Clearing the Smoke

11

June 28, 2017, Prescott- 

It is no secret that I have several issues with anyone whose priority in life is belittling ,and exercising a faux authority over, others.  Even when one’s position embues responsibility, and therefore a measure of authority, over others, I have always regarded that as a special bounty, not to be viewed as carte blanche.

I have had, as you may remember, some moments of difficulty with certain of my supervisors, at my places of employment, over the years.  These have usually derived from lack of communication, though sometimes the issue has been a superior’s hubris.

This extends to volunteer-based organizations.  There are supervisors, even in an organization such as the Red Cross, who rely on yelling, embarrassing the pro bono help working under them and acting as if such work were strictly a paid position.  These same people then whine, when there is a shortage of staff, for a particular errand of mercy.

People matter.  Volunteers matter, and so do the clients, who like children witnessing an imperious father’s browbeating of his spouse (or vice versa), formulate a sense of justice.  We are, currently, in our area, experiencing a particularly intense and stressful wildfire situation.  The vast majority of volunteers and paid staff for our organization are greatly dedicated to the well-being of our clients.  It behooves those few, for whom this organization represents a neurotic means to power, to step aside, and let those whose hearts are with the good of the people, to get their tasks accomplished, without being browbeaten or made the targets of rancour.

End of editorial.

Burning On

8

June 26, 2017, Prescott-

This double haiku refers to the Goodwin Fire, now burning southeast of Prescott.  From 8 PM to 8AM(Tuesday), I will be manning the small shelter set up by the Red Cross, in the village of Spring Valley.

I would get packed,

then, I’d buy two tires

and head on out.

Mother Nature requests pause.

The fire down the road,

won’t be put out.

 

Longest, Hottest

19

June 21, 2017, Prescott-

I tend to disregard the temperature, to an extent..

When we lived in Phoenix, I did what I needed to do,

indoors or out, even in summer.

It just was done in smaller increments.

Today, the solstice, was the longest day,

north of the Equator,

and the shortest day, to its south.

What was necessary, here, got done.

Stepping Stones has more cards,

stationery, an egg beater

and a couple of old, professional-type books.

Days for Girls has several more covers

for the washable products they offer

to disadvantaged girls and women.

I have more space,

in the dining area closet,

in the tall kitchen cupboards

and atop the refrigerator.

Solstice is also a time of accounting.

We friends talked, first of what is pure

and later, of what is really sweet,

in terms of deeds,

as opposed to silver-tongued promises.

Solstice is a time for gathering.

So, the neighbours are outside,

enjoying the coolness.

Solstice is a time for reflecting,

so, after a hearty day,

I am thinking,

how fortunate I am,

to have friends in

just about every community

I’ve ever visited.

The Time Necessary

14

June 19, 2017, Cave Creek-

This morning, I read of Juneteenth, the delayed news of southern slave emancipation, and how it took two years, minimum, to reach Texas.

Shopping for water and ice, to help with a brief trip to Superior, I encountered the daughter of a friend, whom I have not visited in some time.  She was mildly cordial, the consequence, I’d say, of my lengthy physical absence, from their lives.  I feel the need to connect with them, at least for a few hours, before heading out of the area for nearly a month.

Driving to Sun Flour Market, for a brief visit with one of my closest soul connections, I was able to communicate all that was essential, in snippets of conversation, punctuated by intuitive insight, in ninety minutes, or so, around her busy management of the restaurant.  Like me, she gets the most accomplished, in a short time, through close attention to detail, while still being able to converse a bit- and put things together.  We can understand, and care deeply for, each other and for each other’s loved ones, with minimal talk.

Driving back to the Valley, I stopped at Local Jonny’s, to visit with  some of  my young angels.  They had today off, and were nowhere to be found.  A respite is always vital, if only for a day or two.

I need little of anyone’s time, or so I tell myself.  A new friend, whose acquaintance I made today, has a wealth of insight into the realm of the spirit.  I look forward to delving into her treasury of awareness,  and its connection to my Faith,in the days and months ahead.

