Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LXIII: My Dream Pack

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September 18, 2017, Prescott-

A writer whom I recently began to follow has written, of late, about the concept of the Dream Pack- essentially, a way of life, place, group of close people which, collectively help each being realize the fullness of his/her particular dream.

The outpouring of love I have felt today, in person and online, brings me to reiterate what I have said on occasion, in the past.  People have come, gone and, in a few instances, returned.  I have found places, near and far, which bring me inspiration, for a time, and while some have lost their allure- others have drawn me close.  My way of life remains pretty much the same, though the accent, of late, has been on service, rather than a trail-side regimen.

My Dreampack , then, is large and varied:  My son, in Korea, is a phone call and an ocean away.  My siblings are a mere continent apart from me.  I have a nephew, in Los Angeles, who is a full schedule, or two, distant.  Mother is East Coast-bound, but will get a letter a week from me, and will respond, when she can, with reassurance that she is just fine, and inspirational comments.  My solid network of friends, in the Prescott area, and across Arizona, make it certain that, if I feel lonesome, it’s my own doing.  The same is true, all over North America.  I am never far, when in my car, from someone who at least has time for a cup of “joe”, or tea, or Jamba Juice.

There is a teen boy, who I am sponsoring, across the Pacific.  Someday, I will visit him.   My Dream Pack is large and varied, and includes kindred souls in the Philippines, South Korea, Australia, India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Iran, Russia, Romania, Italy, Spain, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Scotland and beloved France.  Yes, that’s a lot of turf, for one who lives on a shoestring, but since when has that been an impediment?

My Dream Pack has been a series of Chinese boxes, opening up to yet another, and a series of amazements, (yes, I just made up a word), which will continue.  The Universe is endless in its provision of many kinds of wealth.

Harry Dean Stanton and Henry Barnwell

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September 16, 2017, Prescott-

Yesterday, the Divine called back two very different souls, whose influence on me was indirect, (I never met either man), but extraordinary. Harry Dean Stanton was a party animal, a singer and character actor, par excellence.  Henry Barnwell was a man of the cloth, and a family man, as well as a community bulwark, par excellence.

Harry Dean was someone people saw in movies, for nearly six decades,  and while many couldn’t remember his name, the man was ever familiar.  He had a Festival, as well as an award, named in his honour, by the City of Lexington, Kentucky, near the town where he was born and raised.  Harry Dean was the first winner of the Harry Dean Stanton Award, in October of last year.

He influenced me, by confirming that it is alright to have friends of even the youngest generation, and that it was not disrespectful to be a friend, but not a  worshipper, of one’s elders.  He pointed out that, while having a relationship with someone many years one’s junior was okay, it was even money as to how the romance would end.  He learned this from direct experience.  I’ve found his assessment to be absolutely on point, as well.  Harry Dean’s party-heartiness is not something I chose to continue, past the age of thirty.  It didn’t hurt him much, but I was not born to be a booze hound.  Nonetheless, the cool cat ruled, over much of the Hollywood scene.

Henry Barnwell was a Bishop, a nonstop social activist, and a man committed to breaking the cycle of broken families, especially in the Black community of Phoenix.   He was a child of broken marriage and made sure that he and his devoted wife did not follow suit.  Their four children are lasting beneficiaries of their parents’ insistence on Family Night and regular dinners together.

Phoenix, and all Arizona, are the lasting beneficiaries of Bishop Barnwell’s constancy, in the matters closest to obtaining and maintaining a codified and de facto equality of all people.  He met with the most reactionary public figures, on the same level as with those who agreed with him on civil rights matters.  He would call people whom he wanted to bring together for the public good, and sometimes as early as 5 a.m.  Few, if any, hung up on him.  None were viewed, by Henry, as strangers.

His influence on me was to affirm that reaching out to those with whom one disagreed was the most correct and most natural thing that could happen, in a truly civilized society.  He would never write anyone off, in perpetuity, and that remains my goal.   He would also never write off a desired outcome.  The work continued, despite a struggle with dementia, until Henry breathed his last.

I continue to strive to be as relaxed and nurturing around others as Harry  Dean Dean; as caring and dedicated to helping others, as Reverend Mr.  Henry Barnwell.  May they both be victory-bound!

What Would I Do In Portugal?

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September 11, 2017, Phoenix-

What would I do, if I went to Portugal?

I’d sit on a hilltop,

in Braga,

and ponder what made

the Bishop of that city,

issue a screed against the Guarani,

who stood between his country

and control of the Rio de la Plata Basin.

