Heavenly Flow

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April 21, 2019-

Today brought me close to two faith traditions:  A musical, somewhat relaxed Evangelical Baptist service- which I attended at the invitation of a former co-worker.  I didn’t see her  there, but met up with another former colleague with the Red Cross.  After exchanging pleasantries, I took a seat in the congregation, while he took his place in the choir.  My part was to sing with the rest of those in the congregation, join in greeting those around me, and respond to an occasional call.  I only regret not raising my hand when the pastor asked who believes in the Christ. I do, certainly.  One cannot accept the Message of the Father and discard That of the Son.

At our Baha’i community’s gathering, this afternoon, I joined with about 45 fellows in Faith, to commemorate the first day of Baha’u’llah’s declaring His Mission, even as He and His companions prepared for a long journey overland, from Baghdad to what is now Istanbul.

The message is similar:  None of us is squeaky clean, and God alone can absolve us with Grace.   The sufferings of each Divine Messenger are what free us from our wrongdoings.  Only by acknowledging this, and not wanting to be distant from the Divine, does one progress spiritually.

So, that was my day of spiritual fellowship.  Connection with the Divine, though, is what has eased my path, even when I find myself alone.  In times of uncertainty, as to my course of action, I find my Spirit Guides provide a very clear framework, within which I must make informed choices.

This week, for example, will bring me to Flagstaff, then to the Desert View Tower, at the eastern end of Grand Canyon National Park- honouring the Centenary of that great national entity.  From there, it will be time to honour an old friend, who passed on, last week.  His services will be east of Tuba City, at another lovely locale:  Coal Mine Canyon.  Then, I must return here to Prescott, and look after my own health, with a lab test on Wednesday.   Matters of faith, possible acts of service with the Red Cross, another friend’s birthday party and a presentation by Slow Food-Prescott will fill out the week.

The flow of celestial energy is constant, and bears heeding.

 

 

 

 

 

Conjunction

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April 19, 2019-

God has never left Man alone.  In times past, the Divine has sent Guidance, in the form of Scripture and in the Personage of a Holy Being, to lead us away from the promptings of self and desire, which Zoroaster, Jesus the Christ, Mohammad and Baha’u’llah have each personified as Satan. Our lower, animal nature gets us in all sorts of difficulties, by interposing itself between God and our spiritual sense.

So, it seems that when the conditions of the world are darkest, we have the bounty of the sacred days of many faith traditions falling in the same time period.  This year,  for example, the Baha’i Festival of Naw-Ruz occurred at the same time as the Hindu Festival of Holi.   A scant month later, Jews are observing Passover; Christians, Christ’s death and the Day of Resurrection and Baha’is, the beginning of the twelve-day Festival of Ridvan, (commemorating Baha’u’llah’s Declaration of His Mission to the world.)

God never leaves Man alone.  The message that seems clear, from these conjunctions of spiritual celebration is that we ought each honour our neighbours’ spiritual traditions, as we honour our own.  There is, in essenceone continuous flow of spiritual energy.  I could never dishonour the Name of Christ, or those of Moses, Krishna, Gautama Siddhartha or Muhammad whilst claiming to honour the Teachings of Baha’u’llah.

Every one of the Divine Teachers has suffered immense physical pain, whilst on this Earth, at the hands of those who enjoyed earthly power and prestige, as well as at the hands of the uneducated and ignorant who chose to follow those in power.  This is the timeless lesson of Good Friday-the goodness of which stems from the fact that we are so loved by the Divine that the Purest of Beings submitted to unimaginable torture and humiliation.  It is thus, that people of all faith traditions would do well to contemplate the nature of Divine Love and Sacrifice, on this solemn day.

This Sunday, the Day of Resurrection and First Day of Ridvan, will find me celebrating both events of the continuous flow of Divine love and inspiration. May many find it in their hearts to do the same.  The Divine never leaves us alone. Let us honour one another.

The Spirit of Connection

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April 17, 2019-

Have you ever felt drawn to someone,

beyond any physical sense,

but as if  s(he) had been in

your energy field,

forever?

There are, and have been,

in my experiential existence,

dozens of such souls.

