The Beautiful Universe

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October 6, 2021- In the spiritist classic, “The Initiate In The New World”, Cyril Scott’s Master gets the novice’s attention, by putting the acolyte’s being smitten by a comely woman, who is twenty years his junior, in perspective. The learned one cautions him to remember that there are billions of beautiful scenes, throughout the Universe, millions of cases of such salubriousness on Earth alone and even in the human realm, over a billion humans (this was 1927) who reflect one sort of beauty or another. He encourages the Initiate to nurture his friendship with the younger woman, but in the context of a deep and variegated relationship.

This, of course, is emblematic of the best of marriages, of the most enduring friendships. Yet, how easily one can turn aside from even a long-term, promising, even mutually satisfying bond, over the most trifling of disappointments or disagreements. I’ve had strong bonds fade into nothingness or turn into estrangement, because one or both of us was unwilling to see the ties from a wider perspective.

For quite some time, though, I have taken to viewing a far-deeper universe-still being appreciative of comeliness, certainly, but hardly placing physicality front and center. The closest of my friends are those whose spiritual or ethereal beauty radiates in their daily lives and in all their dealings with those around them.

Thus was the little girl showing me a heart rock, she had found on the school playground, the highlight of my rather productive day. Heart rocks show that one is paying attention to one’s surroundings and is wise to a connection with nature. So, too, is paying attention to brilliant risings and settings of the sun, to rainbows, sunbows and moonbows. Thunder and lightning can be experienced as majestic.

Thus is a smile the most comforting of all expressions, and the hug the most reassuring of all interactions between two people. The pet’s unconditional affection can soothe, after the longest, hardest of days. The baby’s coo is the payback, for all that a mother has endured over the period of gestation.

Thus does beauty transcend all the transactional thought, cynicism, unilateral dependency and outright greed that drain the spirit, crush the soul and attempt to negate the essential goodness placed in all of us, by the Creator.

Blitzy

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September 19, 2021-

This is a Blitz Poem, a stream-of-consciousness piece, about mood swings, among other things.

In The Mood

Mood blue can turn into mood indigo

I can be of a mood to laugh

Laugh with friends

Laugh at folly.

Folly of leaders

Folly of the masses.

Masses of paperwork

Masses of clouds.

Clouds drop rain

Clouds my judgment .

Judgment brings pain

Judgment brings lessons .

Lessons come hard

Lessons drive change.

Change is a constant

Change is a process.

Process builds systems

Process builds patience.

Patience means perseverance

Patience is a virtue.

Virtue shakes vice

Virtue brings challenge .

Challenge builds strength

Challenge begs a question.

Question authority

Question existence .

Existence is eternal

Existence is the start of life .

Life can be hard

Life means feeling.

Feeling groovy

Feeling anger .

Anger spurs action

Anger is a mood .

Mood

Swings

Sharing Popcorn With Chickens

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September 5, 2021- As I enjoyed fresh popcorn, whilst sitting in the small outdoor shade area, the occasional dropped kernel was swiftly scooped up by one or another of the chickens that freely roamed the area.

One of the best things about visiting Dharma Farm is that I never know what the three high functioning kids, or their infant sister, will come up with, over the course of an afternoon and evening. The Farm is on the north end of the unincorporated, but populous, community of Paulden, being one of a dozen working farms that contribute to the food supply of western Yavapai County.

I first met the Schaelling-Pena family three years ago, during Convergence at Arcosanti, a pre-COVID annual gathering of some of the region’s brightest lights. While Convergence has pretty much gone by the wayside, my friendship with Landen and Holly, along with their small group of friends, has only strengthened over these few years. There were two little girls, when I first made the acquaintance of the family. Then came a little boy, two years ago, followed by Girl #3, five months ago.

The children are being raised forthrightly, and gently, by their parents. Logical consequences are part of the regimen, but guilt is NOT a tool that is being applied. They are shown how to properly handle daily tasks and are amazingly adept at things that many children have to wait until they are at least ten, before they are allowed to attempt.

I am fortunate to be one of those to whom the children have taken well, almost immediately. Of course, they take turns being effusive and reticent, as many children do-but they each know they are loved and that their feelings will be honoured and validated. I was showered with love in return, today, and the many garden vegetables and berries that were offered underscored that bond.

