Knighthood and Benighthood

3

November 18, 2017, Prescott-

Depending on who you ask,

Charles Manson is dead,

or “not dead, it’s a liberal hoax”.

Depending on who you ask,

Bill Clinton was a good President,

or a ravenous cad,

or maybe both.

Depending on who you ask,

Woody Allen was a fine filmmaker,

or a disgusting rake,

or, again, one and the same.

Both, and.

How many of us,

have transgressed,

against someone,

or many someones,

in the days of adolescence,

in times of emotional stress,

or of moral drift.

Is it a matter of degree,

or a matter of having

overcome and transcended,

the lower nature.

We all have duality.

Some refer to that

as Original Sin.

Others brush it off,

as “his peccadilloes”.

The fact remains,

when one transgresses

the bounds of good behaviour,

of kindness,

of respect,

of dignity,

someone else is hurt,

and often, grievously.

There are no free passes,

no pats on the head,

or “It’s okay, I’ll get over it.”

I’ve felt shame before,

and made amends,

the best I could.

It made no difference,

that they were words,

or mild gestures.

Hurt is hurt,

and I was/am

deeply sorry.

What about the others?

Are they sorry?

Have they,

will they,

make amends?

Has so and so,

who trolled young girls,

in the 1970’s and ’80’s,

been a chaste and loyal husband,

these past 30 years?

Has a man who dabbled in porn,

when his “beloved”

was asleep,

faced and overcome

his afflictive addiction?

Has a woman who preached

Faith, by day,

and romped with men,

by night,

at last chosen her Lord

over her lust?

Many famous names

have been bandied about,

of late.

Fame sheds light

on darkness,

but where are

those of us,

who live

lives that are

not public?

Are we knighted,

or benighted?

 

Stirring

8

November 16, 2017, Prescott-

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of my first day as a full-time educator.  The two-year stint, in a rural area of central Maine, was far from my finest tour of duty, but it was a start.  People there would not remember me fondly, but they may as well know that most of my demons have been cast.

On another note, I have been in touch with my son, regarding the earthquake in P’ohang, South Korea, about two hours drive from his city of Busan.  He’s fine, as is his girlfriend.  I follow such things with alacrity, however, as any parent would.

I am feeling stirrings of outrage, at the ruling allowing imports of elephant parts from Zimbabwe and Zambia, by trophy hunters.  This is too obvious a ploy to let well-connected slaughter tourists have their way.  There should be no more pretense that this helps conserve species.

Then, there is the “accidental” spill of thousands of gallons of crude oil, from the Keystone Pipeline, in northeastern South Dakota.  Wow, who saw that coming?

Both parties, and all points on the political spectrum, have personages who have abused women;  no surprise here either.  Ego knows no ideology.  At least, a few people, Sen. Franken and Louis CK, are willing to take their lickings.  Many more, myself included, have had to undergo a considerable measure of emotional growth, in this regard.  In my case, it’s been a very lengthy process, though I have not, once, forced my attentions on anyone or sought to avoid responsibility for making anyone uncomfortable.  We have made some progress as a society, but not treating people as objects is an area of several segments and one in which each of us must take a measure of responsibility-whether it means changing our attitudes, or encouraging others to change theirs.

So, it’s been a full day, of wide-ranging stirrings in my psyche.

Yes and No

10

November 15, 2017, Prescott-

A fellow blogger posted, this afternoon, that no one is entitled to rights, by decree.  Yes, and no:  Yes, a child has the right to a healthy diet, a safe and warm place to live, a solid, fundamental education and above all, loving adults by whom to be raised.  No, one does not have the automatic right to a mate, a good paying job, a full refrigerator and pantry or a large contingent of friends.  Those are things one earns by dint of character and hard work.

I was raised to know that my parents were  there for me, that I had responsibilities that went with being part of a family, that boys and girls were equal in the sight of God, and that didn’t go away when we reached adulthood.  As much as my immature, flawed self disliked it, I had to wait, a long time, to meet the love of my life.  My mature, flawed self does not regret the wait.

