Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIV: One Lady’s Flame of Learning

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July 10, 2017, South Bend-

The University of Notre Dame has long been the stuff of legends, particularly when it comes to college football. There is, of course, far more to this fine institution, so it was ironic that the stadium was off-limits to the public today, with intense construction work being done, in and around it.  My tour of Notre Dame, courtesy of a long-time correspondent, focused on everything else that makes this campus such a great institution.

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Our tour began near the Joyce Center,  a performance center, named for one of the University’s prime movers, Reverend Edmund P. Joyce.

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I am always drawn to student art.  This metal dinosaur was produced by a team of Notre Dame students, and is one of a wide variety of projects, visible around campus.  While I was there, several pieces were being transported to storage, saving them during the summer construction.

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Horticulture is as vital here, for aesthetics and soil enrichment, as it is at any great public place.

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I give you two views of Touchdown Jesus, the lovely, famed, and rather presumptuous, mural which faces Ara Parseghian Stadium.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Rev. Drs. Joyce and Hesburgh are seen, discussing their vision for Notre Dame.

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There are several panels, along the wall of the University Library, depicting symbols from the Old Testament.

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There are four concrete pavilions, in the center of campus, honouring those who fought in World Wars I & II, Korea, Vietnam and the ongoing conflicts in western Asia.

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In the central fountain of these pavilions, is a steel ball, representing our shared planet.

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The Washington Center, Notre Dame’s administrative center, is topped by this golden dome.

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Along the central corridor of the Washington Center are several portraits, depicting the life of Christopher Columbus.  An ornate crown may also be viewed, at the north end of the corridor.

My guide and I next proceeded to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  The modernesque features of the interior stand somewhat in contrast to the interiors of several much older cathedrals of, say, western Europe. Nonetheless, the artistry does a fine job of telling the Eternal Story.

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The High Altar, the Altar of St. Peter and the Altar of the Blessed Mother appear, lined up.

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The Basilica’s ceiling calls attention to the Divine Sacrifice.

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This tree shows its resilience, after a sacrifice of a different sort.

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It was now time for my guide to head back to her other duties, so from here, I spent several minutes on my own.

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That time was spent in the Jordan Center for Science.

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The Center’s biological and medical research is wide in field, most notably its research into blindness.  The Museum, closed when I was there, has an extensive collection of skeletons and taxidermy.

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The Sundial hearkens back to a time when naturalistic observation meant the difference between life and death.

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This has been one of the more fascinating campus tours, along with that, four years ago, of Princeton University, courtesy of another longtime correspondent. So, farewell, Notre Dame and Ara Parseghian Stadium.

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Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIII: Beyond Measure

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July 9-10, 2017, Portage, IN-

My life has not been seemingly on a higher plane, since being invited to the spiritual forum that flows, quite nicely, with the tenets and expressions of faith that emanate from the Writings of Baha’u’llah.  A lovely service honoured His Herald, al-Bab (The Gate), who was so brutally executed on July 9, 1850- as part of a religious pogrom, that continues, to this day, in Iran.

The Baha’i House of Worship, in Wilmette, north of Chicago, blesses the entire area and brings solace to people of all spiritual traditions and inclinations.  The serenity extends to the surrounding shoreline of Lake Michigan.

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Despite the solemn nature of the service, there is still much joy that the Baha’i friends take, from being together at this beloved Temple.

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I was pleased to have met a new friend and mentor, at this gathering, as well as long-time fellows in Faith.  The energy propelled me, rather easily, through the freeway drive that could be otherwise rather draining.

I reached Indiana, in plenty of time for a Stromboli repast, in the town of Lake Station.  I did not hear back from a friend here in Portage, who has seemed a bit beleaguered, of late.  My plan to camp at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, however, did come to fruition.  There was a hint of a storm, which fortunately, did not strike the area until a bit after dawn, allowing me to break camp and head for the Dunkin Donuts.  My sad looking little tent is actually quite comfortable.

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I like that Mother Nature waited, until I had everything down, folded and in the trunk, before the downpour began.  I felt badly for my neighbour,though.  She was a Hispanic woman, with four kids in tow.  I think the boys were in a tent, and she was in the camper, so it was probably only a temporary inconvenience.

After eating a breakfast sandwich and warming up with coffee, I headed to the Dunes.  The early morning was dark, and could have been gloomy, if I’d let it be.  There is a majesty, in the stark horizon and in the interplay between shore and lake.

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There are all manner of trails, around the Dunelands- and one goes from the Illinois state line to the Michigan line.  I was content, today, just to enjoy the shoreline and life in the sand dunes.

