Unrecognized Truth; Unparalleled Beauty

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June 21, 2022, Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia- As I was finishing up a full and sumptuous breakfast, at Comfort Inn, Fredericton, I got a message to go to the Legislative Assembly House, in the New Brunswick capital’s centre. Not knowing why the message was insistent, I went there after checking out of the motel. I had heard that today was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as well as Solstice.

There was a modest, but growing crowd, in front of the Assembly House. A leader of the Maliseet Nation, Allan Polchies, gave a direct, though open-hearted invitation to the Premier of New Brunswick to re-instate the terms “unceded and unsurrendered” into Truth and Reconciliation documents, especially those dealing with the revelations of abuse and neglect at Boarding Schools and Day Schools for First Nations children, across the Dominion of Canada (as well as in the United States), over the past 150 years. My take: No matter what the relationship between people, there is always room for improvement. This is especially true of ties between people of different cultural and ethnic groups. No one can truthfully say: “I’ve done enough already. Put it to rest!”

I took in a bit of the scene around Fredericton, underscoring what Chief Polchies was stressing in his talk. The land, the water, and all forms of life are more sacred to a good many First Nations people than they are to those who have a transactional view of this life. I am a mutt, so to speak, and can’t boast physical lineage that leaves me with more than 1/64 First Nations blood. Quantum, though, does not have anything to do with genetic memory, and my bent has always gravitated towards forests, nature, even flowing water.

Here is a view of the St. John River, flowing through Fredericton.

Below, are some scenes from Wilmot Park, west of the Town Plat.

Rail bridge, across St. John River, Fredericton

Next on the itinerary was Shediac, a town on the east coast of New Brunswick, from whence my paternal grandfather’s Acadian forebears moved to Lynn, MA, when that city first became industrialized, in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

Here a few Shediac scenes. The town is a vibrant summer getaway, for both urban New Brunswickers and people from Montreal and Quebec City.

Pascal Poirier was a Shediac native, who was Canada’s longest-serving Senator, putting in 48 years, 6 months and 17 days. He was a scholar of Acadian history, putting to rest many myths about his native ethnic group.

Entry to Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac, NB
Exercise incline, Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac
An image, creating an image, Shediac Centre
Shediac Harbour, on Northumberland Strait

As I sat on a lone park bench, watching the gulls and a small amount of marine activity, it occurred to me that the sea will not be far from my awareness, for the next eight days. With that, I got a couple of dozen gluten-free cookies, from Culinanny Bakery, in Shediac’s Centre-Ville Mall, to hopefully give to friends in Cape Breton, and headed off to that storied island.

I had a couple of small surprises, along the way. The Cobequid Valley, of western Nova Scotia, has a toll road, operated by the Provincial Transportation Authority. It’s the only non-bridge toll that I’ve seen in Canada, thus far. A young man walked out of a donut shop, barefoot. I have not seen “no shoes” get service in a food shop, until today.

A far more pleasant surprise awaited in the small village of Whycocomagh, one of the first communities one encounters on Cape Breton, approaching from the west. Bayside Restaurant offers some of the most delectable seafood chowder I’ve ever tasted, anywhere. Essentially, generous portions of fish and assorted shellfish, milk and onions-no potatoes. The other ingredients are Chef Charlene’s secret. My lodging for tonight and tomorrow night is equally superb: Fair Isle Motel, with a large kitchenette as well as firm, chiropractor-approved mattresses. The hosts are a wonderful family of seven.

Tomorrow, I will experience the Cabot Trail-at least the automotive part, and hopefully meet up with some local Baha’is.

Borders and Discipline

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June 20, 2022, Fredericton- The Senior Agent, at the border crossing in Jackman, Maine, had a few questions of his own for me, after the line inspector was finished-as much because things were quiet there, as because my itinerary seemed a bit unusual. It’s always an eyebrow raiser, when a traveler is entering a country primarily to save time and distance, before leaving again-albeit for a week or so. After asking his questions, and getting satisfactory answers, followed by a physical inspection of my vehicle, he sent me on my way, with wishes for a safe journey.