There is time for me to finish downsizing; time to complete a set of cotton covers for the products of Days for Girls; time to help with any fire emergencies; time, always, for spiritual growth.  How much time will I have to devote to each?  It’ll depend on how much is necessary, to fully and lovingly attend to the task.  My lilies know this.

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Thirty-fifth

10

June 6, 2017, Prescott- 

So, on this day, thirty-five years ago, I made the wisest move I have ever made, and took the vow of matrimony.  A Baha’i marital vow is simple:  “We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.”  That divine will took the two of us to great heights:  Pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holy Places, in Haifa and Akko’, with side visits to  Holy Places of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Galilee; various journeys of service around North America, to Guyana and to Taiwan; many years of work with children and youth, on the Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi Nations and perhaps, most consequentially, five and one-half years in Jeju, Korea, the birthplace of our son.  There were depths to be navigated, as well:  Penny’s debilitating disease, the worst effects of which were concurrent with the subprime mortgage crisis, the Madoff scandal and the “Great Recession”-each of which impacted us, directly or indirectly.  Standing by her side, until the end, was simply part and parcel of what my love called me to do.  Likewise, as I confronted my own demons, in the midst of all this, she supported me and her spirit has brought me through to the other side of the tunnel.

I am reminded of so much, this morning, after talking at length with our son, who, likewise, has stood by me, disagreeing with some family members, when they castigated what they saw as my irresponsibility and setting me straight, when he has seen the path veering off in an odd direction.  He’s been right, on both counts, showing that the one thing I have done right in this life has been to raise and guide an exemplary human being.  This morning, I looked at photos of Aram and his sweetheart, sensing that he continues to thrive and find his way along this marvelous, but often treacherous, road.

I have reached a minor crossroads, in my own life.  There is the option of staying the course, which would cause discomfort for my critics, as well as, initially, for me.  There is the option of moving to a more rustic part of Prescott, a place I visited yesterday, and find most salubrious.  There is the option of moving to a high desert community, close to the workplace of two of the most supportive souls I’ve ever known.  In each case, I know it’s time, as I’ve said repeatedly of late, to simplify, to downsize and to detach.

Thirty-five years after we took our vows, my love’s spirit urges me on.

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XXXVIII: It’s Not Heat That Hurts

7

June 1, 2017, Phoenix-

I came here to do two things.  First was to deliver a box of books and some food, to a loving, struggling young couple.  An entry error on WAZE  put me in central Phoenix, whilst their home was in a town several miles to the west.  A phone call, a corrected entry and some help from the staff of the apartment complex’s leasing office helped get the job done.  Husband is a mechanical innovator, and a true survivor.  Wife is a sweet lady, and works tirelessly, as well. I am glad to see how far they have come, as a unit.

My second task was easier:  Getting a document for my son.  Since that included stopping at Romanelli’s Deli, not far from his alma mater, I was in the best of graces.  A delectable sausage and peppers submarine sandwich and purified water set the rest of my afternoon on a good footing.  Promise to self:  Spinach and baby kale for dinner, tonight! The document was in hand, ten minutes after I filed my request, and the very professional Registrar gave me her business card, so that the process will be even more streamlined, still.

While tooling about my home city of ten years (2001-11), I felt a still aching pull on my spirit.  The area in which I spent most of my time was where most of the day-to-day heartache occurred, and the west side was where Penny spent her final days.  I know I have to root these feelings out, and not be shy about being in these parts of our blessed Home.  There are many good people in the Phoenix area, people who loved us, and were hurt that I moved away.  The pain, to me, comes from the anonymity of living in a large city, with so many people who came here to be anonymous.