It’s easy to confuse,

to conflate,

an intense psychic bond,

with some level

of physical,

or even sexual,

attraction.

I’ve been there.

After all,

Penny and I

began our time together,

knowing we had

seen each other,

in dreams

and in waking visions.

The proof,

for me,

that such bonds

transcend the physical,

is that I have them

with people much younger,

much older,

female and male, alike.

I have encountered

children,

even infants,

who recognized me

from some other realm,

even though we’d

never seen one another,

on this plane.

Clarity:

I don’t believe

our spirits

get recycled,

into physical bodies,

again and again.

I believe

there is a boundless

energy field

and that we connect

somewhere in that field,

of which this physical plane

is but a small part.

I believe there are

souls to whom we

are drawn,

wordlessly,

and there

at least two dozen,

both here, and

in various parts

of the world,

to whom I am so drawn.

These thoughts came into my consciousness, as I woke this morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Those Meanwhiles

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March 26, 2019- 

For a good part of my time with my little family, in Korea, I was drawn away from anything to do with the wider world.  It felt only natural to narrow my focus, with only a relatively brief microburst of heavy rain, upon our return to Busan from Jeju, on March 15, to let the potential of havoc remind me that there was indeed “life’s mud and stone”, in the words of the great Kenny Rogers, of which to be ever mindful.

Nothing was more jarring than the shootings in Christchurch, something for which I ached, for days afterward, upon reading a digest of news in a copy of The Korea Herald.  Spiritual truth is one, continuous flow, throughout history and will remain so.  The wanton slaughter of 120 people in northern Nigeria, yet another episode in the back-and-forth atrocities between Christians and Muslims in that country and the ongoing bloodbath in Mali, orchestrated by the Islamic State and pitting the Peuhl people against IS’s Dogon opponents, have stayed on the back burner of the world’s awareness.  This is the wrong approach. At the very least, what happens in Africa, especially in the west and north of the continent, will spread to Europe, eventually, just as conflicts in the west of Asia are feared to do.  More essentially, the deaths of hundreds-anywhere- is a humanitarian crisis, worthy of the full attention of the wider world.

We seem to at least be paying closer attention to the horrific cyclone-caused damage and casualties in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.  Americans can identify with such events, especially when simultaneous horrors are ravaging the North American Great Plains and riparian areas of the Midwest.  Nature is in a highly-charged state right now.  Whether it is cyclical or the result of intense man-made climatic disruptions, unified responses are necessary.

Then, there were the more personal individual tragedies:  A young lady who had survived last year’s Parkland, FL shootings was overcome by her emotional pain, and took her life.  A week later, the esteemed economist, Paul Krueger, overcome by suffering of his own, followed suit.  Closer to home, two teen girls in our area and a Phoenix police officer were killed by inattentive drivers.

I learned my lesson, that even during the most basic and intensely personal of life events, there is no separation from all that surrounds us.  Meanwhile, family thrives, near neighbours may struggle-and those who live in areas, where life’s larger problems seem intractable, continue to warrant our love and efforts to help, where possible.

The “meanwhiles” never take a vacation.

Where the Sun Greets Jeju-do

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March 14, 2019, Songsan, South Korea-

After a robust meal of kalbi (grilled ribs), at Kyodong Dok Kalbi, we retired to the Golden Tulip Hotel, in this eastern fishing and shellfish diving center.

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Our first stop, on a robust and happy day that will take us across the island, was Songsan Ilchulbong, a small promontory that is a favourite of locals and tourists alike, for greeting the sunrise.  We did not do so, as the sumptuous breakfast buffet of Golden Tulip beckoned first.

Once we did get to the site, though, we found a small course for riding a Cheju pony, similar to the ponies of Shetland.  Yunhee gladly rode the pony, even though it was a very brief experience.

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Although the coastal areas of Jeju are treeless, in most spots, an effort is being made to plant windbreak in some places around Songsan.

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Here is the volcanic promontory that beckoned us.  I was last up this hill, in February, 1992, with a small group of freshman students.

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Here is a view, from halfway up, of Songsan, in the morning light.  Halla-san, the highest peak on Jeju, and in South Korea, is seen in the distance, on the near left  side.