I learned long ago to not be ruffled by official queries, as I have nothing to be ruffled about. In a world of smugglers, grifters and flat-out liars, the well-being of people within a country depends on those who staff its borders. When I reached my second border crossing of the day, at St. Croix, New Brunswick, I was asked to complete an acccesscan application. That being done, in about thirty minutes, I was likewise sent on my way. The officials were congenial, while determined to help guard their country from as much of COVID as they could.

A disciplined person should not have to fear the law-though unfortunately many people of colour, however well-disciplined, still have to. That significant fact aside, the majority of peace officers, including those on the borders, do a fine job-and the time some of us must spend waiting for them to do their work properly is a relative trifle, compared to the time that would be wasted, in the event of chaos.

The drive out of Montreal was fairly smooth. Traffic was not bad, save for some slowing along Quebec’s many road and bridge repair projects. I passed by a few spots in the Eastern Townships (originally a largely English-speaking part of Quebec, lying between the St. Lawrence River and the United States border, and now pretty much evenly-divided between Francophones and Anglophones). There is Lac Boivin, which I will hopefully visit some day. There is cheerful Sherbrooke and the town with the ominous name of Magog. There is Lac-Megantic, which I visited several years ago, and which endured a deadly runaway train accident, in 2013. My main goal, however, was to return to the U.S., cross Maine and get to this capital city of New Brunswick. Even with the above-mentioned events, this happened.

The interior of Maine was the scene of some of the harder periods of my life, in the mid-to-late 1970s. I was a somewhat brasher, cruder person then, and there were few people who saw through that exterior. So, I crossed the state on Highway 6, through Piscataquis and northern Penobscot Counties, stopping only to get gas in the town of Greenville, dinner outside Howland and for this scene of Moosehead Lake.

There are many miles to go yet, but I am almost halfway through this journey.

Fathering, without Paternalizing

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June 19, 2022, Montreal- Today was a fitting confluence of observances: Father’s Day, celebrating the best of those who help raise a next generation and who continue to offer guidance to the men and women they helped rear, and Juneteenth (which will be officially observed tomorrow, as a National Holiday in the U.S.), wherein paternalism, the opposite of good fathering, took a well-deserved hit, with enslaved people in Texas finally getting the word that they had been freed-more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation-and two months after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee’s Army, at Appomattox.

The concept of a person making decisions FOR other people has been with us for at least 10,000 years. It has many permutations, and will die hard. We are, however, entering an Age of Fulfillment, in which individuals are growing into humans who can make their own decisions. There will be a lot of mess involved-that’s the nature of growth. Mistakes will happen, at all levels, yet hopefully lessons will be learned. Those who see life through a progressive lens can be just as authoritarian as their polar opposites who seem to want to turn back the clock.

Paternalism, or excessive maternalism, for that matter, serve to debilitate the very people one secretly wishes would stand up and do what’s right. The rub comes, when the domineering one realizes that maybe the children or teens are doing precisely what is right-for their lives. Teaching people the thinking process is far more valuable than pontificating on what to think.

My Father’s Day, with a son who is away in a training exercise, was spent being proud of what he is achieving. I also returned to a city that taught me some hard lessons, four years ago-at exactly the time when I learned them. This year, Montreal was far easier to navigate. I had the satisfaction of visiting the shore of Lake Ontario, at Kingston, where I spent last night, and the north bank of the St. Lawrence River, at Prescott, Ontario (“That’s PresCOTT, there, Yank!”). I also was able to put the Saturn in a highly secure garage for the evening, once arriving in Montreal. Father’s day, my way, was capped by a wonton supper at Chef B.Lee, on St. Catherine Street, in the heart of Montreal’s Asian Food District (“Chinatown” would be an inadequate term here, as Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese eateries are just as common).

It’s been a good day, all in all. Here are a few scenes from the course of the journey.

The most important aspect of this park, however, is the newest and oldest, at the same time: The Alderville First Nation, a Mississauga Ojibway band, blessed the area with one of its artists and healers, Terence Radford, who created a Spirit Garden for Lake Ontario Park. All the Great Lakes are sacred to the Ojibway, so this blessing of Lake Ontario means a great deal, both to the Ojibway people and to their neighbours in the larger community.