Anonymity brings out the worst in many.  The mentality seems to be:  ” I don’t know anyone here, so why remember my manners?”  This mindset is hardly limited to Phoenix, or to the Southwest.  I’ve seen it elsewhere, wherever there are large numbers of “move-ins”. I tend to think of others, just because it gives meaning to my life.  I’d sooner let a headstrong, overwrought person have a small “victory”, or two, if it:  a) doesn’t cost me much, in terms of dignity and b) doesn’t give him/her a false sense of entitlement.  There are many things in one’s day which are best let happen, rather than having an equally entitled “arbiter” step in and unilaterally make things worse.  I trust in the conscience to kick into gear, more often than we give it credit for doing.

So, I feel pretty good about having come here, today, and it wasn’t all that hot outside.

 

 

 

May Beetles, June Bugs

7

May 31, 2017, Prescott- 

This has been a grueling, yet vital, month.  In retrospect, though, the transition that has arisen as one of the options I must consider, over the summer, has been bubbling up from the magma flow, for quite some time.

I am likely to hang on to this apartment, for at least the rest of 2017, although rents in this area tend to command 60-70% of the fixed portion of one’s income, thus making it essential to be able to earn one’s keep, above and beyond government checks.  This is as true of “senior” apartments, as it is of the general housing stock.  The other factor is that the chief of our department will need some time to sort out who should work in what capacity.  Although this is hardly an employer’s job market, when it comes to the well-being of children, standards need to be maintained.  This, I understand and support, while being one who poses no threat to any child.

All the while, as I mentioned to an online friend, in a comment, this morning, I am continuously building a network of solid contacts, across the continent, and abroad, so that, even if I am relegated to staying in legitimate campgrounds, in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to hold my head up, engage in acts of service, and earn my way.  I had hoped that this would wait until I reached age seventy, but the Universe moves as it will, and we have to maintain some flexibility.

So, May ends, with me being halfway done with the task of clearing our overgrown back yard, and having been able to serve my Lord, in a few small ways.  June beckons, starting with taking care of an important errand in Phoenix, combined with a small act of service.  I will then complete the yard work; downsize my possessions; go to  Hopi land, for a weekend visit; go to southern California the weekend after, on another errand of service; and toward month’s end, take part in a Baha’i Summer School, at Bellemont, west of Flagstaff.

May slogged along, though not for naught.  June will blaze on out, and I hope to have some sense of accomplishment, when heading to Ventura, Santa Barbara, Carson City and cross country, after Bellemont.

 

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XXX: Density

2

,May 2, 2017, Prescott-

The night sky seems denser than usual.

I’m walking home,

from the second of two meetings

held after work.

This one was spiritual, in tone,

so I was not worn down.

Spirituality can be dense,

also.

Yet, that density is what lifts us

to the light,

and sustains us,

in time of an even denser sorrow.

My heart aches for one

who lost her dearest,

a few days ago.

I have been there,

and felt the aloneness,

even when surrounded by friends.

She feels lost, at times,

this I know,

without ever having met her.

There is a fog,

as thick as pea soup,

that envelops the grieving.

Left behind, it seems,

one inches forward,

in the gloom.

Light breaks through,

however,

because that is the nature

of the Universe.

The density of light

is what sustains us.

We stand with you, Senora.

Let us, the friends you know,

and those you haven’t met,

be your light.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XXVI: Three Bounties

4

April 22, 2017, Globe, AZ- This Earth Day will long be remembered, to the core of my being, if for no other reason than being welcomed by a new, and  wonderful, friend, as she and her employer were trying to get set up for their busy Saturday.

I thought SunFlour Market was open at 8, but as the owner-chef, Willa, pointed out, the shop opens at 9.  It helps to check the website.  No harm, no foul- I was given a heaping plate of  the most savoury biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had, and stayed out of their way, while set-up continued.  I will be a semi-frequent visitor to this unassuming gem, over the next few months, at least.  It may well be that I become a regular, starting in August, but that’s to be decided in a month or two.