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There are many igneous boulders along the route.  Here is a particularly popular photo point for many Korean visitors:  Lamp Rock.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The image on the right side evokes a Grandmother’s kind visage.

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Two eyes appear to be watching, at this site of twin caves.

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The indentation below seems to fit my daughter-in-law perfectly!

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We made it to the top, so I chose this as my next profile picture on social media.

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Below, is a view of the crater, for which the summit of Ilchulbong is famous.  Yes, the hill is a dead cinder cone.

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Here is the southern, less inhabited part of Udo, an islet just across a small channel from Songsan.

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Here are the effects of constant saline deposits on this sedimentary boulder, in an area that hosts haenyo, or women who dive for abalone and sea cucumber.  The traditional divers are mainly found in Jeju, though some are in a handful of towns on the southern mainland coast.

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One haenyo is seen in the water, wearing a yellow diving vest.

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Here is the bell of Dongam-sa, a Buddhist temple at the foot of Ilchulbong.  A funeral was in progress when we visited, so we kept our visit quiet and short.

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Contrasting images of the Buddha are seen here.

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We ended our visit to Songsan, with a brief visit with an old friend.

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With that, we are off to Songeup Folk Village, for some reconnection with the farm folk of old Jeju.

 

 

These Lengthening Ties

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March 11, 2019, Gyong-Meon, South Korea-

One of the questions I have been asked about the marriage of Aram and Yunhee is how I feel about my son marrying someone from another nation or culture.  (“Race” is left out of this, thankfully. )  My answer is very simple:  Aram has married a beautiful and highly intelligent young woman, who will bring great pride and joy to my family  We, in turn, will bring a great deal of the same to her equally distinguished family.

There was a time, even during our previous living in Korea, when language and cultural differences cast all manner of misunderstandings and suspicion upon even the strongest of work relationships and faith community affairs.  Slowly and carefully, we managed, by working together, to mitigate the worst of these.  Aram, being an infant and toddler at the time, was largely spared the relatively few insults and personal attacks that came our way-not just from more hidebound people in this society, but from equally narrow-minded people on the eastern shore of the Pacific as well.

My friendship with the Shin and Park families has been instantaneous.  There is none of the rancour or suspicion of the 1980’s and ’90’s to soil the life of the extended family.  The growing pains have eased, and we have found that there is an authentic human bond.

This is as Baha’u’llah intended, in calling for the spiritual unification of the entire planet- before other forms of unity are truly realized  This does not mean uniformity, which is the antithesis of true unity.  We families will long cherish each other, much as those who were previously set, within the bounds of American culture, have proven enduring.  It’s time for the next step forward, and the rising generations are leading the way.  I am gladly following that lead.

NEXT:  Chonju and its historical preservation

Nineteen

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March 2, 2019- 

I began my penultimate physical Fast today.  Once I reach the age of seventy, in November of next year,  abstinence from food and drink no longer is binding, and the Fast will bring additional spiritual duties.

For this year, though, I am following the course prescribed by Baha’u’llah:  When not traveling or engaged in arduous physical labour, I abstain from food and drink, from sunrise to sunset, from today through March 20.  Travel to and from Korea, in a few short days, will truncate the physical aspect of the Fast, with the spiritual duties remaining in place.

I have nineteen thoughts I wish to share:

  1. As stated yesterday, all life is sacred.
  2.  Those who, for whatever reason, don’t view their lives, or those of others, as sacred are to be embraced in their suffering-and not condemned, though they must be held to account for acts of violence.
  3. If someone takes me to task, even harshly, and I know that one is right, I need to be the change.
  4. No one has the individual right to strike another person, unless one is responsible for that other person’s well being, as a parent or guardian-and even then, the reason for the spanking is understood by the other and it is only used as a last resort.
  5. Even insects and arachnids should be captured and released outside, into a safe place, whenever possible.  They have their place in the scheme of things.
  6. There is no human trash. Some just need to be monitored more closely and held in firmer check.
  7. Education is a universal right.
  8. Food and beverages should be as free of contamination as is humanly possible.
  9. Fun is essential to the soul, though never had at another’s expense.
  10. Everyone’s legitimate work deserves respect.
  11. All prayers are heard by, and affect, the Universe.
  12. Time in nature is also essential to the soul.
  13. Love is the primary building block of the Universe.
  14. May I never walk away from a cry for help.
  15. A call for peace is the best sound that may escape one’s lips, first thing in the morning.
  16. The morning sun, the evening stars and moon are here to reassure us that there is always a force, greater than ourselves.
  17. When I am in a half-sleep, I communicate both with departed souls and with those who are in  my life, but who are not immediately present.
  18. Plants show an intelligence, in the way they propagate and in the way they seek what they need.
  19. God, the Divine, the Universe, the Infinite, the Eternal, reveals to us what we need and what we can comprehend, in the way of truth.  It has always been thus.

