Rising and Renewal

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April 5, 2021- As many are aware, today is Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). The day was first intended to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesu the Christ from the dead, three days after His Crucifixion and death, at the hands of Roman soldiers acting at the behest of two Jewish Zealot leaders, Annas and Caiaphas.

Jesus’ disciples were understandably despondent, feeling as if their faith was shaken and not knowing in which direction to go from that low point in their fortunes. There was just one fly in the Zealots’ ointment: They were not acting according to the Will of God, but according to their own craving for power. What is willed by the Creator, whether we think it is coming from the Universe, or from God’s Messenger (Divine Teacher) for the day in which that Messenger makes Self known, is what will happen-maybe sooner, or maybe later-but in any case, in God’s own time.

Three days after He was killed, Christ appeared to His Disciples, even allowing one of them, Thomas, to put his hand in His side. Spiritual Beings can do whatever God wants Them to do-especially if They have been teaching humanity in His Name. So, it is not hard to understand the appearance of Jesus the Christ before His Disciples, three days postmortem.

In July, 1850, Baha’u’llah’s Herald, al-Bab, did the same thing, albeit for a much shorter period of time. When He was first executed by a firing squad, in Tabriz, Persia, al-Bab was not to be found, when the smoke had cleared. He was subsequently found in a small room at the prison, dictating some business to an associate. Once He had completed His business, al-Bab consented to be brought back to the execution court. There, He was again the target of a firing squad, which this time completed its mission.

The Creator does not abandon us, nor does He prevent us from making our own choices, both good and bad, based on free will. The decisions Man makes which are counterproductive do not hurt God in any way. In the two cases cited above, Christ and al-Bab returned to Their Father, Who sent Them. People were left to do the hard work of interpreting Their guidance, on our own. Those who truly loved their Teachers followed those instructions. Others followed the whims of their own fancies and imaginations-as the Zealots had before them.

Resurrection Sunday thus celebrates the undying Power of the Creator, to renew the Message He sends us, and to renew our Faith in His Guidance, which is, as Baha’u’llah said, “Eternal in the past, eternal in the future.”

Alpha/Omega

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April 2, 2021- Every so often, I get a reminder about the commitment that I, as “an American of some affluence”, must have towards the poor of other parts of the world. It usually comes in the form of a veiled demand, but is at least offered with good wishes for my health and well-being. That stands to reason, as a sick person would hardly be able to offer anything to others.

My dealings with people who primarily view the world through a transactional lens are, of necessity, getting more and more limited. Even among those businesses I frequent, I regard the people therein as friends first, and means to an end second. One example is a local family restaurant, Zeke’s, where I sit at the counter, gab with the wait staff and other patrons, and comment freely on goings on. The same is true of Rafter Eleven, Synergy and, to a lesser extent, The Raven Cafe. It is increasingly true in the schools where I am taking on special assignments until the end of May.

My circle of friends trends larger these days, even with-and in some cases because of-virtual connections. The first and last, alpha/omega if you will, is compassion based on love. Those whose primary focus is transactional have a hard time seeing this-and there was a time when part of me was there. Much of my standoffishness had to do with lack of self-confidence, and a degree of self-loathing, as if I were not “good enough” for others. I suspect that is true of those who behave in this manner now. More’s the pity.

There is, to a good extent, the notion that failure to thrive is a Catch 22, a vicious circle. That realization came to me, about four months after I met Penny, back in 1981. Gradually, over several decades, the self-doubt has fallen away-so that even in the most harrowing of circumstances, the faint light has been in view.

I thought of this today, as the Mystery of Alpha/Omega from 33 A.D.: The Passion of Jesus the Christ, plays out in the minds and hearts of millions across the planet. His basis for everything was compassion, rooted in love.

The Unlocked Power

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March 26, 2021- There is an emerging sense of self, when a person turns eight. Individual responsibility has already become expected, a year earlier, and for those who can make sense of toeing the line, that sense of responsibility takes root. It is the full personality, however, that starts to shine, as one enters the ninth year of this life.

As with all new realizations, it takes time to be comfortable with the individual quirks and aspects of one’s personality. Like a sapling in a storm, a newly-emerging personality can be all too easily knocked over by unexpected or intense criticism, by reversals of fortune or just by one’s gnawing self-doubt-which is all too common, even in the child who is receiving a healthy amount of love from parents, family members and adults in school, as well as in the wider community.

It is all too real, for a child to be just lonely enough, that the power which comes with personality’s emergence goes unrecognized, buried by the growing conformity that is expected. That’s a shame, as to my mind, a community and a society can only be made more robust by the recognition and nurturing of an individual’s strengths.

I had the bounty of being able to hone in on the strengths of twenty four eight and nine-year-olds today. Granted, their socialization was such that the conformity, necessary to get a goodly amount of work accomplished, had already been established. It is not stifling, however, and the unearthing of individual power is something that would not be very difficult to bring about. The biggest impetus to such self-realization would be for the child to be enveloped by adults who are themselves not hobbled by their own powers being locked.

