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.”

Proud

4

September 20, 2019-

I’m proud of you,

who stood for what you believe

and told the world that Man

has a duty, to be a good steward

of this planet.

I’m proud of you,

for telling those who ignore

the warning signs,

to wake up,

as this planet doesn’t just belong

to the polluters,

to the Big Dogs,

to the billionaires,

to those who tell you

to shut up and go away.

I’m proud of you,

for saying that

your life matters

as much as anyone else’s.

I’m proud of you,

for standing tall.

for standing firm.

I’m proud of you,

every one of you.

Be prepared for the hard work that follows from today.

(Written on the occasion of Climate Strike)

Home Is Fluid

6

September 17, 2019-

“Well help me figure this place out.  I know I’m an outsider, but I’m not an enemy.” “No, you’re not.  But in this town those two words mean the same thing.”                     – Toni Morrison, “Paradise”

So, I was part of an interview, this morning, promoting a Home Safety event, sponsored by the American Red Cross, and to be held this coming Saturday.  Inside that little room, among friends, I felt like somebody, safe and honoured.  The interview went well, and I felt secure in sharing it on social media, once back in my apartment.

Walking from the studio to Ms. Natural’s, I crossed the Courthouse Plaza, normally a neutral place, where all are welcome, at least officially. Today, I had to pass by those who glared at me in my Red Cross shirt and ball cap; pass by the well-to-do, who look down at anyone not dressed for business.  It’s never pleasant dealing with the Self-Perceived Originals, in any community.

It was much different at Ms. Natural’s, as it always is.  Claudia and the young ladies are not from here, either, and know some of what gets thrown around, by some of the Pioneer Families and the faux elite.  I am at home there.  Sharlot Hall, one of the original pioneers, for whom Prescott’s Historical Museum is named, would spin in her grave  at the pretense and the snobbery.

No matter; I am here to serve those who need it and just have to put my lingering Impostor Syndrome and refugee mentality aside.  The people who accept me, and take me into their circle, are also from somewhere else.  These are the ones who matter.  They are the ones who make it all worthwhile. Home, for me, is a fluid term.

 

 

A Sense of the Present Mood

6

September 14, 2019-

I went over to Farmers’ Market, this morning, and found more of a subdued mood.  I’m not sure what is going on, but I basically bought what  I was planning to get, and did not get into any conversations-even normally friendly people were very much into themselves.  A harpist, who was playing as a featured musician, was emotionally very distant from  any of the people walking by.  I liked her music, and left a tip, as usual, but with no acknowledgement.

There was quite a bit more animation at Prescott Stand Down, our annual distribution of clothing and outdoor equipment to veterans who are in varying degrees of homelessness.  It is indicative of our community’s positive outlook towards the homeless, that a dedicated park for their feeding and recreation has been established through a partnership of community agencies and the Hilton Corporation, after the latter took out a long-term lease on city property that had been the site of a squatters’ camp.  The displaced can now at least get a meal on Saturday (typically an off-day for other groups that feed during the week or on Sundays.  There are also maintained toilets and paths for walking.

At my last meeting of the day, planning Hope Fest, which takes place two weeks from today, an offhand remark was made about how girls do well to be a bit sassy.  I believe that speaking up for oneself is a very basic skill, that ALL children should be taught.  My young charge of yesterday has been so taught.   So are several children who were present at this planning meeting.  They will be higher-functioning adults, as a result.

What happens when a child is oppressed and battered, on the other hand, has been chillingly borne out by the behaviour of a  person whom I tried to help, last Fall, only to to encounter resistance and personal attacks.  This same one has tried to get me to resume contact.  The old saw- “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me,” comes into play.  The needs of such a person go far beyond what one individual can provide.  I leave that matter to  the wider community.

On the other hand, working with organized groups remains a source of fulfillment.  I don’t regard being part of a team as either an act of cowardice or an attempt to dodge personal responsibility, as a few have suggested, elsewhere.  There are simply a good many social tasks, even involving one troubled individual, which cannot be done well by a person acting alone.  I have lost  a few friends over the above-mentioned issue, but my take remains as described here.

 

The Gold Standard

4

September 9, 2019-

Bill Tracy passed away last Thursday, after a month-long decline, triggered by a fall from the roof of his Palm Desert restaurant.  Bill was one of those rare individuals whose concept of business was primarily as a means of giving back. He had three restaurants in Prescott-The Dinner Bell (ironically, a breakfast and lunch establishment), Bill’s Pizza and Bill’s Grill.  Feeling age, he sold those establishments, in 2015, to a friend who has kept Bill’s vision.  Bill’s Pizza, for example, donated about twenty large pies to the Farmers’ Market Board, yesterday, to feed volunteers and staff at the Farm-to-Table Dinner.

