She Never Stopped Singing

8

September 30, 2019-

Had Penny stayed on this Earthly plane, she would have turned 65, today. There was not a day that went by, until her voice gave out, that she didn’t sing of one thing or another.  Her voice was easily among the most pleasant sounds I could ever have heard. It was very often infused with praise for the Divine, making its tones that much more salubrious.

She never stopped seeking a means to improve health-her own and that of everyone she loved.  It is largely her legacy that has led me to use essential oils and hemp-based CBD, which were either little known or not marketed during her long years of suffering.  I can at least help maintain my own wellness and those in my widening circle who are ill.  That would comfort her.

She was always her own person.  Years ago, I was screamed at, for having used the term, “my Penny”, in a random post.  The angry correspondent, who was not known to me beforehand, was crusading against “people thinking they own one another.”  Despite that over-the-top assessment, I never regarded Penny as being somehow under my thumb.  She stood her ground, right up until her last breath, and never hesitated to speak truth to power- doctors, hospital administrators, insurance executives, school principals, Senator Barry Goldwater, even her parents.  The woman was fierce.

Her ferocity was based on love.  No one who caught her wrath really believed her to be a noxious presence.  With a few narcissistic exceptions, friend and foe alike appreciated just how much Penny Kay Fellman Boivin was devoted to the well-being of humanity.  That love served to heal one of the most psychologically ill people she ever knew: myself.  So, here I am, still able to carry on her work, along with my own.

The spirit, the genderless essence, watches over me still, and lends strength to doing all that remains to be accomplished.

 

 

Another Song Celestial

0

September 29, 2019-

The humble, soft-spoken man recounted the life of his father, who is, to date, the only conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Desmond Doss, Sr. was portrayed by the actor Andrew Garfield, in the film “Hacksaw Ridge”.  His son  briefly detailed the actual man and the fullness of his life, at yesterday’s Hope Fest.

Desmond Doss, Jr. is at lower left, below.

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This day-long celebration of purpose-driven life is primarily about service to the community, with a clear message that peoples’ lives are best led through a personal relationship with Jesus the Christ.  I have helped the organizers of this effort, for the past five years.  One of the elements of this event is recognizing and honouring the veterans of present and past conflicts.  VietNam is not the least of these conflicts.

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Though I take a longer view, seeing a relationship with the Creator and His Messengers as essential to a well-lived life, by way of accepting that Revelation is progressive and God’s message unending, I see that encouraging others in the positive,  personal growth-oriented aspects of their own Faith is the finer path.

I came by my understanding of Baha’u’llah’s Teachings honestly, and will never hide my Faith from anyone.  It was actually the very essence of what Jesus the Christ taught, that love is paramount, which drew me to the Baha’i Faith, as “Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings.”- ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

It never made sense to me, even as a child, that God would visit Mankind with His Grace but once.  Knowledge given is as the rays of the Sun.  The solar rays of a thousand years ago, of ten thousand years ago, warmed the Earth and were beneficial.  They remain praiseworthy, for all they brought forth.  Likewise, the rays of the present day sustain life.  They, too, deserve our appreciation.  Understanding all that is given us, by the Creator, is a worthy effort.

So I offer service to those who themselves serve others, in the highest way they can conceive.  It is our shared love for humanity that propels gatherings like Hope Fest.  Long may they continue, and bear fruit.

Mandala

2

September 22, 2019-

The mandala was prescient.

This is the last day of summer/winter (I reference the juxtaposed seasons, in acknowledging the essential unity of north and south.  Both extreme seasons present challenges.)  Fall/spring, starting tomorrow, will offer celebrations of fruition or of new beginnings.

I drew a mandala, yesterday, in the course of attending a small peace gathering, in the early evening.  Being no great artist, but having a curiosity, I let the Universe guide my thoughts, starting with a bright, fiery orange circle and moving outwards.

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Clashing, opposing colours are placed alongside, or in succession to, one another.  A green human and animals of colours with which they are not normally associated, occupy the outer layer. That you may not be able to distinguish which is which, is a testimony to my own rudimentary art skills and to the thick, stubby crayons provided.  No matter-the message is one of coexisting with differences and among opposites.

