The Shift

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October 17, 2021- Jupiter moves direct, with relation to Earth, tomorrow, followed by Mercury. This means something to astrologers, yet also affects those to whom it means little. Everything in the Universe is connected, which goes double for everything in our solar system. Planetary energies can, and do, make us go back over old ground-both social and emotional, until we clear the baggage away and handle our old challenges well.

I feel a shift, more of a balance between duty to self and duty to others.

The loud klaxon that calls me to give all I have to those who will not do for themselves is growing fainter, and just maybe, that means they are beginning to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

They may not find it easy. I did not, when the temptation arose, to place the blame for my failures, anywhere but here.

It never brought satisfaction, only tears and discomfort. With suffering, though, comes strength.

I am grateful for the shift. It is the gift that invariably arrives when autumn summons fruition, followed by reward and rest-before a renewed season of greater effort and achievement.

May success come to those who are awakened! (“Woke” is a euphemism, not a real state of being.)

The Struggle Was/Is No Hoax

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October 14, 2021, Albuquerque- The themes expressed in the New Mexico History Museum are common, in their presentation of the call for rectification of all that has been done wrong, between one group of people towards another, over the centuries. Simply put, there is no person, group of people, ethnicity or nation that has a corner on purity, kindness, love for the Earth, etc. Any time people feel backed into a corner, they lash out.

This is true, no matter how privileged and well-off people are, in actuality. “The reality of man is his thought”, said ‘Abdu’l-Baha, on His visit to Paris, in 1911. If a person feels that he is a victim, then no amount of explaining from someone else, even grounded in real time, will change the afflicted one’s perspective. it has to come from within. Before Europeans came to the Americas, there were times when the various Indigenous nations would quarrel and wage war. Usually, this was sparked by natural disaster, combined with population growth, resulting in scarcity. The influx of large numbers of people who came from other parts of the world, and who had different values and practices, did not exactly ease the situation.

The solution, though, is never to deny another person’s reality, as some intellectuals are trying to do with regard to social justice movements. The conservative who refers to the claims of a progressive as “that hoax”, and vice versa, brings no peace. Everyone has a piece of the truth, and deserves to at least be heard, so that the feeling of being backed into a corner does not arise. I came to this realization, again, after visiting the section of the New Mexico History Museum that deals with the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The rebellion succeeded, initially, because there was unity of purpose across the various Indigenous nations. It failed, in the end, both because that unity did not hold and because the victors did not see fit to treat Spanish civilians, especially women and children, in a humane manner. It was the generating of extreme negativity that sucked the energy out of the otherwise worthy campaign for relief and equanimity for maltreated Indigenous people.

The songwriter Pete Townshend warned, after experiencing callous behaviour from some attendees at the Woodstock Music Festival, in 1969, that “parting on the Left” could change to “parting on the Right”, in his song “We Won’t Get Fooled Again”. It happens when, as the initially victorious have so often found, their views on holding power turn out to be unimaginative, merely copying the practices of their former oppressors-and thus either paving the way for the return of those oppressors, as happened in the late Seventeenth Century, or worse, hard-wiring the succeeding generations in patterns of socially maladaptive behaviour.

I have paid close attention, especially lately, to the interactions of people, across ages and ethnicities, in the latest stages of COVID19. I have heard of incidents of line jumping and people flailing at each other, over masks vs. no masks. I saw nothing of the sort, anywhere in mask-mandated New Mexico, these past four days. People appear to be making an effort to get along, on a very basic level. even when, as one conservative friend said, they regard the mask mandate as inane.

Everyone’s struggle is real, and though that struggle does not become everyone else’s God-given burden, we can at least wish the bedraggled soul the best, and not actively make the onus heavier, by denying that it exists.

I left Santa Fe, around noon, after the museum visit, making brief stops in the artistic havens of Galisteo and Madrid, before settling in at the avant-garde, minimalist Monterey Motel, near Old Town, in this sprawling, but still rather charming metropolis on the Rio Grande.

Here are a few scenes of the day.

Learning, with some satisfaction, that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum has sufficient rock star status as to require a fair amount of advance planning, before a visit, I made a note to wait until next time.

After leaving Santa Fe, a drive to quiet, artistic Galisteo introduced this adobe church: Our Lady of the Cures.

