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.

 

 

 

 

 

Commitment

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January 25, 2019-

We had, all in all, a good, productive meeting at work, today and prior to that, I felt a firmer commitment to us paraprofessionals, from our leadership.  These set the stage for a productive period, for the rest of the Winter and through the Spring.

It reminds me that my own commitment, to the well-being of humanity, branches off in many directions:  Our team and the students; the local Baha’i community, and the wider Prescott/Yavapai County community-through Red Cross, Slow Food, American Legion-and those who are just beloved friends ;  my friends who run the businesses around town, which I have come to love and appreciate- Frozen Frannie’s, Ms. Natural’s, Rustic Pie, Cupper’s, Chi’s Cuisine, Raven Cafe, Peregrine Books , Cornerstone Chiropractic, Planet Fitness and, most of all, Prescott Farmers Market; my family, most directly my son and daughter-in-law, mother and siblings-each of whom, are doing just fine.  When I’m needed, I will do what is necessary

I have always had a global take on things, though, even when that was considered odd.  So, I think, often and pray daily, for people in places which I might visit frequently- Phoenix, Flagstaff, the Verde Valley; not so frequently- Tucson, Superior, Carson City, Orange County, San Diego, Massachusetts,Missouri, Pennsylvania, the Great Lakes region, Virginia, Tennessee and Florida; once and again-the Pacific Northwest, western Europe, Alaska and east Asia- and those places which lie in my future, God willing-Africa, the rest of Europe, Central and South America, south Asia and the Middle East.

Yes, there is a commitment to travel, to visiting and to service where needed. Mainly, though, I am committed to living a full life, to doing the Will of God.   Thich  Nhat Hanh says commitment has nothing to do with convenience- so be it.

 

Nine Tasks

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January 19, 2019-

Many people make resolutions, the first thing, when the calendar rolls over.  I don’t indulge in that particular practice, knowing that making firm commitments to new practices takes time.

There are nine task areas, labours of love, that have defined my life, since the passing of  Penny, nearly eight years ago.  I will focus today on what these mean, relative to 2019.

1.  Family- With Aram and Yoonhee based in Busan, for at  least the rest of this year, my focuses are: To be in Korea for their sacred wedding ceremony, in March; to tend to such of their needs as can only be addressed on this side of the Pacific; to meet them in the U.S., should they visit here in the summer.

2.  Work- I remain committed to working, during the regular academic year, through at least December, 2020 and no later than May. 2021, depending on the needs of the school, preferably in the High School Autism Program.  Thus, work is a major daily focus through the fourth week of May and from August-December.

3. Faith- No day has gone by, since February 23, 1981, that I have not begun my morning in devotions and a fairly long recitation of prayer.  Service to Baha’u’llah remains  a prime expression of my inner joy and love for humanity.  This year marks the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab (The Gate), Who we revere as both Baha’u’llah’s Herald and His Twin Messenger of God, as al-Bab’s spiritual Dispensation took place from 1844-1853, immediately before the beginning of Baha’u’llah’s.   Their birthdays also fall on two consecutive days, on the lunar calendar.  This year, these are October 29-30, with al-Bab’s  anniversary occurring first. (Historically, Baha’u’llah was born in 1817 and al-Bab, in 1819).  There are also regular Spiritual Feasts and other Holy Days, throughout the year and I  am participating in regular study groups and other activities.

4.  Community Life-  I take part in volunteering on community projects, with the American Red Cross and Slow Food Prescott.  The focuses are on disaster response, home safety, school gardens and,  new this year, food recovery.  These activities largely define my giving back to Prescott and Yavapai County, for having been a large part of my solace, in the Fall of 2011.  The American Legion’s Post 6 celebrates its 100th anniversary, in May, and I will have a part to play in that celebration.

5. Writing- Blogging and journaling have also been critical to my inner healing, even in the midst of my caretaking, in 2008-11.   They remain an integral part of who I am, and so Word Press, with its being extended to Facebook and Linked In, remains my primary means of self-expression, through this year and beyond.  I also maintain a pen and ink private journal.

6, Hiking-  This has been a huge lifelong pastime, pretty much since I was old enough to walk.  Since I’ve been old enough to take off on my own, without getting into trouble, many trails and paths, from my native Massachusetts to the desert Southwest, Colorado, southeast Alaska, Korea and northwestern Europe have seen my bootprints.  This year, my focuses will be on further segments of the Maricopa Trail, at least two visits to the Grand Canyon, more beach walks in southern California, Fall hikes in Utah and the Navajo Nation, and several walks with Aram and Yoonhee, whilst in Korea.