That was a key point of the entire day.  I spent a good part of Saturday walking a hilly neighbourhood, visiting people ranging from a transplanted Southern man proudly displaying a Confederate flag to a young woman professional and her dogs, all for the sake of verifying that the homes either had working smoke alarms or that my team mate and I installed them, before leaving the area.  It was all part of a concerted effort by the Red Cross to keep yet another neighbourhood safe.  Most people in the area covered have indeed tended to their own safety.  Heightened awareness, and insurance company diligence, have greatly lessened our workload.

After resting a bit, the evening Peace events beckoned.  I walked a labyrinth, at a church up the street, savouring the serenity that such calm attention to detail brings.  Then came mandala activity, followed by three of us Baha’is saying prayers, in front of  a very small audience-quality not quantity!  Before we prayed, a very nice lady, who had practiced three songs of peace, but had not had an audience for her scheduled performance, was invited to offer the songs.  Delivered a capella, these original songs, in a soft jazz lilt, created a lingering air of power and strength.

The evening brought another activity- Dances of World Peace, which I learned is an ongoing monthly activity of the Prescott Sufi Community.  Building peace between individuals, these dances involve following a few fairly simple moves, and rotating among partners-without regard to gender or age.  The point is acknowledging each person’s presence and spirituality.  That draws people out of pre-conceived notions and out of their comfort zones.  Yet, as I think of it, that which takes me out of my own comfort zone, has the effect of expanding that zone.

The mandala was prescient.  It had me draw opposites together, which is really the point of world unity.  The past several days, most recently this morning, I have been contacted by  social media friends from countries I’ve never visited, and which have not been on my immediate radar.  The Universe is telling me, a few years in advance, to get ready to expand my world, and comfort zone, even further.

The words that came to me, to write on the mandala:  “Night is the frontier we cross. Daylight waits beyond the gate of trial.”

Full Moon Thirteenth

7

September 13, 2019-

Some topsy turvy day, this.

The work day was filled with

love and laughter.

Children with Downs syndrome

bring this about.

A crowded room,

at a ribbon cutting,

with children running about,

fully in joy and exuberance,

was better than any nap.

Another request for assistance,

from one of the most vicious people

I’ve ever known,

popped the balloon of joy.

It’s what that dark spirit does.

Am I a lesser soul,

for not putting myself at her disposal?

Prayers and chanting brought me back

to a place of light.

The power and fortitude of youth

imparts strength to those who

may be worn down, just a bit.

All in all, this Full Moon

Friday the Thirteenth

ended on a bright note.

The Flow

2

September 6, 2019-

On any given day, I wake between five and six.

On any given day, I tap into an energy flow,

which tells me what I must do that day.

At any given moment,

there is a task,

which may, or may not,

involve payment.

At any given moment,

there is a sense of urgency,

for what is best done then and there.

With any given person,

there is a special element of his/her presence,

that calls for a certain degree of my presence.

With any given person,

there is a gift that is imparted,

that calls for my own gift, in return.

Tonight, I visited with one whom I regard

as my best friend,

and exchanged the gifts of heartfelt discourse.

This week, I have spent time with

members of my circle of honour,

and likewise have given and received

abundant presents of the Spirit.

 

This Is No Game

4

August 18, 2019-

Love is not a game.

Caring for someone is a 24/7 matter.

It is not a case of projecting one’s needs onto the beloved.

It never allows for ignoring or minimizing her/his needs,

and dreams, in favour of the all-important self.

 

Leadership is not a game.

Guiding a group, region or nation is the highest calling.

It is not a case of being in the limelight, 24/7.

It is not a matter of keeping people off track.

It is not sleight of hand, or

smoke and mirrors.

 

Faith is not a game.

It does not pick and choose

which Scripture fits one’s

own pre-conceived notions.

It does not hide from what is expected.

It does not bemoan challenges,

or misfortune.

 

Life is just not a game.

The Lock Box

4

August 13, 2019-

The following occurred to me, after a healer visited, this morning.

To each soul is given

a gift,

a legacy,

a task.

It is up to

the recipient

to open hands

and take the gift,

honour the legacy,

accomplish the task.

I laid on my back,

breathing

and receiving

the strength

to open the lock box

in which my heart

has been kept,

for so many years.

My task now

is to put the lock box

away.