THIS strikes me as the real reason I stopped overnight in Kingston.

A while later, I stopped in Prescott, ON. This town has a nice River Walk, focusing on the St. Lawrence, so I took a walk along a short part of it. Here are views of the river and of Fort Wellington, a British fort during the War of 1812, built to defend shipping from the American troops stationed across the river, in Ogdensburg, NY.

This was a cool find. In the 1960s, Leo Boivin (“That’s BwaVAN, Yank!”), was a respected member of the Boston Bruins. Kids were always calling me “Leo”, though quite honestly, I couldn’t stand up on skates, for more than two minutes. As Leo was a native of Prescott, the town named its community center after him, when he passed away, last year.

Tonight, I am here, at Montreal’s Auberge St. Lo, formerly called HI (Hostels International) Montreal. It is a very comfortable and accommodating place, with the study room where I am writing this post.

Two Sides, Same Team

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June 17, 2022, London, ON- The DEA squad carried out a seamless check on our line of traffic, at a contraband check on the U.S. side of Ambassador Bridge (between Detroit and Windsor). The agent who was checking my vehicle asked to pop the “trunk” and was given the go-ahead to open the hatch on Saturn Vue. His dog-partner found no contraband, and I was on my way to the Canadian side, where a thirty second query as to my travel plans sent me en route to this Ontario namesake of the Titan on the Thames. (There is a Thames River here, as well.)

I left my friends, the Schroeders, around Noon, having tended to laundry and a couple of errands at establishments near their home. Saturn Vue got an oil & lube, a new air filter and scrubbed headlights, at a Jiffy Lube nearby, then I was off in search of I-94, which for some reason was unknown to Google Maps. A kind librarian in Buchanan, MI, directed me to the only entrance she knew to the Interstate-which was in Benton Harbor, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Out of the way, yes, it was, but I sensed that a full drive across that beleaguered state would at least unleash some healing energy. At least, that is my hope, having said a bunch of prayers at a Rest Area, outside Battle Creek.

It took four hours to cross the Wolverine State, and another forty minutes to go through the border crossing, most of which was the security check mentioned above. The process made me glad that I had done laundry before crossing-if only to not disgust our canine friend.

Once on the 401, I looked for a place to pull off for the night. I did drove from Tilbury to Chatham, on a back road, taking in the small town Friday night scene of a small group of teens, making the best of a weekend evening in Tilbury. They looked happy, at least. In Chatham, I spotted a small motel, with one car in the lot (a red flag of sorts, this being Friday night and all. The proprietor apologized, in advance, for the room he was letting me check, prior to lettting it out (another red flag). I found it was flea-infested, though the lights, TV and shower were all working. The final red flag was that he had no credit card reader, but he would gladly do an “e-transaction”, if I would just tell him my bank account information. Hmm, where have I heard this before? I bid him good night, and drove clear to London, where the Super 7 Motel had a fine room available, and there was a jacuzzi. I enjoy a bit of luxury, every so often, and this spa was made of marble, working perfectly.

Tomorrow, I will hopefully connect with a group of friends online, and look about London further, before heading towards Ottawa. Friends in Toronto have already said they are unavailable, so I will stay away from the metropolis this time. On both sides of the border, though, we are one team.

The Flow, and Going With It

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June 16, 2022, Mishawaka, IN- Someone just asked me, “Where the heck is Mishawaka?” It’s one of the “Tri-Cities” of north central Indiana, of which South Bend is the best known and Elkhart is the third member. Michigan City is not that far to the west, and the farming town of Goshen, a bit southeast of the Tri-Cities, could be a fifth member.

I’m here because a couple has graciously had me as an overnight guest, for four of the past five years, when the time for a journey to my home area, or somewhere else back east, has come. V and S, as I will call them, have been online friends and correspondents for many years. My visit here follows a general flow of getting settled, dinner, an evening walk and conversation in the living room. The topics range from the clothes shopping we endured, as children and teens, to the idiosyncrasies of HOA Boards.