My energy will be ever directed towards these wondrous souls.

Say No To Vengeance

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March 19, 2021-

Say no to vengeance, for with it, comes only sorrow. Say yes to reconciliation, the way to a brighter tomorrow.

With vengeance, comes only further bloodshed, as each one wishes to fight back. Reconciliation and forgiveness, do not excuse the wrong, yet show the valour of ending the culture of attack.

Say no to vengeance, with its twists and turns, its innocent victims, whose survivors’ hearts slowly burn. Greet the warmth of reconciliation with its gradual healing. The song of forgiveness with its heartfelt love is appealing!

Set down your weapons, and take up your plowshares, that the dark clouds may part, to a sky calm and fair.

His Ever-Shining Light

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March 17, 2021- The little boy would always raise his glass, at the dinner table, and call out “Achtung”! He had seen John Banner’s character, Sergeant Schultz, give that command on “Hogan’s Heroes”, and it seemed appropriate for making a toast.

He was fourteen years my junior, but never saw me as any better than he. I was, in fact, one of his favourite wrestling partners, and when I “let” him pin me, he’d say, “Oh yeah?” and pin me even more tightly.

There were things he, in fact, grasped, that the rest of us had to think about a good while longer: Mom and Dad were the most important people on Earth; Medication, which in his case was constantly being switched and adjusted, was the bane of human existence-especially when it failed to prevent, and sometimes aggravated, the seizures that truly were the bane of his existence; There was nothing more important than a bear hug; There was never any excuse for anyone belittling another.

Brian had a limited spoken vocabulary-the seizures took care of that, early on. He was not, however, a stupid person, by any stretch-and managed to call me out, on a number of occasions, for having done something that made absolutely no sense to him. He had his favourite foods- pizza, fried clams and ice cream. When someone would spell out the word p-i-z-z-a, thinking he’d be fooled, my youngest brother’s answer was “OKAY!”. He lost his ability to walk, around the age of seven, which made being pushed in his wheelchair, around the neighbourhood, that much more important-and NOTHING beat going for a ride in the car. He loved seeing new places, but was okay with the beach, the forest preserve, our uncle’s and aunt’s cabin on Cape Cod. He was passionately in love with every girl he ever met. Going to school was the single most important part of his day.

When he passed on, twenty-seven years ago, today, Brian John Boivin had won the hearts of hundreds of people: Workers in the Special Needs schools of Massachusetts; attendants in the hospitals where he spent the last decade of his life; our second cousins, who were his sitters, when Mom and Dad went out for the evening, after we had all grown and left the nest; the cross street neighbours, who were his godparents; and most importantly, all of us who learned from him just what is most important in life.

Brian defined the adults each of his siblings became. For that, we can only repay him, by holding fast to the values which our parents imparted, and he underscored.

You Only THINK…

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March 10, 2021-

A story I heard today set me to musing.

In reality, there is no time when I don’t love my family members, to a one. You only THINK that I have left you behind.

There is no amount of trouble that could turn me away from my child. You only THINK that time and distance have crafted a wall.

There is no barrier tall or thick enough that could get between me and my God. Some only THINK that they can be that impediment.

There is no lie enticing enough, shimmering enough, to convince me that down is up. Some only THINK that its repetition will do the trick.

There is no true link between narcissism and piety. The narcissist only THINKS that a tie can be contrived between the two.

Be careful. What you think becomes your reality. It will not become mine.

Estrangers

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March 7, 2021- This morning, after ten years of my being a member, in good standing, of a veterans’ service organization, the matter of my Faith was raised-specifically that I am viewed by some, who I have known and with whom I’ve gotten along well for this past decade, as a “non-Christian”.

The context of this was with regard to a request that I serve again as the organization’s Chaplain, a post I held, with a good record of service and with no complaints registered, for two years, prior to embarking on several years of extensive travel. That latter stream of activity is set to resume in July of this year, and for that reason, I am declining the above request. An officer in a service organization needs to stay put-even in the days of Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

The larger issue here is that there is a shrinkage of the social circle of many people, partly a result of the political mayhem that has been afoot in this country, across the spectrum, for the past dozen years-if not longer, and partly because of a rising false narcissism, rooted in fear. Those I joined for breakfast, nearly each Sunday that I was in town, for the past ten years, have taken to talking only among themselves and shoving everyone else, including yours truly, to the sidelines. A culture of estrangement has taken root, which can only be detrimental to those who profess belief in the Paragon of Love. That embracing of parochialism has, from what I’ve seen in the past, only led to bitterness.

I cannot, and will not, turn aside from my Heavenly Father, in the name of a label. I cannot, and will not, let “estrangers” define who I am. So, with all prayer and loving regard for the members of said service organization, it’s time to move on.

Crawling,or Walking, Out of The Tunnel?

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February 5, 2021-

I was gratified to see an extended family member write that she was moving on, from a climate of fear and distrust, to affirming her faith in God and country. To be trapped of one’s own accord, in a tunnel of false hopes and unfulfilled promises, is bound to lead to the depth of despair.

