Look Beyond

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April 20, 2019-

Look beyond the slight,

which a tired, downcast soul,

hurls at the unsuspecting.

Look towards the joy,

that the angels of the Sun

are holding,

in their outstretched hands.

Look past the taunts,

which the fettered ones shout,

at one who struggles.

Look outwardly,

to the breaking

of all chains,

and to the rising

of every good heart.

These verses come to mind, as I complete a long, and mostly joyful, day of service, at the beginning of Ridvan, the Eastertide and “Earth Month”.

Conjunction

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April 19, 2019-

God has never left Man alone.  In times past, the Divine has sent Guidance, in the form of Scripture and in the Personage of a Holy Being, to lead us away from the promptings of self and desire, which Zoroaster, Jesus the Christ, Mohammad and Baha’u’llah have each personified as Satan. Our lower, animal nature gets us in all sorts of difficulties, by interposing itself between God and our spiritual sense.

So, it seems that when the conditions of the world are darkest, we have the bounty of the sacred days of many faith traditions falling in the same time period.  This year,  for example, the Baha’i Festival of Naw-Ruz occurred at the same time as the Hindu Festival of Holi.   A scant month later, Jews are observing Passover; Christians, Christ’s death and the Day of Resurrection and Baha’is, the beginning of the twelve-day Festival of Ridvan, (commemorating Baha’u’llah’s Declaration of His Mission to the world.)

God never leaves Man alone.  The message that seems clear, from these conjunctions of spiritual celebration is that we ought each honour our neighbours’ spiritual traditions, as we honour our own.  There is, in essenceone continuous flow of spiritual energy.  I could never dishonour the Name of Christ, or those of Moses, Krishna, Gautama Siddhartha or Muhammad whilst claiming to honour the Teachings of Baha’u’llah.

Every one of the Divine Teachers has suffered immense physical pain, whilst on this Earth, at the hands of those who enjoyed earthly power and prestige, as well as at the hands of the uneducated and ignorant who chose to follow those in power.  This is the timeless lesson of Good Friday-the goodness of which stems from the fact that we are so loved by the Divine that the Purest of Beings submitted to unimaginable torture and humiliation.  It is thus, that people of all faith traditions would do well to contemplate the nature of Divine Love and Sacrifice, on this solemn day.

This Sunday, the Day of Resurrection and First Day of Ridvan, will find me celebrating both events of the continuous flow of Divine love and inspiration. May many find it in their hearts to do the same.  The Divine never leaves us alone. Let us honour one another.

Niners

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April 18, 2019-

Age nine found me whimsical,

lost ever in my own thoughts,

save when it came to lessons,

in Mrs. Kimball’s class.

Age nineteen found me lackadaisical,

flitting in and out of other people’s lives,

with no thought as to my effect on them.

Age twenty-nine found me desultory,

often lost in the bottle,

floating along Arizona’s highways,

or the backroads of the  wider West,

yet making a stab at conveying math,

to myself and my students.

Age thirty-nine found me devoted,

to my wife and toddler son.

The fragrance of Jeju,

and the progress of my English-teacher candidates,

filled out my world.

Age forty-nine found me wary,

of any and all politicians,

of a wayward shaman,

whose stated goal was

to bring about my ruin.

Age fifty-nine found me crumbling,

about to lose the most important

person in my life,

to the dis-ease that had

stalked her,

for over fifty years.

Age sixty-nine is seven months off,

yet it may well find me

in a state of flux.

Regardless,

I know my life is aimed

towards wholeness,

towards growth,

ever looking past

mere survival.

 

The Spirit of Connection

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April 17, 2019-

Have you ever felt drawn to someone,

beyond any physical sense,

but as if  s(he) had been in

your energy field,

forever?

There are, and have been,

in my experiential existence,

dozens of such souls.

It’s easy to confuse,

to conflate,

an intense psychic bond,

with some level

of physical,

or even sexual,

attraction.

I’ve been there.

After all,

Penny and I

began our time together,

knowing we had

seen each other,

in dreams

and in waking visions.

The proof,

for me,

that such bonds

transcend the physical,

is that I have them

with people much younger,

much older,

female and male, alike.

I have encountered

children,

even infants,

who recognized me

from some other realm,

even though we’d

never seen one another,

on this plane.

Clarity:

I don’t believe

our spirits

get recycled,

into physical bodies,

again and again.

I believe

there is a boundless

energy field

and that we connect

somewhere in that field,

of which this physical plane

is but a small part.

I believe there are

souls to whom we

are drawn,

wordlessly,

and there

at least two dozen,

both here, and

in various parts

of the world,

to whom I am so drawn.

