The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 28: Four Roads

6

June 28, 2020-

I listened to a couple of Bluegrass bands, this afternoon, as well. One of them was comprised of three little girls, who sang cheerfully and intensely. Listening to them move seamlessly through a nearly one-hour set, I had only one thought: Long may they know only peace and safety.

Yesterday, at the same time of day, I was participating in a wrap-up of a Unity Week Conference, online. We collectively traversed four socioemotional roads: Via Positiva; Via Negativa; Via Creativa; and Via Tranformativa.

The first, as the name indicates, was an acknowledgment and celebration of all in one’s life that is positive. We sang, swayed and shared happy sounds. The second, opposite to the first, was an acknowledgement of all that is negative in one’s life. People laid on the floor, wherever they were, and were given permission for catharsis. Many moaned, cried aloud, screamed and wailed. I was glad the neighbours were not coming to the window to check on me. Having had an emotional release, after watching a gut-wrenching video on the reality of the Confederacy, on Friday afternoon, I was pretty much catharsized out for this one. It was good for those who have been through extreme trauma.

When we came back together, it was to acknowledge the pain, as a group. We then proceeded on Via Creativa, and tapped into the inner talents and creative energies of each of us. Finally, we gathered in small groups, discussing, very briefly, the possible transformations we might bring to bear, from this conference and into the work that will lead to Peace Weekend (September 20-21). This longer road is Via Transformativa.

I had thought that July and August might be quiet months of toeing the line of those loud voices demanding that everyone stay in their homes. Upon reflection, though, avoiding criticism from the Left, or from the Right-for that matter, is not what is going to bring peace to this world. I have to leave Home Base, if necessary, to do Red Cross work, to help plan this event in September and if need be to go to the sides of those who are suffering.

The key to overcoming COVID19 lies not in timidity, nor in maintaining the appearance of ideological purity (a chimera, at minimum). It lies in being sensible about precautions (masks, yes, but mainly hand washing and being aware of one’s surroundings) and in obeying actual laws-not loudly expressed opinions.

The Silence

4

May 25, 2020-

The silence, today, was truly deafening.

There were few speeches,

anywhere in the nation.

There were no mass gatherings

of Scouts, Gold Star families,

Scottish Piper Regiments,

and surviving veterans.

all placing flags,

at gravesites.

There were several picnics

and barbecues,

people in boats,

people in swimsuits,

people wishing one another,

“Happy” Memorial Day.

It’s de rigeur, anymore.

I recall the Memorial Days

of my childhood,

watching a parade,

then going to place flowers

at the gravesites

of my grandfathers

and Grama.

There was a quiet,

the rest of the day,

and I recall reflecting,

sometimes worrying about

mortality.

I’m not sure when

things started to change.

Maybe it was the

unpopularity

of our involvements

in the wars that came

after Korea.

There will always be that debate,

but this remains:

Those who went,

and did not come back

alive,

did not make policy.

They deserve better,

than “Happy Memorial Day”.

All gave some;

some gave all.

Truth Be Told

6

April 25, 2020- 

Much in this world is discovered, up front, on a “need to know” basis.  We are both privacy-seeking and hierarchical creatures, by and large.  As a result, one, or more, of three things could happen:  1.  There is a small clique of people who know everything and dole out the facts of a matter, in dribs and drabs, if at all;  2.  A spokesperson, usually given a script, faces the public and either gives out facts in stages, or gives an opaque scenario-which may or may not even contain facts relevant to the case; 3.  A high-ranking member of an administrative team broadcasts both a large volume of information and goes off on tangents, designed to get the public to both blame the team’s perceived opponents and to go down one or more blind alleys and/or rabbit holes.

I’ve seen all three scenarios play out, over the past sixty years- at all levels of government, within families and civic organizations, and in corporations, both profit and non-profit.  I have been the recipient of untruths and have been asked to state untruths-for the “good of the order.”   I have had supervisors try to cover up wrongdoing, and have been dismissed from a post, for being too transparent.  The few times I was tempted to be dishonest myself, I proved unable to carry out the deception.  I have had someone try to throw up smoke and mirrors.  I outlasted the individual by a year, before voluntarily moving to another position.