I’ve remarked in the past, that there is much to admire in both conservatism and progressivism. Placing value on hard work, a measure of self-reliance and pride in one’s legitimate heritage can see a person through a good many of life’s misfortunes. At the same time, embracing new ways of solving problems, being open to a wide variety of points of view and being inclusive of all groups of people can ensure that a person is never truly alone-even in the direst of times. What matters, regardless of one’s personal ideology, is a deep-seated respect for ALL life. Compassion must ever rule over transaction.

So it has been that I have opted for walking out of various tunnels of darkness and deception. Many have offered quick fixes to problems, false hopes for resolution of matters, in which my personal growth actually mandated seeing them through. It was cold and lonely in those tunnels-and the demons that did keep me company were worse than no company at all.

In the gathering light of day, and in the shimmering starlight, walking upright and looking straight ahead have rekindled strengths that I had nearly forgotten, whilst crawling about the tunnel of delusion. Those who maintain clear vision, and retain a healthy sense of their own truth, will be sources of untold strength-to selves and others.

One Spirit

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January 30, 2021-

I have an independent mind, the expression of which has left several people around here, and elsewhere, who I fairly trusted, responding with “LOL”, or with sullen silence. The thing that I find funny is that several of them pride themselves on being people of faith. The belief that there is One God, Who created all life, is as central to their pronounced faith, as it is to mine.

So, it is incredulous to me that people can even distinguish between human beings, as to who deserves to live. It befuddles me, that there are at least two classes of people, and this distinction is a point of pride, a cornerstone of belief.

There is, by my reckoning, One Creator, One Spirit, One Universe, One Planet Earth and One Human Race. I have differences of opinion with many, AND that does not diminish their humanity-as far as I am concerned. For saying this, however, I have lost several friends, at least one extended family member and a few members of my own Faith, for not adhering to an orthodoxy that claims to be fighting for freedom-but is rooted in fear.

Let’s look at a few matters, more closely:

  1. Human Rights- I hear the First National Youth Poet Laureate say that the mind of a child is paramount. This same person also says that medical professionals should be allowed to put unborn children to death. What happens to the mind of a child who is not even allowed to be born? I hear some of the same people who espouse abortion, as a routine practice, voice opposition to the Death Penalty, even for the most heinous of murders.
  2. Nationalism- I see and hear people of various backgrounds, some with medical degrees and some with law degrees, saying that America should be a White, Christian nation-exclusively. What, exactly, is a White Nation? The continent of Europe, alone, is home to seventy different ethnicities. Jesus loved people of all the known nations of His time-and loves everyone, the world over, now. The first Christians, outside of a smattering of Jews in the Holy Land and a handful of Greeks, were Ethiopians, South Asians and Turkic people in Central Asia. The majority of Christians today are People of Colour.
  3. Wealth- Yesterday, a wealthy investor took to social media to furiously denounce those who have actively engaged in buying inexpensive stocks, offered by companies which produce goods and services in which they have a common interest. His basic point was that there was a move to destroy our economic system. That this participation will actually strengthen the nation’s economy, in the long run, is willfully ignored by those who favour keeping things as they historically have been. There is no club. There is no exclusive society that deserves preference over all other human beings. The very use of the prefix “non-“, with reference to people outside one’s own circle, is odious and needs to be discarded. The selectivity which is promoted by so many leaders of groups may be temporarily necessary, in terms of how each of us structures our time, our attention and our energy-but for it to be a permanent psychological, emotional and legal barrier to seeing the humanity in everyone and the sentience of all beings, is treacherous to those whose rights are debarred- and to one’s own humanity. The concept of any human being superior to the next, even by dint of the preponderance of one’s demonstrated character, is in the long run, an abomination. We are each here to grow, to learn and to become one. There is, in the entire Universe, one Creator and one Spirit animating all life. All distinction is a matter of mental construct. All prejudice and hatred are little more than byproducts of unfaced fear.

So Many Questions

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January 26, 2021-

Being the curious sort, I tend to raise matters of “What if?” and “Why?” in my head, while also seeking answers from my heart. The queries I have, regarding this life and its priorities, are largely answered in Baha’i Scripture.

Where I get more querulous, though, is with regard to flashes of images, and feelings that arise, that suggest events that happened long ago and places I’ve never been, both elsewhere on Earth and way beyond this planet. The best explanation I can summon, that is in keeping with my beliefs, is that as an energy being, I am tapping into the energy waves of people long departed, both my ancestors and those of like mind who were not directly related to me, but who had similar personalities to mine. Energy communication, and genetic memory, are like Chinese boxes-writ innumerable. We have no concept of from how far back they have been transmitted-and Quantum Physics devises at least thirteen dimensions, many curled up on themselves, from which energy can conceivably be drawn.

For now, though, I wonder as to the messages that these images and feelings are trying to convey. I am not quite on board with the whole Past Lives theory, but can make sense of the notion that energy, from those who lived in past ages and centuries, and from other parts of the Universe, is transmitted to those of us who are open to it, on a regular basis-and without channeling or summoning, which can be too easily faked.