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There are several estuaries, a testimony to the sheer size of the lakes.

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Here is a look at Portage’s harbour house and marina.

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Vegetation and flowers are always very thick, among the dunes.

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The allure of reflection is ever present.

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Michigan is not quite visible, through the haze, but it’s there, way beyond the steel mill.

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There is a fine interplay, at long last, between conservation and metallurgy, in this often buffeted area.

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The “closeness” of Chicago?  At least, the haze is not strong, to the north and west.

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The steel barons, long ago, had a lighthouse placed at the north end of the mill site. It is almost a stone’s throw, from the public walkway, west of the mill.

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Here is the beach area, of the Portage shoreline.  A few hardy souls were here, in search of at least a morning’s catch.

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Finally, this wetland area has been reclaimed, fully, from having been a Superfund waste site.  Indiana’s Congressional representatives and the steel industry managed to get this one right, and wildlife thrives, in the restored hills.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESJuly 10 was a most momentous day, with two great visits, each of which will be the subject of a post.  Part XLIV (44) will feature the University of Notre Dame and Part XLV (45) looks at Elkhart, and a most unusual family farm.

 

 

 

Tremors

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July 9, 2017, Wilmette-

To reiterate, as I am drastically revamping the earlier version of this post:  I will recap the past several, enjoyable days, July 5-8, in my next several posts.

For now:

I was somewhat relieved, and gratified, to actually meet a person who had been rather skittish, with regard to such a handshake.  Turns out, she does seem overbooked.  It is either sink or swim, for most of us, so she is swimming, furiously.

I am still frightened by people who pretend to be friends, and exhort the rest of us, with intense, challenging inspirational rhetoric.  Someone posted online, about Mother Teresa.  I remember her as a rather somber, sad woman, not so comfortable with the adulation of an unskeptical public.  I mention this, because we do tend to move in on people who look shiny, on the surface.  Europeans look at Americans, and are stunned by the glad-handing and false promises that occupy many of us, who are out to get a leg up.  So, motivational speakers and preachers get caught with their pants down, some of them literally so.  That’s the thing that frightens me most:  Not traffic, not thugs, but the duplicitous.

I feel much better, this afternoon, having had an extended conversation with my online friend- far from duplicitous, and the epitome of real.  It could not have ended, any other way.  I look forward to continually learning from her, and other correspondents.  This is about purification, and strengthening- a process that lasts a lifetime.

Some tremors are necessary in life.

 

Interdependence Day

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July 4, 2017, Carson City- 

We went, together, to a robust carnival

with Funnel Cake and kettle corn.

Little girl got her face painted,

lost and found her favourite stuffed bear,

and got to dance to a song by a local cover band.

She is guarded, carefully,

by all, whose hearts she has captured.

Group got a prime seat,

to view the fireworks,

on the high school field.

We, an eclectic family,

hang together.

Teams fought fires,

across northwest Nevada,

around Arizona,

and probably

in California, too.

Tight were those teams,

which made progress on their fights.

Families, nationwide,

had picnics and barbecues.

Some were simple;

some, elaborate.

Not much gets done,

anymore,

without prior consultation.

A friend in the Midwest

concurred with me,

that our species is evolving,

rapidly,

towards a tighter interdependence.

It is that,

which I celebrated today.

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Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIII: Ever in Wonder

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July 3, 2017, Carson City-

Along the path to Grama’s, I walked.

That path crossed a road,

and for crossing alone,

I felt a sting on my backside.

There are limits to what a three-year-old

can do, alone.

Along the path to the shopping center, I walked.

That path crossed several roads,

and for being alone,

I was briefly accosted,

by a couple of ruffians,

and almost struck by a wayward car,

that had jumped the curb.

There are challenges,

for a nine-year-old,

when walking, alone.

I sat in the airplane,

gazing out at the clouds,

and their patterns.

I was seeing for the first time, at their level.

The path through the skies,

held promise

and peril.

Many are the possibilities,

for an eighteen-year-old,

striking out, on his own.

Turning around,

in that crowded,

light-filled, noisy room,

I returned the gaze of one,

who had seen something in me,

that others overlooked.

My path was no longer

for me to walk in single file.

Life brings affirmations,

to a thirty-year-old,

who need not be alone.

Holding the little being

to the light,

I spoke words of welcome.

My line now continued,

for at least one more generation.

The Universe sang songs

of certitude,

to a new father,

listening, alone.