None of these are original thoughts, but they occur to me nonetheless and so I share.

 

Back On Track

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February 25, 2019-

Today is the first day of Ayyam-i-Ha, the Baha’i Intercalary Days, which belong to none of our nineteen spiritual calendar months , of nineteen days.  It is a time of  special service activities, some gift giving and group celebrations.  In regular Gregorian years, like this one, the period consists of four days, and in Leap Years, five days.

Today also found us back at work, continuing on with the revised program.  Things went smoothly.  The weather is improving, again, and our little team is getting stronger, as small problems get resolved, in a congenial manner, before they become big issues.

Yesterday, part of my time was spent dealing with individual snow-disposal issues,  This evening found another matter with which to assist:  A returning traveler needed to have her car cleared, before she got back on the shuttle from Phoenix-so, Ayyam-i-Ha service activity # 1 was accomplished.

I stopped by Ms. Natural’s, and finally met the owner’s husband-on his own way back to work.  The establishment will be a key part of my own Healthy Spring-in essence, a continuation of the regimen I am promised when I visit Korea.

The Indissoluble Bond

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February 8, 2019, Chino Valley-

Every second and fourth Friday evening, God willing, a group of us gathers at the home of two dear friends, here in this town, 15 miles north of Prescott.  We share a meal, then indulge in drumming and chanting, with a flautist accompanying much of the music.

There is, of course, conversation before, after and in between the musical selections.  One of the members of the group shared the traditions and teachings of the Cherokee of North Carolina, explaining that there has been some divergence within the tribe, with regard to dialect and certain customs, as a result of the Trail of Tears and its resulting geographic isolation, of one group from another.

He performed a traditional Cherokee blessing, prior to the meeting’s end.  This is shared below, as performed by another vocal group.  I see similarities with other cultures, from Keltic Irish to Zulu, in terms of blessings wished upon visitors and loved ones.  We each noted that there is an essential tie between humans, both regardless of physical distance and regardless of separation by time.

I can feel an almost palpable connection, with my maternal grandfather, who I never met and with paternal ancestors, who I have been assured are watching over me constantly, from the distance of several hundred years.  Likewise, among those who live hundreds, or thousands, of miles away, I feel an unbreakable bond-though we may see one another once, or not at all, in the course of this earthly life.  Whether through genetic memory or a spiritual envelope, the ties have been, and continue to be, unbreakable.

The bonds that some try to break, out of fear, narcissism or ignorance, can never really be broken.  We are at a stage, in our human evolution, when connections are, or are about to be, seen for their true nature:  Indissoluble.

Foresight

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January 22, 2019-

Though I am often content

to live a simple life,

going to and from work

and tending to a small number

of daily and weekly tasks,

when not so engaged.

insights come to mind,

and I am made aware

of things that are to happen,

matters to which I must tend,

in either the near  or intermediate  future.

Most of these involve

cultivating friendships,

something at which I have improved,

over the years.

A few involve eschewing fellowship

with those who would challenge

the very spirit that keeps

the human race afloat.

Thankfully, I find the former

increasing, daily,

and the latter,

with which I last dealt

in mid-Autumn,

is a rare occurrence.

I feel the power

of the Holy Spirit

and of various angels,

keeping,

as the old popular song goes,

“watch over me”.

Yes, I do get messages,

as to how I should

proceed in certain matters

or where I should go,

on a given day, or

period of time.

These have been

uniformly spot on.

Mistakes have happened

when I have relied only

on my own limited reasoning.

Foresight is there,

waiting for those

who open their

minds and hearts.