Full Power

7

April 4, 2020-

Today, the fourth day of the fourth month, is also seen by numerologists and astrologers  as Universal Year 4. This is figured by adding the digits of the year: 2+0+2+0= 4.  It is considered a year of feminine power, as multiples of two reflect feminine energy, whilst odd-numbered years reflect masculine energy.

I tend to have a balance of the two, having been raised by parents whose power was balanced.  Many, both male and female, who were raised in an imbalance-usually  patriarchic , have judged me as weak or even effeminate, as I  have leaned away from aggression-most of the time, in my earlier days, and always, of late.

Feminine energy, as most of my readers know, is far from weak.  I was raised by a lioness, who nonetheless knew how to nurture, as well how to exact obedience.  My father also showed a good balance of masculine and feminine, in his discipline. So, in my maturity, I chose a career that stressed being both supportive and showing my charges the value of boundaries.  The vast majority of “my kids” have grown to be mature, grounded and productive citizens, even those who have hard lives.

Now, in late middle age, I find myself cheering the arrival of a more balanced culture.  These Twenties are bound to be rough for many, who hang on to shopworn ways of looking at and doing things.  This year has already dragged many through the ringer, and the rest of us just taking one day at a time.  I am still ready to do what is needed to bring in the real sunshine, knowing that the love of the aging is going to be needed, as those of the Rising Generations:  Younger Gen X, Millennials, Generation Z and the Alpha Generation, will be doing the heavy lifting.

Each day is bringing with it, full power-the power each of us needs to effect transition- our own individual, that of the nations and of the planet.  Rise with the Sun, live your day fully and rest well at night.  We are all needed, in our way.

 

Flight

6

March 26, 2020-

The deathly ill man departed today,

leaving behind a world in chaos.

He’d done his share, though,

and it was high time for him

to move on.

There was nothing he was going to do,

to hinder Coronavirus Disease 2019.

He was ill,

long before the pandemic,

and it never got around to infecting him.

There wasn’t much more he could do,

to help his family.

Today was the day.

I’ve been around,

for another person’s departure.

Nine years and twenty-one days ago,

she was called home.

It’s been written,

that in the last days,

the living will envy the dead.

I don’t know as we’ve reached that point yet.

I know I haven’t.

Those who have transitioned,

have earned their flight.

I, like Robert Frost,

“have promises to keep

and miles to go,

before I sleep.”

 

The Visitor

2

March 25, 2020-

(This is a short story which came to me, this evening, as I was in a meditation group.)

Katrin was playing in her room, with Bradley Bear and Kimmy Koala. She had just sat her animals in the little chairs, and was preparing to play teacher, when she heard a bump in the family room next to hers.  She told the “children” to stay quiet, and went to check out what had happened.  Mommy was getting stressed, with new baby coming in three more months, and Kat did not want her mother to fall down and have an accident.

She saw the breeze rustling the curtain-an odd sight, given it was early April, and Mommy never opened the window much before the first of May.  Kat went towards the window and was startled to see a pair of shoes behind the curtain.  Although she was only four years old, Katrin Leigh Osterman was the epitome of boldness, as her grandmother put it.  She went slowly, but confidently, towards the curtain and pulled it back.

There, looking unusually fearful, was a big man.  He reminded Katrin of the main character in a show that she watched with Mommy, called “Reading Rainbow”.  She asked, “Mister, what are you doing, standing behind our curtain?  Are you okay?”  The man stared, still fearful, at the little girl.  Then, he spoke:  “I am very hungry.  I have not eaten as much as a crust of bread , in almost five days.  I have been hiding, since I got off a small plane.  I watched your family and saw they seem friendly-but I could not be certain.  So, I had to sneak into the house first.”

“What’s your name, Mister?”, Katrin whispered, feeling sad at his story.

“I am Adibe Junius.”, replied the man.  ” My family name comes first, then my given name, so please call me Junius.”