I’d visit the Fish Markets,

in Lisboa,

Porto,

and Coimbra,

and listen to the banter

of people who rise early,

and bring Omega 3

to the masses.

I would stand

in the grandeur of Evora,

and reflect on the

temporary nature,

of all save God.

What would I do, if I found myself in Zanzibar?

I would pay my respects

at memorials to those

who freed the people

from servitude.

I would befriend the common folk,

be they Waswahili, Arab or Indian.

I would book passage on a dhow,

from Unguja to Pemba,

spend three days on each island,

saving Stone Town for last.

What would I do, if called to China?

Macao would be first,

because of the School of Nations.

I’d not visit the casinos,

being averse to monetary gambling.

Shanghai- the Bund is being overshadowed,

by those great Chinese structures

and systems,

which Pu Yi envisioned,

when he turned the country over,

to Sun Yat-sen.

I would gladly walk,

from the Great Wall’s fastness,

in Beijng,

to the field of the terracotta warriors,

in X’ian,

if the authorities were inclined

to let such a thing happen.

I would stand at the Potala,

inside the Forbidden City,

and within the Stone Forest,

as my spirit soared,

from the energy

extant in each.

What will I do, in my forest town,

over the next two years?

I will serve those

who only seek

to meet each day,

with wonder and a smile.

I will follow the promptings

of  my Creator,

which are not found,

only in carefully arranged stones,

or  in the pronouncements

of this body of personages

or of that Enlightened Soul.

I will use this time,

to inculcate

the spirit-set

of making each act

a holy act.

I will love.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part LXII: Quiet Love

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August 30, 2017, Prescott-

I said I loved someone,

who was not ready to hear it.

Confusing love,

with the lust that has been shown her,

by several others,

she fled and keeps her distance.

That is not an insult to me,

rather, it only confirms

that my love is what

will stand by her.

Her dreams,

her life’s path,

her independent spirit

mean more than

her lovely face

and engaging personality.

Lust,

infatuation,

possessiveness

fade.

Love,

from the depth

of one’s heart,

only grows.

Lust needs to be front and center.

Love may shine from the background.

Years from now,

the wife I loved,

now my angel,

will still feel my soul’s

agape.

The women, to whose efforts

I have shown

a quiet and steadfast

support,

will realize

that they are

safe and sound,

in my presence.

My friend,

know you are

among this number.

You have the space you need.

 

 

About The Change

12

August 25, 2017, Prescott-

I looked into the online face of a young woman,

in the context of a friend’s defining

the difference between

helping,

fixing

and serving.

The girl’s eyes asked

only for service.

She needed no help.

She did not ask,

nor needed,

to be fixed.

Her face said,

“If you offer this service,

I can find my own wholeness”.

I have upgraded my blogsite.

Righteous Bruin has retired.

Sagitarrian Seeker has taken his place.

The semblance that I might know

a bit more than my fellow travelers,

was present in the former title,

and as kind and loving,

as the Bear has tried to be,

his mission was based

on a falsehood.

I will always love,

and be grateful for,

my old online persona.

Seeker, wide-eyed,

open to growth,

wishing to destroy nothing,

will build upon

the foundation laid

by Bruin.

So, the anonymous lady,

looking out at me,

while nuzzling her horse,

may rest assured,

that whatever honourable service

my friends need done,

will be accomplished.

Along this road,

I invite one and all.

Seek your own truth,

and may we embrace it,

together,

in our own way.

 

 

What Makes Community?

13

August 22, 2017, Prescott-

This evening, I attended a  gathering of Prescott Area School Gardens, aka Slow Food Prescott.   There were several small presentations about various garden projects, at both public and private schools, across the western half of Yavapai County.  The ensuing discussions broached upon several topics, including what, if any, are the rights of those who don’t support small agricultural projects?

A small group,  in the town of Humboldt, led by the town’s elementary school principal and a local landscaper, are pushing to remove the school’s garden, because its stewards are using organic farming techniques, will not allow Roundup, and other poisons, to be used in the garden area and are “taking up space that could be used for buildings.”  It’s even been said that these gardeners are teaching values that are at variance with local values.  What those local values are, is not quite clear.

There has been, in the media, reference to “the Hate Community”, following Charlottesville.   I wonder, does this mean there is an equal and opposite “Love Community”?  How about an “Indifference Community?”  The “White Community” is, supposedly, to be set apart from the “Black Community”, “Latino Community”, “Native American Community”,etc.  Do each of these communities have their pot luck dinners,  Kumbaya circles and support groups?

