His Ever-Shining Light

2

March 17, 2021- The little boy would always raise his glass, at the dinner table, and call out “Achtung”! He had seen John Banner’s character, Sergeant Schultz, give that command on “Hogan’s Heroes”, and it seemed appropriate for making a toast.

He was fourteen years my junior, but never saw me as any better than he. I was, in fact, one of his favourite wrestling partners, and when I “let” him pin me, he’d say, “Oh yeah?” and pin me even more tightly.

There were things he, in fact, grasped, that the rest of us had to think about a good while longer: Mom and Dad were the most important people on Earth; Medication, which in his case was constantly being switched and adjusted, was the bane of human existence-especially when it failed to prevent, and sometimes aggravated, the seizures that truly were the bane of his existence; There was nothing more important than a bear hug; There was never any excuse for anyone belittling another.

Brian had a limited spoken vocabulary-the seizures took care of that, early on. He was not, however, a stupid person, by any stretch-and managed to call me out, on a number of occasions, for having done something that made absolutely no sense to him. He had his favourite foods- pizza, fried clams and ice cream. When someone would spell out the word p-i-z-z-a, thinking he’d be fooled, my youngest brother’s answer was “OKAY!”. He lost his ability to walk, around the age of seven, which made being pushed in his wheelchair, around the neighbourhood, that much more important-and NOTHING beat going for a ride in the car. He loved seeing new places, but was okay with the beach, the forest preserve, our uncle’s and aunt’s cabin on Cape Cod. He was passionately in love with every girl he ever met. Going to school was the single most important part of his day.

When he passed on, twenty-seven years ago, today, Brian John Boivin had won the hearts of hundreds of people: Workers in the Special Needs schools of Massachusetts; attendants in the hospitals where he spent the last decade of his life; our second cousins, who were his sitters, when Mom and Dad went out for the evening, after we had all grown and left the nest; the cross street neighbours, who were his godparents; and most importantly, all of us who learned from him just what is most important in life.

Brian defined the adults each of his siblings became. For that, we can only repay him, by holding fast to the values which our parents imparted, and he underscored.

You Only THINK…

2

March 10, 2021-

A story I heard today set me to musing.

In reality, there is no time when I don’t love my family members, to a one. You only THINK that I have left you behind.

There is no amount of trouble that could turn me away from my child. You only THINK that time and distance have crafted a wall.

There is no barrier tall or thick enough that could get between me and my God. Some only THINK that they can be that impediment.

There is no lie enticing enough, shimmering enough, to convince me that down is up. Some only THINK that its repetition will do the trick.

There is no true link between narcissism and piety. The narcissist only THINKS that a tie can be contrived between the two.

Be careful. What you think becomes your reality. It will not become mine.

Much Obliged?

2

March 6, 2021- This morning, one of my dearest friends invited me to a small gathering, set for tomorrow afternoon, with the caveat that I should not feel an obligation to attend. I am delighted to receive the invitation, and the last thing I think is that it is an imperative.

This set me to thinking: How many actual things in life are an obligation? There are relatively few, and virtually all are role-dependent. Many of us have heard it said, “The only things sure in this life are death and taxes.” For some, only the first is regarded as certain.

The word obligation often brings the image of something one does only while kicking and screaming. I will have to say this, with regard to my own life, at present: I do what I do, only out of love-Love of God. If one loves God, then one loves His creatures. So, as a parent-I take whatever time my son, and by extension my daughter-in-law (and in the future, their children) ask of me. As a citizen, I obey the laws of any community, state(province) or nation in which I find myself. As a member of any group, I contribute to the ideas, needs and agendas of the gathering-whether it is family, Faith-based, civic or charitable.

All of what I am presently doing is something of my choice. So, there is only one “obligation”, if you will. That is to keep my word. That said, I am going to bring this post to a close, as I have promised another friend that I will visit her shop, for a special event. It will also be a delightful time.

Transitions

8

March 5, 2021, Phoenix- She took her last breath, ten years ago this morning. She was still warm to the touch, as I walked to the side of her bed, having arrived three minutes too late for a real-time goodbye. Yet, when I had awakened, an hour before, in our home of eight years, the bedroom we had shared was filled with a very heavy energy, the likes of which I have not experienced before or since. At the hospice site, our son and I were greeted by an upwardly swirling of dust, on an otherwise still morning.

