United and Independent

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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.

The Pyramid

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January 15, 2021-

I closed my eyes during meditation, a few moments ago, and saw the image of a shining pyramid. The message came to me that I was positioned in the lower left angle of the pyramid, and those whose presence challenges me, were in the lower right angle. The Creative Force was at the pinnacle of the structure. I thought of all those who impose themselves in my life, with requests and comments that are just reasonable enough for me to not be inclined to dismiss them from this life. It occurs that this is part and parcel of wanting to be able to choose with whom I associate and to what extent.

The message further stated that such feelings on my part are merely a sign of mental fatigue, and that, if I don’t indulge those impulses, my mental stamina will get stronger. Those who seem to impose themselves on others are often coming from a place of serious abandonment issues, which have nothing to do with the people to whom they are attaching themselves now. Further, the message said- Look at what happened with Adolf Hitler, bruised and battered from childhood; in a different manner, this also seems to have happened with Donald Trump-and, in turn, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama- indeed many who have risen to prominence have overcome abandonment issues, but the scars have led to the less-laudatory apsects of their lives.

I draw some such people into my life, still-mainly children, but occasionally, severely scarred adults, as well. It has only been recently that I have gained a semblance of how to properly communicate with such adults, in a helpful manner. So, the Pyramid cautioned me, it is best to neither jump when summoned, nor to ignore them at length, but to set aside a few minutes and address their concerns in a succinct manner. If it is merely a message of routine greeting, return the courtesy and go on with my flow of activity.

Simple images, coming in a meditative state, can offer a lot of information.

Lifelong Learning

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January 14, 2021-

The forthright girl stood at the whiteboard, and explained the same concept, five times, before three of her classmates finally grasped what she was saying. Two very different styles of learning met, grappled with one another and, in the end, meshed.

It is instructive, and advisable, for adults to see, in real time, how children work out problems, step by step. Only in the meat of the solution process can one truly understand the heart and soul of another human being. Only by allowing a person to explain something, from his or her own point of view, without prematurely inserting one’s own input, can there be the beginnings of a bond.

I am, for all intents and purposes, retired from education. There is, however, this lingering, stagnant presence of cornonavirusdisease 2019. This pandemic will, probably for some months yet, continue to affect regular classroom teachers, as it has so many other walks of life. I am, to a certain extent, immune to the virus, and still have the energy to devote some of my time to the elevation and advancement of another magnificent generation. Alphas are given to showing far more patience with selves, surety as to their purpose in life and acceptance of differences, than the generations which came before them, as children. Perhaps it’s just the energy that envelops us all now, combined with the purity of the child. Maybe we are all evolving, and the children reap the benefits of being innocent and bathed in a greater cosmic energy.

In any event, I have been blessed, yet again, with a week’s chapter, in learning from watching others learn.

Quo Dehinc?

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January 11, 2021-

The title phrase, Latin for “Where to from here?”, often begs consideration on a wide scale. With regard to the Capitol mayhem, of last week, there are a host of ways in which it may be pondered. They all start with how one regards the incident, in the first place. Was it a mob riot? an insurrection? domestic terror? a caper? Everyone is entitled to their view, certainly, with the attendant burden of proof escalating along with the level of seriousness.

I choose to regard it as a riot, with elements of insurrection. Most of the thousand or so who entered the Capitol complex came across as undisciplined rubes, hooligans who gave no thought to their actions-and who gave vent to whatever impulse hit them at the moment. These are the ones who are now expressing remorse, and who are suffering the immediate consequences of their actions. They are those who are responsible for the stomping to death of their wounded comrade, Ashli Babbitt.

Then, there were the two or three hundred mixed in with the multitude, whose purpose was far more sinister. There were the laptop thieves, maybe looking for evidence to back up the QAnon conspiracy theory about human trafficking and satanic rituals going on, under the noses of broader humanity or to support unguarded documentation of election fraud- or maybe to steal the devices, so as to plant such evidence. The devices have not been found, and may never be. That the devices should NOT have unsecured information on them, in the first place, surely has occurred to their lawful owners and users.

There were the vigilantes, as indicated by the amount of weaponry and ammunition, makeshift shackles and at least one guillotine, that were seized by law enforcement and/or photographed during the incident. There were vocalized death threats against the Vice President and Speaker of the House. There was the fact that a lone Capitol Police Officer distracted the advance of the mob, long enough for the oldest and slowest of the Senators to disappear around the corner. To my knowledge, only one of the (suspected) terrorists, one Cleveland Meredith, has been apprehended. That leaves several on the loose, perhaps to return, as promised, on January 17, or 20, or maybe on February 2.