7. Travel-  This has also long been one of my passions, often dovetailing with hiking.  The Korea trip will take me to Gwangju and Jeju, as well as Busan.  Prior to that, will be a Presidents’ Day weekend visit to southern California, hopefully connecting with friends in Orange County and the San Diego area-with La Jolla, Dana Point, San Clemente and possibly Crystal Cove being on the itinerary.

June and July largely hinge on my little family’s schedule.  Carson City, in late May, is a given, with a new extended family member having been born, this past week.  A 1-2 week visit to the Northwest, Vancouver Island/Sunshine Coast and southeast Alaska is likely-as is the now customary jaunt through the Midwest to New England and back through the mid-South.

October (Fall Break) will find me in Monument Valley and southeast Utah- returning to Capitol Reef and Natural Bridges, as well as the Goosenecks of the San Juan River.  Christmas, God-willing, will see a return to Massachusetts.

8. Diet and Exercise- Planet Fitness and our daily Adaptive Physical Education regimen have largely provided my continuity as a healthy physical specimen.  Stretches at home have also proven critical, as I recovered from a posterior knee strain, over the past ten weeks.  Things are 99% back to normal and I want to keep it that way- up to, and maintaining, 100%.  I am cutting back on coffee consumption, not out of any pressure, but because my body tells me that’s what it wants.  Less red meat is also finding its way onto my plate-and what there is, is certified grass-fed and organic.  A greater percentage of my diet being of vegetables, fruits and whole grains is on tap for this year, as well.  Yes, I will drink more water-that’s not an empty statement. Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, including Lifelong Vitality Supplements, are a continual source of sustenance.

9. Study-  My mind is always looking to keep current with advances in health, trends in positive thought and expanding my awareness of subjects in which I have scant knowledge- as well as continual study of Baha’i texts and new correspondence. This will continue, as 2019 progresses.

This is a longer post than usual, but there you have my year’s plan.

 

 

 

Gratitude Week, Day 3: Health

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November 20, 2018, Prescott-

The last day of work before Thanksgiving came and went, with barely a hitch.  The students are surrounded by people who want to be working with them.  That has not always been the case, and the kids know when it isn’t.

Health, both physical and mental, depends not only on one’s genes and personal habits, but on how connected one is to those around us. I have been in good health for over ten years now, even counting the infections contracted whilst I was Penny’s caretaker and the recent knee strain.  It has been being surrounded by a largely independent, but genuinely loving, network of friends, to whom I paid homage two days ago, and to extended family, to whom I will pay similar tribute on Thanksgiving Day, which has brought me home, in terms of radiance and stamina.

A good daily balance of work and play, rest and activity, socialization and solitude has kept me in recovery from whatever ailments are brought on by aging and occasional stress.  I am grateful to do Terra essential oils, Planet Fitness and our systems of forests and parks, at all levels of government and of private landowners (Nature Conservancy, various local trusts) who allow access to their treasured sites.  I am indebted to those who provide healthful food and beverages, often but not always, free of Genetically-Modified Organisms and sometimes meatless.

I have much towards which to work, both gainfully and as a volunteer, over the next several years.  My health community is a key component of the process.

Tomorrow, I will offer a shout-out to those who have kept our communities, states and country safe and to those who work towards a safer world.

Vignettes, but No Pictures

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October 11, 2017, Silver City-

I am intending to get to bed shortly, so as to wake up in time for a 2.5 hour drive to Gila Cliff Dwellings.  So, there will be no photos of Besh Ba Gowah or the Gila Wilderness, for a day or two.

I do want to mention a few people I have met, over the past two days.  There was a little girl, about 3, who expressed concern about the bandaid on my left facial cheek.  I have it to guard a sun blister that is slowly healing.  No explanation was needed, but her concern was priceless.  Another little girl greeted me this morning, as I went to my car for an item.  She was pleased that I was on vacation, like she was.

At the Slow Food Prescott meeting, last night, I was able to invite three couples to our upcoming observance of the Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth, on Oct. 22.  It takes a lot for me to offer invitations, and two of them were accepted graciously, with the third being rather hesitant, but taking it anyway.  More importantly, a Convergence event was announced at this meeting.  It will be held from November 10-12, which I can attend for at least two days- and with some negotiation and calendar tweeking, three days.  There will be an all-nighter, on the last night, ending at 8 AM, 11/13.  Work the next day, of course, will keep me from that part.

When I got to Superior, I had to bang on the window to get the resident manager’s attention- no doorbell, and the phone is in the office.  It took ten minutes, but I got in my reserved room.  Tonight, in Silver City, my initial room had a dead magnetic strip, and a broken faucet handle in the bathroom, so I got a different room and a discount on top of a discount.