Kathy and Willa welcome their patrons with lots of love and good cheer.  As another example, a young couple came in, for a salad breakfast.  The ladies fussed over the vegetables, for a good twenty minutes, making certain only the best  produce went onto the plates.  The husband pronounced their meal, ” Some of the best food I’ve had, in Arizona.”

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There is also a mini-Farmers Market,  Saturdays, 9-1,from October-May.  The summer market is in Globe, 23 miles, and 1,000 vertical feet, to the east.

I spent a couple of hours in Globe, as well, given that another devoted friend has recently moved to the copper-mining mecca.

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John and I went to another well above-average restaurant, The Copper Hen, for a reasonable, and well-appointed, dinner.  The fare is Mediterranean (Italian and Greek), with the hours being definitely European. (There is a 2 1/2  hour break, between lunch and dinner.)  Rooster and hen motifs abound, but this is not a chicken-oriented menu.  The beef, ham, fish and vegetarian dishes are every bit as wonderful.

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In between the two visits, I took a 1 1/2 hour drive over to Safford, an agricultural community, in the Gila River Valley.  The region was having its first ever Multicultural Festival. It was a small, but heartfelt, effort, and I certainly hope it is repeated, fo ryears to come.  I focused on two events:  A martial arts demonstration, by a dojo of local youths and a talk on African storytelling, by an Arizona State University professor.

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This mighty girl did break the slab, in three blows.

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The presentation on African storytelling clarified several peoples’ misconceptions about why many African-Americans communicate, in the manner they do.  One example is that Africans, traditionally regard timeliness as “in its time”, rather than “on time”.  Another is that the African worldview sees no dichotomy between spiritual and physical.

Below, the presenter, Dr. Akua Duku Anokye, reads a short passage from an African folktale.

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Here is a slide, explaining the gist of her talk.

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I must have some of this, in my gene pool, as doing things “in their time” means more to me than “being on time.”

 

All good days come to an end, to make way for other good days.  The sunset over Globe bore witness to that truth.

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With these bounties, I am refreshed and ready for a Sunday of yard work and around-town tasks, then a solid work week.  I will return, to Superior at least, on May 6.  Have a great day, one and all.

 

 

He Bids Us All To Arise

8

April 16, 2017, Prescott-

Today, nearly a billion people, around the world, commemorated the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ.  Many combine the sacred with the whimsical, filling baskets with candy of all sorts, making Easter the second most popular candy-eating holiday, after Halloween.  Others leave out the sacred, altogether, thus making Easter little different from the Feast of All Hallows.

Christ overlooked the faults of others, save the Pharisees, whom He scolded and the merchants in the Temple, whom He chastised more forcefully.  He was far kinder to those who committed indiscretions of the heart.

The lesson I get from this, and from His very resurrection, is that the human spirit is capable of enormous resilience.  We fall down and hurt others, either physically or emotionally, yet some of these same people could very well return to at least a modicum of friendship, over time, if we ourselves recover our moral bearings.

Christ was not only saving us, by His sacrifice.  He was also showing us, how we might save ourselves, albeit by less supreme means.  Each of us can arise, in our own way, through adhering to the Golden Rule and by making amends, for wrongs that we have done to others.

As a Baha’i, I revere Christ as Messenger of God and Supreme Teacher.  Accordingly, I know that it’s my bounden duty to serve others, both to make amends for what I’ve done wrong in this life, and out of love for them.  Love is the basis for everything the Messengers of God, from Adam to Baha’u’llah, have taught us, over the millennia. Yesterday, I had the bounty of visiting several people, at the Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning (at Houck,AZ) , in the Hopi village of Polacca and in the small Verde Valley town of Rimrock, where a longtime friend is in the fight of his life, against a crippling disease.  What I went to impart, was a very simple message:  Your life matters.

Christ said this, repeatedly, 2000 years ago. Baha’u’llah said this, repeatedly, 164 years ago.  Both gave us the admonition to say this to one another.  Both gave us the bidding to arise, to lift ourselves, and one another, out of despair and trouble.  That is the message I get from Easter.

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