It is the last group which concerns me the most. Relatively few of those, for whom the fate of Donald J. Trump is the Cause du Jour, in their wider plan to put the masses in their place, have yet made their presence known. Read “Democracy In Chains”, by Nancy McLean, for a clearer picture of the matter. Listen, just once, to one Simon Parkes speaking, clearly and confidently, of the plan for one elite branch to take down the other. Read, just once, the posts on Parler (if you can find them) that promise bloodshed in Washington, next week.

There is much that needs cleansing, in our society. Those who have turned from their own spirituality have much for which to atone: With regard to pushing abortion and then leaving the grieving parents to themselves; with regard to excusing and normalizing antisocial language and behaviour; with regard to turning blind eye and deaf ear to children, youth and elders who suffer; with regard to ridiculing people whose views differ from their own; with regard to hiding in their silos and refusing to even consider the views of those more progressive or conservative than their own.

Yes, I work on my own shortcomings- all day, every day. Where do we go, from here? Let us start with making a redoubled effort to seek and accept truth, even when we find it hard to do so. The rest will reveal itself, a little at a time.

Ad Intensium

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January 10, 2021-

(The above is my own coinage, meaning continuously building in strength or force.)

The cold continues, leaving mornings here, in the Teens

and brings snow to the Texas Prairie,

even to the Piney Woods to its east.

The obfuscation continues,

taking advantage of a quiet weekend,

and foretelling extralegal events,

over the next two weeks,

with a surety born of either

delusion, or collusion.

I sit here, in my cozy home,

getting residual chills,

from memories of last Sunday night,

when I walked in the vastness

of a majestic, but nearly frozen,

wilderness.

I read of another soul’s

peregrinations,

in Sedona and near Hopiland,

and recall my having been

greeted,

by spirit lights,

nine years ago,

in a place named

Shalako,

at the bottom of

Palo Duro Canyon,

and not too long after,

in the bed of the Hassayampa River.

I see and feel

the days and weeks to come,

ad intensium.

The Joy of Underestimation

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January 3, 2021, Mayer,AZ- There are two kinds of stupid: The one is, sadly, unfixable. The other is the kind that the person exhibiting it can fix, and definitely should. Today, I set out to hike a new loop segment of Black Canyon National Recreation Trail. There are three measurements given for this loop: 8.3 miles, 13.2 miles and 15 miles. As I learned, to my eternal chagrin, the last measurement is correct.

Before showing you, dear readers, the delights of this segment, (There are many), let me share my take-aways from today’s adventure: 1. Make sure your phone is COMPLETELY charged, before leaving the car. Yes, I let people know, via Facebook, as to what I was doing, from the crest of one of Copper Mountain’s many satellite ridges. Sarcastically, I referred to the experience as “camping”. More on that in the next post. 2. Make sure there are fresh batteries in your auxiliary flashlight. Just because it worked well, on the most recent night hike, does not mean that is true in perpetuity. 3. Print off a PAPER copy of the trail map. Having AllTrails.com does not amount to much, when the phone dies, as it did when I needed it, towards the end of my hike. 4. Of course, if possible, hike with a buddy. That means ADVANCE PLANNING, which I do-but my tendency is to go it alone, and not want to bother other people. Postitive results, though, also came out of this: 1. Recognizing that any winter hikes need to either be started in the MORNING, or put off until they can be started in the a.m. Fitting in a long hike (more than 5 miles round trip) does not work, when begun only after a regular Zoom call is finished. Trust me, scenery at night, even in winter, is beautiful, especially under clear skies and with the Moon to help light one’s way. Still and all: It’s cold, people who know your whereabouts get worried and as, a local resident of this town observed, not all wild animals are either friendly or shy. He was referring to javelinas- not bears or mountain lions. I have seen and heard bears and mountain lions, on shorter hikes, but they’ve kept their distance-and I report those sightings on my phone, rather quickly.

So, there is the foolishness of complacency, rent asunder by the fact that every hike is different. Now, for the good news: Copper Mountain Loop, done properly, affords some exquisite geological wonders. It is a treasure trove of volcanic debris.

Here are five examples, and Mickey Mouse puts in an appeareance.