Father and son walked

from the car,

towards the hospice door,

and witnessed the wispy spiral

carrying dust and leaves skyward.

I touched her still-warm body,

and kissed her face,

with her eyes still open,

in seeming astonishment.

The path is ever-shaky,

for a sixty-year-old,

once again, alone.

Time and again, since then,

I have followed things through,

to completion,

having been roundly chastised,

by a well-meaning watchman,

for all those things,

I did not finish,

in times gone by.

The paths have been many,

and the rewards even greater:

Filbert Steps, Portlandia,

Space Needle, Stanley Park,

Wrangell, Mendenhall,

Mount Verstovia, Beuk-ai Temple,

Tuileries, Jeanne d’Arc’s Tower,

Mont St. Michel, Carnac,

Daily Gourmand, Old Bruges,

World Cup rally at the Bourse,

McAuliffe Square,

Luxembourg’s National Day,

the Dom of Frankfurt,

the Temple at Langenhain,

Waikiki, Iolani Palace.

The paths have seen me through,

to their ends:

Prescott Circle,

Black Canyon,

Granite Mountain,

and the Memorial to

its 19 Hotshots,

Bright Angel,

Spirit Tower.

The trails continue,

and the wonder,

at the limitless,

open to a sixty-six-year-old,

who  feels far from alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.C.

6

June 25, 2017, Bellemont, AZ-

We’ve undergone a wealth of name-changes, relative to how people see various groups, into which we classify ourselves, and others, since the early 1960’s.  It’s almost become so that many are almost paralyzed, when it come sot referencing people who “fall into categories of ‘the other’.”

I’ve spent the past 48 hours at a Baha’i camp, 1 1/2 miles west of this small village, itself 12 miles west of Flagstaff.  Several new friends, of different ages, were made, as is always the case.  One beautiful family of seven is “racially-blended”, if we are to believe the doctrine of political correctness.  The father of this family was one of the presenters at our Summer School.  He addressed racial identity and political correctness.  He is not a fan of P.C., insofar as it allows us to dance around the subject of racial relations.

When I was growing up, my parents told us never to use racial,  ethnic, or sexual epithets.  I was taught to address people by the name which they used to introduce themselves.  It was fine to call a person of colour a Negro, until people of colour themselves preferred Black, then African-American.  Using the pejorative form of Negro would have earned me an oral cleansing, and not with candy-flavoured mouth wash.

We Baha’is believe, as one of the central tenets of our Faith, that there is, as Baha’u’llah wrote. “but one race, the human race.”  Having said that, it is NOT WRONG, to stand firm against discrimination of any kind.  This runs the gamut- from denying people their basic human rights, based on pigmentation, height, gender, change of gender, economic status, or personal creed/religion.  It is also imperative to acknowledge someone’s basic goodness, in any area of endeavour or character feature.

“One race, the human race”, does not exclude people of colour, people of intense faith, people who hail from  desert wastes or from an urban wasteland, who eat mainly fast food or who eat raw food. It safeguards the human rights of people who adhere to our Faith, to previously-revealed Faiths or to no Faith at all.

So, political correctness has its limits.  These are tantamount to over-tightening a nut, on a wheel.  The nut becomes stripped, useless.  Not being able to describe a person, in terms perfectly acceptable to that individual and her peers, is a paralysis of denial.  My new African-American friend, his European-American wife, their four creative, lovely daughters and vibrant, disabled son should never have to endure the embarrassment of having to watch as someone, who claims to be their well-wisher, is tongue-tied, when it comes to describing any of them, to someone else.

This weekend was time well-spent.

The Time Necessary

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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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Fatherhood

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June 18, 2017, Prescott-

The little girl told her father that she wanted to go over to an open area, at the memorial service for one of her school mates, so that she might do flips and somersaults.  “Go ahead”, said the man, while casting a wary eye about the grounds, “I’m watching you.”

This is among the fastest moving years I can remember.  Even staying closer to Home Base, for much of June, there has been no end to full days of activity, geared towards the betterment of the world.  That’s what we are expected to do, though- leave the world a better place than we found it.

I believe I have made a step in that direction, by raising a human being to adulthood, and pointing him in the direction that seemed most sensible to me- and most importantly, to him.  He has not disappointed me, once, since taking the vow of service to his country, and moving forward as an intelligent, hard-working young man.

My Dad saw me through some tough times, never giving up.  I miss him, yet I’m glad he didn’t have to see the difficulties through which we lived, in the first ten years of this century.  On the other hand, I will do all I can to support Aram, if trials and turbulence come again his way.