“I am glad to meet you, Junius. My name is Katrin”, said the girl, still whispering.  Kat knew that Mother would be a bit scared of this stranger in her house, but Junius seemed tired, weak and more than a bit scared, himself.  She asked him to sit in a chair and said she would get him something to drink.  Then, she went to the kitchen, where her mother was resting in a comfy chair.

“Mommy, I have something to show you, in the family room.”, Kat said, in her Big Girl voice.  She then stepped on a footstool and got a glass of water from the refrigerator spigot.  ” Pleas come with me.”

Brittany got up, in a world-weary manner, wondering what her bright and adventurous offspring was up to now, carrying a glass of water to the back of the house.  Was she going to “teach” the stuffed animals how to drink without spilling?

Junius looked up at the five-foot, five inch cinnamon-coloured woman, who gasped at seeing a nearly six-foot tall man, sitting in her rocking chair.  “KATRIN LEIGH !  What on Earth are you doing, letting a stranger into this house??”, the horrified woman scolded her daughter.

“Please, Madame”, the chastened man spoke up, “She did not let me in.  I came in, through the window, as I am desperate.”

“DESPERATE?  I’ll  show you desperate!  Since when do you just walk into someone’s home, without so much as a ‘By your leave? And who are you, anyway?”, Brittany snapped.

At this point, all of Junius’ hunger and thirst pangs left him, and he burst into tears.   “I knew this would be a mistake.  I left Congo in a flight of panic and have not eaten since I got off the plane, five days ago.  All the smugglers gave any of us was a bowl of rice, with peanut sauce.”

“Congo?  Smugglers? Peanut sauce?”, the flinty-eyed mother said, her eyes getting narrower by the second.  “If this story gets any weirder, I’m about set to call Santa Claus.”

“It’s true”, Junius said, collecting himself , just a bit.  “I fled the war back home, and a white man came up to me, in Kinshasa, and said he could get me to Cape Town, so long as I carried a crate of animals to a certain spot.  I delivered the animals to a wet market, in the Chinese neighbourhood, then I was chased out of there by a gang of teenaged boys.  They called me ‘dirtbag foreigner.’  Imagine that, I am an African, and they said I didn’t belong.  So, I wandered around, until I came to this neighbourhood.”

Brittany was drawn in by this story, and he certainly wasn’t dressed like anyone from around Cape Town.  “Give Mr. Junius the glass of water, Katrin”, she relented.
Junius sipped the water surprisingly carefully, and threw his head back, letting out a heavy sigh.  “Do you know where I might get a clean bed, Madame, and a plate of food?”

Tears started to well up in Brittany’s eyes.  “I can get you to our church.  The pastor will let you clean up, help you get some fresh attire and see that you are fed.  He can do this a lot easier than we can, and he will put you to dignified work.”

Ten minutes later, Brittany Osterman had spoken to Reverend Stenbeek, who readily agreed to take Junius in, provided he followed the church house rules.  Junius walked with the two ladies to the rector’s house, and was warmly greeted by the Dutch Reformed Church pastor and his wife.  “Junius, you stumbled upon the nicest people in this parish,”  Leonidas Stenbeek proclaimed, “and you couldn’t have been greeted by anyone kinder than our Lady Katrin!”

“Please put your bag in the first bedroom, then go and shower yourself. ” Leo said, and then to his smiling wife, ” Margrit, I shall grill some prawns, in our guest’s honour! Please prepare him some porridge, for when he gets showered and dressed.  Then, we shall all dine together.”  “Yes, that we must.  It’s a great day to welcome one of our brothers,” the sturdy pastor’s wife announced, “Brittany, do sit and rest. Katrin, please help me peel some carrots.”

The proud little girl carefully peeled and sliced seven carrots, one for her and two for each of the Big People, just as Grandmother had taught her. It was a great day to welcome an uncle.

