The Body And Blood Are For Everyone

On my most recent visit to my partner, I decided to attend his brother’s Catholic church for a Sunday morning service. It had been the first one I had gone to since Christmas. I struggle with organized religion and the structure that comes within most of them so I rarely frequent any service, but given that my partner was working all day, I decided to tag along with his brother’s family.

During the car ride with them to the building where the church service was at, I asked if communion was being held that morning. While I thought the only answer was either going to be a “Yes” or a “No”, what I received instead surprised me. They thought that communion could only be done for those that were Catholic. I had never heard of such of thing as I’ve attended many church services in my life who opened their communion tables up with words stating that everyone was welcomed to come up and receive the sacraments.

I can be a Google fanatic when it comes to not knowing such things so I decided to look up the factual information based upon their claim. Sadly, there was great truth to what they were saying and then some, at least based upon the Catholic religion. From what I read, the long and short of it is that there are a set of five requirements that one has to adhere to in order to receive the sacraments of communion. They were listed as follows:

1. One must be in a state of grace.

2. One must have gone to confession since their last communion.

3. One must believe in transubstantiation (which means one believes that conversion of the body and blood from within occurs when taking them).

4. One must have fasted at least one hour prior to taking communion.

5. One must not be under an ecclesiastical censure (which means not being excommunicated form the church).

I read in more depth about each of those five requirements and frankly, it exhausted me. I definitely failed to meet several of those requirements as based upon the language I read. One description even said that no practicing homosexual was ever supposed to partake in communion. This is the main reason why I continue to refrain from taking part in any organized religion on a daily basis in my life.

In my spiritual path with God, everyone is welcomed, all the time, to come before an “alter” of God and take part in any practice that helps bring on closer to God, such as communion. Each and every day, I ask God to guide me in all my thoughts, words, and actions, and at the end of the day, I do my best to account and pray for release from anything that I may have done that wasn’t in love and light. I also have come to the belief that God brought me here as a gay man to learn how to love those who may not love me and to understand the pain of racism and prejudice. In my heart, I know God sees how much I do everyday to grow closer to him. And to be denied communion because of rules and regulations seems like something that doesn’t come from God, it comes from man.

So ironically, I chose to go this church’s alter and take the sacraments. I asked God as I took them, to bless the Body and Blood as they entered me. I believe that God always welcomes me and continuously has open arms to embrace me. Unfortunately, as I continue to see in society today, organized religion conforms people to restrained mentalities which only persist the fear out there that not all are welcomed before God.

It pains me to say this but there are many people out there who are so misguided and fail to ever find a close relationship with God solely because they are pushed away due to the rules and regulations that organized religion brings. But I will continue to accept things differently in my spiritual journey by trying to help those who might not feel accepted at God’s table. I believe God loves everyone, at all tables that come before God. I believe that everyone, from all walks of life, can receive the Body and the Blood or any other message of love from God. The only rejection that comes at any table before God is what man defines and no one else.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Chinese Fortune Worth Mentioning

I’ve never really been a big fan of the taste of a fortune cookie but I have always enjoyed looking at those little slogans that come within them. Sometimes much to my dismay though I’ve gotten one with no fortune inside. Ironically, there have been other times I’ve gotten a cookie with two stuffed inside where they both were blank. But in most cases, there’s usually just one waiting for me that has some corny saying I generally laugh at.

Back in my fraternity days, my brothers and I would dine at a local Chinese buffet where we would read those corny fortunes aloud to each other but add the words “…. in bed” at the end of it. Often it proved to bring about quite a number of laughs amongst all of us especially when someone would get a fortune that said something like “You are talented in many ways (in bed)”. But over the years with my many visits to Chinese establishments, there have been a few slogans I’ve read, which I’ve tucked away in my spiritual locker because they inspired me. Just the other day at my most recent visit to the Asian fusion restaurant chain named PF Changs, my partner got one of these that I felt was worth writing about. It read as follows:

“Love is a present that can be given every single day you live…”

Many people often think that the types of presents that come out of feeling “love” are things such as flowers or chocolates. Some also think it’s just a verbal gift that’s used towards a partner, especially during sex and intimacy. But there is another type of love that I have been coming to understand much more about in recent times and that’s one I feel towards every single soul and living thing on this planet. And that love is really all about caring passionately and deeply for everyone and everything in this world. The more that I have worked on myself and grown closer to God through my healing and recovery, the more I’ve seen that this type of love is something I can offer as a present every single day in infinite ways.