It has long since

served its purpose,

of guarding my heart,

from what it feared.

Breathing cleansed

the rust

from the lock.

The box is open now,

and my heart is

gladsome,

refreshed,

prepared for

the gift being offered.

 

 

Honour and Hubris at Sand Creek

0

July 17, 2019, Eads, CO-

The sign clearly stated “Walk in silence and respect”, as I approached the ridge, overlooking a valley of hallowed ground, where 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people,  mostly women and children, were killed by a regiment of U.S. soldiers, on November 29, 1864.  John Chivington, a colonel in the U. S. Army, orchestrated and led the attacks, turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by many of the men under his command.  Some white settlers who had befriended the First Nations people were also beaten or killed, by garrison troops at Fort Lyon who were in league with Chivington’s forces.  Several men in the garrison refused to participate in the slaughter.  Two of them wrote to higher authorities about the incident.  One of these, Silas Soule, was assassinated by other soldiers, on the streets of Denver, after he testified to a Commission of Inquiry about the massacre.

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This campaign of  slaughter, of course rooted in ignorance and greed, would result in the resignation of Colonel Chivington from the U. S. Army, whilst he and many of his men were regarded as local heroes, by the more conservative settlers of Colorado Territory, particularly in Denver and Colorado City (now Colorado Springs).  To be fair, there were constant attacks and depredations by both Whites and First Nations people, prior to Sand Creek-and afterward, but none were carried out by women and children.  The matter of ownership of land has resulted in far too much death and destruction.  In the end, no one has ownership of land, in perpetuity.  Indeed, it’s a dark irony, and a fitting one, that Bill Dawson, who owned the land on which the masacre took place, returned it to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations, in 1999.  The National Park Service would compensate Mr. Dawson and his family for the land, but there was none of the acrimony among area residents that their predecessors had shown, throughout the remainder of the Nineteenth Century.  There was a consensus that this was hallowed, sacred ground, and that justice was finally being served, to the extent still possible.

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To me, there was no choice, but to sit in reverence and prayer, overlooking the massacre site.  As I was leaving, a pair of photojournalists arrived, preparing to make a brief video on the Massacre.  We were all startled when a car  pulled up, a door slammed and a perky Ranger loudly greeted the men and inquired about their prior visit to Bent’s Old Fort, another NPS Historic Site that is associated with Sand Creek.  It had been a still, solemn visit, and was now turning into business as usual.

I walked back to the Visitor’s Center, waited for the 1:00 presentation, and left at 1:30, when it was clear that I was the only lay visitor, and there would be no presentation.  I know the spirits were grateful for my visit.  A hawk feather had been laying on the ground, just off the first part of the trail between the Visitor’s Center and the massacre overlook.  The sight of  a circling eagle or hawk, or of a raptor feather on the ground is a sign, to many First Nations people, that one’s presence is acceptable to the Spirits. I circled the feather, clockwise, and silently prayed.

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Leaving the National Historic Site,  my route took me past the now-deserted railroad town of Chivington, its buildings mostly looking to fall over, with the next keening wind.  Eads, some twenty miles west, is a more thriving town, whose residents approve of the National Historic Site.

I will long be mindful of the continuing need to remember atrocities, such as Sand Creek, as examples of what happens when people fail to honour, respect and listen to one another, over a period of months, years, decades.

NEXT:  The Way Back to Home Base

 

A Temple and Its Concentric Circles

5

July 13-14, 2019, Wilmette-

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I have made it a practice, when going back and forth across North America, to stop at least once at the Baha’i House of Worship, in this leafy North Shore suburb of Chicago.  Often, it is only for two or three hours, before I’m off again, to whatever awaits.  This time, though, I took an Airbnb room, near Wilmette’s Village Center, the better to meet with a trusted friend at her convenience.

The House of Worship is, rightfully, a point of pride for Wilmette’s residents, regardless of their faith, or lack thereof.  The town has a full complement of Christian denominations and an active Jewish temple, as well as several Muslims.  My host, an Iranian-American, who is not a Baha’i, spoke well of our Faith and of the Temple.