Today, I returned to the gravesite I have visited so many times, this past decade. This time, I sat for the better part of an hour, praying and meditating. There was a couple looking for a loved one’s grave, which turned out to be on the other side of the cemetery. Otherwise, I was in solitude with the spirit of my spouse of twenty-nine years.

Penny has long since transitioned to a better place. I am still in transition to being a better person. In this past ten years, I have broken trust three times, been called out for it, almost immediately and learned to do better. I have had my integrity, with regards to how I view women, called into question and after initially taking umbrage at the criticism, done a deep dive into exactly how change was in order. It has been well worth the soul search. While I am still peripatetic at my core, being part of a community is more essential to me, than it had been in years past.

I had a groundswell of support, during the five months after Penny’s transition. It was ironic that some of those who were warm with their words, immediately afterward, were later so vicious in their attacks. They have long since vanished from my life. Family members are there, when I need them, and I, when they need me, Mostly, though, the contacts are short and sweet-and their lives don’t intertwine with mine so much any more. It is partly physical distance; partly the fullness of each others’ lives-and it may well change, as time goes on and disease abates. It is my core of friends, who also ebb and flow with their presence, who keep me honest and forging onward.

Today ends one decade of living transition and begins another. I wonder, as to how it might feel to be an octogenarian, in 2031. In the meantime, there is much on which to work and life from which to learn.

Walk Forward; Love All Life

2

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.

United and Independent

2

January 16, 2021-

Today, my focus has been on two things: Sharing things I no longer need and attending to the unity of all life. I am presently reading Amalia Camateros’ “Spirit of the Stones”, an account of her life that focuses on her growth as an embodied soul and deep connection with the elements of Earth: Air, water, mineral and fire. Amalia is a native of Australia, whose primary connection with North America has been with Sedona, our sister city to the northeast.

In one chapter, she relates her most intense visit to Cathedral Rock, perhaps the most energy-laden of the Sedona area’s many vortices. She describes the promontory as appearing to be two souls, standing back to back-united and independent. The standing rocks are often described by those who have spent time on Cathedral Rock as representing a man and a woman- married, but also each their own person.

That set me to thinking: I was in such a marriage, and when one of us needed the other most, we were inseparable. No pun intended, we were one another’s rock. I am seeing more married adults, among my circle of friends, celebrating their spouses. This is a reverse of what I used to see, from the ’90s into the 2010s, though I know many will reply: “I’ve always been in love with my spouse.” There was more bickering, not so many years ago, and I sense that, with life hard enough as it is, people are realizing what matters most in life.

There is also a rise in the understanding that each human being is a unique soul and that there is no ownership of one by another. Even the use of “my”, in reference to a spouse, or even a child, is fading. Not that many years ago, I was taken to task for using the term “my wife”. The critic was right, though not for the reason he gave (“Only a misogynist would claim to own a woman”). No one owns anyone else, period. It has nothing to do with a person’s psychosexual baggage. Words do matter, though, and when rererring to one’s beloved, children or family members, it’s become my wont to use given names-as well as relationships- end of digression.

Getting back to the blend of unity and independence, the other revelation that came today was with regard to the process of global unity. It must come from the ground up. No downwardly imposed world order will last long. As a community is only as strong as its families, so a planetary order will depend on strong individual nations, each committed to work with the others. This will largely depend, at least initially, on the human race taking the wisdom of the ancients and blending it with the native adaptability of children, in solving novel problems. (I saw this ability, this past week, with a new focus).

The days and months ahead will likely see a clash, of sorts, between those who favour the present, conventional ways of doing things and those who favour such a blend of knowledge, as is described above. There is, though, a new energy taking root.

Solutions Rule

0

January 12, 2021-

As one group of leaders sees their rule of the United States wind down, and another group prepares to take the reins, it’s crucial to keep an eye on what answers are offered to the problems that face both the nation and the planet.

The pandemic being at the top of most lists, among matters to be resolved, I place most of my hopes for its control and eventual banishment on fostering wellness. This is actually true for most, if not all, microbial diseases. A virus or bacteria is programmed to mutate, and so can do an end run around vaccines, year after year. Those who have not contracted a given disease, even when its occurrence is pandemic, can point to their strict adherence to a wellness-infused lifestyle, with an organic-based diet, avoidance of processed sugar, regular and hearty exercise and a regular regimen of proper rest, meditation and a solutions-based mindset. I am not 100% there yet, but am working on it, consistently.