En route from Galisteo to the artist community of Madrid, I drove past some badlands.

Once in Madrid, I found this little gem, in the Gypsy Plaza. Mr. Shugarman carefully packaged two of his signature chocolate bark squares, for my gradual enjoyment. He also ships his wares, so some beloved friends may expect an occasional surprise, direct from Madrid.

Madrid, on the east side of Sandia Crest, is another reason for me to return to northern New Mexico, soon. After tending to a critical business matter in uptown Albuquerque, I settled into Monterey Motel, about two blocks west of Old Town. The avant-garde ambiance was welcome this evening.

Due Respect

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October 4, 2021- Some one of these days, the old man (me) will take a hike from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other. Someone I love dearly just accomplished the feat, and as proud as I am of that adventurous soul, I know it will not be her last time doing this. One time or another, I will manage it as well. I may even make it part of an Arizona Trail trek.

I started reading a couple of books dealing with the respect that people ought to inherently have for one another. One is written by a young woman, essentially pointing out what my mother said when we were kids- “A human being is not a toy!” I personally think that everyone ever born has had or has a life plan. Many of the people are physically attractive, one attribute among dozens that a person may incorporate. I hold that everyone is to be educated and guided to make informed choices. The woman who wrote this book chose to place a photo of herself on the back cover. She has a beautiful face and svelte physique-and chose to feature these, while making the point that she will neither hide herself, nor flaunt her attributes. They are part of who she is, and nothing more.

The other book, dealing with subconscious racism and the fear that those who have it-have of it, is written by a woman who faces and is dealing with this phenomenon, as she is experiencing it within herself. I have had to do the same, over the years, in rooting out such biases. Thankfully, people of colour have been forthcoming, and the vast majority have been kind about pointing out how unnecessary such microaggressions and awkward behaviours are. With those encounters, the baggage has been shed.

The point of all this is-I am, and you are, going to keep meeting comely members of the opposite sex, and of own gender, for that matter. We are going to encounter people of other ethnicities and skin tones. The point of most such meetings is in the course of something each is doing, that has nothing to do with romantic exchange, finding a mate or establishing one’s superiority over other people. It has everything to do with being as supportive as possible, of the other person’s hopes and dreams-and their being as supportive as possible of yours.

Friendship is the best, the finest, possible outcome of our random daily encounters. I treasure each such outcome, every chance to support a fellow human in the legitimate elements of her/his life plan.

Release and Surrender

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October 2, 2021, Sedona- Sometimes, home isn’t where you think it is. Other times, the path to home involves going back, very deeply, into a past that has been long buried in layers of detritus. Both points were brought to me, quite clearly, this afternoon.

I made an appointment to sit in an exploratory session with Anastasia Martynova, a licensed therapist in the Sedona area, to see what revelations might arise, with regard to the impact of my early childhood on my present state. Before that, I stopped at Synergy Cafe, a place which I had, until this afternoon, come to feel as a homelike environment.

Strangely, upon entering the cafe, with the intent of enjoying a cup of coffee and reading a meditation book, until Anastasia had returned to her professional space, I found a hostile reception. I retreated to an area in the back space of the cafe and, though I was served and allowed to remain, it was made clear that my presence was to be brief and any interaction with others limited.

Fortunately, I got a message from Ana, that she had arrived at her space early. I found the place fairly easily and my exploration began, after decompressing a bit from the earlier experience. Ana guided me through the customary process of foot-to-crown relaxation, then I found myself remembering the very process of my birth. The gist was that I was turned, almost against my initial impulse, and was able to enter this world head first. My first recalled memory after that was of wanting to comfort my mother.

There was then the recollection of a flower-filled meadow, below the home where my maternal grandmother lived, and where Mom had grown up. I recalled it as a favourite peaceful place., surrounded by forest, where we were not supposed to go alone.

As the session progressed, I was visited by Penny, my brother Brian, and my father, all offering encouragement and giving the message that they were each in a good place. It was not a seance, though, and the messages were conveyed to me while I was in a dreamlike state. I also saw a vision of a former student, who has been missing for over a year now. I found myself guiding, and at times carrying, him through a narrow canyon, eventually into a place of light, where his family members were there to welcome him.

