Never give up on doing the right thing

Yesterday I was talking with someone most dear to me,  and they mentioned that they were getting tired of always having to be the good guy.

How often have we all thought that?  But during our conversation, it just came to me, No, you must always be the good guy, and take the higher road.

i know that for myself it can feel like the other person is winning when I go along with something, just to keep peace, etc.  Its our human condition, being good is not the norm in our world today.

Winning is what the world promotes, division, anger, the whole “me”  environment.  Well perhaps when we sit back and look at the world, how does that all seem to be turning out for us?  Divorce rates are sky high, we have more wars going on than ever in our history, highest refugee rates since world war 2, families don’t spend time together, people are disposable.  It is the “I” world, why not?  everything else is” I” !

I am certainly writing this from what I have been taught by my family, church, friends, and other wonderful examples, but anyone who knows me know that I fall far short of this, too often.  I guess what I am trying to say is that I believe in that which we talk about, is that which we most want and strive for in our lives.  We are all students, always.  When we think that we have it all together, that is when we are most likely wrong.

To be humble, forgive others and yourself, and be kind.  And if you have been given the gift of faith, do this in your Gods image.  This is what I have come to see as what I strive for.

“To act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah

So back to the conversation I had yesterday, taking the higher road should never get old, and when we want to strike back, to win!  Maybe we need to just step back, take a deep breath, and remember the person that we want to, and are called to be.  Our actions will change more hearts than our words…..always.

And with that, I guess I should stop blabbing and go try to live it.

Blessings to each of you, lets be strength for each other.

Much love, Matt

walking with grief

Good morning, I’m so sorry that i have been away for some time.  But here I am now and hope that we can stay in better connection.  I think that I mentioned it before, but if you would like to reach me, it is better through the facebook group with the same name.  Thanks.

Our beloved dog Jasmine is almost 15 and a half years old.  As with all of us, she is getting closer to the time that she will leave this world.  Ugg, I’m not sure how many of you have pets, but if you do, you will understand the grief that we are beginning to face.

For the past few months, she has had quite a few medical conditions happening.  Each time as she would get sick, we were afraid that this might be it.  But thanks to veterinary medicine, they have helped her quite a bit.  And as much as I would like to live in the denial that now all is well, I did hear the vet, as she explained that now Jasmine is in palliative stages.  She is alive because of medical intervention, and this gives us more time together and allows her to enjoy life, but this too is only for a time.  Even writing this, I have tears streaming down my face as I have so many times during the past few months.

Many people will say, or think, well she is only a dog, and wonder how I would need to face grief in this way.  Well, let me say, as I would say a great deal of animal lovers would, that our lives together with our pets, are greater than the relationships that we have with most human beings.

As I think of life with Jasmine, we go back about 9 years.  She came with Marco.  Marco and the kids have had her since she was a lively little pup.  The third time that I saw Marco, there was Jasmine.  Love at first site!  and she has been with us ever since, camping, cottages, car trips, everyday, there she is, my sweet little shadow.  When I took sick a few years back, Jasmine was the one that would lay on the bed beside me when everyone was at work, or school.  Always there, and gave me reasons to get out of bed when she needed to go for a walk.  Since moving here, Jasmine  and I have been almost constant companions.  Going for walks, being outside for gardening, naps, driving to do errands, and of course both of our favorite things, stopping at Tim Hortons for Timbits.  They know her at a few stores now. lol  Our walks by the river, or sitting in the car when it rained, having our treats and watching the river.  I can truly say that this most sweet little girl has stolen a huge part of my heart.  (tears)

But how do I, or any of us allow our selves to grieve, to grieve well.  I know that for myself, I really don’t want to talk about it, because when I talk about it, it becomes more real.  None of us want to face pain, and that has never been more true than in our society.  We are so distracted with our phones, tv, work, internet, etc.  Anything to avoid that which causes us hurt.  Heck, I have even thought about asking for some pills, just to take the edge off.  But what does that do?  Nothing, its not fair to me, to Jasmine, or anyone else in my life or for those who too love Jasmine.  Jasmine is a huge part of my life, and it does hurt, and it will hurt more before it gets better.  Our hearts will break in the this life, but as tough as that is, it is also a great blessing.  We have know a love that changed us!  We went outside ourselves and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable.  There is one reality that we all share and that is that we will die, and those we love will as well.