Human relations will outlast the current pandemic, as a key societal concern. To my mind, the biggest barriers to peaceful human relations are three: Insecurity; the egoism that stems from insecurity and the “silo-mentality” which follows from those two. Racial tension is a symptom of these three barriers, as is ideological division. A friend posted today about the roots of insecurity largely coming from children not being valued and nurtured, which is something I’ve noticed in the most difficult people from my past. The love they did not seem to have received led to their bullying and egosim. It also led to all manner of illness, both physical and psychological. Look at an addict, and see the mirror of failure to thrive; likewise, tyrannical behaviour and manipulative personalities.

So, as I’ve indicated in other posts, enveloping a person with love and the sooner the better, the less chance we will see a problematic individual, further along the line. The more a young woman feels treasured and supported, the less likely she is to even find herself in the position of unwanted motherhood, much less to seek deadly solutions to that predicament. The more any person feels wanted and cherished, the less likely s(he) is to pursue life-defeating alternatives to wellness or to a solutions-based lifestyle.

This is, of course, a synopsis, an encapsulated view, yet a culture of authentic love is much more likely to lead to solutions for even the most intractible of issues. Solutions, not surrenders, are what rule.

The Year of Living Furtively

2

December 31, 2020-

Some of the hardest losses of this voracious year were two of the last. It pains me, especially, when two people who are meant to be together are separated by death, however temporarily. Perhaps because I know, so well, how it feels. I know the self-doubts, the second guessing, the “if only” moments that dog the surviving spouse. I also know that the way to resilience, for the one left behind, is to embrace that which makes one special, as an individual, with double the intensity.

I learned, only this afternoon, of the passing of one half of such a pair. Jeff had struggled with his cancer, constantly surrounded, enveloped with the love that only his indomitable wife and daughters could offer. Others among us tried to help, some offering respite care; some, like myself, offering remedies and a listening ear for our friends, whose shop has become such a vibrant gathering place, in a town that is still in the throes of becoming a community.

Thirty-six friends and family members, ranging in age from 21 to 100, have passed to the next realm, in this year of living furtively, Some were fixtures of my childhood; others, I had the pleasure of knowing for only a few years. Some, I only met once or twice, but the empath in me let them make an indelible impression. That impression will last long. It comes with the nature of my beast.

It is now 6:15 p.m. , and it is still twilight. Solstice being past for over a week, daylight lengthens a smidgen at a time. That is fitting; this year has seemed at times to be made of a darkness that is interminable. Coronavirusdisease 2019 has dominated much of the time and energy of the vast majority of people across the globe. Most of us have not been stricken with the ailment, but far too many others have. Those who have not actually contracted it, have been suspect of such-every time we sneeze, or emit a wet cough, into the crook of our elbow, or appear somewhere without a face mask. All but four of those friends and family, to whom I alluded above, died of COVID-related factors-especially pneumonia.

Dealing with the pandemic became complicated, with racial incidents, some of which were exacerbated by crimes of ignorance and by people continuing to talk past one another. Demonstrations muddied the water of our national response to the pandemic, especially in light of bans on gatherings for worship or for bidding loved ones farewell. Too many of those loved ones died alone, after having spent their last days and months in solitude. Demonstrations were, in most cases, necessary to the public weal. So, too, however, were gatherings of worship, so deeply-rooted in the American psyche-and not just in Christian communities. Dineh and Hopi friends missed their traditional ceremonial gatherings. We Baha’is also have made do with virtual connection.

The two demonstrations upon which I happened, featured participants who were uniformly masked-even among counterprotestors. The two church-based memorial services I attended featured physical distancing and/or uniform face masking. In these instances, subsequent infection was either minimal or nonexistent. Needless to say, I have exercised extreme caution when out of Home Base, since having had bronchitis (non-COVID), in mid-February.

My usual taking to the open road took a back seat, for the most part, in 2020. There were two deployments with the Red Cross, to Louisiana and Dallas. Another journey took me back to the Dallas area, for Thanksgiving and my 70th Birthday, with care taken in airports and elsewhere, to not become part of the problem. The joy of just being with my small family unit was worth the trip, as was the drive to Phoenix, three weeks later, for a mini-visit.

Equally salubrious, however, has been the use of technology, in connecting with my Faith community, with the Red Cross community and with wider spiritual gatherings. I have learned much and shared much. This aspect of technology can only serve to enhance our direct physical encounters, post-pandemic. I know that I need not be isolated from those in this community, when further afield again, towards summer and autumn of the coming year.

