly a while back (looking at you Ashanti and Queen Latifah) but never really followed.

The Mixtape makes much more sense and has greater meaning after having seen the show so if you can wait until after I encourage you to do so but if not, you will still love it.

Saturday

Unlike the Folksmen, we did a little Wanderin for our last day in Chicago. We made it a point to use our feet as much as we could.

After visiting the shiny “thing” at Millennium Park we walked across the street to the Chicago Cultural Center which used to be The Chicago Public Library. It is gorgeous and worth the trip to examine the detail involved in making a building that honors books and those who write and read them.

img_1175

img_1176

No surprise I found a couple old friends there:

img_1179img_1180

Afterwards we walked through Millennium Park again and over to the shore. What was intended to be a short walk turned into a 9 mile hike around the city and through the Navy Pier. I was able to relive some old CG glory with the Mackinaw and general sailoryness with the Navy Pier in general.

img_1184

img_1190
Red cap of course.

img_1191fullsizerender-2

img_1195img_1197

Being a bit chilled from our long walk we settled into the Crystal Gardens to warm up and snack.

Shortly thereafter we picked up our luggage and headed to the airport. We had some trouble getting home but we were able to do so safe and sound so I call that a win.

Thanks Chicago.

 

15 Years in Chicago

Last week Lisa and I hit 15 years officially married.

37084-thats-a-lot-of-years-tony-moving-on

It seems like so many years and none at all. What is really amazing about hitting that mark is that as recently as three years ago it was not a certainty. In fact we were much closer to divorce than we were to anything else.

It has been a lot of work for both of us to get to where we are now. Some of the time it seemed the obstacles we had out in our own path were insurmountable, were too painful.

I’m glad we did the work. I am grateful we waded through the pain. It didn’t lessen the hurt but it taught us who we are and that lead to understanding which helped heal.

We wanted to celebrate that work. Perhaps a bit more so this year because of well, 15 years felt like a milestone. I was in charge of the plans again this year so I decided to go big. I asked my mom for some help because it’s OK to ask your mom for help.

She came into town unannounced. With my mom here to watch the girls I was able to surprise Lisa with a trip to…..

Chicago!

Yeah that’s right. Chicago. We had never been there before other than to drive through. It is a major US city and more importantly it houses the Bahá’i Temple for North America. This was the primary drive for our visit, though as it turns out we took advantage of other opportunities.

We flew in Thursday morning and took the L into the city. After checking into the Talbott Hotel

img_1117
Testing out the King.

we headed out for some food. Despite the somewhat inappropriate/tempting name, we opted to bypass Velvet Taco and ate at Lou Malnati’s.

img_1120
¡Green chile por favor!

Yes we did the deep dish pizza thing. It was pretty good, but the New Mexican that I am…I wanted green chile. Then it would have been outstanding.

 

After that we walked the Magnificent Mile doing a bit of sightseeing. We ended up in front of Trump Tower…. I don’t really want to talk about that.

Day 2

After an relatively late breakfast we took the L up to Wilmette to see the Bahá’i House of Worship. Words fail me. It was just so…beautiful and serene.

img_1139

The thought behind this temple was a melding of East and West and indeed you see a lot of Eastern architectural influences in this building including the minarets, which are a favorite feature of mine.

The temple is incredibly detailed and this required new techniques in concrete construction.

img_1142
Detail on the House of Worship

 

img_1144
Closeup

The surface is a mix of white cement and crushed quarts. I’m told it looks purest white and glitters when in the sun. We wouldn’t know as it was overcast the entire time we were in Chicago, but it was still a beautiful site.

img_1145
From the Garden
img_1147
Detailed Minaret

The minarets held endless details. If you look from the top down you will find:

  • The Nine-pointed star of the Bahá’i Faith.
  • The Star and Crescent of Islam
  • The Cross of Christianity
  • The Star of David
  • The Hooked Cross of Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions

We spent some time walking the grounds despite the chilly winds. Inside the temple we attended the 12:30 Devotionals and spent a great deal of time simply sitting in silent prayer and meditation. Most of the time I was praying and reflecting.

Some of the time I was thinking about how I could use the layout and design of the temple for a Dungeons and Dragons adventure. I think I did pretty good overall.

It was a very moving experience and I am grateful to have been able to share that with Lisa. Not so many years ago I would have hesitated to admit a belief in God and today my faith is a cornerstone in my life and a roadmap for all of my interactions with the world.

All I had to do was give it up.

After most of the morning and early afternoon we headed back into the city for our evening plans. But I’m going to make this a cliffhanger.

 

 

 

Equality of Men and Women

I’m currently taking an online course from the Wilmette Intitute, a Baha’i learning organization. Here is one of the readings from the current unit discussion. It focuses on the role of men in gender equality. I just wanted to share.