Earlier in the day, I spent about ninety minutes at the Baha’i House of Worship, in Wilmette, IL., north of Chicago. The flow of spiritual thought and energy took the form of prayer and supplication for a variety of people and processes, from world peace, and the progress of our local communities, to the progress of the souls of a fellow Baha’i and of a childhood friend, both of whom passed on this week.

Then came lunch time, and the short drive to Wilmette’s village center was tempered by the understanding that the community’s children were everywhere, on bikes. I drive cautiously, especially in residential areas, so this feature was delightful, not a nuisance-as some would have it. The energy and presence of mind brought by large groups of kids, gathered at the movie theater, and various other parts of the center, is something I have missed, over the past two decades, with so much concern over safety-as valid as that is.

The flow of traffic, along trusty old I-94, has its reliable bottlenecks: The Madison Squeeze, as I call it, from the Madison Street offramps to the I-290 intersections near the Chicago Loop; and the area from Chicago Heights and Harvey to the I-80/90 intersection, near Gary. There is not much that can be done about the former, but the latter does have “an out”: U.S. 6 to IN 19 and back onto I-94, past the aforementioned bottleneck. It saved me twenty minutes, even with the stoplights on U.S. 6 and the mildly annoying young man who zipped in front of me, intending to make a left turn, where there was none, and zipped back out into the inside lane, where, thankfully, there was no other vehicle going about normal business.

The rest of the drive to Mishawaka flowed quite nicely, thank you.

The Joyful Missionary

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June 15, 2022, Chicago- The tiny, well-attired lady called out to me, as I was getting ready to write down my fuel information, after filling up this morning, in Rolla, MO. She had a few hand-drawn hearts and a yellow cross, along with three free-verse prayers she had written down. I gave her a small amount of money for the yellow cross, which will be part of a gift to a friend. She explained she was going to Indianapolis. Dressed in Mennonite garb, and with a spirit that could light up any room, she definitely made my day even more pleasant than it had already been.

I enjoyed breakfast with my southwest Missouri paternal cousin, going over past and present happenings in our large brood. There are five aunts, about 42 cousins and all of our offspring (probably numbering 100+), on my father’s side. Mom’s family likely is close to that number as well. After a delightful hour or so of catch-up, at a small cafe called Granny Lee’s, I had a smooth drive through the Ozarks, around St. Louis and on up through Illinois.

A few accidents, especially a roll-over in the opposite direction, led to a most disturbing traffic jam across the highway, from just west of Rolla to a point ten miles east of town. I have been in a few of those tie-ups, so my heart definitely went out to those who were stuck. I am also concerned for the people affected by the floods in Yellowstone and the surrounding towns and those in Flagstaff, dealing with yet another fire. Given the capricious nature of disaster, this year, I have my Red Cross attire and credentials with me, just in case.

I am now in Chicago, at an underrated, but comfortable and clean motel called the Edgebrook, on West Touhy. This makes two nights in a row, of fine accommodations (Carthage Inn, in Carthage, MO is also worth the modest charge.) I am always glad to cap a long drive and encounters with nice people by getting a good night’s rest.

The Harder the Resistance…

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June 13, 2022, Enid- I woke up nicely, in Gallup, though a bit groggy at first, after an interesting dream. In it, I was in a cabin, near what appears to be Badger Peak, just east of Prescott. There a Maine Coon cat which was my companion. I went outside to the outdoor shower, and when I came back, the kitty had been joined by a mountain lion, which paid me scant attention, as he was just sitting and looking out the window, much as a house cat might. I went out again and was hiking towards Prescott, on the Turley Trail. A rather large serval cat was following me, which was odd, as these cats are native to North Africa. Odder still, the serval was joined by others, who were led by a wolf, and they encircled me, closing in slowly but surely. Of a sudden, a growl and a crash through the brush produced the mountain lion, which first took out the wolf, biting him in the neck, then decimated several of the servals, causing the others to flee in panic. The dream ended with the lion, the Maine Coon and me, back in the cabin.