The chickens, and the three-legged dog, seem to sense this connection, also. Everything, within reason, is shared here.

A Pentina Palette

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August 25, 2021- Last night, a small group of us engaged in a conversation about the effect of colour on the human psyche. It is not surprising that certain colours generate aggression and others have a calming effect.

The following pentina, a variation on the sestina that uses five sets of five lines, rather than six sets of six lines, with a two-line envoi, of five words (with either two words on the first line and three on the second, or vice versa.) considers the matter of colour.

The day begins with a shimmer of gold. In less than an hour, the sky reflects the warmth of blue. Our majestic life-generating orb sends down beams of yellow. Too much time outdoors, with no protection, leaves one red. This can be relieved by the shade offered in green.

A sense of healing energy is evoked by green. Power flows into the mind that senses gold. The call to forceful action arises from red. Calm reassurance emanates from blue. A sense of mirth springs up from yellow.

The initiation of harvest is indicated by yellow. This comes after a long season of green. Through the transition, air and water remain blue. As the change progresses, some organisms present gold. Still others show off their red.

Excitement arose, upon the entrance of the lady in red. Her hair contrasted, being of shimmering yellow. She walked untrammeled, through the field of green. At the end of the path, stood a field house, domed in gold. The structure’s centerpiece was a large pool of blue.

Serenity ‘s imparting of peaceful strength, flows in blue . Doubt and fear stir, when enveloped in red. Only a modicum of joy can come from green. More fleeting still is the satisfaction proferred by gold. All can be made peaceful again, by a light bath of yellow.

The colours of the school where I work are gold and blue, with a swatch of yellow. Students are good here, when it comes to stopping on red and going on green.

Five Little Pools

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April 19, 2021, Sedona- A prime hiking buddy and I set out, fairly early, for a trail here that passes what are called Seven Sacred Pools. The area was frequented, in bygone times, by people indigenous to northern and north central Arizona. The area now called Sedona and Oak Creek Village was known, even then, as a place with healing waters and a spiritual air about it. The people we know as Sinagua settled around the region, and their settlements in this area are known to the Hopi, who are among their descendants, as Palatkwapi-“Place of Red Rocks”.

Soldier Pass Trail is one of those for which parking is limited. A and I found a spot near a city tennis court, and walked along the side of the road, for about 1.3 miles. On the way back, we noticed several people taking a parallel trail through the woods, so that would be a likely route for subsequent visits. Today, though, we saw amazing views from the roadside.

View towards Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, from Soldier Pass Road. The people who have settled in this lush canyon have settled well.
Zoomed images of the iconic rock formations, accessible from Oak Creek Village
The lushness of the forest canyons, that were carved by Oak Creek’s tributaries, are a wonder unto themselves.
We came to the trailhead for Soldier Pass Trail, finding it of moderate difficulty.
Above, is Sphinx Rock, which remained watching over us.
Devil’s Kitchen is a sinkhole that sits just under Sphinx Rock.
This shows the position of the two great features.
Zoomed view of the southern end of Coffee Pot Rock.
My selfie with Coffee Pot Rock
Light glints off Sphinx Rock
We came to the Seven Sacred Pools, finding five of them with a small amount of water in each. Three are visible from this vantage point.
Looking carefully, note the remnants of a cairn building contest, of some time ago.
This is a section of Brins Ridge, to the east of Soldier Pass and separate from Brins Mesa.

Thus, my first visit to the Seven Sacred Pools introduced me to five of them, with the hope that there will be monsoon rains this year, and perhaps a view of the storied gushing stream, with small cascades heading where the cairns are now.

The Butterfly’s Heart

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March 22, 2021, Sedona- After an unexpected, but necessary flurry of activity, both online and around Prescott, I set out around Noon, and came up to the southwest corner of this ever-delightful town, to complete another segment of Limekiln Trail, which I have been walking in segments, these past five months.

Today’s route took me from Deer Pass, where I had left off last time, to Dry Creek, a distance of 5 miles, roundtrip. The route primarily follows Forest Service and ranch roads, with Dry Creek Road (FR 9845),leading up the creek’s small, but captivating, ravine. Here, I saw a lone jogger, a few tents in strategic places, and a pair of Shelties, poised and ready to protect their person.