My dear psychologist was talking to me about Jasmine this week.  One of the things that he said to me, was that when our heart breaks, it only grows bigger as we heal.  It is a tribute to all those who we have loved.  If I shut down because I know Jasmines time is limited now, or when she dies, what kind of a testiment to love is that.  I have to love Jasmine everyday, enjoy our time, so that when time comes, there are no regrets.  When Marco, my parents, or people ask about Jasmine, I cannot shut down and ask them not to talk about it.  Tears and pain will come, but that’s ok, and you will get through it.

When the time comes to say our earthly goodbyes, take comfort in what you meant to the one who has passed and what they meant to you.  To live well, I truly believe that we must be able to die well.  Both ourselves and those who we say good bye too.

Honour your pain, share it, and share what you had with the departed.  That relationship and soul who has left the earth, they made a mark, and changed others.

I still dread the day that I have to say good bye, but in faith I trust she will be at peace with God, and that I will see her again.  She will always be in my heart, and when I go on that first walk without her, she will still be with me.

Much love, Matt

Tis the season

I’m sorry that it has been some time since I have written.  It is a busy time of year.  I just had a few thoughts.   With all the blessings in my  life, I am  also very aware of all the turmoil that is happening in our world. It can feel quite helpless, the poverty, the terrorism, job losses, sickness, where do we even begin? We cannot help but to be drawn to the words …… “Faith, hope and charity/love, and the greatest of these is love” Faith can take many forms, but I believe that at the heart of all faith is goodness. We all must have hope or why do we continue on, hope is a beacon of light in our world, that we know we can do better! And charity/love, without this we have nothing. It is a word that is thrown around a great deal in our world, and yet we are probably at one of our worst points in history. To love is to be brave in today’s world, because the opposite of love is fear, and we can see that everywhere.
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts that we can give ourselves, those around us, our communities and our world, is to take the time this Chirstmas (and always) to be reflective on our lives. We can go through the motions, and miss so much around us. We are so judgemental and fearful of all those that we see as different. But when we take the time to reflect on who we are, we can only begin to see, remember, or uncover that we too are different in many ways. Maybe we have been misunderstood, judged, on the outside looking in at times. These realizations can be transforming, our cracks can become a bit more visible. Those cracks that we try to hide, they are the ones that can let the light in, and in turn allow our light to shine.
I know that being a gay couple,we have been judged, sometimes hated, and it has put us on the fringe of many places in our world, but this has been a huge blessing. That which had felt like an unbearable burden has become one of our greatest blessings. Not only do we have each other and know love, but we also know what it feels like to be “the poor”. It somehow brings about a compassion for others that you see struggle. Its something that bonds us.
My prayer this Christmas, is that we can all be brave, to love, and take the chance to see how much we are all alike in this world. Maybe we can take the chance this Christmas to reach out to those that we see as different from ourselves, maybe fear, or perhaps don’t even like. We will hopefully be changed and maybe even make some new friends!
From our Home to yours, we wish you a Very Merry Christmas and all the best for a Happy New Year!

The darkness

I just had a text message from Marco, telling me that a classmate of some of the young folks at work had committed suicide.   Sadness, pure sadness.

When I was growing up, I had heard the tales of people having to be buried outside the walls of the cemetery when they committed suicide.  And when people had died suddenly, no one would speak of it.  But as I grew older, i began to realize what this meant.  I can remember when a young man, who was the son of a friend of my Mom had committed suicide.  I overheard the conversation, and of course wanted to know more.  His Mother had found him in the garage where he had turned the car on, and asphyxiated himself.  I can remember walking past their home and always paying special attention to that garage.  It seemed almost mystical, holy to me as a young person.  I think because I knew that angels had been there.  I know that God, the angels, etc, are every where, but in this case, it was the first place that I knew someone died at.  So the angels had to have come there, because they would have been with him, and taken him home to heaven.