I have never been wholly accepted into a particular community, save my Baha’i Faith, and the online Archaeology for the Soul group. I have many friends who belong to various communities, but there are always those in a given group, for whom my presence is somehow a threat. Part of that is my peripatetic nature.  There is also the rapidity with which people form impressions of others, based on relatively brief encounters, real and perceived slights and lack of sustained communication.

I maintain that anonymity is largely to blame for estrangement, breakdowns in communication, or the lack of same.  It’s too easy to turn a stranger into a strawman. It is too easy to build false zones of security, based on opinions and practices that are themselves rooted in ignorance, superstition and hearsay.  Five minutes on social media offer proof enough of this.

It is also too easy to stick with one’s annoyance at another, based on one incident.  I have not, in nearly 67 years, had the luxury of holding onto grudges and resentments, and have had my fair share of bullies and haters.  Oftentimes, those same people have resurfaced in my life, as changed people, and/or as people in clear need of assistance.  I don’t regret my decision to see them as friends.

Communities, like individuals, are in various stages of growth, and will find themselves in conflict, as a result.  I do not, however, think that there is a “Hate Community”, or even a completely insular ethnic community, sufficient unto itself.  The world has just become too connected, and despite the fact that this means discord will chafe at our individual and collective skin, as a true World Community is formed, the long-term ramifications of this process are nothing short of glorious.

So, what does this mean for the “Roundup Community”?  It probably means a temporary ‘victory” over the organic farmers, given the mindset of our governmental agencies.  Long term, poisons will not be able to be administered in small enough doses to avoid permanent damage to soil, water and public health.   They will also prove ineffective against evolving pests, whose predators already exist in nature, and which are also evolving.   My overall point, in this rambling, is that life is going to continue, according to the Greater Plan of our Creator, Who will not abide its arbitrary extinction.

NOTE:  My remaining travel posts from July are awaiting my ability to pay for an upgrade to this Word Press account, so as to get unlimited storage for the photographs which enhance such posts. This should not take longer than a few more days.

Vale of Three Mountains

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July 21, 2017, Harpers Ferry- After experiencing the intensity and blood-echoes of Antietam, I headed the back way southward, through tourist-clogged Shepherdstown, to slightly less congested Charles Town, not to be confused with the West Virginia capital, Charleston, which lies a good 3 hours to the south.  There, I spent a restful night, on the outskirts of town.

This morning, after driving past the even more-overpopulated Harpers Ferry KOA, a mini-city, I opted to first take a ranger-guided tour of the approach to Lower Town.  Ranger Michael gave us a fully- detailed visit to what had been Storer College, an institution of higher learning, founded in 1865 and aimed at training African-American teachers.   The school closed in 1955. It is now part of Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, with a National Park Service Academy (Mather Training Center) and Lockwood House, a Union Army hospital and later headquarters for Gen. Philip Sheridan.  When Storer College was founded, Rev. Nathaniel Brackett made Lockwood House the administration building.  It is now a research facility for the National Park Service.

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Behind Lockwood House lies Harpers Ferry Cemetery.  Michael led us through the burial ground, en route to Jefferson Rock.

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Thomas Jefferson stood on this rock, in October, 1783, and was extremely impressed by the view.  From that point on, the rock has borne his name.

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St. Peter’s was not there, back then, but you get the idea.

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We walked past the ruins of an Episcopal Church, which was there in 1783, before Michael bid us farewell, so he could conduct another tour.

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I took the shuttle bus back to the upper parking lot, and drove back down, for further exploration of Lower Town.  I stopped, for about twenty minutes, at the headquarters of the Appalachian Mountain Club, this being the midpoint of the Appalachian Trail.  The staff and several through-hikers were encouraging of my pipe dreams of someday walking that venerable long path.

Here are a few scenes of the business district and Virginius Island. These are the ruins of Shenandoah Pulp Mill, built at Halls Island, by Thomas Savery, in 1887 and destroyed by the Great Flood of 1936.

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The Flood also put an end to a cotton mill, on Virginius Island.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

These days, Virginius is popular with swimmers, along the Shenandoah River and with the ubiquitous deer.

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Thankfully, it is only accessible by footbridge.

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I walked on down, to Lower Town, and gazed at the confluence of the Shenandoah, with the Potomac.

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The small fire station, which once served as a “fort” for the abolitionist John Brown, faces the two rivers, at the edge of Lower Town.

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I walked on, up Main Street, avoiding the temptation to buy trinkets.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The last stop, before heading out towards Harrisonburg, was The Coffee Mill, where the heat of afternoon called for a root beer float.

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Harpers Ferry certainly had a hard time being hemmed in by two rivers and three mountains, during the strife of 1850-1865, but it has found a place in the hearts of grateful citizens, in this day.

 

The Margins of Ways Long Past

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July 20, 2017, Hagerstown-

I left Philadelphia, yesterday evening, with minimal trouble.  It seemed that, at some point, there were more people coming INTO the city, than were leaving.  I drove through the northern third of Delaware, bypassing Wilmington, going through bustling Newark- seat of the University of Delaware (both cities are on the itinerary for July, 2018) and across Maryland’s northern tier, through Thurmont (not a  sleepy, bucolic town, but a modern, virtual bedroom town of Frederick- itself a bedroom town to Baltimore and Washington) and Frederick, where I stopped just in time for a police car to head to its emergency.  I continued a few miles further, and stopped for the night in Hagerstown, intending to spend the morning exploring this city that once signified an enclave of antebellum Southern thinking, just shy of the Mason-Dixon Line.

I heard that there is still a lot of progress to be made here, in race relations.  That is pretty much how it is everywhere.  Human relations always need work.  I am not in favour of demolishing relics that we might find disturbingly reflective of outmoded ways of thinking, but I do believe we must USE such monuments and artifacts to educate people on the excesses of the past, so that we may, as a people, do better towards one another, now and in the future.

Hagerstown does not maintain any sites that pay homage to racist thinking, and in fact promotes visits to sites that commemorate Black History in the city.  I have kept a brochure on the subject, for a future visit.  Meanwhile, today’s visit focused on the north end of downtown and on City Park, with its duck pond, acres of beautiful woods and its art museum.  Jonathan Hager House, with a small historical museum, sits on the north end of the park. It was closed today, though.

Let’s start with a look at the north end of downtown.

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The nice ladies in this Welcome Center provided me with a wealth of information about the historic sites in the area- and gave directions to Antietam, which will take up my afternoon and evening.

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Street art is not common, at this end of town, but what there is, is upbeat and colourful.

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There were two windows, devoted to the dissemination of wisdom, in this building.  The saying on the left has pretty much been my credo, for many years now.

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The above left could have been said by Honest Abe, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers- or Ed Wood.

I proceeded to note some architectural gems.  Here’s St. John’s Lutheran Church.

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The fire station has endured a great many storms.

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Every town, that has an active theater troupe, is blessed. This is the Maryland Theatre’s centenary.

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It was time for lunch, so I took my deli stash, and headed for City Park.  Nothing beats a picnic table, overlooking the water.

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There are water fowl galore here, and the pond is well-stocked with fish.

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The forest is healthy, and well-populated, by various animals.  I came across a couple of fellow humans, washing their hair at a water pump.  Those who do live in the park, pick up after themselves, quite nicely.

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The trail to the museum wends past the ducks and their happy home.

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The upper picnic area is well-suited for larger groups.

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This purposeful being greets the visitor to Washington County Museum of Art, founded, in 1929, by William and Anna Singer.  Diana, accompanied by her trusty dog, was fashioned by Anna Hyatt Huntington.

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The museum features a full range of artistic media.  There are two cases of exquisite blown glass.

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I have selected only a couple of scenes, inside the facility, as this is already a long post.  One painting, among the many fine pieces, stood out to me:  Hugo Bailin’s “Earth Forces”.

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One of the loveliest features of this museum is its Saturday Morning gallery, which showcases the work of area children.

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Lastly, here is the delightful Atrium.

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I am providing links to the places I visit, from here on out and will see if WordPress will allow me to back-edit, and provide links to places I have visited thus far.

Here is: http://wcmfa.org/, which, unfortunately you’ll have to type in yourselves.

I ended this Hagerstown excursion with a look at the closed Jonathan Hager House.

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NEXT:  Antietam National Battlefield

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LXI: Brandywine’s Message

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July 19, 2017, Chadds Ford- 

My nephew wanted to hit the trail, this morning, so after a few rendezvous snafus, due to differing GPS entries, we met at Birmingham Friends Meeting House, near the site of some of the heaviest fighting.  The battle raged here, on September 11, 1777.  Today, we were the only people on this little hill, south of Chadds Ford.  The Brandywine Valley, today, is better known for its wineries,  for the Wyeth family’s presence and for the Longwood and Main Fountain Gardens, than for one of the heaviest battles of the American Revolution.

Of course, without the battle, which showed the British victors that the war was far from over, it’s likely that all the beauty of this valley would be under entirely different auspices, today.  We spent the first forty minutes of our visit, in and around Birmingham Friends Meeting House and its Peace Garden. First, though, here are a couple of views of the area that was the battle zone, 240 years ago, next month.

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What is the province of grazing cows, today, was a harrowing encampment, for men on opposing sides, but all far from home.  The hospital where all, regardless of loyalty, would be treated for their injuries, was in this modest building- then and now, a Quaker Meeting House.

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Many of their fallen comrades would be buried, in a mass grave, on the south side of this cemetery.  Hundreds lie here, with no regard for their ideology. All were viewed as humans, by the farmers of Birmingham Hill.

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This plaque announces the Peace Garden of Birmingham Hill.

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Again, the serenity of the day- with the distant echo of muskets and cannonade.

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This verse, by John Donne, is one of several cogent quotes, placed carefully, throughout the Peace Garden.

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William Sloane Coffin also offers a simple comment on the world of today.

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A poignant expression of love, from a local farmer to his departed wife, signifies the ongoing daily life, around the battle and its aftermath.

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After time for reflection, we headed to Brandywine State Museum, and spent an hour or so there, before walking to Washington’s Headquarters. The museum offers detailed exhibits of muskets, British rifles (which were largely responsible for the Royal Army’s early successes) and cannonry.  It is, like the Museum of the American Revolution, a well-balanced institution.

In the nearby woods, this long-abandoned gazebo tells of how nature regards the vagaries of war.  It grows over the remnants, and challenges us to unearth them.

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This was Benjamin Ring’s root cellar.  Mr. Ring was the host to General Washington, and his troops, who camped in the fields.

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The Rings most likely stayed in this “servants’ quarters”, during the Revolutionaries’ encampment.

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Here is the main farmhouse, where the General and his staff planned what turned out to be an inadequate strategy.  Much was learned from the battle, though, and it was the hubris of the British, combined with French and Polish support for the Americans, which led to the rising of the Revolutionary forces, after Valley Forge.

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With this, my nephew was off to pick up his little girl, from pre-school, and I was headed to Philadelphia, after a fabulous lunch, at this bustling, somewhat friendly establishment.

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Interlude

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August 6, 2017, Prescott-

NOTE:  Those following my journey of last month need not worry- there is much more to come, from those Road Days:  Philadelphia; Hagerstown; Antietam; Harpers Ferry; Falls of the Ohio; Paducah;  Sarcoxie; Baxter Springs & Sedan, Kansas; Folsom, Cimarron & Taos, NM, and all points in between.

Today, however, is an intermezzo. I want to pause, and connect with where my heart and spirit are NOW.

You, each and all, matter greatly, dearly.

Whoever told you, dying of ovarian cancer, and sitting on a downtown curb,

asking for whatever help people can bring,

that you are beyond hope- has lied to you.

I gave you my last dollar, and have to be prudent, for a week or so, as I am running low, myself.

Yet, you matter.

Whoever told you, beautiful young woman, just trying to get a meal and catch a break,

that you are good for only one thing- has shut his eyes to everything that you are.

I’d be proud as punch, to claim you as my daughter.

You matter.

Whoever told you, strong, vital husband of an engaging, innovative woman,

that you ought to stay in the background, and let her be in the spotlight-

is cheating both of you.

She wants you at her side,

and you matter.

Whoever told you, my dearest friend and soul sister,

that no man would ever want you to be anything,

other than a source of pleasure, and his servant-

is living in a fool’s paradise.

You have taught me more, in a month’s time,

than I learned in six decades,

and I look forward to all that you have left to impart,

because you matter.

To all who may have told anyone in your life,

that he or she is worthless, a waste of DNA,

fodder for a compost pile-

think again, and hard.

You matter, in spite of your scathing remarks

and constant oneupmanship,

but so do those whom you disparage.

The black person matters,

as does the white,

the  East Asian,

the Latino,

the Native American,

the Pacific Islander,

the West Asian,

the South Asian.

Men matter,

and so do women.

Seniors matter,

as do children,

teens,

young adults,

those in “middle age”.

Homeless people matter,

and homeowners,

renters,

couch surfers.

There is no “Keep Out” sign,

at the universal level,

for anyone in the LGBTQ umbrella group,

for anyone with weight issues,

for anyone who struggles with mental health problems,

for anyone who can’t walk,

can’t speak, hear or see,

or can’t think.

This is where I am, now.

You, my female and male friends,

whose company I enjoy,

and who enjoy mine;

my neighbour children,

who love playing in my yard,

because it’s a safe place;

my students and co-workers,

who actually look forward

to being at school,

because we support one another,

I am blessed to be here,

because of you.