Dad

0

March 22, 2020-

My father would have been 93 years of age, today.  He transitioned on June 22, 1986, three months after his 59th birthday.  Dad was a middle manager, in the jet engine  department of the General Electric Company’s Riverworks Plant, in Lynn, MA.  He told me it wasn’t the greatest job in the world, and it often seemed to me that his overlords didn’t appreciate him to the fullest.  I know he did his level best.

Dad was slow to adapt to new ways of doing things, but he wasn’t rigid in his thinking, save his steadfast frugality.  He taught me to consider all points of view, even those that seemed counter-intuitive.  He was engaged with his five children and never, once, favoured one of us over the other.  Discipline was meted out as fairly as he knew how, with the facts he had at the time.

He was a man of faith, but was not an ideologue.  He attended Catholic Mass, most every Sunday, yet also didn’t miss a television appearance by Billy Graham, who he greatly admired.  His belief was that all Christians revered the same Son of God. This paved the way for my own belief in the Oneness of all religions, which he accepted of me, while silently shaking his head.

When there was an emergency, he handled it-even if, on occasion, he was physically spent and grumbled a bit.  He cared for all around him, taking in a sick brother at one point-and consistently pulling himself together to see to the needs of his youngest child.

Dad could seem to look at life through rose-coloured glasses, but deep down, I know that he knew there was a problem that just was not going away-whether it was my youngest brother’s illness or his own, which took his life far too soon.  He had his moments of magical thinking and attempts to escape reality, as many of us have, but he always came back to the life, and the woman, he loved most.

I thank you, father, for all you did and for what you expected of me.  God knows, it took me long enough to achieve it.

Proximity

2

March 7, 2020, Chino Valley-

One of the things about my level of autism/Asperger’s is that one tends to keep a distance from others, both physically and emotionally.  I got attached to certain friends and to my family, once in high school, where a modicum of social grace was both necessary and fairly easy to develop.
Once I graduated, the relative anonymity of  university, the factory and even the Army set me back to some of my old distance-maintaining postures.  I got along, more or less, and did my jobs, with varying degrees of competence. I did not feel intimate with anyone, though, until Penny came along,

She helped me get over the tendency to distance myself-and to be comfortable with things like cuddling and the more intimate aspects of married life.  It lasted twenty-nine years.  When she passed, I promised myself and her spirit that I would not revert back to the aversion to proximity that I felt throughout my twenties.

That basically has held, yet only recently have I finally felt that sitting down among strangers, and not wanting to practically apologize for taking my place, is something that ought to happen as a routine.  I know this is all about self-acceptance, and it has been among the most refreshing elements of personal growth, in a very long time.

In several gatherings this week, I felt perfectly relaxed among people I either barely know or have never seen before.  This included tonight’s gathering of Slow Food-Prescott’s members, to hear a wealth of information about the apple, a fruit that has over 7,500 varieties, and to enjoy a sumptuous buffet of vegetarian and “pescatarian” (no meat other than fish and shellfish) pot-puck dishes.

It is just a pleasure to not feel like a nuisance or an interloper-both things that come more from negative self-talk than from any bad social vibes from other people.  I look forward to a very robust spring and summer.

Nine Years On

10

March 5, 2020-

As my dear love got ready to go on to her next spiritual journey, I was driving with our son to her hospice.  Random road construction set us back, about three minutes.  As we got to the door of the facility, a slight spiral of air brought leaves and dust upward, on an otherwise still morning. I knew she was not able to hang on, any longer.

It’s been nine years, since that hard March morning.  Each anniversary since, I’ve taken stock of where I am.  The bottom line is that I am able, in general, to do what she and my other spirit guides tell me is necessary.  I feel her presence, constantly.

There has been a fair amount of travel involved, to accomplish the goals that she and I had set for our later years.  There are both family (biological and extended) visits and journeys on behalf of our shared Baha’i Faith.  There are acts of service to the developmentally disabled, whose education was Penny’s life’s work.  There is embracing  a community, in its pursuit of sustainable culture.  There is facing down all the negative forces that threaten the lives, and livelihoods, of so many-from the capriciousness of politics and finance, to the mind games that play out in interpersonal relationships.