View of scattered igneous towers, southwest corner of Copper Mountain Loop
Igneous bench, top of southwest ridge
Igneous tower, top of southwest ridge
Igneous bench and tower, southwest ridge
Igneous benches, northwest ridge
Copper-infused slate-slabs and figurine-shaped rocks, northeast ridge.
Prickly Pear Mickey

As the light that provided these scenes faded, and I lost-then re-found the trail (Thanks to the Moon and my spirit guides, including Penny, I had enough sense to plod on, rather than try and tough it out at one spot. Smidgens of sense are better than none-but for the next hikes, things will change.

The Past Prologue and The Fulfillment Ahead

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January 1, 2021

The year just passed has given us a few gifts, as well as having taken some treasures from us. Chief among the gifts is the ability to conduct mass meetings online. This will ease active participation in Baha’i activities, regardless of where I happen to be.

It is a poorly-kept secret that, if it be the will of God (and the creek stays within its banks), I will be back on the road, and in the air, for a fair portion of the next four years. Prescott will remain Home Base, at least for this year. There is much for me to do here, and in the Southwest at large, between now and the middle of May. The stage was set, as it were, by callings I received and followed in the 2010s.

So 2021, any larger issues notwithstanding, is looking like this:

January– The agenda set by response to the pandemic will probably find me continuing to help out in the schools on a fair number of days. Involvement with a regional sustainability group will also be a priority. Then, there is a little group that meets each Wednesday at 1 p.m. (MST), and which has my heart’s attention. I will be on the trail, looking at a couple of extensions of Black Canyon Trail, northward from the original trailhead, outside Mayer; finishing Limekiln Trail, with the Sedona segments; and spending time in Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountain Desert Preserve. There is also the homefront downsizing: Paper-shredding and discarding of unnecessary belongings will begin this month and extend into next.

February- It’s likely that COVID-19 will factor into this month as well, in terms of being asked to help out in the schools. I already have agreed to a four-day stint, in mid-month. Hiking will take me to the Hualapai Mountains, of northwest Arizona and to Picketpost Mountain, outside Superior. Ayyam-i-Ha, the Baha’i Intercalary Days, will find me preparing hand-made gifts, for the first time since I made a bird house in Grade 8. These won’t be that elaborate, but will be done carefully, and from the heart.

March- It will have been ten years, since Penny passed on, March 5. I will invite other friends to join me at graveside, on that day. This is also the month of the Baha’i Nineteen Day Fast, and although I am no longer required ot abstain from food and drink during daylight hours, having reached the age of 70, my thoughts and actions will be in support of those who are abstaining. I will also make a road trip to Texas, in the middle of the month. Hiking will include a first visit to Phoenix’s South Mountain Park.

April- The Festival of Ridvan marks the twelve days of Baha’u’llah’s preparation for His second exile-from Baghdad to Istanbul (then called Constantinople) and His Declaration of Mission, during that twelve-day period. It also ends a Five-Year Plan we have been following, and begins a twelve-month celebration of the life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, as November will mark the Centenary of His Ascension. Much of my activity, this month, will revolve around these events. Hiking will take in the Hermit’s Rest area of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and parts of Sycamore Canyon, which runs south of Flagstaff and east of Sedona.

May- Preparations for the summer and autumn will occupy much of this month. Hopefully, New Mexico will re-open itself to us Arizonans, and I will spend a few days at Chaco Culture Historical Park. If California is open, and safe, by then, a visit to the coast will be in order,

June- If Bellemont Baha’i School is open for in-person groups, I will devote this month to that endeavour. If not, then I will make an early drive northwest-to my soul families in Nevada and Oregon, as well as to Vancouver Island, Haida Gwai’i (The one place Penny wanted to visit together, that has not happened yet) and British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast-north of the City of Vancouver.

July- The Plan B for June will fall into this month, if Bellemont is open. Otherwise, I will head east through Canada, and visit as many family members and friends, en route to and around Boston, as have time.

August– Atlantic Canada will take up part of this month, then it’s back southward and westward, again visiting family and friends along the way.

September and October– Take care of some necessary business in Arizona, spend quality time with Texas family and then off to Europe, with Iceland a first stop. This journey will also be oriented towards the ancestral home of my mother’s family, in what is now western Poland, with other stops in Germany, Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania, northern Italy and France. A few stops in the British Isles are also possible.

November- This month will be devoted to specific community and regional celebrations, in Arizona, of Abdu’l-Baha’s life.

December- This will be whatever my family wants it to be.

These plans are what my meditations have told me, as of today. Recalling that last January, I was fully intending to do a cross-Canada journey in the summer, I will simply accomplish as much as reality on the ground allows.