Sometimes, the price of the good in our lives is paid up front- through suffering and seemingly innumerable setbacks  Other times, the good comes first, and, as with the Biblical Job, torments and sorrows follow.  I have learned, especially from my Native American ancestors, that hard times make one stronger and good times make one secure enough to withstand the next set of hard times.  After 600-800 years of collective difficulty, Native Americans are still here.  After 500 years of oppression and distrust, African-Americans are still here.  Woman, collectively, has endured millennia of being regarded as a subordinate being.  She is more present than ever.

Those who say each individual must earn certain rights and prerogatives are correct, to a point.  Let them also, however, consider what rights each man, woman and child has already earned, by dint of character, suffering and, yes, hard work.  To dismiss this, is to affirm the claim of the tyrant, the supremacist.

If

10

November 14, 2017, Prescott-

If I am chosen to serve as a co-ordinator for international students,

I would work to make their time here a cornerstone of the rest of their lives.

If my son safely completes his time in service,

I know he will make a huge mark in the world,

in the time afterward.

If it be God’s Will, I shall not be moved aside

from generous acts of service,

both here and far afield.

If there be a clear sense of reality,

the good people of the world

will find a way,

to end imbalance,

for Puerto Rico,

Kurdistan,

Rakhine Province,

Sri Lanka,

Syria,

South Sudan,

Rockport- Port Aransas,

central Appalachia,

the Navajo Nation,

Uyuni,

Haiti,

Chicago.

If  justice prevails,

those being marginalized

will see solutions,

that honour their

creativity,

their intelligence,

their dignity.

Convergence, Night 2 and Day 3

7

November 12, 2017, Arcosanti-

Conflict, like anything that exists, can only do so, when fed.  Among the foods of conflict are ego, emotional imbalance and inattention to one’s surroundings. There were several opportunities for conflict to be nourished, over the past fifteen hours.  No one chose to do so, and the most irritating behaviours of some among us, merely passed to review, for consideration in planning the next Convergence.

The Dreaming session did not proceed as planned. Suffice it to say that an activity antithetical to meditation and focus was placed immediately next to us.  The Dreaming session’s organizers chose to carry on, in spite of the noise next door.  I moved to a quieter area and spent the night in blanketed comfort and in intense dreaming, if alone.  Arcosanti is vortical, in that respect. Those who stayed in the original site reported that the noisy group stopped their interference, right at midnight.  They did not, however, dream as deeply as they might have.  It is interesting, though, that no one persisted, beyond an initial protest, with regard to the noisy neighbours.  Such conflict would have been the undoing of Convergence, which was hardly anyone’s wish.

This morning, breakfast took longer to prepare, than expected.  No one raised an unnecessary ruckus, despite the lateness of the morning.  This was even true when the mesquite flour pancakes proved a particular headache for the cooks.  Those of us who really WANTED the pancakes accepted a batch that were a bit mushy in the middle.  Elevation has its culinary drawbacks, extended time for baking being among them.  Again, conflict didn’t happen.

I made several new friends, these past few days.  Standing out among them are this morning’s breakfast companions:  The men, women and children of Dharma Family Farm, who were visiting from their abode in Paulden, about an hour north of Prescott.  It’s been awhile since I’ve had the joy of observing babies and toddlers, in serene parental hands, experiencing several aspects of their world. There are some very bright and caring folks coming up the ladder of life, in this generation named, by the Media, i-Gen.  I will surely take the families up on their invitation to visit the farm, in the next few weeks.

This brings up one last point.  At least three mothers openly nursed their babies. Not one of  the five of us men, who were at the  two tables, gave so much as sidelong glance.  Our conversations involved the women, with eye contact-period.  (For the record, I believe nursing is the most natural thing in the world, and one of the best health practices.)

Yes, conflict requires feeding, in order to exist.  It’s time for a starvation diet.

Convergence, Days 1 and 2

13

November 10-11, 2017, Arcosanti-

The past two days have taken this loving wanderer far deeper into my past and how it has affected my subconscious, than any prior event in which I’ve been involved.