I am sure that those of you reading this, that don’t necessarily believe in God, heaven etc, might find this kind of a childish or that maybe it is just a way to explain death and make me feel better.  Well, i would like to share a couple of experiences that I have had with “heaven”.  When I was in the seminary, one of my placements was at an AIDS hospice.  Now this was in the mid 1990’s, a time when people were so sick with AIDS.  It was still a death sentence, and when you reached the time for hospice care, it might have been only days, or weeks that you had left on this earth.  And during that time, the folks were so so sick, scared and many alone.  It was also a time when most of the folks were also gay men, with some exceptions.  Many were deserted, families ashamed and out of the picture, so we became like surrogate families.  Walking with them, as they knew the journey was growing short.  Many fearful of what was to come, because of all the horrible things that many had grown up being taught.  Gays go to hell, the promiscuous go to hell, and of course, those with AIDS go to hell, this was a wrath from God.  The most horrible things we do to each other!! So sad.  It was sitting with all of these folks that I was taught and shown God’s love in very profound ways.  There was no judgement, just being there.  Holding someones hand as they slipped in and out of consciousness.  wiping their tears, when they knew family was not coming.  Just being there to show them someone cared.  It was also there that I felt that we were not alone.  The angels were there.  I can remember going in to say good bye to a lady who was very close to passing, she was there in bed taking soft breathes, that were less and less frequent with her parents by her side.  I will never be able to really describe the feeling, but as I held her hand, I felt like I was touching heaven.  I was holding her one hand, but God, an angel, someone was holding the other.  It was truly a profound moment in my life.

The second was the morning that my Grandma died.  I was at the gym early before work.  I was on the bike, watching TV.  There was a set of windows at the top of the wall, along the ceiling.  Something caught my eye outside the window, and immediately I was thinking of my Grandma.  When I returned home, my Mom called to tell me that my Grandma had just passed about 45 minutes a go.  That was just when I had seen something pass the window and I thought of Grandma.  Some may call that a coincidence, etc,  but I know.

People often judge those who commit or attempt suicide.  As someone who has been there a few times in my life, the darkness, pain, feeling of alone is beyond comprehension.  I am thankful that I am still here to see another day.  But at the moment, the pain is far to great to carry any more.

I feel a special connection to those who have passed from suicide.  I guess I almost feel a peace for them, because I know that they are not hurting anymore.  Of course I wish that they could have reached out, or been reached out to.  But that didn’t happen, so I find comfort in knowing that they were not alone at any point during their decision, or their passing.  They were held in angels arms and brought home to the love that will never go away, or misunderstood.  They will see us again.

One of my most favorite prayers at the end of a funeral…..

May songs of the angels welcome you, and guide you along the way.  May the smiles of the martyrs greet your own as the darkness turns into day.  Every fear will be undone, and death will be no more. As songs of the angels bring you home, before the face of God.  Amen



Fearing the unknown

Of course the past few days I have been thinking of the people of France, Lebanon, Syria, and all the sadness that just jumps into our everyday lives and changes us  forever.  Senseless violence, people innocently living there lives, gone, injured, and mentally and spiritually scarred forever.

I can remember on a much smaller scale, once being out at a gay bar, with a bunch of friends who came to see this “new life” of mine.  We were all having a great time, and all of a sudden there was a bunch of yelling and screaming, with people running for the doors.  And there was a bit of smoke and then our eyes started to burn.  Someone had thrown some kind of pepper spray bomb into the bar.  That was traumatizing enough.  I cannot even begin to fathom what these people went through.

I guess the questions that came up for me were, am i going to let this fear take over my life.  I have to admit even walking into the mall, I was a little bit apprehensive.  But this is exactly what they want.  And the part that I felt guilty for, was second guessing my support of welcoming the refugees into Canada.  What if these terrorists are coming in amongst the refugees?  Are we putting our country, families, friends and people in danger?  Marco and I talked a bit about this over the weekend.  I was really left wondering.

But as with most struggles in my life, I needed time to be quiet, to think, to pray.  My heart has always tried to do the right thing, and I have fallen short so many times.  God works in such mysterious ways though, I needed to do some laundry for one of our Greenhouse homes, before a new group of employees moved in.  It was a short period of time that we had, so I went to the laundromat in town.  There was only myself and an another older gentleman that were there.  We started to talk and he shared a lot about his life.  He was one of the last left in his family, his wife had passed away, it was just him and his dog.  So I did a lot of listening.  As his mother was dying, he was sitting beside her, holding her, and the last thing that she said to him was ” being nice, is enough”.  He had it written on a plaque and  he has it to this very day in his kitchen.  “Being nice, is enough”, you know, I think that my prayers were just answered.

