Monster, Part II

4

January 16, 2018, Prescott-  Dolores O’Riordan had a powerful voice, calling out those who exacerbated tension and bloodshed, in her Irish homeland and appealing to those who take the feelings of loved ones lightly, to think deeply about their choices in life.

I’m thinking of her,now, in the wake of an untimely passing and on the heels of some very harsh judgments, flying in all manner of directions.  Dolores both made rash judgments and received quite a few, over a 25-year public career.  She made amends for the former and absorbed the latter, as many of us do, in similar straits.  I find her music compelling, regardless.

The ego leads us into horrible choices, even among those who have dedicated their lives to the welfare of humanity.  I have made plenty of my own, and I know of many others who have, as well.  In each case, there are people who could come forward and point fingers.  We’ve seen quite a bit of that, lately, and in most cases, the accused could probably stand to make amends, if they have not already been made.

The ego leads us, also, to set conditions on our love for others.  Christ says:

Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends.

If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that? But you must always act like your Father in heaven.”  (CEV)

Baha’u’llah says

“Now is the time to cheer and refresh the down-cast through the invigorating breeze of love and fellowship, and the living waters of friendliness and charity.”
(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 7) , and, through His eldest son and interpreter, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, He admonishes us:

“The greatest gift of man is universal love – that magnet which renders existence eternal. It attracts realities and diffuses life with infinite joy. If this love penetrate the heart of man, all the forces of the universe will be realized in him, for it is a divine power which transports him to a divine station and he will make no progress until he is illumined thereby. Strive to increase the love-power of reality, to make your hearts greater centers of attraction and to create new ideals and relationships. First of all, be ready to sacrifice your lives for one another, to prefer the general well-being to your personal well-being. Create relationships that nothing can shake; form an assembly that nothing can break up; have a mind that never ceases acquiring riches that nothing can destroy. If love did not exist, what of reality would remain? It is the fire of the love of God which renders man superior to the animal. Strengthen this superior force through which is attained all the progress in the world.”
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 111-112)

Satan, the personification of the  dark aspects of the ego, is clever, as the human mind is clever.  It can get a person to do and say the most heinous of things, even in the name of the Lord.  It can make a person fear those who mean no harm, and embrace those ready to apply a dagger to the back.  It can lull a soul into complacency, whilst raising the hackles of another, leading to lost spiritual growth, in each of them.  It leads to disease, contention and strife.  Yet, this is not some one of the supernatural dark forces, being summoned, (though these do exist).  It is the power of a person’s own ego, or of the collective ego, manifest in a community.  The time is now, to work at channeling our egos towards love, and away from self-aggrandizement.

I have said enough, for now, and will have more to say about love, in an upcoming post.

 

Monster, Part I

30

January 15, 2018, Prescott-

Last night, I was lovingly, but forcefully, admonished to turn away from what I know in my heart to be the greatest Source of Light the world has yet seen.  I will not, ever, do that, even under pain of death.

This morning, someone I thought I could trust, has attacked me on Facebook Messenger, for refusing to pass judgement on the President of the United States.  While I take umbrage at his remarks, concerning nations of colour, I will not, ever, judge another human being’s inherent worth, even under pain of death.

We, as a nation, and as a human race, mark the birthday of a powerful, if flawed, personage, who did as much, if not more, to advance the cause of human dignity than any other American in the Twentieth Century.  Quite frankly, if there is such a thing as a body rolling in its grave, I am sure Dr. King is turning somersaults, at the back and forth verbiage that has plagued our nation, for nearly two years.  Remember his words: “Hate cannot overcome hate.  Only love can overcome hate.”

There is a monster loose in the world.  We know him as Satan.  He has no power, save what we give him, as Jesus the Christ and Baha’u’llah have both said.  Satan is not an actual physical being, but the personification of our own egos.  These days, though, ego is rampant, as rampant as ever.

I have been told my deepest beliefs are only my opinion.  I have been told that if I don’t attack other human beings, that I am just as guilty as they are.  I, have been told, by different people, to conform to their beliefs and expectations, or else.  Sorry, my beliefs will only change when the Holy Spirit guides me to change them.  Even if I have no friends left in the human race, that will be the bottom line.  I’ve always been a loner, so that is no big deal.