At Tammy’s Cafe, in Buckhorn, NM, this evening, the grill was overloaded, so it took several of us close to 40 minutes to get our meals.  The staff, though, is incredibly energetic, attentive,  and gracious.  No one is idle.  The food was marvelous, worth the wait.

In the meantime, I had a lengthy conversation with a young ranch hand, named Jason, who gave me a wealth of information about Gila Cliff Dwellings, Casa Malpais (in Springerville, AZ) and various cliff dwellings on both private and county land, between Silver City and Springerville.  Tammy, the cafe owner and one of her waitresses were also full of information on the prehistoric remnants of the area.

It’s always a good day, when I feel open to connecting with new people.

 

 

What Makes Community?

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August 22, 2017, Prescott-

This evening, I attended a  gathering of Prescott Area School Gardens, aka Slow Food Prescott.   There were several small presentations about various garden projects, at both public and private schools, across the western half of Yavapai County.  The ensuing discussions broached upon several topics, including what, if any, are the rights of those who don’t support small agricultural projects?

A small group,  in the town of Humboldt, led by the town’s elementary school principal and a local landscaper, are pushing to remove the school’s garden, because its stewards are using organic farming techniques, will not allow Roundup, and other poisons, to be used in the garden area and are “taking up space that could be used for buildings.”  It’s even been said that these gardeners are teaching values that are at variance with local values.  What those local values are, is not quite clear.

There has been, in the media, reference to “the Hate Community”, following Charlottesville.   I wonder, does this mean there is an equal and opposite “Love Community”?  How about an “Indifference Community?”  The “White Community” is, supposedly, to be set apart from the “Black Community”, “Latino Community”, “Native American Community”,etc.  Do each of these communities have their pot luck dinners,  Kumbaya circles and support groups?

I have never been wholly accepted into a particular community, save my Baha’i Faith, and the online Archaeology for the Soul group. I have many friends who belong to various communities, but there are always those in a given group, for whom my presence is somehow a threat. Part of that is my peripatetic nature.  There is also the rapidity with which people form impressions of others, based on relatively brief encounters, real and perceived slights and lack of sustained communication.

I maintain that anonymity is largely to blame for estrangement, breakdowns in communication, or the lack of same.  It’s too easy to turn a stranger into a strawman. It is too easy to build false zones of security, based on opinions and practices that are themselves rooted in ignorance, superstition and hearsay.  Five minutes on social media offer proof enough of this.

It is also too easy to stick with one’s annoyance at another, based on one incident.  I have not, in nearly 67 years, had the luxury of holding onto grudges and resentments, and have had my fair share of bullies and haters.  Oftentimes, those same people have resurfaced in my life, as changed people, and/or as people in clear need of assistance.  I don’t regret my decision to see them as friends.

Communities, like individuals, are in various stages of growth, and will find themselves in conflict, as a result.  I do not, however, think that there is a “Hate Community”, or even a completely insular ethnic community, sufficient unto itself.  The world has just become too connected, and despite the fact that this means discord will chafe at our individual and collective skin, as a true World Community is formed, the long-term ramifications of this process are nothing short of glorious.

So, what does this mean for the “Roundup Community”?  It probably means a temporary ‘victory” over the organic farmers, given the mindset of our governmental agencies.  Long term, poisons will not be able to be administered in small enough doses to avoid permanent damage to soil, water and public health.   They will also prove ineffective against evolving pests, whose predators already exist in nature, and which are also evolving.   My overall point, in this rambling, is that life is going to continue, according to the Greater Plan of our Creator, Who will not abide its arbitrary extinction.

NOTE:  My remaining travel posts from July are awaiting my ability to pay for an upgrade to this Word Press account, so as to get unlimited storage for the photographs which enhance such posts. This should not take longer than a few more days.

The Road to 65, Mile 285: Kombucha and Quixote

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September 8, 2015, Prescott- I have a couple of pieces of starter for kombucha.  It is a sort of fermented tea that, combined with organic, unrefined sugar, and mixed with the starter, will be a very strong digestive aid. Penny and I made it, around 2006-7, and used it for both of our abdominal well-being.  I will do this again.

This, and milk-based kefir, were the topics of a Slow-Food Prescott gathering, this evening.  Of course, there were a wealth of GMO-Free and organic dishes, as part of the festivities.  Given the pressure that our U.S. House of Representatives, and various conservative judges, around the globe, are putting on us to force the public to buy Genetically-Modified products, I think we need to have more events like this, to safeguard our health.  Someone asked, not long ago, if I would go to jail for my beliefs.  This is one area where I would do so.  No one tells me what to eat.