These thoughts came into my consciousness, as I woke this morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Z’s, the Alphas and Evolution

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April 16, 2019-

Yesterday was a bear, for many.  The damage to Notre Dame Cathedral (which I have only seen from outside) and to Al Aqsa Mosque (in which I had the honour of praying with the Imam, in 1982) was serious, but in both cases, not irreparable.

For me, it was a productive day- visiting the new Cuppers Coffee House location, attending a Baha’i study circle and getting in another exercise session were pluses.  A new online acquaintance asked me what I was doing for the day, and my response was “Tending to my personal affairs”, which at the time was weighing on me and not what I wanted to detail, to a relative stranger.  Turns out, the whole process took less than ten minutes, and all’s as well as it can be, for the time being.

I was brought further out of my shyness and awkwardness, at Cuppers, when several young people chose to sit down on either side of me.  Something refreshing about Millennials, and more so about Gen Z people, is their overall forthrightness.  Growing up always questioning my worth as a human being was a real pain.  The younger generations see no reason why anyone should do that, though I’m sure they have their moments of insecurity. Nonetheless, Gen Z’s mantra, “I got you”, obviating any lengthy explanation of one’s feelings or opinions, is actually a treasure.

I see intuition becoming a hard-wired thing.  Yesterday, there was a post about five teenagers who helped an elderly man get up from the sidewalk, where he’d fallen, walking home with him and cleaning his wounds.  Goodness prevails here, and is more common than its opposite.  The media has a label ready for those born since 2010:  Generation Alpha.  I haven’t had much contact with younger kids lately, but judging from the intuition levels and cooperative spirit of my grandnieces and nephews, and online friends’ children, I would say the label, as contrived as it sounds, is actually spot on.  They, with their immediate elders, will be the ones working to reverse a host of problems that foolishness and greed have bestowed on the human race.  All this makes New York’s recently enacted “nonmedical abortionist” law that much more ludicrous, besides being downright menacing.  The world needs its rising generations, even those who have some physical or mental flaws.

So, on we go, and I feel more confidence than at this time last week.

“Be Nice or Leave”

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April 14, 2019-

Such was the message on the t-shirt worn by another patron of today’s Powwow, at Ken Lindley Park, across the main street from my apartment.  I saw no one being anything less than nice and I was certainly my usual self.  The words kept coming back to me, throughout the day.

The full range of  dancers performed this afternoon, from 5-year-olds to senior citizens, with male and female dancers, in each age category, from Juniors(10-12), teens (13-17)  adult (18-550 and Golden Agers (55>), performing in one of three categories:  Traditional, Grass and Fancy, which refer to the type of regalia worn.

I sat comfortably in my “director’s chair”, for most of the afternoon. Though while still in shy and awkward mode, I got up and joined in the Round Dance, a social dance in which everyone sidesteps in a circle.  Being among Indigenous people is a balm.

I didn’t take photographs, as those gathered here asked that no one take pictures of anyone they didn’t know personally.  As everyone  else who was there was not known to me, the camera stayed off.

After the Powwow ended, and my laundry was done,  I stopped by the grounds of Chalk-It-Up, to get photos of this year’s entries to the annual chalk art festival.  The actual work took place earlier, but a small group was still there-likewise taking photos.

Here are my candidates for the most memorable.20190414_181022

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To anyone who has felt overcome by the careless judgments of others, there is this:

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It was ironic that, shortly after I took the above photo, I was approached by a couple of school district employees, who found it uproariously funny that I would appear at a public event.  Leaving them to their giggling and derision, a much warmer atmosphere was a block away- at Two Mamas Pizzeria, another place where I can say I feel welcome and safe.

I can say this:  Neither those foolish women, their co-workers, nor anyone else will run me out of town.  Shy and awkward as I feel right now, I take solace in knowing I need run no more.  I will define my place.

Reignition

5

April 13, 2019-

I cam close to making what would have been a pre-mature, and perhaps reckless, decision.  It basically would have meant leaving my Home Base, earlier than expected.  It became unnecessary.

Although, I have felt a good deal less welcome here, since the events of April 3- and yes, people in this growing town still do talk and pass judgement- there are still a few pockets in Prescott where I can go and feel safe.  I spent an hour or so at such a place, Ms. Natural’s, where the owner is relatively friendly and glad for my business-even if her helpers are a bit on the hostile side.   I also went to Farmers’ Market, where a few of the vendors remain friendly.

The Arizona Department of Education has decided to renew my substitute teaching certificate.  This at least will give me the opportunity to maintain a flexible work schedule, bounce back from the most recent assaults on my reputation and show, yet again, that I am basically a loving and competent educator.  So, the notion to retire early, leave this area and re-establish myself, somewhere else, is not something I need to pursue for the time being.  I will be safe enough, among the Baha’is and a few other friends.  Hopefully, things will even out and I can follow my game plan until December, 2020.