People deserve to hear the truth, to the extent they can handle it.  They never deserve to hear a lie.  If there is information someone can’t handle, at a certain time, it is best held for a time when he or she CAN handle it.  Lying or deflecting is the stuff of a benign tyranny.  I see this being done by people all along the political spectrum, showing that people in power frequently have a very hard time trusting those who put them in power, in the first place.

There will be many changes coming out of this pandemic.  I hold out hope that a healing environment of truth and personal responsibility will be chief among them.

In Trust

4

April 1, 2020-

The past month has been a time of highs and lows, for me,as for many others.  While I am gravely concerned with the rampage of Coronavirusdisease 2019, the lows did not stem primarily from the pandemic.  They were more psychic in nature, as several who claimed to be in tune with an elevated state of mind revealed themselves, especially these past few days, to be as hobbled with political intrigue and conspiracy theory, as the most troubled among my friends.

Trust comes hard for me, for reasons too varied to describe in this post.  I have long sought after those who have a clear view of the Universe as a whole, and of the essentially spiritual nature of humans.  Baha’u’llah, His Teachings and the Faith being built in His Name have given me that comfort.  I likewise feel close to those who understand and embrace the essential Teachings of Christ, Moses, Mohammad, Gautama Siddhartha, Krishna and of the Spirit Guides of ages even further back than our present historical records can fathom.

There have been those who claim knowledge of deeper spiritual truths, but my trust in them has been broken by their fallback into addiction, profanity, a judgmental stance towards others and a claim of superiority.  I do not judge them in kind, but neither can I place my trust in their pronouncements.

Thankfully, those coming from a Higher Realm give all the assurance that I need, in order to press on with what their messages tell me I must do- Stay in place and serve humanity now, and work farther afield, when the crises afflicting us at present are abated.

Pledge

15

March 31, 2020-

I made a pledge to myself, sometime back.

I will ever support sincere efforts to bring

people together.

I will ever oppose tyranny, obfuscation

and gaslighting,

regardless of their premise.

I will ever support the dignity

of the individual.

I will ever oppose bullying,

whisper campaigns and

“cleansing” of whole

ethnicities, nations,

denominations.

I will ever work to

safeguard the rights

of children and youth.

I will ever oppose those

who deny our young

a voice in their own affairs,

or worse yet,

ignore their needs

for education,

character building

and affirmation.

I will work to

help expand

consciousness.

I will oppose

mindlessness.

Thirty Days In

2

March 29, 2020-

I began serious application of Coronavirus Disease 19 response planning, on Leap Day, February 29.  In the past thirty days, these have happened:

Work stopped, on March 6, at 3 p.m.  Part of that was Spring Break, but my employer stopped assigning people on March 11.  I got some pay, this past Friday.

I said “see you soon” to friends who have since closed their businesses, moved away from college dorms, stopped playing gigs in local clubs and are generally sequestered.

Prayed, incessantly.

Learned a  lot about navigating Zoom and opened an account with that medium.  Hosted my first meeting on it, today.

Have been catching up with reading, journaling and, yes, Netflix.

Have made plans for “journeys in place”-studying various topics.

Kept in touch with people across the planet, to see how things are going.

Have done take-out orders, just so some support is going their way.  Same with food boxes  from the Farmers Market and groceries for a pop-up food bank at the Toyota dealership.

It’s standard stuff, and part of being a member of society.  Would do it all over again, no questions asked.

Brighter days are ahead.

 

 

 

The Visitor

2

March 25, 2020-

(This is a short story which came to me, this evening, as I was in a meditation group.)

Katrin was playing in her room, with Bradley Bear and Kimmy Koala. She had just sat her animals in the little chairs, and was preparing to play teacher, when she heard a bump in the family room next to hers.  She told the “children” to stay quiet, and went to check out what had happened.  Mommy was getting stressed, with new baby coming in three more months, and Kat did not want her mother to fall down and have an accident.

She saw the breeze rustling the curtain-an odd sight, given it was early April, and Mommy never opened the window much before the first of May.  Kat went towards the window and was startled to see a pair of shoes behind the curtain.  Although she was only four years old, Katrin Leigh Osterman was the epitome of boldness, as her grandmother put it.  She went slowly, but confidently, towards the curtain and pulled it back.