I had a nice, if long, drive to Enid today. It started with a delectable red chili burrito, one of the best I’ve ever had, in over thirty five years in the Southwest, at Glenn’s Bakery, on Gallup’s Near West Side. From there, after I bumbled along Santa Fe Avenue for a bit, I was headed east on I-40. A few construction projects (part of the New Mexico Governor’s highway improvement initiative) met me here and there, through Tucumcari. There was also a small dust storm near Milan, in the Black Rock country around Grants. Otherwise, it was clear sailing, from Gallup through Tucumcari, and on up through the Texas Panhandle to Dalhart and over to Woodward, just west of here. I took lunch at a rest stop near Wagon Wheel, watching a little girl who appeared confused and a rather scruffy individual who was watching her as well. The girl made her way safely to her mother’s side and the other individual went back to his truck. My monitoring role remained just that.

Late in the evening, I arrived at the home of John Glaze, a longtime friend here in Enid. His new dog, a rescue blue healer named “Hugs”, let me know, really fast, that my welcome would have to be earned. After being discouraged from snarling, by John, a few treats from me and John’s cat jumping up on my lap for some petting, “Hugs” changed his tune.

This brings me to the title of this post. Whenever one tries to do something big, or novel, there is resistance-usually from the powers that be. Note that, after the resignation of Richard Nixon from the Presidency, in 1974, the lords of finance and industry struck back with a vengeance, leading to the price increases and stock market declines that were dubbed “stagflation” by Nixon’s successor, Gerald R. Ford, and which bedeviled the tenure of Ford’s successor, Jimmy Carter. The Big Dogs got their wish, in 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan.

I see the same thing happening now. Price increases, coupled with stock market declines-both seeming to be irreversible-except they aren’t. Even the Great Depression came to an end, because no one, no matter how self-important or greedy they are, individually or as a group, can destroy a society. The Big Dogs are doing nothing so much as shooting themselves in the feet, sowing the seeds of their own downfall, more than causing the permanent impoverishing of the common people.

I, and people like me, will continue to follow our hearts and do what we need to do. If most, or all, of our financial resources are stolen from us, we will generate new resources and keep on with what we are doing. I get this resolve from my maternal grandfather, who was told by the bankers, in the thick of the Great Depression, that they would soon own his house and his car. He never gave them either. My grandmother, and her fourth son, after she died, kept the house in the family name-until he died in 1994. His widow sold the house, of her own volition. It is still in private hands. The car was sold after Papa died, but only because Grandma never learned to drive. He taught his children: “Never give the puppet masters what they demand. God, alone, deserves our fealty.” That lesson was passed on to all of us grandkids.

Tomorrow, my journey will be relatively short- Enid to Sarcoxie, MO, where a paternal cousin and her family await.

Setting The Tone

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June 12, 2022, Gallup- There are, in every conversation, in every gathering of souls, a host of meanings that can be gleaned. Two online meetings today set the tone for my latest venture forth. In the morning, five of us focused on the progression of man, through stages of development and the notion, advanced by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, that there are seven means to reaching one’s true station, which is to carry over into the next life:  “First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love of God. Third, through faith. Fourth, through philanthropic deeds. Fifth, through self-sacrifice. Sixth, through severance from this world. Seventh, through sanctity and holiness.”-‘Abdu’l-Baha, “The Divine Art of Living”,Section 3, #10.

For simplicity’s sake, one can substitute whatever term you wish to use in reference to the Supreme Being, for God. The quest is essentially the same process. Knowing and loving that which you determine to be Supreme is essential for any sort of meaningful personal growth. Faith, the third element, should not be blind, but based on that knowledge and love, coupled with the understanding that one has a measure of responsibility for one’s own advancement. Thus the dictum: “God helps those who help themselves.”. The other four means will be discussed in the next several posts.

