Purity

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January 29, 2023- In today’s Sunday morning meeting, the focus was on purity of spirit. It was stated, in the spiritual writings we studied, that purity of motive and of conduct has primacy over material progress. This is sometimes seen as chasing a chimera, but if we look closely at the effect of putting profit over character, it may be seen that problems invariably arise-either immediately or down the road.

Personally, I have found that only by taming my past demons have I been able to enhance both my relationships with others and achievement of material stability. Others in today’s group echoed that sentiment. Basically, learning to handle disagreements and misunderstandings with mild reason, rather than with bombast and recrimination, is what has promoted a much more balanced and productive social regimen.

It was further stated, in the passages we studied, that there is a difference between the purity of spirit shown by children and that exhibited by mature adults. The case was made that children’s purity comes from weakness and inexperience, whilst the purity of adults can only derive from the burnishing that results from tests and trials. This is a variation on the verse in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, in which he wrote: “ When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

I understand the reasoning behind these statements. A child can only understand what is experienced. New events in a child’s life will either confirm previously held notions or upend them. An adult who has suffered, and yet still loves with a pure heart, has had the experience of going through tests and trials, and seeing what value can be taken from them.

Purification, moreover, is an ongoing process, in a world where the dross of bad experiences-and of egotism, can stain even the most loving of hearts.

Cold Shoulder

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January 28, 2023- Both of my favourite Prescott weekend haunts were nearly deserted, this evening. It’s shoulder season-the slow period between mid-January and St. Patrick’s Day, when a single person can actually expect to have a table of four to self-for nearly a whole evening. I ask you, who needs a table of four to oneself? It makes my night-or day, for that matter, to share a table, or give away seats to couples or foursomes who need an extra chair or two, at their table. Sometimes, I even get invited to join the gathering.

The artists, at both Rafter Eleven and Raven Cafe, were fine musicians and got plenty of applause, and tips, from those of us who came to listen. Steve Miller ( no, not the Gangster of Love, but a joyful singer, nonetheless) offered up a couple of hours’ worth of Golden Oldies-including some from the ’90s and 2000s, to a nearly empty Rafter. No matter, Steve has been here several times-and played to a packed house. At Raven, Remi Goode, a five-piece folk and blues-oriented band, named for its front person, found themselves the main event for the evening, as a local band that was to be headlining found themselves unavailable. Remi and Co. were fresh from a visit to Nashville, where they had done several gigs. They were up to the evening and did three imaginative and well-balanced sets. They made a lovely point, that Prescott is a good place to stop, on the way back from a Nashville road trip. I can think of a few places along the way that would also have been nice stops-but this town is one of a kind, so who am I to be a wet blanket?

A mysterious couple came in, not long before I left. First, the man entered, stood next to my table and seemed very nervous-wanting to applaud, while Remi was still singing-even asking me when they were going to stop. The woman came in, shortly after, smiled wanly at him and went straight to the back. Man followed her, at a discrete distance. About ten minutes later, they both came back-and woman went straight out the door. Man watched her leave, wistfully, and left himself, five minutes later. I just had an inkling that they were working something out, but the cold shoulder she seemed to be giving him indicated it wasn’t happening.

Shoulder season is slow, but has its moments.

Monstrous

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January 27, 2023- Frankenstein has never been alone- at least in the minds of onlookers.

The characters in a recent historical fiction series about World War I traded the insult “Monster!”, with some regularity, as the decidedly monstrous acts, which some of them indeed committed, came to light. “Women at War” pulls few punches, in delineating both patriotic acts and inglorious schemes-among both French and German adversaries, in the early days of the “Great War”. Few of the principals are spared the consequences of their flaws, sometimes almost immediately following their acts of honour and heroism. Only two-a priest and a brothel owner, consistently behave in a truly wretched manner.

“Monster” is a seldom used word, these days, as we focus on origin stories whenever encountering despicable acts. In my life, I have encountered few hideous souls-and even they were made, not born, into monsters. I learned the details of the last one’s life, even as she was doing her utmost to freeze my soul.