There, looking unusually fearful, was a big man.  He reminded Katrin of the main character in a show that she watched with Mommy, called “Reading Rainbow”.  She asked, “Mister, what are you doing, standing behind our curtain?  Are you okay?”  The man stared, still fearful, at the little girl.  Then, he spoke:  “I am very hungry.  I have not eaten as much as a crust of bread , in almost five days.  I have been hiding, since I got off a small plane.  I watched your family and saw they seem friendly-but I could not be certain.  So, I had to sneak into the house first.”

“What’s your name, Mister?”, Katrin whispered, feeling sad at his story.

“I am Adibe Junius.”, replied the man.  ” My family name comes first, then my given name, so please call me Junius.”

“I am glad to meet you, Junius. My name is Katrin”, said the girl, still whispering.  Kat knew that Mother would be a bit scared of this stranger in her house, but Junius seemed tired, weak and more than a bit scared, himself.  She asked him to sit in a chair and said she would get him something to drink.  Then, she went to the kitchen, where her mother was resting in a comfy chair.

“Mommy, I have something to show you, in the family room.”, Kat said, in her Big Girl voice.  She then stepped on a footstool and got a glass of water from the refrigerator spigot.  ” Pleas come with me.”

Brittany got up, in a world-weary manner, wondering what her bright and adventurous offspring was up to now, carrying a glass of water to the back of the house.  Was she going to “teach” the stuffed animals how to drink without spilling?

Junius looked up at the five-foot, five inch cinnamon-coloured woman, who gasped at seeing a nearly six-foot tall man, sitting in her rocking chair.  “KATRIN LEIGH !  What on Earth are you doing, letting a stranger into this house??”, the horrified woman scolded her daughter.

“Please, Madame”, the chastened man spoke up, “She did not let me in.  I came in, through the window, as I am desperate.”

“DESPERATE?  I’ll  show you desperate!  Since when do you just walk into someone’s home, without so much as a ‘By your leave? And who are you, anyway?”, Brittany snapped.

At this point, all of Junius’ hunger and thirst pangs left him, and he burst into tears.   “I knew this would be a mistake.  I left Congo in a flight of panic and have not eaten since I got off the plane, five days ago.  All the smugglers gave any of us was a bowl of rice, with peanut sauce.”

“Congo?  Smugglers? Peanut sauce?”, the flinty-eyed mother said, her eyes getting narrower by the second.  “If this story gets any weirder, I’m about set to call Santa Claus.”

“It’s true”, Junius said, collecting himself , just a bit.  “I fled the war back home, and a white man came up to me, in Kinshasa, and said he could get me to Cape Town, so long as I carried a crate of animals to a certain spot.  I delivered the animals to a wet market, in the Chinese neighbourhood, then I was chased out of there by a gang of teenaged boys.  They called me ‘dirtbag foreigner.’  Imagine that, I am an African, and they said I didn’t belong.  So, I wandered around, until I came to this neighbourhood.”

Brittany was drawn in by this story, and he certainly wasn’t dressed like anyone from around Cape Town.  “Give Mr. Junius the glass of water, Katrin”, she relented.
Junius sipped the water surprisingly carefully, and threw his head back, letting out a heavy sigh.  “Do you know where I might get a clean bed, Madame, and a plate of food?”

Tears started to well up in Brittany’s eyes.  “I can get you to our church.  The pastor will let you clean up, help you get some fresh attire and see that you are fed.  He can do this a lot easier than we can, and he will put you to dignified work.”

Ten minutes later, Brittany Osterman had spoken to Reverend Stenbeek, who readily agreed to take Junius in, provided he followed the church house rules.  Junius walked with the two ladies to the rector’s house, and was warmly greeted by the Dutch Reformed Church pastor and his wife.  “Junius, you stumbled upon the nicest people in this parish,”  Leonidas Stenbeek proclaimed, “and you couldn’t have been greeted by anyone kinder than our Lady Katrin!”

“Please put your bag in the first bedroom, then go and shower yourself. ” Leo said, and then to his smiling wife, ” Margrit, I shall grill some prawns, in our guest’s honour! Please prepare him some porridge, for when he gets showered and dressed.  Then, we shall all dine together.”  “Yes, that we must.  It’s a great day to welcome one of our brothers,” the sturdy pastor’s wife announced, “Brittany, do sit and rest. Katrin, please help me peel some carrots.”