In between volunteer sets in the Cafe, I joined one of the workshops in the Healing segment of Convergence.  A session entitled Re-Patterning addressed the very issue that was weighing on me, yesterday afternoon.  My feeling that I was not trusted by people, very much, even in the context of the workshop participants, was allowed to be brought into focus.  After establishing that a few breaches of trust  on my part, mostly online, over the past few years, were still playing and replaying in the background, there was an exercise in which deep breathing and muscle resistance were used.  This brought to light that, when my family moved when I was four, I left someone behind, who I considered a good friend.  Somehow, in the fullness of  life in the new neighbourhood, this never entered into closure.

I have largely spent my energies in two divergent ways, since that time.  On the one hand, I am always open to new experiences, and visiting new places.  On the other hand, when off work, especially since Penny passed on,  my tendency is to occupy myself alone.  I have inherited the “comfortable in my own space” mindset of my mother and maternal grandfather.  Yet, there is more to it than that.  Yesterday’s session established the role of unresolved loss in the course my life has taken, all these years.

I feel like a great weight has been lifted, and am not as tense, in this large gathering, as I was yesterday, before the session.  I worked two long shifts in the Cafe, last night and early afternoon today.  I still find myself alone this evening, but that is more a function of having left Convergence this evening, to attend a Veteran’s Day dinner in Prescott, then returning here, after dark.

As indicated earlier, being at a large gathering, overnight, is new to me.  I won’t retreat into my own space and shut out the world.  This change is mainly for the sake of taking part in a group meditation and dreaming event, which will be more easily explained after the fact than now.  No, I will not be using psychotropic drugs.  Where I go will be where the universe naturally takes me, much like any other night..

Stay tuned.

 

In-Crowds and Outliers

4

November 9, 2017, Prescott-

For most of my life, I’ve not made much distinction between groups of people:  Neighbourhoods, social classes, occupations, educational levels, generations, nationalities.  None of those have kept me from interacting, wandering about, learning what I could from, and about, each and all.

This has led to a rich set of experiences- occasionally with the loneliness that comes from not being too close to any one group.  That aloneness has been altered, somewhat, since I entered the Baha’i Faith, with Penny’s encouragement, in early 1981.  I don’t strictly adhere to socializing only with Baha’is.  That is not in keeping with our Faith’s tenet to “associate with all peoples, in fellowship and harmony”, a trait with which I was born.

It is no surprise, then, that the Universe should be bringing, to our area, the Convergence at Arcosanti.  For three days, a large number of people will gather at the cooperative community, 45 miles northeast of Prescott.  There will be symposia and smaller breakout groups, all manner of people camping, socializing and forming new bonds, across all manner of divides.  There will be, I expect, conservatives as well as liberals; craftsmen as well as scholars; Christians as well as atheists and agnostics; the clear-eyed and the wide-eyed.

I will be there, at least through tomorrow night, and again on Saturday. If it feels right, I will pitch my tent and stay the night.  As a volunteer, I will be able to get a keen sense of  how well the stated mission is being achieved, and establish new bonds of my own. Besides, when Woodstock happened, I was a bumbling Private, in Army Postal School, at Fort Harrison, IN.  This is a more sober, focused variation on the theme of transformational gatherings.  I want to do my part, to help get it right this time.

Jewel of The Creek

6

November 4, 2017, Cave Creek-

I was due for another visit to SunFlour, today, but the notice was clear:  Closed for Vacation.  I wish the ladies a special, relaxing time-off.  Today is Wild West Day, in Cave Creek, and there is much that’s joyful about a visit to Local Jonny’s, especially in the evening, so off I went.

Looking for a trail, to get back in the groove, I followed Spur Cross Road, noticing a trail that hugged the road for about 1/2 mile, before veering off towards the mountains to the north of town.  I wasn’t going to take on a lengthy route, so on towards Spur Cross Ranch it was.

About 1/4 mile shy of the Ranch, I came upon Jewel of the Creek Preserve.  This 26-acre unit is owned by Desert Foothills Land Trust, which is dedicated to augmenting the conservation efforts of the State of Arizona and Maricopa County.