Here are just some of those ways I’ve been trying to do just that…

1. Holding a door for a stranger

2. Buying a coffee for a stranger

3. Telling a friend how much they mean to me

4. Taking someone out to a restaurant who can’t afford to do so on their own

5. Tipping a server an amount equal to the bill itself at a restaurant just dined at

6. Preparing someone their favorite home cooked meal

7. Praying for healing for the world

8. Praying for only good things to come to those who I know really don’t like me

9. Doing a random act of kindness for someone who doesn’t like me

10. Taking care of someone else’s chores that I wasn’t asked to do

11. Donating money to a charity like the Jimmy Fund during a visit to the movie theater

12. Volunteering my free time to help inspire those who are trying to recover from addictions

13. Asking in prayer every day for all my thoughts, words, and actions to follow God’s will

14. Doing my best to embrace and never take the life away from any living creature

15. Talking to a random stranger who is ailing in any way with the desire to lift them up

There are many other ways than just these to gift love in some way to this world. I continue to find more of them as I work on deepening my relationship with God. I’ve learned that love is not just about kisses and hugs and intense passion for someone. It is so much more than that and can be a way of being throughout all of my life. And it’s one where I know now that love really can be a present in any moment of any day as long as I’m still alive and breathing.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Getting Uncrushed From The Candy Crush Saga!

About a week ago, my partner was playing a game on his cell phone that he told me was intensely fun. I was skeptical but given that I like to pass the occasional time by with a game or two on my own mobile phone, I took the bait. He told me it was a free app and that it’s name was Candy Crush Saga. After a quick search for it in the Apps, I found it and downloaded the game to my own phone. Within five days I had $20 less to my name, was definitely more irritable, and made the decision that I had to remove it.

Having already gone through previous incarnations of addictions with alcohol, drugs, caffeine, sex, and gambling, I never thought video games would become one of them too until I began playing this game. It’s methodology was simple, combining various elements of Bejeweled and Tetris, all one had to do was line up at least three pieces of candy to remove them from the board. The more pieces one could line up, the more candy that got removed. And for each level, there was a specific challenge that had to be achieved before one could move onto the next spot on a game board which really reminded me of that childhood great named Candyland.

As I started playing this game, my partner was already on Level 29 and had been so for several days. I should have taken his own frustrations as a warning sign, but unfortunately I didn’t and my ego got the best of me thinking I could do better than he was doing. The first bunch of levels were easy and it definitely hooked me. By the time I moved into the double digits for levels, they got a little harder and that’s when I learned that the game really wasn’t free if I wanted to move along quicker on the game board.

Candy Crush Saga capitalizes on this new drive that other games are doing now where the game initially is free but to move along quicker to those higher levels, a consumer can purchase “power-ups”. After sitting at one of the levels over and over again, I purchased something called a “lollipop” which basically just bashed a single piece of candy to remove it from the board. A set of three cost me $1.99 and did their purpose when they got me to the next level. There were other things that I noticed I could purchase as well such as donuts that cleared off all of a certain piece of candy from the board, sugar wheels that moved in certain directions to remove a set of pieces, and larger, more colorful pieces of candy that exploded in certain directions to remove a whole line of candy in a certain direction. Within a few more levels, I was back to being stuck and after numerous attempts to pass it, I was back to purchasing one of those “power-ups”. Suddenly, I couldn’t seem to put the game down and I was doing everything I could to get by one level after another.

I’m not sure what drew me into this game so fast but it definitely had elements that lured me in. Whether it was its bright colors, or the fact it was candy being played with, or its “crunch” noises that occurred at times, or its deep throaty male voice that occasionally said words such as “tasty”, “”divine”, and “scrumptious” when large amounts of candy were removed at a time, it definitely captivated me. What started out as fun and solely just a desire to catch up to my partner’s level turned into one urge after another to buy those power-ups and a refusal to put the game down. What was even worse was that Candy Crush Saga even had the ability to buy my way out of having to be patient by either buying more lives to keep playing the game or more “moves” when I ran out of them to get by certain levels.

By the time I got around to buying those $20 of “power-ups”, I made a vow to myself that I wasn’t going to pay a single cent to the game again. What’s funny is that a promise like that was no different than what I once told myself many eons ago when I said I would never drink another drop of alcohol again, only to be drunk yet again the very next day. While I did reach and surpass the level my partner had remained on for quite awhile, I got to level 35 and sat there myself for days trying to get by it without paying for those power ups. Over and over and over again, I’d get down to needing just one more piece of candy to be removed and it never would happen. After restarting the level over dozens and dozens of times, I made the best “power-up” move I could have made when I decided to delete the game, which ironically cost me nothing. Within 24 hours, I was a whole heck of a lot less irritable and felt much better.

With any of the addictions I ever fell into, just one was never enough. I could never have had just one beer, or one joint, or one pull of a slot machine, or one mega caffeinated soda, or one sexual romp or one of anything that qualified as an addiction for me. And sadly, Candy Crush Saga was the same. I lost count of the number of hours I dedicated to playing that game over those five days and if I took into account all those moments it occupied my brain both in playing it and when I was not, it consumed me just like any other addiction did for the complete time it was in my life. So essentially for those five days, one of my main thoughts was about getting pieces of candy removed off of a board.

It’s a good thing I have a much healthier relationship with God and myself today for I know when I am falling into any addictive-based pattern now. It’s always the same and it never feels good because everything else takes less priority in my life when I’m going down that path. Candy Crush Saga definitely was doing that for me. Thank God I no longer have that app on my phone anymore, as I learned there were at least 350 more levels beyond the one I got to, each of which were waiting to “crunch” my time, money, and energy away even more than it already had. And you know what, no game is worth that price!!!

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson