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.

Sacred/Profane

2

January 13, 2021-

The scene at the United States Capitol building today was, in terms of non-legislative presence, the opposite of what it was a week ago. Law enforcement, backed by a formidable National Guard presence, ensured that no one would interfere with the proceedings in the House of Representatives chamber. Capitol Police officers who may have shown questionable loyalty, last week, were nowhere in sight; their more resolute comrades held the front line- against adversaries who simply did not return.

I have read, and heard, several references to the Capitol as a sacred place, and as a repository of democratic values and practices, in many ways it is that. It is also a place where the most profane of deals have been struck. It was those unseemly affairs, done mostly in secret, which sparked a few (though not many) of the violent acts committed in the Capitol’s halls and chambers, on January 6.

Two wrongs, or a thousand, do not make a right. I approach grand public buildings and monuments, however, with respect, with reverence-even if there have been occasions when those in the buildings have committed acts worthy of reproach. Indeed, even when the initial premise behind the building’s construction has been questionable, I honour the larger context of its relevance to humanity. I am thinking here of The Alamo, the Spanish Missions, Yuma Territorial Prison and Forts McHenry & Sumter. Our grand Federal buildings and monuments, in the nation’s capital, were built largely with the labour of the enslaved. All, however, have elements of the sacred, which energy has served as a protection in the worst of times.

There is no human institution, no human being, who can reasonably claim to have never committed a profane act. Thus, it falls to each of us to find, and encourage, the angels of each other’s better nature-while bearing in mind the fallability that has shown its face, every so often.

Solutions Rule

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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.

Quo Dehinc?

2

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

2

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.

Keeping Truth Safe

0

January 9, 2020-

In this age of instant communication, we deal on a daily basis with a welter of material, which combines elements of truth with overexuberant opinion and sloppy research. I see this at all points along the political spectrum, and have been guilty myself of the same, on occasion. There have, in the wider sense of this phenomenon, been several “documents” popping up, which purport to show the 2020 Presidential election was rigged. As of now, my assessment is, it wasn’t. The papers appearing on social media are uniformly rushed, would never have passed Mr. Bly’s Business Law class, back in my Saugus High School days, and quite often seem written when the author was in a fever dream. This lends credence to the notion that the ONLY way to rid our society of the notion that the election was indeed rigged, is to conduct a forensic audit-thoroughly, without haste. (I am quite certain that incontrovetible proof of cheating would be grounds for impeachment, so the winning candidate would do best to let the process flow-and fully co-operate, if for no other reason than to show there is nothing to worry about.)

Haste always raises suspicion. My mother was a past master at smelling guilt, and it is no accident that the most dogged adherents of conspiracy theories are so often seasoned mothers of grown children-having heard all the stories and sniffed out all the lies. A truly innocent person has no cause for prevarication.

At least one of the Democratic Senators recommended just telling the truth. Sounds like a plan to me, and it’d be most welcome. Just to be clear-it works both ways.

Drowning In A Bucket

2

January 8, 2021-

My parents taught us to pay attention to the small stuff- an untied shoe lace, a door left ajar when the baby was in the room, a whirling fan-under the same circumstances, a screw or nail left in the driveway. Such attention to detail caught me up short a few times, in my distracted adolescence, but has served me quite well, in adulthood-especially of late.

Would, that this were true of society-at-large. How often, in the past ten years or so, has someone loudly pointed everyone’s attention to an extraneous distraction, while helping self to public funds or quietly changing rules and regulations that impact the little guy, often severely? How often are people paying more attention to Twitter, Facebook Live or Instagram, than to the life that is right in front of them? How often has someone been doing a fairly complex task, only to let self be discombulated by a phone call or Instant Message pings, from someone who just wants attention?

The distractions in our lives, which have only become more numerous and more insistent, even as our ways of dealing with real problems have become more efficient, are akin to someone sticking their head in a bucket of water, and somehow not knowing enough to pull it out-until it’s tool late-or nearly so. Demagogues and tyrants know this, as do rapacious salespeople, pickpockets and all manner of con-men. I’ve used the analogy of shellfish in a pot of water, before, and it’s the same process.

The noises are going to get louder, the stories more outlandish, the threats more ominous-and the need for vigilance from ordinary citizens, more crucial, over the next two weeks. Let’s keep our heads out of the buckets. January 6 may well have been just a dress rehearsal.

The Past Prologue and The Fulfillment Ahead

4

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 Lessons

4

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.

Transformation

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December 27, 2020-

Many in this country envision a sea change about to come, though there are sharp differences, as to the course the change will take. Some, seeing the only saving grace for the nation being a return to traditionally dominant Eurocentric rule, place their hopes on an eleventh hour series of moves, which would reverse the results of last month’s election. Others, wanting to honour last month’s recorded results, still want to hold the victors of record accountable to the nation as a whole, and not cave in to small special-interest groups. A third group is seeking to build on common ground across the perceived chasm between the first two groups. The fourth group is the special-interests, who live for the amassing of power.

For much of this afternoon, I listened to Dr. Todd Smith, a Canadian scholar, speak about “Transformational Habits of the Mind”. Essentially, he distinguished between negative habits, which prevent transformation and positive habits, which bring transformation about.

The first include: Reductionism (All must be based on physical reality, at its lowest denominator); Dichtomizing (Classifying, without purpose, and ‘othering’); Individualism, to excess (The Cult of Me); Relativism (No moral generalities; tolerance, at best, of diversity);and Dogmatism (Polarization, selective information-gathering and hyper-partisanship).

The positive, transformational habits, are listed as : Situating ourselves historically (Seeing the present as worthy of full attention, whilst also aiming that present towards the betterment of the future); Thinking to the end of a process (An extension of the first habit); Loving one another (In the fully agape sense of deeply wanting the best for each person in one’s life, and for all created things); Embracing a humble posture of learning (Starting with realizing how little one really knows, and being open to learning from everyone, and from every experience, no matter how small); Being able to embrace tribulation (Not in the masochistic sense, but in being able to see the silver lining, and to draw strength from any experience, no matter how hard it is while one is enduring it).

I pondered this lecture, for quite a while afterward, recalling four individuals who brought trial to my life, in the past two years. All are gone from my life now, though, as I’ve said before, it would not take much to bring them back-with, I have to say, as much humility on their part as on mine. Each actually left gifts, however inadvertently. From one, I learned to be more present, and to organize my possessions. From the second, I learned patience with unending repetition and looping. The third taught me to exercise more care in my written expression, lest I leave unintended impressions. The fourth showed me how to establish greater security in my electronic affairs. Each left, after indulging self in ridiculing me, or in one case, ridiculing my long-departed wife. Those acts of self-aggrandizement became their own rewards.

So, for me, Dr. Smith’s advice comes as a cautionary message. There is a clear path, of following five practices and stopping myself before following five others. This will certainly be more essential, if the pace of the coming nine years, and beyond, is as fast as my Cosmic Advisor says is likely. It is just sound advice, regardless.