Dragonfly Loop turned out to be perfect, for what I wanted to accomplish.  I chose to stick with the eastern half of the Loop, and thus got some good vibes from the dry Cave Creek.  The trailhead is here, and I encountered a family of four, who were having a professional photo shoot, not far from here.

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The mountains to the west are part of Cave Creek Regional Park, which also has Go John Trail, a moderate trail that introduced me to Cave Creek, two years ago.

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The area that is drained by Cave Creek features Gray Basalt steps and short walls.

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Here, the Dragonfly has a mild ascent, before going back down to Cave Creek, crossing the dry wash.  It’s not always so, but Aug-tober saw zero rainfall.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Swallows and other desert-nesting songbirds have left for the season.  They left a couple of last season’s domiciles behind.

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After passing by another hiker, who was reading passages from the Bible, I came upon this little cave, in the creek bed wall. No animal seemed to be using it as a den, but I didn’t examine the facility too closely.

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An abode of a different sort beckoned, just beyond the trailhead.   I believe this is the old Spur Cross Ranch House, now a caretaker’s residence.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I will be back, over the next several months, to further explore the Preserves and Regional Park, as well as to give Local Jonny’s more business.  The slaw sliders, accompanied by mellow guitar tunes, were a perfect little ending to this exemplary Fall outing.

Transmuted

6

October 12, Silver City, NM-

Silver has a shot at glistening.  I came away from a visit to this town, far from its neighbours in southwest New Mexico and southeast Arizona.  Silver City has a character similar to artsy towns like Bisbee, Cottonwood and Prescott, AZ; Silverton, CO or Pioche, NV.  It is not the least bit upscale, which I find a definite plus.

The lure of Gila Cliff Dwellings, and Gila Hot Springs, is enough to draw visitors into the town itself, and here are some reasons why I will return to Silver City, which is officially a town.

I always like pied downtowns.

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Dedicated art spaces are essential to the quality of life, in a modern town.

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This establishment, alone, would bring me back.

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I have mixed feelings about Javalina (pronounced JAVA-leena).  The fare is as good as any in the desert Southwest, and the patio’s ambiance is potentially relaxing.  The drawback is, from the time I entered until I had left the area, the barista, her boyfriend and the shop’s owner were watching me, very warily-even monitoring as I took a couple of photos of the mural across the street.

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Here is the scene, across from Javalina, that caught  my attention.

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This patio is a welcoming place for lunch (11-2) and dinner (5-9).  I happened by at 4 pm, and opted to dine across the street, at the unassuming, but satisfying, Silver Cafe.

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A short, but pleasant, Riverwalk, behind the business district,was a sweet after-dinner diversion.

 

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Like all old mining towns, Silver City has its Victorian hotel.  The Palace dates from 1887.  The ominously-titled Hang ‘Em High has nothing to do with Spaghetti Westerns.  It’s a frame shop!

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One of these days, I will visit friends in Deming, and make another foray up to Silver. Maybe the folks at Javalina will have gotten over whatever mood they were in, by then.

Sixty Six for Sixty-Six, Part LXV: It Doesn’t Matter

0

October 31, 2017, Prescott-

Happy All-Hallows, to those who celebrate it as an evening of festive family and community enjoyment.

It doesn’t matter to me,

if you are Black, White, Brown, Red, Yellow, or some sort of hybrid.

It is superfluous,

if you are conservative, liberal, libertarian, progressive.

It is inconsequential, in my view,

if you claim adherence to the oldest of Faiths, to the Faith founded

two-thousand years ago, to the newest Faith or to no Faith at all.

It is of passing concern,

if you are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual or just plain fed up with it all.

Male, female, “hybrid”;

child, adolescent, young adult, midlife, early senior, advanced senior, centenarian-

I have much to learn from you,

and much to offer, in return.

What matters is your spirit.

Who I am,

in this final month

of being sixty-six,

is largely who I have

ever been.

My labels do not define me.

God sees beyond the superficial,

the fleeting,,

the limited.