These things always concerned Penny and sometimes “drove her nuts”.  There was one thing that kept her steady, even in the darkest of days:  Her faith in God and a knowledge that Creation, in its many forms, was eternal.  No corrupt financier, feckless school administrator or greedy medical practitioner ever kept her from realizing her goals.

To this day, I hold all the lessons of her life, dear to my heart.

How Far?

4

March 2, 2020-

Chris Matthews retired as host of the news show, “Hardball”, with this evening’s broadcast. He’s not someone I have watched very much, if at all.  Talking over one’s guests isn’t something that would have gone over well, when I was growing up.

He comes to mind for a different reason, though. One of the things he is reported to have said this evening, is that he was sorry for constantly telling the women on his program that they were beautiful.

It took  many years, but a former student of mine pointed out, a bit sarcastically, that this is not the first thing a woman, or a girl for that matter, wants to hear about herself, first.  I began, at that point, to think more of the actual skills the person has, and of how to compliment those.  Beauty is not a skill, so however attractive I might find someone, the sensible thing is to focus on what can keep her in the loop, can help her grow.

We might think, in this month that celebrates Women’s History, of just how far we have come, as a species, in the area of gender relations.  My grandparents’ generation would have been mortified, had women gone out on the street in slacks, less-than-full length skirts or, God-forbid, shorts.  Women rarely drove cars.

My parents’ generation saw women exercising more options, when it came to dress, and certainly most women drove cars.  Working outside the home was one area on which progress was a bit lacking-other than teachers, secretaries, cashiers and nurses.

There was a lot of  “break-out”, both socially and vocationally, with my generation.  The Women’s Liberation Movement took me aback, when I got home from Vietnam, in 1971, though it might not have. Young Vietnamese girls were telling us that they heard “Mi “(American) girls were thinking more for themselves, and therefore they, the Vietnamese, expected to do the same. There was an incident where a girl told me I was not her type.  The other guys at the table about fell out of their seats.  I left her alone; then again, I did that routinely in the States, so it was nothing new, for me. For a girl in southeast Asia, though, it was a big step forward.

When women started opening doors for men, letting us board buses first and talking fiercely about not wanting to be on a pedestal, it began to sink in that this Movement was resulting in lasting change, however maudlin it appeared.  It was the beginning of the end for “Prince Charming”, who actually ended up being a villain in one of the more contemporary Disney films.

That has suited me just fine.  I was married to a woman who eclipsed me, intellectually, and, since her passing, have preferred the company of women friends who have clear goals, and make no excuses for their dreams and their drive-in fact, who make no excuses for anything in their lives.

While there is much to be done, as yet, I would answer the question, “How far have we come, in the area of gender relations?”, by saying how proud I am to be in the company of so many who are sure of themselves and can be persistent, with no fear of being pushed back into the corner.

 

Primacy

2

February 24, 2020-

As I was driving home, from this evening’s study circle with some friends, I encountered a bicyclist on the dark and narrow country road.  With oncoming traffic, as well, my only rational choice was to stop and let the cyclist pass.  His well-being and safety had precedence, as I’m sure most would agree.  A similar incident, earlier this afternoon, involved waiting to turn, at a green light, whilst a person in a walker used the crossing.  It was helpful, though not necessary, that one of my neighbours waiting behind me, was not in an all-fire rush.

I have reached the point in my life, when each action, each step in a process, is given primacy, and the attention it is due.  I wasn’t always of this mindset, so perhaps it is the much vaunted “wisdom that comes with age”, the antidote to “There’s no fool like an old fool”.  It helps that, with each step thus completed, I feel satisfaction.  There is also the fact that there will be many “completions” in my life, this year:  My last period of abstaining from food and drink during the daylight hours of the first three weeks of March; my last two semesters of working full-time as a substitute teacher; possibly, my last year of living in Prescott (family needs would be what take me out of here; otherwise, this area is as fine a Home Base as anywhere one could live).