I heard on the radio that this year marks the 400th Anniversary of the publication of “Don Quixote de la Mancha”.  Miguel de Cervantes wrote of the consequences of a belatedly examined life, and of how a man’s not living his dream, until late in life, leads to so many bouts of foolishness.  Don Quixote’s idealization of the chivalrous life is not so different from the modern day fascination with Super Heroes. I was surprised, as an adolescent, when none of the Classics Illustrated comic books, which I relished, included a version of “Don Quixote”.  I didn’t read the novel until my third year in university, and I read it in Spanish.

I wonder at times, whether all we do to counteract the power structure in this world is actually a tad quixotic.  My heart, though, tells me “No, keep going.  Our children deserve a better, less materialistic system.”  So, onward I will tilt my lance.

The Road to 65, Mile 165: Seeds

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May 12, 2015, Prescott-  I planted seeds of confidence in a young girl’s mind, this morning, and she guided the lot of us to revisiting a small detail, which made all the difference in a key part of the lesson.  This evening, the concept of seed banks and libraries was shared with thirty of us, who were gathered at a Slow Food chapter meeting.

I am into the sowing of seeds- of vegetables, fruit, grasses and ideas.  Sowing friendship seeds is the best such activity, and I am getting better at that.  The physical seeds will most likely wait until next Spring, but I will check the planting calendar, and see if an early July planting will work for this mountain climate. The seeds of amity can be planted anytime, and are well worth watering.  The seeds of ideas must be planted, and watered daily.

A gentleman at tonight’s meeting offered the opinion that individual seed banks are critical to preventing a USDA/Monsanto joint takeover of our food supply.  While the Feds are big on Genetically-Modified anything, I don’t see that ending well, for anyone.  Any given individual has a hundred places to hide seeds, and after all, the “success rate” of the war on drugs is not exactly earthshaking.  We who seek to grow our own food will be just fine.

This brings me to the bad seeds:  Suspicion, closed-mindedness and power-craving.  The first grows out of, and feeds, the second.  Both are a natural reaction to the the third.  The more those in authority overreach, even with the best of ill-informed intentions, the more those on the ground will push back, overreact and invite more overreach.  See the tiger, the dog, the snake chasing their tails?

Monsanto is responding to a reasonable request from the State of Vermont, to label Genetically Modified Organisms in foods sold there, by dispatching an army of attorneys, to sue, appeal and obfuscate- thus wasting millions of dollars and months of man-hours, while complaining about the cost of such labeling.  Then, there is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade Trojan horse, by which the President, and at least two of his predecessors, hope to use to force the GMO-free nations of east Asia to buckle under and get with the Monsanto program.  Go figure.

I am not against science.  The research ought to go on, move beyond monocultures and poisoning of the soil and water, and get over the idea that revenue, the building of fortunes, alone, should be the be-all and end-all of the accumulated knowledge.  We ought not eat what we can’t digest, no matter whose children are being put through college, with the generated profit.

I digress.  The seeds of knowledge, as well as those of sustenance, belong to all mankind.

The Road to 65, Mile 148: Slingshot Day

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April 25, 2015, Prescott– I woke this morning, at 2:35, got shaven and dressed, then headed down to Phoenix Zoo, where an Oral Cancer Awareness Run/Walk was being held.  My volunteer position was the Raffle Table, where I sold tickets, oversaw the placement of tickets in various jars that were in front of prizes being raffled, and encouraged a couple of high school students who were walking about the grounds and selling tickets, as well.  The activity was most enjoyable and our happy mood drew many more people to the table, as they were curious as to the joyful atmosphere.  The old saying goes “Laugh and the world laughs with you.  Cry, and you cry alone.”  I have always found that to be a bit harsh, but I will go with the first part of it.

Around 8:20 AM, I left to go back up to Prescott, the reason being that I also planned to help out at the School Garden Project, at Mountain Oaks Charter School, where I have a loose association with the administration.  Plus, Slow Food Prescott has made school gardens a priority, and I support that group’s legitimate activities, even if I don’t always like the people it attracts.  Anyway, I got back home, napped for an hour, and got over to the school in time to put together a woven bamboo fence, in front of the back vegetable garden. After a quick lunch, the project ended with weeding a section along the front fence, and spreading manure, for the sunflowers, gourds and corn that were planted there.  These activities, also, were done in a joyous atmosphere.

That’s what service should be.  Contrasted with the sometimes grim and guarded posture that I find myself adopting, when dealing with aggressive homeless veterans, today’s activities were a breath of fresh air.  Tomorrow, I will focus more on paying respects to my departed friend, who served others constantly, in her own way.