The only way to fight a monster is to not give it an inch.  I will respond to any comments made below, in Part II.

Whose Toilet?

10

January 14, 2018, Prescott-

My day will likely be a joyous one, with my spirits telling me to get the laundry done, attend a memorial service, then either go and help my dear friend, or go hike in Granite Dells, if she is not in the mood for company.

Now, back to the title question.  I was discomfited, annoyed, put out at the tale coming out of the White House, as to our President’s purported comments, regarding immigrants and their countries of origin.  Either he said these things, thus committing a serious breach of comity OR his actual words were translated to fit the opinion of the observer towards the President, thus committing a serious act of calumny towards him.

Either way, I have to say this, about countries in general:  Each has its places of sublime beauty, and each has its places of squalour.  This is as true of the USA as it is of Haiti.  It is as true of France, Germany, the UAE, as it is of Liberia, Guyana or Bangladesh.  I have seen exquisite, serene villages in Guyana and decrepit, unsettling places in France.  No one who has been across our great nation would deny that there is astonishing beauty in Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains, whilst admitting that there is much work to be done, in addressing the matters of homelessness in cities large and small, in raising up the standards of living in First Nations reservations and in run-down sections of both urban and rural areas, across the continent.

No one likes to have their good name, or that of their country, sullied.  Some will argue, “Well, if the shoe fits, wear it!”  If that shoe has a hole in it, I would gather that the person has every right to decline its adornment.  Far better, in my view, that, having shone the light on the filth and the problems, the President, and each of us who has looked down their noses at a person, community or country, should put down that flashlight and ask, “How might we help?”  One immediate thing we can each do is, stop referring to the shortcomings of a people, as their be all and end all.  Acknowledge the beauty of a place, or of a society, instead of yammering about how horrible SOME aspects of it happen to be.  Messes happen, even in the finest of communities (just ask anyone in Montecito, CA). Beauty and strength, likewise, may be found anywhere.  How about building on that beauty and strength?

Flights

6

January 8, 2018, Prescott-

He was like Gibraltar’s rock,

working day and night

to secure his future,

and those of countless others,

for he was a man of finance,

and a man of principle.

I’d have trusted him

with the account I am building.

He loved a sacred space,

not far from where he

and his beloved

had lived

for over two decades.

He worked the grounds

of that sacred space.

I had the honour

of working alongside him.

Now, he has taken his flight,

after a life lived powerfully.

She was in the worst  of pain,

the sort that only a flood of love

can even come close to healing.

Those closest to her,

not knowing her level

of suffering,

tended to other matters.

She tended to her matter,

and took her flight,

after a life lived tortuously.

We know not what

is in store for us.

We can only live

in as much of the Light

as we can absorb.

We can only absorb

as much of the Light,

as the size of our lens,

will let in.

Our lens is

only as big,

as the heart that

it mirrors,

and the lenses

off  which

it reflects.

So, I honour

a forthright,

valiant man.

So, I feel pain,

for a tortured

woman.

 

2018 and the Four F’s

15

January 5, 2018, Prescott-

I have addressed the new year, in terms of where I might go, and such.  In terms of the Now, however, any new year is best approached by looking at the Four F’s of one’s life: Family, Friends, Faith and Finances.

So, let’s do this.

Family-  I have to be at the ready, always, for any changes that happen in my large and cherished family.  As with anyone, I need to be ready for births, deaths and any dire emergency in between.  Right now, the radar screen shows my niece’s wedding, in June. May peace reign, in the interim.  My family goal this year, though, remains more regular communication with all.  Social media takes up much of that slack, and I am already engaged in writing a traditional letter to my mother, every 1-2 weeks.  A similar letter, to my eldest brother, goes out once a month, and he follows my online postings.  The same is true of my son.