I had never seen this man before, and may never again, but he put something back in my heart that i had misplaced out of fear for a while.   As I have said in writing before, I know and feel what it is like to be on the outside and misunderstood.  Goodness should never be trumped by fear.  Fear is not what the world needs right now, but being nice to each other is.  We will never really know someone, until we sit and share a meal together.  Sure we will have differences, but I bet we find that we have a lot more in common.

So to my helpful guide along the way, I thank you for your wisdom and sharing it with me.  I know its not Christmas yet, but ……. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Thank you, Matt

the dreaded diet

Alright so I am sure that most people have been on a diet at some point in their life.  Unless you are some skinny person who can sit and eat anything and everything, because they have a super metabolism!  Ya I hate them, well not really, well maybe a bit.  I have tried losing weight so often that I cannot even keep track.  Once I was actually pretty successful,I lost about 200lbs.  I was coming out and wanted to look better so I could attract the men.  Come to mamma!  Well that was all fine and dandy, but then it slowly starts to creep back up.  An ice cream here, McDonalds there, and all of a sudden those skinny jeans, well lets just say its hard on the inner organs all that constriction.

As the weight came back on, I tried all kinds of little tricks, the tight spandex clothes underneath my cloths, hoping to smooth out some lumps, black clothes, cause you know that’s thinning right?  I even ventured into the ladies underwear department at Walmart before one of Marco’s company Christmas parties.  Good God, I thought the smaller I would get one the thinner I would look.  Well, let me just tell you, that fat has got to go somewhere. and in this case, I had fat knees, and fat roles up under my arms.  So really as long as i sat down carefully, and walked with my arms out a bit, it would be fine.  Maybe they thought I had muscles…..or maybe not.  That was a long night, and then I had to go to the washroom, everything was squeezed in so tight, it had to come out more often than usual, and ladies girdles don’t have the quick access opening that mens underwear have!  Ya and sitting at the table, when you can all of a sudden start to feel the top starting to role down.  Good God, it was a nightmare.

So then there are those things on tv commercials, like spanx for men.  hides the gut, the man boobs, etc.  But as with the woman’s girdle underwear, that fat has got to go somewhere, i couldn’t move my head.  It looked like I didn’t even have a neck!

Well, I have also tried getting active, I am coming up on a year anniversary at the gym, sadly i have only been there about a months worth during that year.  But this summer, I got serious, I am going to get in shape, so I went to the gym a couple of days, and on the third day, I thought. Matt, you have done such a great job, you deserve a treat.  At that time, Tim Hortons had salted caramel timbits.  Oh, I am already drooling.  Thankfully they were for a short time, or you would have seen me on TLC in a big bed, having the wall knocked out, so the ambulance could get to me.  Anyway, off I went with Jasmine our dog, in the car to get some timbits. Well it turns out they are a better deal when you buy them in greater numbers.  Great!, so I bought a ten pack, and a couple of plain ones for Jasmine.  Just as we pulled up to the corner and I am shoving a couple Timbits in my mouth, I see the gym trainer standing on the corner waving at me.  Ugh!

In all seriousness, the weight loss journey has tended to be more on the weak side, although sometimes funny.  A group of my friends and I decided to enter a contest for the Heart and Stroke campaign.  We called it, Dump the plump.  Well lets put it this way, we ended up weighing more at the end than at the beginning.  Life has its ups and downs, I do feel healthy, i am  active, but I just love food too much.  Crappy, that even though I like to eat in private, it never seems to stay private, darn love handles, well they are a bit more than love handles, but I digress.

My battle of the bulge will continue, I figure I might as well keep a bit of a sense of humor about it, but that is easier said than done.  Sometimes, I feel like I live in a world that was just not made for me.  Beauty is seen as thin, my mind often wonders how long Marco will love me, as I struggle with this addiction. I don’t like to have to dress up, or go places that I feel like I will be judged.

And I am sure that many people just think that I am lazy, I just am a fat slob.  Well, no, I am not lazy.  I try to keep busy.  And often times try to cover up the pain with humor, just as I did at the beginning of this entry, but as most people who have to deal with whatever, we know it can be lonely, frustrating, scary.