May all have a Happier 2021!

The Year of Living Furtively

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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.

The Lessons

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December 30, 2020-

As with any of Earth’s revolutions around the Sun, there were lessons I learned for the first time, this year and lessons that were re-iterated.

Among those learnings that were new:

There is no limit to the ties we can build, in communication, without ever leaving our respective homes. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and media which will surely follow them, have made group communication across the globe exactly what humanity has craved, for centuries, a tool so commonplace as to be nearly as treasured as face-to-face contact.

The tools for healing are, increasingly, becoming available to individuals for careful home use. This year, in addition to do Terra’s Certified Pure, Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, I have been introduced to Thrive and Lifewave, complementary to do Terra products and to each other-and most importantly, not at variance with the allopathic treatments needed by so many.

There is also no limit to an individual’s ability to discern truth for self. The availability of means to investigate both spiritual and temporal truth on one’s own has only become amplified, in this day of so many competing “systems of truth”. No one, whether progressive, conservative or anywhere in between, can simply vocalize anything that comes to mind, without it being dissected and verified. The days when people followed leaders blindly are coming to an end.

Among those lessons that were underscored this year:

No matter how dark the scenario appears, there is always a ray of light. All during the pandemic, heroes in scrubs have been tending to the sick and dying, heroes with microscopes have been diligently working to establish an efficacious cure and heroes who are both the first (police, fire, EMTs) and last (funeral and cemetery workers) have tended to the victims, without faltering.

We are one Human Race, whether each of us recognizes it or not. Aside from a handful of people who believe the tragic deaths of this past year were staged, (and even among some of those), the response to excessive deadly force and the overreactions of some police officers has been to begin to view even the most unsympathetic of people with an eye of compassion.

There are forces of nature which will be ignored at the peril of all humanity. Like it or not, humans are part of nature, and have little choice but to exercise due diligence in how we treat the Earth and its other elements. Increasing fire, water and wind activities will keep reminding us of this-with earth itself (quakes and landslides) joining in the fracas-possibly in ways not yet experienced-or perhaps not experienced within the present historical record. (Those who believe there were civilizations before the ones we recognize have not been uncategorically proven wrong.)

I am confident that Coronavirusdisease 2019 will be brought to heel, just as the Influenza of 1918, and its successor diseases, were. It will still continue to be an astonishing decade.

Works of Inspiration and Edification

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December 29, 2020-

It’s time now to look back at this year that is grinding to a close, and sending some of its aspects spilling over into the new calendar year. I deem it pretty safe, though, to take stock of books read, since last January.

Spiritwalker: Messages from the Future, by Hank Wesselman (An account of meditations and insights)

Geology Underfoot In Northern Arizona, by Lon Abbott and Terri Cook

Native Roads: The Complete Motoring Guide to the Navajo and Hopi Nations, by Fran Kosik

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann

The Other Slavery: The Untold Story of Indian Enslavement in America, by Andres Resendez

Democracy In Chains, by Nancy MacLean (An examination of an authoritarian political and economic agenda)

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander (The effects of incarceration on people of colour in America)

Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, by Dr. joy DeGruy (a re-reading, on the long-term effects of slavery on the descendants of enslaved people in America)

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Cosmic Messengers, by Elizabeth Peru (Insights on the nature of our relationship to the Cosmos)

The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene (Insights on quantum physics and its expression, throughout the Universe)

Edge of Eternity, by Ken Follett (The third of his fiction trilogy on the Twentieth Century)

The Standing Stones Speak, by Natasha Hoffman, with Hamilton Hill (An account of messages received while among ancient raised stones, in Carnac, France and in various places in Cornwall, England).

The very restrictions imposed by Coronavirusdisease 2019, and our society’s learning how to deal with it, has made intensive reading easier. I have also been motivated to see things from points of view other than my own, and so have focused on the above titles, as well as on Baha’i study.

Looking ahead to 2021, I have begun reading:

Spirit of the Stones: A Retrieval of Earth Wisdom, by Amalia Camateros (The author’s spiritual experiences, in various parts of Australia, Hawaii, Mexico and the American Southwest)

The Gullah People and Their African Heritage, by William S. Pollitzer (Examines the culture and language of the Gullah people of coastal Georgia and South Carolina)

Before California: An Archaeologist Looks at Our Earliest Inhabitants, by Brian Fagan

Coming Home to Earth: Seeing the World Anew, by Annabel Hollis ( a mini-book by an online friend from England)

I am grateful for the ability to read attentively and critically.