Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cake x 3

1. Cake: I'm baking one right now.
For no good reason.
It's 10:30 am on a Friday - I've weeded, washed the patio furniture, and now I'm cleaning the kitchen. It just seemed like a good idea to have a cake baking.

(I'm also listening to Switchfoot on Youtube. I'm going to their concert on Sunday night and don't know their songs at all. Concerts are always WAY more funner if you can singalong while dancingtothebeat. So this is me, madly learning their music.)

2. Cake (Night): I went to another one recently.
It was (one of) Max's best friend's celebration, and Max was presenting him with his One Year Medallion.
Due to scheduling circumstances, this particular meeting took place in an older church's sanctuary (as opposed to it's basement, where these meetings usually happen.) I'm used to the bustle of watching guys set up chairs, calling out to each other, and general noisiness of a hundred happy guys gathering together for an evening of encouragement.

But it was totally different on this evening.
There's something about stained glass windows, wooden pews, Bibles and hymnals in abundance, and a mircophoned pulpit raised on a stage, that affected the tone of the evening. It was quieter. More subdued. (Maybe respectful?) And it was deeply meaningful. Maybe it would've been anyway, regardless of where everyone met...

There were 2 new guys in attendance. Two young men who were on the first day of their journey to recovery. First day to acknowledge they need help. First day to sit in a room with guys who know EXACTLY what they're going through.

Every single guy who shared that evening, spoke words of life to those young men. Every guy who stood behind the pulpit to congratulate/thank/encourage/ C, also looked directly at the two new guys and challenged them to surrender and live one day at a time. Most of them shared their 'first day' stories. Alot of them remembered C's first day. And everyone exclaimed how much life had improved since that first day.

My dad used to love going to funerals... he loved hearing people's stories. Typically, at end-of-life celebrations, you hear the very best about someone's life. You always learn something about the human spirit. Or about courage, or faith, or perseverance, or family, or love.

Cake nights are like that for me.
I learn something (about the ugliness of addiction, about the hope of recovery, about the need for friendship, about the value of accountability, about the pay-it-forward joy of mentoring, about the need for surrender, about selfless caring, about giving and forgiving, about the lasting impact of encouragement, about support systems, about the power of sharing one's stories, about the courage to be vulnerable ...) every time I attend one.

And this meeting was all that and more.
Two stories I probably can share:
1. My least favorite thing about church, that I don't recall being a part of services in the past, is this business of 'welcoming the people around you' as ordered by the worship pastor between songs 2 and 3. Really? We only say 'hi' to the folks who sit beside us when we are told to do so? How awkward is this? Introverts in the service shudder and cringe when this moment in the service arrives. We've already nodded to the people we share an arm rest with, now we're supposed to make 'small talk' - our least favorite kind of conversation?

I've been thinking of walking in to my usual Saturday evening service late, specifically to AVOID this uncomfortable tradition...

A tanned Max (he's working in landscaping this summer; he's fit and sun-colored) met me outside the church as I arrived and walked me in. He usually sits right at the front. With all his friends. But his pew looked full, so I told him I was happy to sit at the back. Honest. Totally fine. While we stood in the middle aisle, talking about where I would park my butt, he shook hands with everyone who walked past us. He said hi to everyone sitting on either side of the aisle. He patted the backs of every guy who nodded in his direction.

At one point, he leaned in and shook the hand of the guy who was sitting 3 people in from the aisle, and then proceeded to welcome the whole row, including the guy on the aisle end.
"Hey man! Good to see you."
"Thanks, man. Day 24."
"24 is still rough. Hang in there. After 60 days, you'll feel great."
"I feel pretty good right now..."
"Just wait, Tom. It just gets better and better."
Tom pauses. Looks Max in the eye and says, "I can't believe you remembered my name."
Max doesn't say anything, so I suggest, "It's a gift. Max is great with names."
Max disagrees. "No man. I'm just clean. It makes all the difference. You'll see."

Oh my goodness.
How is this child mine?
His ease with people. His ability to connect. To welcome. To encourage. To smile easily.

Happy sigh.

2. One of Max's friends (heck, everyone in that room is his friend) runs the meeting and when he stood up to share, I noticed his cheeks looked flushed.
His voice wavered when he started, "Hi, I'm H and I'm an addict. I've been thinking about C's cake - and what I want to share for months now. His cake is more important in my mind than my own. I don't even care about what happens at mine, but I've been thinking about C's for a long time. And what I want to say." His voice gets quieter and he trips over his words. From my spot at the back of the church, I can see that his cheeks are on fire.

He looks down at C, who is sitting in the front row with his family, and says, "I don't even want to think about where I'd be today, if it wasn't for you. You saved my life. You called me when you were three months clean and asked me how I was doing. I was high as a kite, sitting by myself, smoking, in my backyard. I told you I was good, and you called me on it. You told me you were three months clean and you wanted me to come visit. You saved my life, man. That phone call. I don't know. I don't think I'd be here today if you hadn't called." And then he started to cry. This strong, healthy, good-looking, friendly, twenty-one year old just let the tears fall in front of a room full of guys and girls who have lived through personal hells.

It was the first time I'd seen anyone cry at a meeting.
And whoa. Powerful.

He finished his share by speaking directly to the two new guys, encouraging them to hang in there. He referenced himself, Max and C when said "We're all only 21. We have our whole lives ahead of us. Don't wait to get clean. Start today...."

I can't even.

I just can't.

3. Birthday CAKE:  It's my birthday in exactly one week. I'll be 68. No I won't. (My dad asked me tonight if I was old. I told him I'm almost 51 - what did he think? Was that old? He thought it was.)
Anyway, like I was saying, it's my birthday again. Seems like I just barely finished celebrating turning 50.
Would you like to do something in honor of my big day? Can I suggest something? Now that Canada is no longer making pennies, The Last Door is collecting them. Funds raised will go towards their Family Program.

So. Clean out your pockets, your piggy banks, your car's ash tray, and send those copper coins my way.
I'll have a jar outside my house, on the right side of my garage, just waiting to be filled with pennies. Your pennies will change lives. I know this. Guys like Max (and hundreds others) have hope and peace in their lives because of NA and The Last Door.

Happy Birthday to me. It's my birthday wish that I can deliver a full jar of pennies to The Door at the end of June. Do you have a handful of pennies to toss in the jar?

If you need more details, or want me to pick up your pennies, email me at ojane at shaw dot ca .


Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Cake. And Cake Night. And Birthday Cake.
2. I got to hang out with Val and her grandkids this afternoon. So fun:

3. I played shuffleboard and nerf basketball with my dad this evening. He's getting better at it.

4. A late night stroll along the mighty Fraser with a friend was the perfect way to end the day:


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