Finally, in reaching seventy, I reached full social security, and look at the culmination of my teaching career. Five days a week, out of personal necessity, is in my rear view mirror. Work in the coming Spring semester, will be in view of service to the schools and more discretionary, in terms of schedule.

This year, now grumbling to a close, has accented the small-How needful it is to revitalize memory, when it comes to the humble password or the most routine of courtesies! How crucial it is, to rekindle acceptance of differences, reminding ourselves how dull it would be for everyone to be forced into the same train of thought or the same world view. Exclusivity, as much as its proponents tell themselves it is necessary, is a dead end.

Let not one’s conservatism, or progressivism, lead to that dead end. Let 2020 be what comes to an end, without one’s viewpoint joining it.

Raise Your Hand, If…..

4

December 28, 2020-

The two families came in to the sandwich shop, and dutifully posted their orders. The two men in the group paid for their respective families, and the tables were arranged- the four kids sat at one, near the wall, and the four parents at the other, in the middle.

There were, before long, two separate sets of conversations. I tuned out the adult version, as most such exchanges are about things that don’t concern anyone outside the fold. The children, though, were engaged in a game I’d not encountered since my son’s childhood- “Raise Your Hand If You …. “, followed by some silly possibilities, and some, offered by the only boy at the table, involving things that were designed to be gross, though not in a profane way. (Mothers’ ears were taking in BOTH conversations).

The children were loud, save for the few seconds following being shushed by one of the women, and uniformly entertaining. This is one of those times when I enjoyed the banter of others, and didn’t need to give the slightest bit of eye contact. Three cheers for Sriracha ketchup on a worm burger!

A few minutes later, I crossed the street and got going on my laundry. Another, hybrid, family was in the laundromat, each having been given a slice of pizza. The little boy, his grandfather and an aunt dug into theirs with abandon. The little girl was tentative about everything-sitting away from the boy and man, only gradually eating the pizza slice,at first. Grandpa calmly sat down with her, and told her that she was as important to him as her brother. Then, the slice was gone in a matter of seconds. I had to wonder what had transpired earlier, that would make the child hang back from her family. They wound up their business, a few minutes later, though, and were gone.

This evening, I joined an online drawing class. The instructor is someone I know from another inspirational group, and find to be a very gentle soul, who allows broad lattitude, within some general parameters. We drew a Treasure Map, with an accompanyong legend. Mine was somewhat a traditional sketch- a pirate, physical barriers to avoid, and a treasure trove in a hard-to-reach location and a few whimsical creatures, thrown in for the fun of it. With music in the background, I found it a most enjoyable way to spend a Monday evening-and engaging a rarely-used part of myself is always something welcome.

As an underdeveloped artist, I get a fair amount of amusement from what gets cobbled together, in an hour or so.

The Love of God

9

December 25, 2020-

A small group of us gathered this afternoon and evening, sharing a light repast made with love by one of my best friends. The conversation afterward devolved, for a time, to the affairs of State. Once that was out of everyone’s system, there was a focus on the news of the terrible and confusing attack on downtown Nashville. It was then that the discussion turned to God’s love for mankind.

To my mind, and that of my dear friend, there is no daylight between His love and the challenges that are sent us, which are largely consequential of our own actions. Most misfortunes that I have experienced in this life have stemmed from either a bad choice that I have made, or from a weak area in my character that I have refused to acknowledge. There are also those times when I have happened along at a time when another person is struggling, and lashing out at all those who happen to be around.

There is the notion that we are all in this together, and indeed we are. I cannot be ignorant of my friends’ or family members’ struggles, nor do I wish to be. I will need to check on another friend, who has been incommunicado with members of our wider circle, for a day or so, and will need to answer a query from a needy person in another country, making both to be urgent business tomorrow.

Simply put, God’s love is not something we can either ignore without consequence, or put on a shelf to be dealt with at our convenience. There is, in truth, not much I can accomplish, without accepting His love, either as a direct flow of Grace or in the form of assistance from my Spirit Guides, first and foremost being my Guardian Angel-who has had my back, continuously, for seventy years. The payback for this love comes in the form of service to humanity, to our planetary home and to all its creatures.

It has been a fine Christmas Day, from the morning conversation with my mother, through other communications with each of my siblings and to the lovely time spent with the little group, near the foot of Thumb Butte. Let us each approach the last week of this unusual and challenging year, with a mindset aimed towards growth and equanimity.