Friends- There is someone who I consider my best friend, and to whom I would devote as much time as she needs.  She is a busy soul, though, so up to now, that time has not amounted to a whole lot.  There are many others, from my fellows in Faith, my co-workers and people, from three blocks away, to Zimbabwe and Siberia, for whom I would give my life. I have two caveats:  Please do not call or message me, randomly, and get offended when I don’t have time for a social call- deferred attention is always an option. Secondly, not buying a product you have for sale or endorsing a mass message you are promoting on Facebook Messenger does not mean I don’t care about you.  Conversely, if you don’t take up my cause, I will still regard you as a friend.  Visiting goes by the same rules.  I will always call or message, in advance, when headed your way.  Right now, a visit to a friend in Orange County, CA is in the works and there may be several more, between here and Philadelphia, come school year’s end.

Faith- My day starts with meditation, prayer and recitation of a sacred verse.  Faith, though, has to be reflected in everything one does, especially with regard to other people.  So, my work, my driving, my business transactions, even my leisure activities, are approached with Baha’i principles in mind.  I am no saint, but the Golden Rule is ever present.  I will have many activities brought to my calendar, faith-wise, this year, and as with concerns with family, so do I need to be ready and flexible on my schedule, to prioritize Baha’i activities, when they directly impact the spiritual well-being of the community.  This afternoon, and this coming Sunday, are examples of short-notice gatherings, for which I am able to be ready.  I anticipate many more.

Finances-  Given my temperament, this area has long been my weak spot.  I am giving it a lot more attention, and being coached financially is one reason why I am choosing to wake earlier each day. I fully intend to grow my estate, given looming events, for which one is normally expected to have a fair amount of cash on hand.  The main thing is that I have put a scarcity mentality behind me, and will persevere in the coming months, in building more short-term security.  I tended to possible elder care needs, at Penny’s behest, while she was still alive.  I am also very well-insured.

The Four F’s being much on my mind, this should be a fabulous year.

Signal Moments

11

January 4, 2018, Prescott-

I have returned to Home Base. Everything was as I left it, two weeks ago.  My ex-neighbour’s junk is still in the carport.  Since he’s dissed the landlord, I will start to haul it off myself, as after 30 days, property is regarded as abandoned.

Now, on to the prime purpose of this post.  Another blogger referred to life-changing moments.   Here are those that have cast my life, in the direction it’s taken and to the place where I am now.

June, 1954- The Lynnhurst woods, around my first real house, were a place of wonder.  I walked off by myself, towards Grama’s house.  Little did I suspect that dad would take the hairbrush to my backside, as soon as I got home.  That first walk alone, though, set me on the course of exploration that has been in my blood ever since.

July, 1959- I can’t say which rock fight led to my life-long inability to keep from flinching, when a baseball, or other such item, is making its way towards me.  Overcoming coordination issues has been a problem since that long-ago summer.

November 22, 1963- I began to get over an innate conservatism, the day that the powers that be decided to get rid of John F. Kennedy.  I will never buy the Single Bullet Theory.

April, 1969- I decided that six years of commitment to the US Army was too long, and opted to enlist for a three-year stint, instead of remaining in the Reserves.

November 23, 1969- One of my high school friends was killed in VietNam.  I was in Fort Myer, VA, at the time.  It took me a year of quiet anger, but that event was the impetus for my own going over to the war zone, in March, 1971.

November 28, 1975- I was let go from a part-time job, on my 25th birthday, because one of the other workers had a son who needed a job, and I was “too ambitious”.  The anger expressed by my co-workers, at this adverse action, was gratifying.   Yet, a young woman, for whom I had feelings, put it in perspective:  “Who has it worse, you, losing a crap job or me, just getting done with a divorce?”  That has led me to tread carefully, when facing what seems like a personal disaster.

December 6, 1980- I met Penny.  Enough said.

June 6, 1982- We were married, and though a fairy-tale wedding was not followed by an idyllic marriage, there were 29 years of love and mutual personal growth.  The proof is serving his country, in South Korea.

August 20, 1986- We arrived in South Korea, and began a 5.5 year love affair with a culture far different from all either of us had experienced, up to then.  I am still greatly drawn to the sensibilities of “the East”.