My day started, in Wrigleyville, with my helping the most vibrant of the group of hostelers, whom I mentioned yesterday, to charge her phone.  The Hostel’s breakfast master whipped up some incredible pancakes and waffles. Then came the navigation from the parking garage I used, to curbside near the hostel.  A distance of two blocks required me to go around Cape Horn, figuratively speaking.  At one point, I stopped, twice, at the same STOP sign, then inched forward, only to be chastised by a traffic control officer for not stopping a THIRD time.  No ticket ensued, after his partner rolled her eyes at him and signaled me to turn.  That’s Chicago traffic, though, and never anything personal.  A police officer at another spot let me turn onto Sheffield, and I found the perfect spot for loading my car back up.

No freeway was necessary, going to Wilmette.  U.S. 41 North gives one a  nice slice of Chicago’s northwest side, at a leisurely pace, without a humongous amount of traffic, of a Saturday morning.  A fine lunch at Potbelly Sandwich Shop, amongst an eclectic crowd, set a fine mood for the rest of the drive to my evening’s abode.  The ambiance is as important to me as the food itself.  Listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Sunshine of Your Love” was a bonus.

Above a Persian carpet shop sits a modest apartment.  There, I took the spare room, and headed up to the House of Worship.  My focus, after prayers and meditation, is always on the gardens, which surround the Temple, on each of its nine sides.  I have shown these, in detail, in earlier posts.  Here, though, is a small sample.

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This is the North Shore Channel, which empties into Wilmette Harbor, between the House of Worship and Gillson Park, which has the village’s lovely beach.

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I availed myself of two restaurants here in Wilmette: Ridgeview Grill, which I visited last summer, gave the same excellent fare and service on Saturday night; Walker Brothers Pancake House offered the finest of Sunday breakfasts. (Yes, San Diegans, your very own Richard Walker is a member of this family, and his superb Pancake House is a West Coast extension of the Wilmette establishment, which also has six other branches around Chicagoland’s North Shore.).Suffice it to say, I am getting spoiled by two days in a row of great pancakes.

With breakfast done, and 10 a.m. rolling around, I bid farewell to my host, J., and headed over  to the House of Worship, to meet my friend. On the way, I encountered a crew fixing a broken water main, so prayers were offered for that situation as well.  The Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette (1953) was the second such Temple ever built, the first being in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (1908). (It was confiscated by the Soviets, in the 1920’s, then was destroyed by an earthquake.  The property remains vacant, under Turkmenistan government control.)  There are now seven other Baha’i Houses of Worship – one for each continuously-inhabited continent, plus one in Samoa and one in Panama.  National and Regional Baha’i Temples are being built, in several places around the globe.  Each House of Worship is open to all, regardless of Faith.

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Wilmette, this time, felt a lot more like home.  The ripples of love and acceptance are radiating outward from this truly divine edifice.

 

The Way of Sacrifice

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July 10, 2019, Pittsburgh-

Let your mind’s eye envision

the scene in Tabriz.

Hundreds of soldiers lined up,

thousands of onlookers behind them.

All are there to put an end

to the presence of a Light Being,

the Herald of a New Age;

the Divine Teacher, Who

became known as Al-Bab,

The Gate.

The rounds are fired,

the smoke clears,

and there is His devoted companion,

tied to Him,

before the shots were rendered;

now, just wandering about, in confusion,

That confusion spreads like wildfire.

Where is the Prisoner?

Why, He is finishing His business

with a follower,

in an office room,

elsewhere in the prison!

Al-Bab is taken outside,

once this matter has been

completed.

He is bound to His companion,

again.

A different regiment

fires its rounds.

The smoke clears,

the deed is done.

The bodies, left for the jackals

and wild dogs,

are retrieved in the night,

kept safe,

from one place of refuge

to another,

and finally laid to rest,

in March, 1909,

at His Tomb,

in Haifa, Israel.

There, we may honour Him,

at the Shrine of The Bab.

(This is a matter of historical record. Russian observers were present at the execution, were astounded and horrified, and made certain this matter was recorded in words, for posterity.  Al-Bab was executed on July 9, 1850.  We Baha’is commemorate His Martyrdom, each year.  The date this year happened to fall on July 10, according to our commemorative calendar, which is based on lunar reckoning.  I joined a group of Baha’is and friends of our Faith, in a quiet neighbourhood of southwest Pittsburgh, for today’s observance.)