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.

Deep Dish

2

December 19, 2020, Phoenix-

Last night, whilst visiting with some new friends, at Sedona’s Synergy Cafe, I got a call for which I’d been waiting. Aram was en route here, to retrieve a few personal possessions that had been stored by one of his closest friends. So, I made plans to zip down to this desert metropolis, masked and covered, to join him and another friend, for Deep-Dish Pizza, at a place called Lou Malnati’s.

We had a bit of a wait for the pizza itself, and so our conversation took off, on several topics, the common thread of which was the need for universal compulsory education. Given the current state of affairs, in which ignorance is prized, in some circles, on an equal level with empirical knowledge, the need for carefully guided enquiry is that much more evident.

‘Abdu’l-Baha advocated a system whereby a child would pose a question and another child would give the answer, thus establishing a discourse-related system of learning. It would thus become far more natural for independent investigation of truth to take root. I regret having largely adhered to a “top-down” imparting of knowledge, for much of my own teaching career. That system would do well to be consigned to the scrapheap of outmoded practices. The teacher-as -guide concept has found welcome acceptance, in many quarters of modern society.

Deep engagement of learning is fostered much more strongly, when learners take prime responsibility for its acquisition.

Keeping Responsibility

2

December 16, 2020-

Although, for all intents and purposes, I am retired from teaching, there have been various times of ruminating and reflecting on continued responsibility in the community and beyond. Certainly, everything to do with counteracting the current pandemic remains a duty for anyone old enough to know what a disease is. Thus, my keeping and using a good supply of face masks; researching vaccines (so as to, hopefully, find one that is not dependent on aborted fetuses for content); and maintaining personal wellness. Honouring the concept of not making further trips to areas where COVID is raging even more than it is here in Yavapai County, (to say nothing of staying out of other states, for the next few months), is desperately necessary.

Getting past the health crisis, there are other areas of responsibility: Helping out in the schools, when needed, during the January-May semester; supporting local businesses, especially those where younger workers are themselves supporting families; volunteering with Red Cross (still the only thing, other than family emergency, that will take me across state lines; and consoling sick and bereaved families of friends and relatives. Making an effort to be a comforting presence, in general, is also vital.

A legacy work, my memoirs of 1950-2020, is in the hands of its editor. This afternoon, I sent out the “Beta” copy to my mother, who is 92. It may be the only time I’ve ever given her a Christmas gift made with my own hands-except perhaps a birdhouse that I made in Eighth Grade woodshop.

Responsibilities will continue to arise, either by my own search or by the circumstances of community life. As long as I am physically and mentally competant, they will be welcomed.

Human Rights

2

December 13, 2020-

December 10 was designated by the United Nations, in 1948, as Human Rights Day. In that year, the UN issued its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As it’s a declaration, and not a law, there is a misperception, by those who style themselves as all-pwerful, that these provisions are toothless and unenforceable.

That last is only true, as long as the people of the world allow it to be the case. When the people of a community, a country or a region stand up to actual tyranny, it can be brought to a halt. One recent example of this was in Sudan, where the people carefully built a civic movement which resulted in removing the country’s dictator from power. This took several years, but it succeeded because the nation did not lose heart.

In the United Nations declaration, there are about thirty areas that are mentioned as applicable to every person on Earth. See https://www.un.org/en/udhrbook/pdf/udhr_booklet_en_web.pdf, for the complete document.

I want to address a few of these rights, specifically as they impact my life and the lives of those around me:

  1. “All human beings are born free and
    equal in dignity and rights. They are
    endowed with reason and conscience
    and should act towards one another in a
    spirit of brotherhood. ” I was raised to believe that this true, regardless of a person’s circumstances of birth, or living conditions, I was to treat him/her with respect and dignity. This is not an abstract concept.
  2. From Article 25,

(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled
to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock,
shall enjoy the same social protection. I have made my own position on these two matters very clear, in several places in the past. Mothers, whether wed or unwed, should be enveloped in love. This goes doubly for children.

There are codiciles about the rights of women, in general. That no one should be subjected to substandard treatment, owing to gender or any other physical trait, is something which often requires deep psychological and social pondering, and excision at both personal and communal levels.