For more information about the Baha’i Faith please visit: http://www.bahai.org/

For more readings from the Baha’i Faith on this and other topics please visit The Baha’i Reference Library.

The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality

Written Statement Prepared for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women at its 48th Session Item 3a of the Provisional Agenda

New York—1 March 2004

The 1995 Beijing Platform of Action underlined the indispensability of the contribution of men and boys to achieving gender equality. Recent years have witnessed considerable advances in women’s attainment of political and civil rights, but the implementation of full gender equality requires a profound shift in individual values, outlook and conduct, which will ultimately transform the underlying ethos of social institutions, making them more welcoming to women.

The teachings of the Baha’i Faith offer a model of gender equality based on the concept of partnership between the sexes and the active support of men and boys for the achievement of equality. Three basic elements underpin the Baha’i­ approach:

  • Baha’i­s are committed to an evolutionary social transformation of fundamental values, even in regions of the world where cultural traditions impose obstacles to women’s development. Enduring change comes through cooperative activity of men and women rather than through confrontation. Hence, we call upon all members of society to encourage and support women to develop their full potential and to strive for their equality and human rights and we recognize that much more can be accomplished in the long run if men and women work together. Within the family, therefore, boys and girls alike are taught respect for all females and within the Baha’i­ community, programs are conducted to educate men and boys concerning the status of women, and a variety of practical measures are instituted to foster their involvement in promoting gender equality as a shared community goal.
  • The full development of men and boys is inextricably linked to the advancement of women. A society characterized by gender equality serves the interests of both sexes. It enables men and women to develop in a more balanced and multifaceted way and to discard the rigid role stereotypes so crucial to shifting family dynamics, and to accord women full access to the world of work. It also enables both sexes to recognize each others’ needs, building an awareness vital to the resolution of issues associated with women’s health. It also enables the replacement of unequal relationships and tendencies toward domination and aggression with genuine partnerships between the sexes characterized by collaboration and the sharing of resources and decision-making.
  • Baha’i­s view the advancement of women as an ongoing organic process aligned with forces of social transformation and the movement towards the recognition of the oneness of humanity. We recommend making a start, however modest, by educating boys from the earliest stage of their social development in initiatives along the lines of those outlined above, and by engaging the support of men in this process, in order to foster a more conscious awareness that the interests of men and boys are linked to those of women.
  • In light of the experience and contribution of the Baha’i­ community in 182 countries towards the implementation of these principles, Baha’i­s remain optimistic about the achievement of gender equality and the progressive involvement of men and boys in achieving this goal.

Read more at https://www.bic.org/statements/role-men-and-boys-achieving-gender-equality#uGK13aiuueX8aZiz.99

Thanksgiving Update

Just a quick update for Thanksgiving. I know I know I’ve been away for such a long time. I’ve spent most of my free time Lately setting up a new DnD (Dungeons and Dragons) campaign. So you know…nerd busy.

But I am still running and working and blessed with an amazing family.

We are on our own here in ABQ. All of our family is back in the Mid-West. While sometimes that makes us a bit sad-faced, many times it leaves us free to do as we choose. We can create our own traditions and paths for our family.

This Thanksgiving it was just us at home. No traveling, no visitors and no shopping. I started the day by putting the Turkey in (yes one of the few days we plan to eat meat) then going off for a short run.

img_1063
A regular touchstone for me. I think I need a bear tattoo.
img_1064
Hello Mountains!

When I got home it was time to dish up and eat. I am blessed to have such a beautiful and productive family. Look what they did while I was traipsing about the desert!

img_1065

Turkey, baked yams, roasted Veggies (golden beets, carrots and brussel spouts), Sauteed Asparagus and mushrooms, deviled eggs and Celery and Onion Stuffing Bread from Great Harvest Bread. Oh and shrimp for me because…seafood.

The girls decorated the table on their own and Animal made both the Apple and Pumpkin pies all on her own. They were delicious.

img_1067
Proud baker.
img_1069
There is a pie under there…

 

Afterwards we played at the park. The girls played while Lisa and I walked laps to mitigate the meal and let loose a little gas (I’ll let you guess who was doing that). Then back to the house to relax. For ,e this meant digging into my DnD books to whip up an adventure for my PCs. Ah the good old days are alive again.

img_1070

 

Today for #OptOutside we stayed close to home. We went to a nearby but infrequently visited park to play soccer and Frisbee and climb trees. There were lots of folks out enjoying the weather. You never know who you will see at the park. Families playing and a young man with his coach doing sprint drills. I casually asked the coach what they were training for. His response?

“He’s a two time olympian with a bronze in the 400 Meters”. Yeah. That’s whose at the park. An Olympian and the crazy lady literally dancing across and around the park.

img_1075
Tree-dwellers
img_1072
She danced across the whole place. Get down on it!