April 20, 2003- Penny’s second accident in two weeks set us to a commitment fiercer than any I have had, before or since.  I was her caretaker for nearly eight years afterward.

November, 2009- Several financial disasters under our belt, we decided to endure Chapter 11.  I have survived that, and by the grace of Dave Ramsey and Robert Kiyosaki, my attitude towards money has forever changed,

March 5, 2011- I was once again on my own, and the challenge was now to not go adrift.  The next five months did find the ropes fraying at the moorings, though.

August 4, 2011- Someone I love dearly threw down a heavy gauntlet.  I was accused of things which would not stick to any wall.  I see where his suspicions originated, but that was not me, and never will be.  His comments, though, served to make me determined to rely on no one.  I would long be maintaining that distance.

September, 2013- On the heels of an unsettled summer’s journey, I answered a call to help a single mother move.  That two-day effort of service led me to do Terra Essential Oils, a commitment to more active community service, and to one of the finest friendships I’ve ever known.

There are sure to be other life-changing events ahead.  I know that my spiritual bonds will see me through them all.  We never stop growing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farewells and Forward Looks

10

December 31, 2017, Spring Hill-

We’ve had two successive nights of dining out.  Friday night found my SIL, her good friend and me at Bonefish, in nearby Brooksville.  Last night, the guys’ treat, was spent among a raucous crowd, at Brian’s Place, in Hernando Beach.   I don’t mind raucous- it’s a sign of life being lived to the fullest.  The food was excellent, in both places.

Here are Brian’s Crab Cakes, Twice-baked potato on a bed of spinach and Plantain Ears.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Yesterday also saw a visit to my SIL’s horses, at a lovely ranch in Weeki Wachee, about four miles from here.

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The piney woods and white sand don’t phase the equines much.  I wonder about how summers are for them, but horses are good at finding shady spots.

It’s been a fine ending to an up, down and back up year.  I lost Uncle George, Doc Manzer,  a few high school-era friends and friends’ parents, and feisty little Tank, the blessed companion of a good friend.  I found SunFlour Bakery, Local Jonny’s,  Cupcakes and Cravings, Coney Island Diner, D’s Diner and Rosati’s Prescott franchise. Explorations included Philadelphia’s downtown, Brandywine, Antietam, Harper’s Ferry, Lexington (VA), Falls of the Ohio, Paducah, Spur Cross Ranch, Prescott’s Wolverton Mountain and two segments of the Maricopa Trail.  Job sites were tough (the first half of the year) and challenging, but supportive (the second half).  One or two friends turned aside, but many others came along.  This Blog Site changed its name, and grew its readership.

I grew, internally.  My friendship with a fine woman has deepened, spiritually.  I saw my son off, on an adventure to the land of his birth, and witness, with great pride, his maturation.  I am exploring another financial opportunity; carefully, mind you, but with more confidence than I have felt in quite some time.

2018 is a few hours off, for us.  I will begin the year on a bus, headed for Phoenix, and on to Prescott, by way of Tallahassee, Montgomery, Birmingham, across Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.    It’ll be a bustling five months of work, in the same supportive environment as before our break, coupled with a concerted effort at the aforementioned financial opportunity.  Travel-wise, a Presidents’ Day visit to Orange and San Diego Counties; back East, at school year’s end, via Colorado, Nebraska, Chicagoland, Indianapolis, Detroit, Ontario and Montreal, thence to Massachusetts  and Philadelphia.  Returning via eastern Virginia, across the Old Dominion and the Carolinas, and the Knoxville area, before hopefully getting back to Prescott, in time for the Fireworks.

Fall should see us doing it all over again, at Prescott High School, and at this time, next year,  I will be enjoying yet another holiday-just not sure where.  Whatever happens, it’ll be a doozie!

Year End Reflections,Part 1: Proud

8

December 23, 2017, Prescott-

Before heading down to Phoenix, to take part in a Baha’i conference, I want to take a few minutes and look back at those who have made me proud to know them.