I have only been so characterized once, by someone who had scant room to talk, though his life experience should never have happened, especially to one so young. When children seem monstrous, almost invariably, they have had diabolical role models, whose actions should not be witnessed by anyone. The only question is, “How far back does the monstrous lineage go?” Hitler, after all, was raised by a hideous father, whose own story foreshadows his child’s descent into demonism.

I ponder this tonight, in thinking about the most recent spates of massacre by firearm. I know many people who believe, honestly, that firearms are necessary for self-defense. None of them would think, for a moment, of using a gun on a child, or other innocent person. In each of the recent cases, someone who is either filled with self-loathing, or has been indoctrinated in the ideology of fear, has carried out an assault on innocents. Time, and juries of their peers, may well cast the perpetrators of these crimes as monsters.

For now, each of us has to weigh our own actions, daily, and rise above our own basest instincts. Let us defend innocents from those who would harm them for their own gain, and not harm anyone in our own right.

Speed The Plow

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January 26, 2023- It is amazing, in some ways, how my inner thoughts and feelings have changed thus far in a new calendar year. The cosmic focus is said to be more inner directed this year, than last. There seems to be much truth to that, even in the early weeks of the year. My thoughts, as I drift off to sleep, are less other-directed-a good thing, given that one can’t do much to help as slumber approaches.

Nonetheless, what I want for myself-and by extension, my loved ones, is more focus and keener insight on what can make each of our little worlds a safer, healthier place. As this first of three intense work weeks winds down, I have experienced some progress in that regard-and have continued to stand firm in the face of some opposition to my work, actually turning things around with a couple of naysayers, in a span of three days. I have yet to win a couple of estranged friends back, but everything needs to happen naturally and organically.

A small conflict over the process of a certain medical check-up was resolved, yesterday, and I reached a compromise with the government, so the check-up will take place in a month’s time, which is actually better for me-as March and September will be the check-up points, and I am already committed to Home Base at the beginnings of those months.

The process of what needs to be accomplished this year is starting to accelerate. As the plow forges ahead, I promise to keep it moving straight, and not to upend the soil to an unhealthy depth, but rather to mix the minerals and nutrients in a beneficial way. Let all activities this year help to bring a spiritual bounty to all those I love.

No Retrogrades

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January 25, 2023- When I’ve been asked how my day has gone, over the past week or so, I can honestly say very well. Work has been good and while I have seen only a few friends lately, in person, the vibes I get, even online, are of high positivity. In a “hero to zero, and back again” society, that strikes me very well, as giving the present lack of planetary retrogrades a fair amount of significance. This may be attributed to the air of forward thinking, of not going over old ground, that seems to happen when all planets do not appear in retrograde, with respect to Earth.

I actually am not rehashing old conflicts right now, for what it’s worth. Rather, the energy that is coming from within right now is concerned with helping a small group of students advance and being of more help to those who ask my views or for my help, without second-guessing myself. So, there does seem to be a fair amount of truth to this planetary retrograde phenomenon, recognized by cosmologists and astrologists, but discounted by those whose worldview is more rooted in tangible, earth-bound practicality.

It also helps that there is slightly more daylight now, as is usual for late January. Personal energy, though, begets solutions to long-standing problems, large and small, and generates ready answers to questions from others that appeared intractable in the dead of winter/heart of retrogrades. Plans may now start to be made in earnest, for Spring through Autumn and long-standing issues actually get resolved. This feels, the cold aside, like an early Spring.

Suasion

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January 24, 2023-

The arguments seemed incessant, and there were people talking over each other. I can not follow that path. When a person speaks, about own health, at least the most reasonable of their ideas merit inclusion.

So today, a young man’s insistence on personal space was granted, and he went on to work hard. A gentleman who served his country well, asked for assistance in a health matter, that was less taxing on him, than what had been recommended to me by others. We did things his way, and all is better than it was.

Suasion works better than commanding.

Disgruntled

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January 23, 2023- I awoke this morning, preparing to head for the second of ten consecutive workdays. Opening the shades, after completing my early morning routine, I saw-a light blanket of snow! This led to a check of the website of the school district, where I am assigned this week, and revealed a two-hour delay in the school day, followed 30 minutes later by the school closure announcement. We do not mix icy roads and school buses, whenever it can be avoided.