But we move along, we face each new day.  Sometimes we don’t succeed, but that is part of what makes us “us” too.  Day by day my friends.

I will finish with a quote from a dear friend, “some of us just need more space for all this awesomeness!”

Lots of Love Matt


Yesterday we celebrated Remembrance Day in Canada.   A beautiful day to remember those who gave the ultimate, so that we are able to live in the peace and all that we have today.

I can honestly say that Remembrance day did not take on the meaning that it should until I started travelling to the Netherlands with Marco to visit his family. First of all it is evident that the dutch people have a great respect and love for Canadians, with the liberation of the Netherlands during in WWII.  I grew up with many families who had immigrated to Canada after the war.  So many of them had come and never looked back.

On one of our trips, we were driving and saw that the American war cemetery was coming up.  I can honestly say that I was not prepared for how powerful of an experience that was going to be.  Walking up a very grand stair case to a statue of a mother, one that I would presume is a weeping mother for all the lost sons, some daughters as well.  Behind that was a bell tower and at the base of it was a chapel.  Behind that were so many white crosses, lined row upon row.  There did not need to be any sign that told people to be silent or be respectful.    Your heart immediately went to a place of sorrow, and prayer, and also disbelief.  How could so many young people have died, across the world from home, far from family.  Not even able to be buried in their homeland.  Lives that were so full of hopes and dreams, but gave it all up so that we could be free.

Standing before these crosses, that had names, ages, crosses, or the star of David, a generation of youth gone.  The fear that must have been in their hearts, seeing their friends, companions, die before them.  Sitting in the trenches, dreaming of family dinners, Friday night at the movies with a date.  Never sure if they would see home again.

Well standing there among all these selfless souls, I felt the honor burst in my heart and a tear run down my cheek.   So why do I wear a poppy?  Because it is very real, these were people that cared so deeply.  Thank you will never be enough, but carrying on this history must be carried on.  As we see the last of  our WWII veterans reaching the end of there earthly journey, and still have so many soldiers throughout the world.  We must remember.

Thank you.

Who are we too turn someone away

Yesterday morning, Marco was reading something in the dutch news. ( he is from the Netherlands)  The country had done research on were the Syrian refugees were living once they reached the Netherlands.  It showed that the richest towns and ares were not accepting any, but all the less prosperous areas were!  Are you kidding?  “that to whom much is given, much is expected!”  I was taught that during my years at the seminary, and it accounts for many aspects of life.  But why is it that those who have the money to help the most, close there door to those who are so in need.  It is not only the Netherlands that this is happening of course, but it was brought to my attention.  We are not supposed to judge others, but actions are free game, and to all of us who have not opened our hearts, our wallets, our homes, our time to these brothers and sisters in such pain right now, Shame on us!

It is by the grace of God that we have been born where we live, and not to forget that most of us would not have been here if our ancestors were not immigrants at one time!  These people have lived through things that I can not even imagine!  War, seeing those that they love killed, leaving their homes, walking, crossing dangerous waters, meeting dangerous people, people who have taken advantage of them in so many different ways.  The CBC was broadcasting about how many young people and women had lived through rape and other such atrocities.  We have become so spoiled in our own little world where we are comfortable, that we don’t want anything to disturb that.

It is not only such examples of refugees, I can remember the L’Arche community in London Ontario.  They were trying to get there first home, they found it, and it was in a lovely part of the city.  It was perfect, except for the neighbors who did not want them, it would bring down our property values, we don’t want “those ” people in our area.  Thankfully it did come to pass, and now they are a glorious part of the neighborhood and city.  I should be so blessed to have a L’Arche home move in down the street from me.

Even in our own situation right now, Marco runs a large commercial greenhouse, and as in most greenhouse situations, they employ many off shore employees.  Since it is very difficult to find Canadians willing to work there.  But when people come, they need places to live.  Presently they live in a townhouse complex, but that took quite a while for them to be accepted.  Now it seems that they are quite a great part of the community.  They bring a lot of life!  A church came up for sale a couple of years a go, it would have been great to renovate it and build on for it to be a house for the off shore employees.  There again, it would have to go through zoning changes, and the neighbors would not want it.  Oh and by the way, that church is still empty today!