There are many women in my life, each of whom expects what one of them calls “neutral love”. They are, each and all, as valuable a friend, if not more so, as any of the men. It is my honour and privilege to encourage all friends in pursuit of their dreams and goals, so long as those dreams and goals are not injurious to self and others.

Finally, no one should be subject to patronization or to being led astray. I have had to struggle with balancing between not disappointing someone and not abiding his/her engaging in false hope.

It will be a long and hard effort to overcome deprivation of the individual and collective rights of the most marginalized people, but we have the means to embark on this very effort. It will take all of us, regardless of circumstances and mindsets, if it is to be achieved.

OverZoomed

6

December 10, 2020-

The spread of teleconferencing during this time of worldwide pestilence is probably the single most useful occurrence of the year . I can only hope it remains, especially as when I find myself away from Home Base, come late Spring onward, carrying on regular communication, via Zoom, YouTube or what have you, will be a much easier task.

There is, though, the matter of working out synchronicity. This evening, there were four events occurring simultaneously. Two were parties, one was a memorial gathering and the last was a worship service. I focused on the latter two, just barely greeting folks at the first of the parties, before it was time to leave.

We will, as with any other endeavour, need to work out etiquette and protocols of expectations for Zoom gatherings, lest feelings be hurt, unnecessarily. I know that, just because one is among many on a teleconference does not mean feathers won’t get ruffled by someone’s absence or abrupt departure.

So, I have worked out a set of priorities for my own Zooming- Offering condolences and memories will have to come first, then regular worship and devotionals, followed by special celebratory events and lastly, someone’s random informational offering-which ought, by definition, be recorded for later viewing.

In any case, may your Zooming be helpful and a source of connection.

Forty Years

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December 6, 2020-

Dearest Soul Charger,

On the night of this day, in 1980, I had a slight awareness that I was about to have a woman in my life, for the first time in eight years. It was, as you surely remember, cold and rainy-then somewhat snowy, in that little village where a house blessing was taking place. We were there for different purposes, though both concerned with learning from the continent’s First Nations. I was earning college credits; you were finding out more about the relatives of your hosts-the Hopi.

We were drawn to one another, that night, through the happenstance of my classmates’ amusement at your speaking Spanish with a North Jersey accent. I was just glad for your smile, and yur companionship. The weather ceased to matter after that. It was the beginning of thirty years’ physical connection and forty years’ spiritual.

We grew together, and you taught me more than you may have known. I like to think that I brought you out of your inward focus and I know you brought me out of mine. You taught me to love children with a ferocity that had been latent within me. We raised one person to adulthood, even as we were “raising” one another. As this was happening, I realized that every child was a focus of my heart.

We came to adore every Messenger sent by God, and all in the Name of His most recent Manifestation: Baha’u’llah . We drew no lines as to with whom we would share the healing Message. We did not separate ourselves from even the most destitute of people; nor did we separate ourselves from one another. We were seldom apart, in fact, and made landfall in so many unlikely places: Dinetah and Hopi; southern Alberta; Israel and the West Bank; Guyana; Korea; Taiwan and so many places in between.

You never lost your luster-not for a fleeting moment. For my part, I’ve spent the last ten years cleaning the rust off my soul, feeling your abiding guidance every step of the way. Now, at long last, I see what the purpose of my life might have been, these forty years, had I used my vision more clearly. Now, at long last, I see what needs to be done, with how ever many more years I am given in this life.

I know you are still close at hand, Soul Charger, and it may have been you who held my arm, early this morning-or it may have been you who moved another spirit away from me. Either way, I can sense that the Creator of us all has you in a safe and uplifting place. He has me where I need to be, and the path will continue, not always as I imagine in advance, but always where I can be of utmost service.

I will ever see you reflected in our son’s visage, and in any progeny he and his wife may bring into this life. I will ever hear your voice, so rich and resonant, in all of their pronouncements. I will see you in every rainbow, every shower and every rising and setting of the Sun. I will hear you in every rushing stream, every tumbling tide and in every sweet song of the birds who frequent where I happen to be. I will feel you, in every warmth that comes my way.

Shine on, Soul Charger. You taught me what it means to love.