I thus had ample time to reflect on the events of the weekend-four sets of mass shootings: Two in Louisiana and one each in California and in Arizona, causing a total of 21 innocent deaths and at least 20 more injuries. Today brought 9 more dead- Seven in Half Moon Bay, CA and two in Des Moines, IA. The Half Moon Bay shooter was said to be “disgruntled”.

In all the back and forth between “sides”, as to how to address the mass killings, there are salient points made about the ease with which firearms may be obtained, by someone with a deadly agenda-which is almost always of fairly long standing. There are equally salient points made about mental illness attending these events. No one who is right of mind is going to shoot, stab, poison or run over another human being. There are few points being made about the spiritual aspects of the problem.

Most of us have been disgruntled with others, or with the “system”, at one time or another. Those who have been disgruntled with me, of late, have chosen to either use their words or distance themselves. Ditto for my being upset at other people. Fair enough; who among us can please everyone, all the time. There is a reasonable expectation that being upset at another person does NOT mean that person should forfeit life and limb. Those of us with a spiritual grounding, a belief in the Eternal, tend to pull back from our worst impulses-to the extent we entertain them at all.

Motor vehicles, firearms, ordnance, bladed implements and toxins are all readily available in our society. Regulating them, especially hand-held weaponry, would likely help some, in reducing the death toll-as it has in Australia and some European countries. More fully focusing on the many aspects of the mental health issue will take a plethora of resources-and if done correctly will vindicate those expenditures.

Yet, one thing and one thing only will put our society over the barrier that keeps matters uncivil: There must be encouragement of spiritual education-as parents, children and communities see fit, so that each human life is viewed in the manner with which it is endowed by the Eternal. Emotional release that is achieved by ad hominem or heterogeneous attacks needs to be discouraged. This does not mean a Kumbaya Nation; it means that, despite how some people aggravate one another, it does not end in death or dismemberment.

It means a retreat from fatalism.

Dignity Above All

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January 22, 2023- It was well said, last Monday, “all means all”. Any decision made, with regard to the life of an unborn child, will hopefully place the utmost value on that child’s quality of life-as well as that of the mother. The decision, one of the heaviest that any human being is asked to make, must be made by the mother-not by politicians. I’ve made that point several times, and will let it stand.

I carried a sign around Courthouse Plaza, this afternoon, a tolerated but not entirely welcome act, in the midst of a highly politicized march that was billed as a Women’s March. The message, well-crafted by someone else, stated simply: “We march on, for equality, fairness and justice for all.” All means all-and the implication, that this applies even to those who do not subscribe to a given political stance, is nettlesome to a few. I see that this is greatly evident among those who are of the opinion that an authoritarian regime is the best way to solve all the problems besetting a given nation-all the while ignoring the track record of totalitarians up to now. Invariably, the elite of both Right and Left enrich themselves at the expense of the vast majority of their fellow citizens.

In the end, no one who might have been opposed to the march bothered the participants, and only one or two of those gathered bothered with me-one of them helping to carry the sign for a while, before walking off in a huff, from some unknown slight. The kids, and their mothers, remain more important to me than any political operative-of any stripe. It was gratifying to see a dozen or so young women scattered among the marchers, taking charge of their own dignity, making it clear to the others that this is their struggle now and will be carried out on their terms. Later in the afternoon, I stopped in at a restaurant across from the courthouse and was greeted by a young woman who was grateful for those who spoke up on behalf of her generation’s rights.

The future belongs to those who do not slam the door on people with whom they might not agree or on those whom they regard as “irrelevant” to the process. The future lies beyond emotional fits, self-aggrandizement or making veiled threats against others. I may be of an older generation, but I stand with those who could be my children, or grandchildren. Hopefully, as those discomfited by my presence see that I am not going away, they will also place more value on working with the young, rather than carrying on ideological battles of times past.

Human dignity matters more.

That Lunar Influence

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January 21, 2023- I read yet another “free” detailed horoscope for 2023, pretty much repeating what two Reiki practitioners, Hiking Buddy and my own observations over the years have told me. I don’t need to rehash all the wonderful things that are attributed to my being or all the challenges that stem from my shortcomings. The horoscope was, of course, followed by a series of generalities and a pitch for “personalized, special details about what is coming. Some of it may be quite shocking!” Most likely, the only “shocking” part would be the price tag. I passed.