All of us like our lives, we have gotten used to the pace and the way we live.  To welcome people into our homes, our neighborhood, our town, etc, it will cause us some growing pains, thing s will not always run smooth.  But what about the wonderful things that could happen!  New friends, new life in our lives, the satisfaction that we are actually a part of something concrete that changed our world.

We cannot all do the same thing, but we can do something.   It scares me to to break out of my comfort zone, but its usually when we are challenged or move out of our safe zone, that we find out wonderful things about ourselves that we may never have known otherwise.

Peace and Love, matt

Whether a King or peasant, we are all one!

A couple of nights a go my partner Marco had mentioned to me that our new prime minister Justin Trudeau was the like the Pope Francis for Canada.  Exactly, he was right on, I knew that this whole thing looked familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Justin Trudeau is a young man who’s father was also our Prime Minister many years a go. so far he has been very transparent, open, visible and accessible.  His beautiful wife and family with him.  It feels like our old Canada is back, the one that all of us, and I think the world loved so much.

This feels the same as in the Catholic church, Pope Francis is just an amazing gift.  His love for the poor has just been so awesome to witness.  His declining the luxuries of the papacy.  Living in a small apartment, driving in small cars, eating with all groups, leaving the Vatican at night to go and be with the poor.  I love this guy!

A lot like Princess Diana, it was her spirit that attracted people.  She too would sneak out of the palace at times to go and visit the AIDS victims, as many of them had insomnia and nights were long.  Her love of the people, her children, even though she lived in a palace and was a princess, we could all find a very lovable quality.

All of these people can be seen in a similar light and I think that what it is, is that they challenged the status quot.  Just because it has been done a certain way for a long time, does not mean that it was right, or that it could not evolve and  change.  They are not above us when it comes to how they act, they all have reached roles in this world that many of us could only dream of, but they seem to hold on to that one that does not let them forget who they are they for.

I think that it is beautiful and can only be a sign of hope in our world.  I am hopeful and pray for each of them, whether her on earth or above.  May they hold onto that beautiful spirit and love, that it flows over to those they work with, for.  the policies the put forward etc.

A hopeful sign for sure!

on the outside looking in

Lately I have been thinking a lot about life, my part in this world, and what I have learned along the way.  That is partly why I am writing this blog.  As a person who does not have kids, and as I grow older, i start to wonder what is my legacy?  Will people remember me?  Did I do anything good?

I have not mentioned it yet, but I am married, married to the most wonderful man in the world.  Yes, I am gay.  We met about 8 years a go and have been married for just over 6.  My husband, Marco, he has 3 children from a previous marriage.  So people are always quick to say, well you do have kids then.  No, it is different how our family seems to work.  I mean, I love them very much, I would do absolutely anything for them.  But when I met them, obviously it was tough, not only was Dad not with Mom anymore, but now Dad was with a guy.  They were either already in high school or just entering it, so they were not looking for any other person to be a parent to them.  They had both parents who were very much a part of their daily lives.  So I just always sort of figured that I was just sort of their Matt.

It is funny how the mind works, well my mind anyway.  I was thinking, what if Marco were to pass away before me….I so hope that is not the case!! but I digress.  I realized that I could grow old, and not really have anyone that knows I am gone.  I mean, like so many people, we do not stay very often in the place that we are born?  We move often in our lives, and the world is becoming more and more detached from each other.  I mean its not something that I am going to dwell on, when its my time, I just pray that my family, my friends, pets, saints and of course God and the angels are there to embrace me.

I think that I used to feel a bit more secure in this area, when I had a church community to belong to.  A place that I was known.  But growing up Catholic, it felt like I had to choose, Marco or the church.  So i did make my choice, and hope that one day in my lifetime, I will be welcomed to come back to church.  Maybe without all the sacraments, but at least be able to go and be treated like a human being.

These ramblings today are really the reasons why I feel close to the poor, they too are on the margins.  Misunderstood, avoided, treated as less.   In the seminary, we studied Simone Weil, in philosophy.  She too had that spirit of staying on the periphery of things.  Somehow on the outside, looking in.  I think that there are a lot of us today, that in some way or the other, we are on the outside looking in.  Yearning for our legacy, but unsure if there will be one?

Well, I think that’s enough deep thought for today, lol.  I will chat more tomorrow.