As to those hard ten years, 2001-11, commitment as a father means commitment as a husband.  I stayed true to Penny and did everything possible, to make sure she was in charge of her own life, to the end, no matter what pressures were brought on us by “experts” and well-meaning people, who just wanted to “get ‘er done”.  We honed our consultation skills, which were more something I, more than she, had to develop. It’s academic, as to whether we would have been better-served by using a debt reduction service, rather than filing for bankruptcy, but we chose the latter, and it’s all in the past, now.  Good life lessons were learned, late, and not lost on our son.

I see the vast majority of fathers, at least those with whom I have some contact, being wonderful, dedicated men.  None of us walks on water, yet we are producing fairly well-grounded young people.  Some are intensely vigilant; others, like the man mentioned above, are cautious, but relaxed enough to let their sons and daughters step out on their own, according to ability.

Fatherhood, even when children mature, and seem a million miles away, is an eternal blessing.  I look forward to many more years of that blessing and, if God wills, to its logical outgrowth:  Grandfatherhood.

 

“Not Afraid of the Rain”

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June 17, 2017, Chino Valley- 

The youth pastor, at a memorial service for a slain child, this evening, used these words, in reference to Christ facing His trials.  He chose this example, in encouraging the friends and family members of the little boy  to not be dissuaded, by the dark forces assailing us, from looking to the Higher Power for signs as to how to react to such adversity.

I have now either helped lay to rest, or to memorialize, 9 children, over the past 37 years.  Most died of disease, or were killed in accidents.  This is the first time I’ve dealt with the murder of a defenseless person, on such a personal level.  The boy was one of several, with whom I worked, while a substitute teacher, in his elementary school.  This particular school does a fine job of imparting a sense of community, and at the service, his former teachers and a recently-retired principal, each had a positive remembrance of the boy.

Earlier today, whilst driving to another service activity, I listened as the pop singer, Lorde, commented on one of her songs, her point being that she has sometimes thought her place in the lives of her loved ones might be too intense, that maybe she takes up too much space.

That resonated with me.  I limit my time with others, for the very sake of NOT taking up too much of their space and time.  Conversely, though, I don’t think anything of giving others as much of either, as they need.  I haven’t quite gotten to the origin of that dichotomy.

The memorialized child seemed to have had the same dilemma, and the youngest of the children who spoke,  remembered him as comfortable with giving, but not receiving.  I hope he has a better understanding of it all now, in the Realm of Light.

 

A SoCal Break, Day 1, Part 1: Recreation Park

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June 12, 2017, San Onofre, CA-

I am camping at this underutilized state beach, just south of a former nuclear power plant.  The plant’s presence may explain the underutilized part of the equation, but no matter.  Every time I pitch my tent, arrange comfortable bedding and have a pleasant visit, my confidence grows- something that may be hard for many to understand- but it’s been a work in progress, for several years.

My main objective, today, was a hike in the Palos Verdes Peninsula, between Long Beach and Redondo Beach, in LA County’s South Bay area.   First, though, was a visit to Long Beach, itself. I set out from Indio, where I’d spent the previous night, and where I stretched my legs, this morning, with a 2-mile walk.  It’s fairly mild, across Southern California, though that’s not expected to last.  The I-10 was fairly busy, as it always is, though once past the turn-offs to Riverside and San Diego, traffic thinned significantly.  I enjoyed a stop at one of my favourite eateries:  Gramma’s Country Kitchen, in Banning.   After lunch, and taking CA routes 57 and 22, I was in Long Beach, in less than ninety minutes.

I found myself in a pleasant, but definitely untouristed, part of town- the south side.  On Anaheim Street, there is the large, and multiple use, Recreation Park.  Several young ladies were engaged in a variety of artistic activities, on and around the band shell.  I don’t take photos of people, without their permission, as a rule, so any people seen in the next few photos are strictly incidental.  My main focus in Recreation Park was Yokkaichi Friendship Garden, a small, but heartfelt project, in concert with Yokkaichi, Japan- one of Long Beach’s sister cities.

There are three essentials of a Japanese garden that are evident here:  The open gate, arranged flowers (usually in a semi-circle) and carefully-placed rocks.  A fourth essential element, flowing water, is not present.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES I felt a fair amount of serenity, with most of the  “recreationists” very busy with sporting activities and practicing dance routines, elsewhere in the great city park.  Below, see the back of the band shell building.  I did not photograph the dance practice taking place in the front.

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Next up, Palos Verdes’ Point Vicente.