I saw rolling grassland, long white irrigation tubes, people in jeeps and trucks struggling to navigate the rocky canyon road, and a beckoning wall of red rock-off to the northeast. I saw lots of heart-shaped rocks-and a butterfly rock, embedding an inner heart.

It was an inauspicious start, at Deer Pass Trailhead.
It looks like someone from Wickenburg lost their hat.
After a half mile walk along a ranch road, the descent into Dry Creek Ravine began.
A small field of volcanic rock and silt lay at the bottom of the hill.
After passing a few tents and wishing Godspeed to some slow-moving vehicles, I reached Dry Creek.
It was, well, dry. The creekbed is alluring, though, in and of itself.
I walked a bit further up the hill, to my stopping point for the day, from which Red Rock Loop Road is 2.3 miles further, and thus a good parking spot for the next segment, which will bring me back to this spot.
Delights can be small, as well as large, around here, This butterfly-shaped rock reveals its oblong heart.

Secret Cove

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March 16, 2021- My hiking buddy and I got up onto the rocks above one of Watson Lake’s most beautiful sections. As she is not quite up to clambering around the more difficult rock sections as yet, we turned back. Another time will suffice; Secret Cove is not going anywhere.

There are a myriad trails through the Glacial Age’s gift to Prescott: Granite Dells. The hoodoos and small granite mounds that dominate the northeast corner of this town have been a draw for residents and visitors alike, since the mid-Nineteenth Century. The dells form an arc, rising on the north side of Watson Lake and swinging west, to its fellow reservoir, Willow Lake (that sector being called Willow Dells), the area is a hodgepodge of City Park and private residences that have, for the most part, been built in a manner that respects the wilderness.

We walked mostly along a converted rail bed, known here as Peavine Trail. Its wide, flat mien allows bicyclists, equestrians and disabled people equal space, with hikers free to go off on any one of a dozen trails, mostly leading to overlooks of the lake.

Below, is an old photo of Secret Cove, from a hike I took there in November, 2011. The tranquility of the place doesn’t change, and even being shy of the cove itself, we felt a deep serenity.

There will be several visits to this hidden gem, in the near future-especially as the weather gets mild again.

Two Birds on a Winter Morning

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February 16, 2021-

As I was doing my devotions, this morning,

two of the ravens

who live in our neighbourhood

were perched atop a telephone pole.

They repeatedly touched beaks

and snuggled for about three minutes,

then touched beaks a few more times,

and snuggled for another few minutes.

This was the sweetest thing

between animals,

that I’ve seen in some time.

It just goes to show,

there’s no lack of love

in the world.

One Spirit

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January 30, 2021-

I have an independent mind, the expression of which has left several people around here, and elsewhere, who I fairly trusted, responding with “LOL”, or with sullen silence. The thing that I find funny is that several of them pride themselves on being people of faith. The belief that there is One God, Who created all life, is as central to their pronounced faith, as it is to mine.

So, it is incredulous to me that people can even distinguish between human beings, as to who deserves to live. It befuddles me, that there are at least two classes of people, and this distinction is a point of pride, a cornerstone of belief.

There is, by my reckoning, One Creator, One Spirit, One Universe, One Planet Earth and One Human Race. I have differences of opinion with many, AND that does not diminish their humanity-as far as I am concerned. For saying this, however, I have lost several friends, at least one extended family member and a few members of my own Faith, for not adhering to an orthodoxy that claims to be fighting for freedom-but is rooted in fear.