 

We finished out Opt outside by doing yard work and roasting marshmallows. Can’t get much better than that can it? Tomorrow I think we are going to see Moana and then next week Lisa and I will be celebrating 15 years married. I have plans. I’ll fill you in after..I think she’s watching me…..

img_1076

I pray you had a safe and happy Holiday with your loved ones.

Now is the Time to be on Fire

So…it’s been rough week. If we thought things leading up to the election were crazy….well we are just getting started it seems.

I’m not going to go into a harangue about what went wrong or right or who is at fault. The point I want to make is that we are in this together. We can all be the positive force for change in the world and strive to bring everyone together.

O ye roses in the garden of God’s love! O ye bright lamps in the assemblage of His knowledge! May the soft breathings of God pass over you, may the Glory of God illumine the horizon of your hearts. Ye are the waves of the deep sea of knowledge, ye are the massed armies on the plains of certitude, ye are the stars in the skies of God’s compassion, ye are the stones that put the people of perdition to flight, ye are clouds of divine pity over the gardens of life, ye are the abundant grace of God’s oneness that is shed upon the essences of all created things.
On the outspread tablet of this world, ye are the verses of His singleness; and atop lofty palace towers, ye are the banners of the Lord. In His bowers are ye the blossoms and sweet-smelling herbs, in the rose garden of the spirit the nightingales that utter plaintive cries. Ye are the birds that soar upward into the firmament of knowledge, the royal falcons on the wrist of God.
Why then are ye quenched, why silent, why leaden and dull? Ye must shine forth like the lightning, and raise up a clamouring like unto the great sea. Like a candle must ye shed your light, and even as the soft breezes of God must ye blow across the world. Even as sweet breaths from heavenly bowers, as musk-laden winds from the gardens of the Lord, must ye perfume the air for the people of knowledge, and even as the splendours shed by the true Sun, must ye illumine the hearts of humankind. For ye are the life-laden winds, ye are the jessamine-scents from the gardens of the saved. Bring then life to the dead, and awaken those who slumber. In the darkness of the world be ye radiant flames; in the sands of perdition, be ye well-springs of the water of life, be ye guidance from the Lord God. Now is the time to serve, now is the time to be on fire. Know ye the value of this chance, this favourable juncture that is limitless grace, ere it slip from your hands.
Soon will our handful of days, our vanishing life, be gone, and we shall pass, empty-handed, into the hollow that is dug for those who speak no more; wherefore must we bind our hearts to the manifest Beauty, and cling to the lifeline that faileth never. We must gird ourselves for service, kindle love’s flame, and burn away in its heat. We must loose our tongues till we set the wide world’s heart afire, and with bright rays of guidance blot out the armies of the night, and then, for His sake, on the field of sacrifice, fling down our lives.
Thus let us scatter over every people the treasured gems of the recognition of God, and with the decisive blade of the tongue, and the sure arrows of knowledge, let us defeat the hosts of self and passion, and hasten onward to the site of martyrdom, to the place where we die for the Lord. And then, with flying flags, and to the beat of drums, let us pass into the realm of the All-Glorious, and join the Company on high.
Well is it with the doers of great deeds. ~ Abdu’l-Bahá

How many times can I say we had a busy Weekend?

Yeah yeah you get it. We ended up doing more than we planned and even though it was a three day weekend for me, after it all I’m tired and now I have to go to work and give probably 3000 flu shots in the nextthreedaysandnowI’mjustcomplaningandtalkingtoofastlikeagnomefromtheDragonlancebooks.

What? You haven’t read the Dragonlance books? Go check out the first three in the series. They’re the best of the lot and I still find them inspiring.

Date Hike

Lisa and I spent Friday morning hiking in the Bosque. It is lovely living up in the foothills but there is something nice about those big trees down by the river.

img_0948img_0949

img_0951
Rio Grande

img_0952

img_0954
Surprised us a bit but we didn’t get run over!
img_0955
Sandia’s in the background.

Saturday we spent finishing up some costume ideas and then off to a Halloween party with some Baha’i friends. It was a very good time with very good vegetarian chili.

img_0956
Why is Lisa giving me The Stink Eye?
img_0960
WTF are they looking at?

It was fun and we enjoyed ourselves but man were we tired and grumpy the next day. Well, I was at least. I worked it out on a quick run in the afternoon though.

I swung by Active Imagination, our friendly local nerdstore Gaming store to preorder a new DnD book and maybe pick up some Magic:the Gathering cards. I was planning on teaching Animal how to play since some of her friends at school play and I’m old enough to remember when MtG came out and didn’t have worldwide tournaments.

Anyway I got a few free starter decks from the fine folks at AI and we played a quick intro game. She took to it quite well and I’m guessing we’ll have more games coming up.

img_0961
Future Geek.

I pray you all had a wonderful weekend? Who has played MtG? Come on admit it nerds!