The final vision was again of me as a child, walking hand in hand with a girl, climbing up a mountain that had stairs. No meaning of this scene came to me, other than that, during this time, we were both being watched by two angels, one masculine and one feminine.

During all the scenes, the colours of peace were gold, light yellow, light blue, pink and purple. The colours of challenge were red and green. Ana’s voice was soothing and guiding, throughout the process. The other helpful aspect of the session was that magnets were laid out, under various pressure points. This added a massage element to the session, and served to greatly relieve residual stiffness, from last week’s accident.

I left the space with a greater understanding of how I have come to focus so much of my life on nurturance and trying to be helpful to others, especially to children and youth. For those interested in Anastasia’s work, here is a link to her practice. https://portalofrebirth.com/

Why We Struggle

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October 1, 2021- “We gathered together to ask the Lord’s blessing”, certainly, and to reflect on what was done right, as well as areas for growth, with respect to next year’s event.

The occasion was the Hope Fest appreciation dinner, held at the aptly-named Lindo Mexico Restaurant, on Prescott’s near north side.

A number of incidents and procedural anecdotes were discussed,and after a fashion, the conversation turned to the very purpose of challenges and suffering in this life. It came down to two elements: As powerful as the Creator is, for insuperable force to be brought to bear, on all given problems faced by us, would teach us nothing. The second point is that, by the sufferings of the great Spiritual Teachers, we learn that our own struggles can be both overcome and be the source of spiritual growth.

These past few weeks have certainly reminded me of this, as well as being a check on whether I was getting attached to my possessions. While they have served me well, so far the answer has been “No”.

Little Ado, Almost Nothing

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September 18, 2021- The call, for which I waited all day, never came. There was a flurry of phone activity on Thursday, with Red Cross dispatchers asking me, first to go to Louisiana to work as a computer operator, then deciding I might be better at supervising a shelter. Since I couldn’t go there immediately, owing to faith-based commitments, it was agreed I would go on Sunday-with documents to be handed me today.

Today has come, and is almost gone. With no word from RC, (and yes, the ball is in their court), I have concluded, from checking the weather forecast for Baton Rouge, that the need is fading. Bright sunshine lies ahead, after Monday, and good on the folks of Louisiana, who have been much put upon, again this summer.

We had a final monsoon storm here, this evening, as the major faith-based activity of the weekend was playing out. The rain was welcome, and did not interrupt our Zoom activity. Afterward, I felt the need to go across the mountain to Synergy Cafe, so off to Sedona it was. A two-hour visit with a mostly male troupe of musicians and a lengthy conversation with a spiritually-awakened lady made the evening worth the drive, as it usually is. The lady came here from Russia, as an adolescent, some twenty years ago, still retaining the more global view that many from that part of the world seem to embody.

Remembering that a meeting for tomorrow still had not been set up on my laptop, I made exit earlier than planned, but not before our little drum, guitar(electric and acoustic) and didgeridoo set of tunes had inspired the lady and her husband to dance in slow embrace. Romantic couples always make me smile.

I did learn one thing from today- don’t speak of service online, before boots are on the ground.

The Power of Standing

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September 16, 2021- Yesterday, in the halls of Congress, four undaunted women stood for a photograph, after testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The matter was the abject failure of organized gymnastics, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to either protect girls and young women from abuse by their coaches, trainers and the team physician, or to properly investigate charges of such abuse and bring the perpetrators to justice. It took reporters from The Indianapolis Star to bring matters to light, and thus empower these physically and sexually battered women to stand tall and speak.

We have, as a species, a duty to our young. We have, as a species, an obligation to do all in our power to help them find and develop theirs. Children and teens are not playthings, nor are men and women, for that matter. The bad old days when children “were to be seen and not heard” are gone-and good riddance. Had my parents told me, or my siblings, to put up and shut up, I might not be alive to write these words. I was loath to stifle our son from thinking independently and I observed my siblings raising strong, independent thinkers and doers, as well. The tradition extends to their grandchildren, and will to mine, when they come along.

I have been involved with young people for forty-five years. I made most of my mistakes and unlearned several limiting behaviours, whilst working with Generation X and Millennials. My work has been quite a bit more polished with Gen Z and the Alphas. One thing I did not do, ever, was approach a child or teen with my own gratification in mind. That has been the basis for a career that focused on safeguarding the abused and tortured.

Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman are genuine heroes, but they should never have had to be, at least not in the way they are after coming forward. These women should have been able to stand tall on the merits of their athletic prowess, not on the precipice of their survival. Yet, for all that, I am immensely proud of anyone who stands up and speaks truth to power-especially as an entry into her/his/their path of healing.

Human beings are not playthings, not now, not ever.

Re-Communicado

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September 7, 2021- A call came, out of the blue, and in short order, a bit of unfinished business was re-scheduled. The medical procedures that I had to cancel earlier, will now be a fait accompli before Thanksgiving, which seems appropriate.

The friend for whom I am covering, for a few more days, will be back soon. I’m sure the next chapter of needful things will be very clear, shortly after I finish this effort, on Friday. Whether this involves the Red Cross, and disaster relief, remains to be seen.

The tie between these three is that there was a fair degree of lack of communication. It was only this morning that the school situation became clear. The medical business was resolved this afternoon. Red Cross gives hints of when I might be called, but that will depend entirely on the situation on the ground, in northern California and in the areas affected by Hurricane/Tropical Depression Ida. Then, there are Larry, which may hit parts of New England, as yet and an unnamed depression that is taking aim at central and northeast Florida.

I mention these, in owning up to a fair degree of difficulty that I still have, with being held in abeyance. The lesson is to do better at contemplating the whole picture. Dozens, if not hundreds of factors can enter into any one series of events.

In the end, I always find out things when I am meant to find out.

Unstuck

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August 31, 2021- I was given to a bit of a rant, yesterday, none of which I regret. I still stand for the betterment of the lives of people, through networking, consistent effort, perseverance. I will never subscribe to the quick fixes of begging, unilateral solving of other peoples’ problems, exclusion of certain groups for the benefit of the relative few.

A student asked today, whether it was to be the norm for people to be expected to hate being White. It should never be, that anyone be made to hate who he or she is. I stand, foursquare, for inclusion-of everyone, regardless of their falling into any category. It is violence, deluded thinking, taking advantage of others and actively working to deprive others of their God-given rights, which I oppose. The student in question should certainly, always, love who he is.

Many around the world are, simply put, “stuck in second gear”, to quote the theme song of the old TV show, “Friends”. I have gone through periods of such a state of mind and body. The Baha’i Faith helped me get unstuck, but I had to make the consistent, persevering effort to overcome that state of mind completely. Only then could the balance between conservative and progressive, rational and emotional, decisive and contemplative be established.

Being unstuck brings greater responsibility, as well as greater reward, and I look forward to being, more and more, part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Musical Double Eights

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August 8, 2021- The three little girls methodically cleared all the pebbles from the piece of carpet on which they and their Nanny sat-and on which they wanted to show their tumbling skills. It was a fine bit of teamwork and an enjoyable sight for, as rudimentary as their forward and backward rolls, attempted somersaults and semi-cartwheels were-they showed a determination to build on their nimbleness.

I took in two somewhat different concerts, last night and this afternoon-in each case after a series of study sessions which took four hours. The faith-based discussions were necessary for our work to continue. The music was essential for the soul to want to keep on with this work. Melodious tunes, even vigourous Celtic and American folk tunes, help to focus the spirit, by soothing it. Brid Dower and the Big Fellas provided Gaelic reverie and lore, over two hours last night. It’s been awhile since I last heard live music at the Raven, and far longer since I heard anything Celtic, in a live setting. It was a blessed entry into 8 8 Lionsgate.

Today, after our study session finished, I napped-then went over to Becky Fest, a celebration of women in music, which I had attended for several years since moving to Prescott-except last year. There was plenty of room, and I brought my own chair, thus being able to find a nice shady spot, at which to listen to the vibrant ladies and a few male guitarists sing of all aspects of life-both joyful and full of pain. The little girls mentioned earlier were on the carpet in front of me and to the left of the stage area. One of them, I have known for three years, so it was especially important that I noticed every flip and flop. She was not hurt in the least, and it was a good backdrop to the pickin’ and singin’. ‘D’ was mainly concerned with one thing, in the end: When was I going to go up and visit her house again? That will depend on her ever-busy parents and their willingness to have visitors-nothing to do with COVID, they are highly intensive farmers and like to schedule any company.

Oh, to have a child’s simplicity again!