In the afternoon, seven spiritual leaders, representing three Christian denominations, Judaism, Buddhism, Sufi Islam and Baha’i, offered essentially congruent views on Race Amity. It is obvious to all people of good will and peaceful intent that Mankind is One. There are differences of opinion, thankfully not part of that meeting, with regard to the events of the past and current responsibility for further progress in Race Amity. While we move away from strict adherence to the “Melting Pot” concept, it is useful to recognize that we do have many things in common-not just as Americans, but as Humans. It is also wise, we all concluded, to celebrate each person’s, and each culture’s, uniqueness.

With that, it was back to the mundane world of packing and loading the car. I was off, from Prescott, around 4:30. At 6:15, a brief stop at Homolovi State Park, north of Winslow, let me discharge a cultural obligation, returning a small object that Penny had been given, years ago, to the ground from whence it came.

With the tone thus set for a spiritual and socially-connected journey, I headed for this old mining town, and settled in at Colonial Motel for the evening. Looking in the mirror, of my room, I saw why the clerk was a bit unnerved by my presence- sunscreen had not been properly rubbed in and was smeared in spots along my ears and face. Then, too, what’s left of my hair was all over the place. I could have auditioned for the role of a goblin in “Labyrinth”! Oh, well. The room is clean and comfortable, and it’s time for a rest.

“Why Are You Here?”

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June 9, 2022- The security official was asking this question, that was legitimate to his job, as I entered the Border Station, in Sidney, BC, seven years ago. He added an odd second question to the “purpose of travel” query: “Why would someone from Arizona be on the West Coast?” My answer to both was “Visiting Victoria”, which was indeed the purpose of my short stay-as there was a First Nations Festival that day, and I was prompted to go there for that.

This comes to mind because, in setting the course of my upcoming cross-continental journey, I have been asked “Why are you coming HERE?”, with regard to a couple of places. Truth be known, I can’t always articulate, in tangible terms, why I follow spirit prompts. Often, it is not clear even to me, until I arrive in a place. I understand that not everyone is that in touch with inner vision or spirit guides- so many dear souls have all they can do to make sense of their physical reality. No one is under any obligation to greet me, and I think no less of them if they don’t-it just means that the time is not right.

Conversely, though, there is enough restriction put on us, for various reasons. We need not place additional shackles on one another. So, I will only ask, if I call on people and the time is not right-leave it at that and do what you need to do for self and loved ones. I will do better at sharing my inner promptings, than perhaps has been done in the past, so maybe these journeys will be better understood, but I will not ignore them.

With that, I will go down to Phoenix, where it is hotter than blazes, this afternoon, to visit Penny’s graveside and join a friend at a coffee house endeavour he is making. Those are my spirit promptings for the day.

Embracing the Whole

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June 4, 2022- This was a day for traveling the spectrum. Breakfast at Zeke’s was a time for recognizing that there will be a lot more to bringing about a Green Energy program than just cutting fossil fuel use on paper. Electric vehicles need those same fossil fuels in order to produce electricity, at least for now. I won’t argue the need to cut down on widespread use of fossil fuels. Towards that end, I am keeping my own vehicle in the best condition. Eventually, I will either get a hybrid or alt-fuel vehicle or live somewhere where a vehicle is not necessary.

Mid-day, a group of us discussed building vibrant communities and contributing to social transformation. These themes can only be realized by bringing people together, across points of view and by building on common ground. This is not as trite as many people seem to think, but it does entail some consistent hard work. Baha’is believe that consultation entails listening to what might, at first blush, seem objectionable points of view, and though we do not support those practices which would harm others or deny human rights, the mere expression of a viewpoint does not, in and of itself lead to tyranny. Once a point of view is expressed, it should be regarded as no longer the property of the person who expressed it, but as belonging to the group.

The final part of the day was spent helping a group of progressives at a community picnic. There were several booths, which highlighted such themes as registering to vote, banning Dark Money in political campaigns and tightening restrictions on sales of firearms to those assessed as mentally ill. I will help any group that is about the betterment of society and the preservation of Human Rights-which are God-given rights. I didn’t have to do much , but helping to break down the event was much appreciated. I even re-united a woman with her open-toed sandals.

Helping to transform society will be a lengthy process, requiring patience and perseverance- as well as an imperturbable open-mindedness.