The proud little girl carefully peeled and sliced seven carrots, one for her and two for each of the Big People, just as Grandmother had taught her. It was a great day to welcome an uncle.

Membership in Groups

14

March 24, 2020-

I’ve historically had it tough, when being part of a group.  That hasn’t stopped me from trying.  I showed up every day, as a child, to take part the best way I could, in what ever game was being played.  In high school, I had friends with whom I could sit in the library and at lunch, and hang out on weekends.  Many are still connected-at least online.

I didn’t fare so well in the Army, or in college, but my purpose during those years was much different-and so, the work became most important.  The same was true of my first four years of teaching-never an insider, but connected with my students.  So it continued, over the next four decades, but family was my bedrock, and the kids were always the foundation.

I say this, in thinking about the groups with which I’ve been involved over the past nine years.  My Faith community is the strongest connection, followed by the mostly senior crowd at the American Legion, and my younger friends at Prescott College, both groups now in abeyance, until the virus runs its course.  Permaculture groups, like Slow Food and the Farmers Market have warmed to me, over the years.

I have personally committed to helping the Red Cross in the present crisis, only to find there is an “age-ism” rising.  The mentality seems to be that those of us over 65 are “at risk” and therefore ought to keep our distance, even beyond the current social distancing.  It may be that this is an attitude meant to keep us safe, but I find it patronizing-and more than a little cliquish.  I know my limits and would relegate myself to the background, if at all feeling ill.  I also am very tuned into the dynamics of small groups, and having seldom been an insider, can see when a situation is being manipulated to exclude all but the favoured few.

In the event there is a much larger calamity, I have become certified in FEMA’s Points of Distribution.  I am committed to helping my community, whether being welcomed by the elite, or not.  May it all just turn out to be unnecessary.

 

As We Grow

2

March 21, 2020-

Is it crucial,

to know who is to blame?

Is it a matter of life and death,

whether one’s opinion

is correct?

Is it reckless,

to take time and

look at a dire situation,

with clear eyes,

and do the right thing

the first time around?

Is it selfish,

to balance one’s

private time,

money,

energy,

with the needs

of the disenfranchised,

the destitute,

the abandoned?

The well, after all,

needs to collect

the rain,

the snow-melt,

the run-off.

The soul

is an energy field,

and thus must

every so often,

regroup from

stasis

and

surge forward,

with renewed vigor.

The sentient being

is always learning,

sometimes from mistakes

and other times,

from immersion

in what is.

We are always

growing.

 

Converging

6

March 18, 2020-

We are, so to speak, in the process of in-gathering, even as it seems we are in a distancing process.  The political arguments of the two major American political parties are increasingly hollow. The leading candidate of one party offered his solutions to the COVID-19 induced crisis to his opposite number, carte-blanche. Who sits in the White House, come next January, is less important than pulling together and stopping the virus, to the extent possible.

Events,in situ, are being canceled,  with digital means being found to replace many of them.  This will very likely work for the duration of the crisis (2 months-18 months, depending on who is making the assessment).  It is likely to become an alternative, but not a permanent replacement, to on-site meetings, in the way that e-books are an alternative to books in print.

The same will be true, in my humble opinion, to Take-Out and Delivery of items in restaurants and coffee shops, as opposed to dine-in experiences.  We are, in essence, social beings and those of us who live alone, in particular, will resume dining out, in addition to whatever private dinners to which we may be invited, or hold ourselves.

Phone calls are still important.  I called my mother this morning, and as I expected, she is well, lucid and concerned for my well-being.  The same is true of my son, who called me last night. This sort of convergence will never go out of fashion. Texting matters, as well, and social media, despite the flat-footed attempts at censorship, by some of its founders, will only become more crucial to keeping us connected.

As I mentioned earlier, despite being a peripatetic soul, the well-being of my fellows is vastly more important than what I might be inclined to do, if untethered by conscience.  I will be extremely cautious in venturing forth, for the duration of this crisis.  Besides, as I found out, these past two days, my presence is most definitely needed here at Home Base.  It will become even more so, of all of us, in different ways, in the next several months.

In many ways, humankind is converging.