 

Desiderata- Part II

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April 12, 2019-

In the last post, I looked at the first half of Max Ehrmann’s 1927 prose- poem, which attained wide popularity in the 1960’s, due to a mass, unattributed distribution of the verses, the result of the author’s having not copyrighted the work.

In this post, the second five lines are the focus.

“Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

By Max Ehrmann © 1927
Original text

I have yet to pretend to like someone, much less to love them.  I have had friendships which turned sour, because one or both of us failed to meet pre-conceived expectations.  I have learned, in very ingrained fashion, to approach friendships more carefully. Cynicism about love, though, is out of the question.  It is as perennial as the grass.

As one in late middle age, I do not act like, or pretend to act like, the youth I once projected.  I still have energy and drive, and I also get arthritic aches, if I sit for too long.  I make regular use  of essential oil supplements, hydromassage and therapeutic exercise, as those are the counsels of age.

I have, with help from skilled financial planners, shielded myself from later distress.  Strength of spirit is there, to help keep distress, and any external threats, at bay.

Being gentle with myself, and recognizing my right to life, has come hard.  I went through a long period of self-loathing, which was mitigated, but not extinguished, by my late, beloved wife.  Only standing up to critics and challengers, including the most recent bunch, has given me the sense that gentleness with self is my due.

I know, finally, that all that is happening, for short-term good or ill, will result in what’s best for the Universe and for mankind.  I have, even recently, seen sham and broken dreams.  Those who jive others, or try to fool themselves, will learn the hard truth sooner or later.

Yes, it is still a beautiful world, and I intend to experience more of it.

Desiderata- Part 1

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April 11, 2019-

Having woken this morning, in need of reassurance, I found myself looking at a copy of Desiderata, which I first present in its full text, before relating its words to my own state of being.

“GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

By Max Ehrmann © 1927
Original text

This past week, there has been little noise and even less haste, yet I recall being often viewed as too slow and benign, when there was commotion.  There is a lot of peace in my silence, especially when that silence pertains to inside my head, as well as in my surroundings.

I have done better, these past few years, at speaking my truth in a quiet manner-and at listening, even to the most insipid nonsense, without interrupting.  It most likely has to do with being more secure in myself.

There will always be greater and lesser persons than me, and I’ve felt this for a long time. Loud and aggressive people have never like me much, nor have I liked them.  This has always seemed to end up as my undoing, as such people are frequently favoured, at least outwardly, by many in our society.

I’ve enjoyed those achievements of mine that were genuine, and I have had more of them than my critics care to admit.  If I had it to do over, I’d have stayed a counselor, and not given in to the false ambition that brought me down.

I’ve learned to be careful in business, and with my generosity-as yes, the world is full of trickery.  This learning has been, a few times, accomplished through trial and error.  I’ve seen true heroism and practiced it myself, a few times.  The world is full of virtue.

Thus are the thoughts which come to mind, in reading the first half of Max Ehrmann’s inspired verse.  I will continue, with the second five paragraphs, in the next post.

#MeToo-and Me

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April 9, 2019, Phoenix-

I had planned, initially, on waiting until tomorrow to make the trip down here, to renew a certificate that had lapsed.  Things being what they are in Prescott, that proved unworkable, so I joined the multitudes dealing with an early mini-heat wave- and started the processing of my new certificate.

The new Superintendent of Public Instruction is proving to be as meticulous in her work, as her predecessors were lax.  The result is that many who are jump-starting dormant careers are facing renewed scrutiny.  That, to me, is a good thing.  There is no daylight, when it comes to the safety of children and teens.  Besides, I have nothing to hide.

Some blame the #MeToo Movement, but really, when, as one of my early mentors would have said, “your pants are down, they’re down.”  Getting caught in wrongdoing, even if it was done forty years ago, is part of one’s cleansing.  I was raised to own up to things I did, and I’m a very bad liar-so that has all made me a far better person, than I would have been, if I had a silver tongue.

Recently, as I’ve posted earlier, a local politician was caught in a lie, about what he allegedly did in his younger years-and with regard to how he still feels about the underlying issue.  I am, unequivocally, in favour of the evolving nature of male-female interactions and relationships.  Anything that presents a person, female or male, as the equal of any other person, is spot-on.

It’s important to not go overboard, by getting caught up in hysteria.  I can understand, though, the conditions which produce such overreaction.  The only way to curb hysteria, in the first place, is to treat each and every person with the respect and decency that is her/his birthright.

So, I will sit back and wait for the SPI’s team to complete their review of my record.