Let’s look at a few matters, more closely:

  1. Human Rights- I hear the First National Youth Poet Laureate say that the mind of a child is paramount. This same person also says that medical professionals should be allowed to put unborn children to death. What happens to the mind of a child who is not even allowed to be born? I hear some of the same people who espouse abortion, as a routine practice, voice opposition to the Death Penalty, even for the most heinous of murders.
  2. Nationalism- I see and hear people of various backgrounds, some with medical degrees and some with law degrees, saying that America should be a White, Christian nation-exclusively. What, exactly, is a White Nation? The continent of Europe, alone, is home to seventy different ethnicities. Jesus loved people of all the known nations of His time-and loves everyone, the world over, now. The first Christians, outside of a smattering of Jews in the Holy Land and a handful of Greeks, were Ethiopians, South Asians and Turkic people in Central Asia. The majority of Christians today are People of Colour.
  3. Wealth- Yesterday, a wealthy investor took to social media to furiously denounce those who have actively engaged in buying inexpensive stocks, offered by companies which produce goods and services in which they have a common interest. His basic point was that there was a move to destroy our economic system. That this participation will actually strengthen the nation’s economy, in the long run, is willfully ignored by those who favour keeping things as they historically have been. There is no club. There is no exclusive society that deserves preference over all other human beings. The very use of the prefix “non-“, with reference to people outside one’s own circle, is odious and needs to be discarded. The selectivity which is promoted by so many leaders of groups may be temporarily necessary, in terms of how each of us structures our time, our attention and our energy-but for it to be a permanent psychological, emotional and legal barrier to seeing the humanity in everyone and the sentience of all beings, is treacherous to those whose rights are debarred- and to one’s own humanity. The concept of any human being superior to the next, even by dint of the preponderance of one’s demonstrated character, is in the long run, an abomination. We are each here to grow, to learn and to become one. There is, in the entire Universe, one Creator and one Spirit animating all life. All distinction is a matter of mental construct. All prejudice and hatred are little more than byproducts of unfaced fear.

Walk Forward; Love All Life

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January 20, 2021- In the end, there were no Cabal Trials-and most likely, there is no Cabal, at least not the widespread, nefarious and nearly impregnable network. In the end, the 45th President of the United States took his ball, his fig leaf and whatever memorabilia he chose to bring with him, made two fairly benign speeches and left what his successor described as a “generous” letter, before taking what is likely his final ride on Air Force One, going to his rest haven in Florida.

The transition was well-guarded and peaceful. There was a gentle Inaugural Address from the 46th President, not rambling and with only a few stumbles in pronunciation. I doubt I’ve have done any better. It was essentially what the nation and the world needed to hear. There were heartfelt, well-delivered prayers. A widely popular Country & Western singer offered “Amazing Grace”. An equally popular Pop singer served up “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful”. A gifted singer, who once opted for the outrageous in her performances, gave a stellar rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. The youngest prominent American poet in decades, gave a heartfelt recitation, as our first National Poet Laureate.

What does not change is the need to examine major issues facing the country from all legitimate angles. The environment is not immune from human influence. Some aspects of climate change are cyclical and would be catastrophic, regardless of the levels of pollution and wanton degradation. There is, however, much that we can, and should, do to safeguard our planet-and by extension, our solar system. Personal attention to conservation begins, as the late John McCain once said, at home. Recycling, in an era of concern for its cost, is tricky, but still must be consistently endeavoured. Water is an essential part of any community development, and requires careful usage, particularly in areas beset by drought. Air quality is likewise a key concern.

Our dietary health is essential. Despite claims from large corporations involved in genetic modification of foods, and their pop culture shills on television and social media outlets, human beings are not meant to subsist on a diet of monocultural crops, nor are such commodities helpful in soil conservation. A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, consumed with or without a modest amount of meat, and preferably grown organically, represent the best regimen for disease-free living.

No human being capable of thought and reason deserves to be deprived of the right to make decisions which affect life and well-being. Women inherently have the right to decide what happens with their bodies. The issue can, and does, get messy when it comes to matters of sexuality and procreation. Education is the only path to informed choice, when it comes to abortion and the practice of circumcision (genital mutillation).

Each of the above issues has become fuzzy, due to the influence of deep-pocketed economic interests. Large corporations, such as Monsanto, and financially-driven nonprofits, such as Planned Parenthood, have exercised their influence, in promoting practices that are not necessarily carried out with the interests of individual human beings, including pre-born children, in mind. So, it falls to a widely-based coalition of citizens to build and carry out education programs that can counteract the propaganda of monetized interests.

The current administration has already shown concern for the environment. Its positions on the other two issues are less clear, thus pointing to the need for truly extending its path forward towards consideration for holistic health and the promotion of strong, healthy parents, children and families.