I got enough out of the freebie to sense that an auspicious day is coming, towards the end of this month and that I will experience an unforeseen burst of energy over an upcoming five-day period. I need to be present and attentive. What else is new?

I do feel ebbs and flows of energy, with the various phases of the moon and planetary alignments. Venus seems to have an outsized influence on my demeanour, as does Neptune. I don’t get crazy during a full moon, but I do experience more alacrity. A new moon (the one we can’t see) brings more energy also, but in a kinder way. Having been born during a waning gibbous (first phase after a full moon), that phase brings me a more centered energy.

This day itself had minor challenges-mainly around my sending a certified letter to a friend. One of the few times I left my cell phone at home, and was expected to have it at the ready, came at our main post office. A discrepancy was found in the zip code given me by said friend. I was told to go look it up, and that the post office was not responsible for providing that information. That led to returning home, finding the information-it was one digit off-and getting back to the P.O., thankfully dealing with a different, less officious, clerk. I will have my karmic rebuttal, in the post-visit survey.

Afterward, came three good workouts- being part of a skeleton crew that broke down the Farmers Market, a session at Planet Fitness and walking to and from Raven Cafe, where a delightful young couple performed three sets of gentle folk tunes. It was as gratifying to see how they adore one another as it was to listen to their delicate harmony.

I have to give the freebie astrologer credit: He does recognize that I generally view life through a positive lens.

Roots of My Being

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January 20, 2023- Mother never took a day off. She was never gone in the night. Dad was not so fortunate. He worked whatever shift he needed to, in order that we would have what we needed. When he was off work, he was with us. Mom, though, was never without us. I, the satellite, much of the time, wanting to make sure everything was okay when Dad was at work. I would invent my detailed stories, play 45 rpm records, even wrote a “newspaper”, for visitors to read and pretend to be impressed, by words describing things about which most of them could have cared less.

I was interested in “boy” things, like Lincoln logs, toy trucks and road equipment, playing with whoever came along, in our sandbox. I was clumsy, according to an older cousin because of the circumstances of my birth-I was very nearly breech. That impacted my hand-eye coordination, and athletic skills, even my balance. It would take me until near adulthood, before I could stay upright on a bicycle. It wasn’t until it came time to show my son how to play baseball, that I could even hit the darned thing. Maybe much of this was mind over matter, but it was a steep uphill.

I loved the woods and the marsh, though, and spent as much time as I could in either one-whether with other kids or alone. There was a nook, along a creek, where I would sit and think about life. One day, crews appeared, across the creek, and began building new homes, where the woods had been. I silently welcomed the people who would live across from my nook, and bid farewell to the little spot.

Before that, there were great woods in the first neighbourhood I remember, where we lived alongside an uncle aunt and three cousins. Grandma lived up the hill, and I would roam the woods with a neighbour boy and a couple of girls-playing pirates, or cowboys. When we moved into our own house, there were the woods I mentioned first, a hill with rock ledges, where I would sit and tell wild stories to anyone who would listen-even when they rolled their eyes. Sister and I would walk with Dad, after supper, in the summertime-and go see the horses at one or another of the ill-fated farms which became housing developments. Dad told me early on, that house building was an industry, and it would never go away. He even had a side hustle-paperhanging, which he taught me when I was ten.

Mom was always around for us, even when Dad had to work overtime-or graveyard. She’s still with us, having re-made her life, in a home with other women-and so thriving, at 94. I thought of all this, after reading of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the youngest person ever to hold that post. She is stepping down, deciding to focus on her child, after giving 5 1/2 years of her life to her country. A group of us had a brief discussion on the matter, this afternoon, and though I was the only male in the group, we were of one mind in stating that nurturance is of paramount importance to any child-and is most naturally provided by a mother.

It is the background of Mother’s “smotherly love” (her term) that made my own feelings towards women to be so strong. Her personal strength of character and perseverance contributed to my sense that every person’s dreams deserve a shot at success, and the support of anyone who claims to love that person.

I haven’t done everything she ever hoped for me to do, but I’m still in the game.