Essentially, what has primacy in my life is the Will of the Divine.  This reveals Itself to me, in large and small ways, each day-and with regard to the needs of other humans, or the needs of creatures, great and small.  With that thought, I need to sign off and get a good night’s sleep.  Tomorrow, and this entire week, are full, from morning to night.

Circle of Gold

9

January 23, 2020-

The small circle of  staff members gathered on the lawn of Peach Springs School, after the students had left for the weekend.  We did a postmortem on the day, and the short week.  A decision was made, to gather student laptops, and wipe them clean of inappropriate websites.  When the students do get to use the devices again, they will be free of the sites that only reinforce the baser instincts that hobble so many youth.  There will be a more concerted effort to monitor these sites.  This is something that is de rigeur to me, in over twenty-seven years of dealing with youth and technology.  For others, not familiar with the technological prowess of youth, it is easy to lapse into a LaLa Land of denial. That denial could have proven deadly.

My time at Peach Springs ended, for now,with today’s lessons.  I am always welcome back there, but leave knowing that the person taking over the second grade class knows them well, and has a good command of elementary education.  My work there, for the time being, is done.  I will maintain contact with the staff and students with whom I have bonded, much as contact with lifelong friends elsewhere has been maintained.  Much more  will be said, over the coming months, about underachieving  communities.  The bottom line for Peach Springs and places like it, is that the community must recognize that their only hope comes from realizing that they, the people, are just as worthy and capable as anyone in this nation, or on this planet.  I will never stop encouraging others, whether up close or from a distance.

I have obligations, both here in Prescott, and by way of keeping vigilant, with a situation involving a dear friend of many years.   The days and months ahead will not lack for activity, involvement in community life or efforts at building.

As for Peach Springs School, over the coming months, may the parents and community start to clear away the dust from their collective ennui, and rebuild what can be a powerful, achieving community.  Then will the little circle of gold, that is the staff of that school, begin to be seen for who they are, and the children will be able to focus on what matters in their lives.

Anarchy

0

January 17, 2020-

This weekend is a respite from the urgent task I’ve accepted, albeit for probably not much more than the coming week, after all.  I spent the morning catching up on what’s happened here and further afield, over the past  several days.  I also spent an hour at Prescott College, reflecting the engaging presence of people who are on the cusp of adulthood.  I was there to offer a view of ordered life, that departs from the draconian and the decrepit.

When the small group of young women had left, I perused some of the literature which they had brought to the table.  Among the tracts was one on anarchy.  I was raised to think of anarchy as synonymous with chaos, and it can indeed be accompanied by such a state of affairs. Then again, chaos can also accompany too strict a social order, much as over-tightening the threads on a screw, or a fitted pipe, can strip the equipment.

Anarchy, as defined in this tract, eschews chaos.  It is, instead, defined as a state of complete internalization of responsibility for one’s actions. The advocates of such a community, while seemingly naive and idealistic, see a place where there is a total absence of egoism.  This is, of course, straight out of Thomas More’s “Utopia”, and would presage a complete transformation of the human spirit.

Baha’u’llah points out that there is no system, in the phenomenal world, where a need for order is obviated.  Order may be internally imposed, or be the result of external codes.  The goal, in any case, must be justice.

The anarchist will, of course, retort that externally-imposed codes fail to secure justice because, in the end, they serve one group of people over others.  Initially, that is difficult to avoid, with a truly equitable society coming only after a process of inclusivity, that requires a level of fairness to self and others, not seen on a wide social basis, as yet.

I’ve seen a few families, where child-rearing practices and relationships between adults are based on the true equitability and high level of personal responsibility advocated by the authors of this tract on anarchy.  These qualities are goals on which, I believe, anarchists of this school of thought and Baha’is can agree.  It will be a process that will take far longer to establish, however, than the time any of us now alive have left.  The initial steps, though, are well worth taking.  Internal codes of fairness, also known as conscientious mindsets, can be established.

“Be fair to yourself, and others”-Baha’u’llah