Sunday, January 1, 2017

St. Patrick's Cathedral New York City, New Year's Day 2017

Laura and I came by St. Patrick’s last week. We’re here today early ready to go to the 5 pm music service, Sunday , 2017 New Year’s Day.  I noted that the protestant churches only had morning services suggesting Catholics are greater party animals so the church accomodates their sleeping in New Year’s Day.The protestants if anything would hold their services early on a New Year’s Day to maximize the guilt.
I figure starting a New Year’s Day at a Catholic Church can only point to better things to come.  As a protestant I figure it took the Catholics 1500 years to get it right and Martin Luther moved the church the next higher level.
I got up early, went out and brought back McDonald’s egg mc muffins for the cute little catholic still sleeping. It wasn’t until 2 pm we actually had ourselves up and out of the hotel.
Now we’re here.  I’m aware of the crowds and short a coffee or two.  Last night’s late night, trying to sleep after the ball moved, like one inch on the tv, compared to the full foot of tv fall in past years.  Really a disappointment as ball falls go but apparently better for the year round tourists who get to see this spectacular ball way up high.
On Facebook, my nephew and family look like they had more fun at Canada's Parliament.  This doesn’t speak well for New York.  We got into bed at 8 pm and didn’t leave our hotel room,  so that might have accounted for our  lack of an exciting party filled New Year’s eve.  We took the sleepy old timer approach instead.  I remember Mom getting me to bang pots and pans outside the house in Fort Garry as a kid.  Most everyone’s lights were off.  So as far as I’m concerned I made it to New York City this year. That’s a big deal. A for effort.
19 years ago and some months I was in Homewood Treatment Centre on New Year’s Eve being treated for Alcohol Abuse and PTSD. I actually turned to the guy beside me as the ball dropped and said “at least we can still drink dom perignon’.  I remember seeing how insane I was in his shocked eyes. I actually thought that the problem had been not sticking to expensive brew. I still didn’t believe that alcohol was the culprit. It changed my perspective, positively and negatively. I liked that after a few glasses of wine women’s breasts got bigger and they all look so much more beautiful.  However, it also increased my feelings of self pity and restlessness, irritability and discontent.  It certainly was more obvious in the negative affects of the partners I was with. Birds of a feather hang together and I was at that time only associated with ‘lower companions’.  It didn’t matter that they lived in high places.  As Graeme Cunningham told me , “some people run with the cheetahs and some people  run with turkeys, sounds like you’ve been running with the turkeys.'
So New York was a sort of sobriety pilgrimage.  A celebration of a life of recovery.  I suspect I could have drunk again without negative consequence. Clearly the research shows that the more years abstinent the less likely one is to have problems however who wants to find out.  I’ve been enjoying recovery too much.
Abstinence is the treatment of choice.  The WHO even says that this is the case.  There is controversy about alcohol abuse and substance abuse and how much is dependence. In AA they talk about ‘real alcoholics’.  In the Harm Reduction work it’s possible to see that many can alter their behaviour who haven’t made that shift from cucumber to pickle.
The magic number in this regard is 5 years. There’s considerable support for the idea that maybe 50 % of those who stop drinking for 5 years may return to drinking without the negative consequences of their previous excess.  Lifetime sobriety is however associated with a wide range of benefits that are hard to measure but obvious to anyone who associates with those who remain abstinent.  Like a life long fast or as St. John would call it the ‘via negative’.
And who wants to ‘control’ their drinking.  The very act of ‘controlling’ your drinking is an indication of alcoholism. I certainly don’t control my asparagus intake.  The joy of alcohol abuse in my ‘binge pattern’ was a letting my hair down after a long stretch of work and sacrifice. What has been called ‘the blue collar reward’.  I’m enjoying recovery and wouldn’t want anything else.
Also as people say in AA , “i know I’ve got another drunk in me but I don’t know if I have another recovery."
It’s certainly not necessary for a good life. I’ve had a life beyond my wildest dreams in recovery and know alcohol and drugs aren’t necessary or even beneficial for the vast majority of people. They are simply associated with so much personal illness, physically and mentally  and so much social and  community distress.  The most successful never abuse drugs or alcohol though they might well have tried them on one or two occasions.  My mother simply said “I don’t like the way it make me feel."
Today I know that feeling because even if I have to take some medication that makes me a bit groggy I don’t like the feeling.  I like being alert and aware and frankly I find this state spiritual , closest to God ,and most capable of seeing God’s working and presence in my life and those of others.
I like that St. Patrick’s is the Irish saint. I love the St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer.  Laura and I loved our time in Ireland a couple of years back both of us a bit ‘fay’ because of the celtic blood that runs through us.
We’re going to go to St. Patrick’s early now to give praise and thanksgiving.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, A sinner.

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