Bill’s philanthropy was where his heart was.  He gave to a variety of causes and regarded the needs of the community, both in Prescott and in the Palm Springs area. He has helped our local Red Cross Chapter, as well as the Farmers’ Market and a local street ministry. Bill hired those who were disadvantaged, and worked with them to develop job skills.  I have eaten at all three of his restaurants, on several occasions over the years.  I never met the man, but I saw his ethic at work and notice that there is a close camaraderie in each of the establishments.

People like Bill Tracy are the gold standard, combining social sense, business sense and deep character.   Many of us strive to develop one or another of these qualities, and make a good effort at it.  Bill had the drive and sense of constancy to keep up with the changes and chances of economic downturns-and was a force in establishing shelters and care programs for the homeless, both in Prescott and in the Palm Springs area.

He won’t return to Prescott, but I daresay his spirit will never leave this community.

Back to Harmony

6

September 8, 2019-

Yesterday, I let the sour mood pass through. I think it was a reaction to the falling barometer.  We got about 1.3 inches of rain, in this neighbourhood and in points east.  A trip to the laundromat, on the northwest side of town, revealed continued “dry as a bone” conditions. Whilst at Farmers’ Market, I learned, from a vendor, who is a mutual acquaintance, that an erstwhile tormentor had found some peace in her life.  That is comforting, as unhurt people are less likely to hurt people. As the day wore on, and the rain had passed, I felt more in tune.  Spiritual Feast, in the evening, was vibrant and well-attended, another uplift.

Today has seen a nice breakfast at Post 6 come and go.  Now the long and celebratory Farm-to-Table Dinner will occupy my afternoon and evening.  This is one of four large social events of the Autumn-three of them this month and the last, on November 2, which will keep me connected to the community and offer a form of activity, in addition to Planet Fitness and whatever hiking I do, here and elsewhere in the Southwest.  Service projects, other than the above, will also be performed, through the Red Cross.  Home safety, simply put, is our major focus, in areas at risk for wildfire.

The message comes to me that disharmony is, largely, actually a product of not being in sync with the community.  Letting other people’s pain affect my own self-concept is a disservice, to them and to myself.  So, back to a state of balance I go.

Today will make many people happy.

Inside and Out

6

September 3, 2019-

I stopped, briefly, at the new location of SunFlour Shops, about four doors down from the former SunFlour Market.  My purpose was to deliver a bouquet of sunflowers, on the occasion of the store’s Grand Opening.  This, I did, and was treated to a fine cup of coffee, whilst the owner hobnobbed with the people who will make up her primary customer base.

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The store is more focused on dry goods than its predecessor, although her fresh-baked pastries are still featured, along with espresso and other coffee drinks.

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As a result, seating is less of a priority, at this point. There is, however, a huge patio, which will be amenable to visitors tarrying, in a month or so, when the heat subsides.

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The storefront is not signed, as yet, but I knew the location from the window decorations.

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My time there was limited by two things:  I wasn’t entirely welcome in the shop and there was a meeting of the Prescott Red Cross Chapter, where I was welcome and where my input on a few things was needed.  After being asked if I needed anything else, I left Superior quietly and headed back  to Home Base, getting to the Red Cross office, in time for a barbecue and the brief meeting.

The two situations are a snapshot of my relations with groups.  There have been, historically, few groups where I have been “on the inside”.  The old SunFlour was one of those.  The Red Cross Chapter has evolved into such a place.  My last fulltime place of employment was, as well, until newcomers decided I was not ” a good fit”.

These situations are always fluid, given the vagaries of human nature. So, I’ve learned where, with whom, and how much time, I should focus.  It’s no surprise that some parts of southern California, the Midwest and South are always places of refuge.  The area of my childhood and youth will remain welcoming, also.  Wherever my little family is, likewise, will be home.  Prescott, and a few other places in Arizona, are ever home.

Maybe it’s more because of my more globally-focused nature, that I am more of an outsider.  It’s not something that hurts all that much, though running into closed groups is always a challenge.

 

Completion

2

September 2, 2019, Superior, AZ-

Persistence,

and attention to detail,

lead to completion.

Cutting corners

leads to stagnation,

or to wasted time.

A small group got

together,

and worked on

an onerous task,

largely finishing

in five days’ time.

The rest will depend on

dryer conditions,

which in Arizona

is just a matter of time.

An entrepreneur has moved

her shop, three doors down

from where she was.

There will be a grand opening

of the new place,

tomorrow.

There was considerable

attention to detail,

even redoing some preparation,

that was set back,

when an opponent of her move,

scrawled graffiti on the storefront,

to “prevent gentrification”.

When an area is unused

and there is no tenant,

occupying the spot

is not gentrification.

It is taking responsibility.

It is  moving a community

towards completion.

 

The Cleansing

0

August 31, 2019-

The day began with my usual Saturday ritual:  Get up, sans alarm, devotions, coffee& paper and a visit to Farmer’s Market.  What is different today was the call to clean up.  A local business owner found an abandoned homeless camp near and around his property, in a wooded area by Granite Creek, one of Prescott’s many streams.  The creek flows into Watson Lake, a reservoir that is also a prime boating and fishing venue.  Thus, it’s a good idea to keep the watershed clean of trash and debris, a notion that has not been front and center for those who regard themselves as desperate for a place to live, or for those who rousted the squatters out of their encampment, nearly a month ago.

One longtime friend of the owner has been steadfast in helping him clean the place, over the past three days.  I joined them today, and will do so again on Monday morning and any morning that I am not working, Wednesday-Friday of the coming week.  Much of the large items, like  tents, blankets, coats, and sleeping bags were bagged and set for disposal on Tuesday.  Disclosure:  NONE of the items are salvageable, as water and mud have rendered them useless.  This is the cost of “sweeps”, and of random, ungoverned squatter camps.

That brings up a broader issue:  The matter of personal responsibility for self and for community.  The lay minister who was my partner on this endeavour, this morning, raised a valid point as to the tendency of people to leave solutions to issues to government- or to some other group.  Many people in Prescott, and in other places across the globe, tell themselves that it’s the government’s job to tend to social issues.  This attitude can be shown either vocally(including online posts, telling the police, Parks & Recreation, etc. to “Do their job”) or by attrition (i.e. volunteering for an activity, then just not showing up).

I was, thankfully, raised to take responsibility for the neighbourhood and/or the community, and trust me, I was not always the kind of child who wanted to get out and volunteer for such projects.  My parents kept after us anyway, and instilled that sense of community involvement.

There are as many ways to “cleanse” a community and build its strength, as there are people.  The Red Cross effort to make sure smoke alarms are working, in modular homes and more conventional dwellings, is also an effort that is gaining steam here.

Lastly, the cultural strength of a community matters greatly, in building a civil society.  The Folk Sessions and Concerts at the the Court House are a major piece of this effort, as are the art fairs, soccer matches and the Farmer’s Market itself.  Last night, an intrepid young woman,who I am proud to regard as a friend, made Prescott a stop on her way from Portland to Boston, just for the sake of supporting the musical scene in a town that welcomed her, three years ago.

There are many ways to build a community-and I know of shut-ins who make quilts or stuff backpacks for needy kids, in the new school year, or the disabled man who fashioned an “adventure train” for stray dogs, whom he takes out of the shelter, two or three days a week. I am fortunate to still be able to be of more ambulatory service, and thank my spirit guides and the Creator for this.

Just, let’s not pass the buck back to the next one, or to the Government.

Undying

8

August 20, 2019-

This is not a post about vampires or zombies.  It is a post about how the love I feel towards many; in fact, just about all those who come to mind.  I say “just about all”, as the few who have consistently repaid kindness with viciousness are those who I need to keep at arm’s length, while still not wishing them ill.  There is always room for forgiveness and a new start.

At any rate, I am thinking specifically of a few young ladies, with whom my contact is mostly, if not entirely, on social media, who are like daughters to me.  One resurfaced today, on my feed, and I could only feel relief that she is in a safe place.  Others are pretty constant here, and that always brings a smile to my heart.

There is a family wedding coming soon-in my heart family, that is.  I find this is as important to me as any of my birth family’s nuptials.  The bride defines self-made woman and I can feel this marriage will be a particular success.  She, and her mother (also  a self-made woman), have long been very close to my heart.

A good woman, whom I had the pleasure of meeting several times, recently passed to the Presence of her Lord.  One of the points in her obituary was her kindness to even the most derelict of people.  She would get after those who were slovenly, but always in a gentle way.  No one was beyond redemption, in her view.

I hope to keep on, with this state of heart, getting up each day with a vow to show love and respect to those who cross my path-and to be consistent about it.  That doesn’t mean being a doormat-as that would not be loving to myself.  It does mean walking in Light.

May this be an undying state of heart.