My dear friend’s daughter has finished high school, a semester early, with honours and is embarking on two life efforts, dear to her heart.  L is a living, breathing miracle.

My second cousin, the only granddaughter of a paternal uncle, who passed away this year, has finished college, Magna Cum Laude, and will walk the stage, next May.  S is also a living, breathing miracle.

My son, Aram, has made rank, every year since he entered the Navy.  He has overcome many obstacles to get where he is, and will face down whatever gets in his way, because that’s what he knows.

Both of my living brothers are taking life by the horns, and building on already stellar careers, to see major projects through to completion.

My sister, a peacemaker, is ever working to keep her beautiful extended family on an even keel.  Every one of her children is a success, in his/her own way.

My blessed mother continues to show us the way forward, and to send any pre-conceived notions about aging, up the creek, where they belong.

My sister-in-law, in Florida, has taken on the often thankless task of caregiving, which I know, firsthand, means “putting your own life on hold”, while realizing that this is an integral part of everyone’s life.

My co-workers, standing with me, in helping our students face both their own disabilities and the possibilities that life still has to offer, have provided the most rewarding base of operations I have realized, in nearly 20 years.  I look forward to the rest of this amazing year, R and MF.

A Baha’i friend, here in Prescott, mostly singly and alone, is building a spiritual foundation for several children and youth, in her neighbourhood.  J is another living, breathing miracle.

Lastly, my dear friend, you have stood by me and are always encouraging me to go forward.  You are one of the greatest miracles of all, not willing to just survive, but to take leaps of faith, for the sake of your youngest child, to serve your Lord and to let Him carry you forward.  I will be in your corner, always, precious M.

This has been a year of depletion, of replenishing, of sustaining and of thriving.  It has been a year of loss and of gain, of discovery and of reminders.  Those mentioned above, and countless others, have helped make it an unexpectedly blessed one.

 

Stained Glass

6

December 20, 2017, Prescott-

Autumn ends, early tomorrow morning.

It is a season of fruition, generally.

This year’s autumn has also been

a time of cleansing.

Beings who tormented others,

and were tormented themselves,

as children,

have left this world.

Few are likely dismayed,

by the passing of Charles Manson,

a few weeks back.

Many are conflicted,

and unmoved,

by the passing

of Bernard Law,

the poster child

for enabling pedophilia.

There is much that is

beautiful about the practice

of Christianity.

Stained glass, for example,

is an enduring art form.

Enabling the personal weakness

of a walking, self-weakening

demon,

is a prime reason why

so many have turned from

the faiths of their fathers,

even engaging in the fool’s errand,

of attacking God, Himself.

I will not engage in the

debate, over whether

the Creator is a mere

human construct.

Narcissism has never

been my strong suit.

I am digressing, though.

There is much that is

beautiful, about

Christianity.

Stained glass,

and the concept

of personal atonement,

are prime examples.

En-titled

7

December 9, 2017, Prescott-

I awoke this morning,

in a state of tension.

“Come off it, self!

This is Saturday,

and no one expects

anything of you,

except that you

take part in the

noon conference call.”

I got myself together,

drove to one friend’s house,

picked up a bin of cut juniper,

and delivered to another’s house.

Somehow, I will want to do better

than that.

The pieces of wood are small

in the second friend’s eyes.

Aren’t we a funny breed?

A person is entitled

to big, to fine, to proper,

to sufficient.

I thought of other friends,

in Ojai,

looking at the embers

and foundation, where

once, there was a

home similar to

the second friend’s

house, here.

Where is their piece

of entitlement, now?

Once upon a time,

an angry young woman

demanded of her mate,

that he throw me out

of the house

that five of us shared.

It was mid-February,

cold, snowy,

central Maine.

An older couple

took me in,

two days later.

Seems the Universe

decided that I

was entitled to

dignity, and

freedom from

pneumonia.

Here’s how I see it, now.

These are our entitlements:

Respect, with regard to

our persons,

our time,

our necessaries.

Love,

unconditional,

therefore, never forced.

Opportunity,

to make choices

and to follow through,

on those choices.

These three

are enough for me.

All else proceeds

from them.