Intensity and Isolation

8

May 15, 2019-

When I first awake, many mornings, I contemplate a feeling of increasing isolation here.  The Western states, especially the Southwest, have an ambiance of anonymity- or perhaps that is just the reality of apartment/ head for the garage and lower the door living, anywhere  This is what greets me, with the dawn.

Once up and at ’em, my social media shows that, from the safe distance of behind the screen, my  friends are with me.  Most have their own agendas and schedules, and I was raised to not intrude on anyone’s space.  I have to appreciate that I have friends at all, so our correspondence is much appreciated.

I tend to be quiet, but also very intense in my feelings.   I tend to care greatly, even about relative “strangers”, but do not often verbalize my caring.  This combination does not always serve me well,  particularly when in certain local restaurants.   Besides,older single men are not received well by everyone, when taking up a table.  This adds to a feeling of isolation, as I have indicated in past posts.  In my own case, though, it’s probably better for my physical health-as the establishments in question offer largely high-calorie fare.

It occurred to me, this morning, that the problem is not so much that I am wearing out my welcome here, as that what I need is to end my own isolated living situation and find a small community of people who support one another, not by appointment or scheduled time, but intentionally, naturally.  This is what I miss about the little team of which I was a part, until April 3.  This is what I miss about the hostels where I stayed last summer; about being with friends and family  in Nevada, Philadelphia,  Florida and  Tennessee; about having been in Korea, a few months ago.  There is no easy answer on the horizon, but I know something will surface.

The Genesis Spirit

4

May 12, 2019-

I only had one call to make, this morning.  Mom is still very much alive and well.  Mother-in-Law is by her eldest daughter’s side, in the spirit world.  I know they still have my back, though their plans for me are somewhat hidden, at this point in time.

I don’t so much fret over my present state of affairs, as wonder where it is leading.  It could be that, tomorrow, when I contact the County Office of Education, I will be told to re-do this or that process or be told simply that everything is in order on my end, but that they need more time to finish the red tape.  Regardless, the academic year is almost over.  The needs of summer will shortly be upon me.

Enough of my quotidia, though.  This is a day, beyond Hallmark cards and the floral industry, for fully recognizing the spirit of nurturance, the raising of generations.  The vast majority of women who give birth are nurturers. There are always exceptions, outliers, who are not fit for the greatest and most honourable job in the human world.  I read of one such benighted soul, earlier this morning.  Most mothers, though, take the ball and run with it-to the eternal benefit of their progeny, or of those whom they take in as their own.

My mother has taken, and still takes, her responsibility as a nurturer seriously.  That spirit has flowed, seamlessly, to her daughter and granddaughters. It has informed the choices of mate that my brothers and I have made-Penny and each of my sisters-in-law raised their children in a sea of discipline and love.  It continues with our children’s generation. Aram and four of his male cousins have each married strong, nurturing women.

It can’t be easy, this balancing of body and soul; this overcoming the intense pain of bringing a newborn into the world of contingency.  It is certainly troubling, to sometimes feel one’s efforts are overlooked, cast aside or unappreciated, until it is often too late.  In my case, I have sometimes felt that I have had to make up for lost time, with the most important people in my life.

That, though, brings out the true beauty of  the genesis spirit:  The power of forgiveness; the strength of forbearance; the ability to get an errant child to take ownership of destiny.  A true mother does the heavy lifting of nurturance, gets a father to buy into the process and sends a child into the wider world, with the assurance that-one’s foibles and weaknesses aside, there will be success against a backdrop of trials and setbacks.  It  will be so, because of the firm foundation of love.

Vulnerability and Soothing Blend

4

May 11, 2019-

I just finished watching a TED Talk on “Shame”. This came about four hours after someone, with whom I was working as a volunteer, mildly upbraided me for not working at a paying job.  (This person is not working at a paying job, either.)

I am ever willing to stand outside and be vulnerable to criticism, knowing that a) I can’t live with myself, if I am not open and b) The critic is usually seeing, in  me, those things he or she dislikes about self.   That doesn’t mean the criticism never stings- and there are two people who I have banned from my life, in perpetuity, for barrages of that I consider unwarranted attacks. It does mean that those whom I trust, and who do not have hidden agendas, are to speak freely.

The presenter of the above-mentioned video spoke of shame as nearly always a prime impediment to a person being the true self.  Shame is imposed from within, though not always sans influence or instigation from someone else.  When I was younger, it was fairly easy, even for well-meaning people, to wreck my self-confidence and set in motion even false shame.

Since the days when my late wife was in my primary care, I have learned that there are unscrupulous people who will take to questioning even the most basic decisions a person can make- usually with a view towards financial benefit or other forms of power and control over the person they are questioning.  I have learned that there are those who will attack someone who is defending victims of crimes, almost always as a means of gaslighting or obfuscation.  Both of the people I mentioned above are gaslighters, and they came close to doing a good job of making me feel shamed.

There was just one difference, from the days of my youth:  Time, and hard lessons, have taught me the difference between acknowledging wrongdoing and buying into the script of a narcissist or tyrant.   So now, in an intervening period between jobs, I am not ashamed of not presently earning an income, outside of what I have already set aside for myself.  That situation will change- on my terms, not those of the retired critic.

I am not afraid to be vulnerable, or to experience life’s aches and pains.  The physical variety of these is relieved by what is called Soothing Blend (an oil-based ointment).  The spiritual variety is relieved by prayer, meditation and positive action.

Another Distant Mirror

2

May 9, 2019-

I have spent much of the past several days, sequestered in my house, waiting for the corporate entity which employs substitute teachers in our county to finish its processing of my papers.  I am sticking close to home, mainly to stretch my dollars as, while I have a sufficient income, it will still be an involved summer and economy is critical.  The activities that occupy me are sorting out unneeded possessions, exercising, reading- and Netflix.

I have taken to a series, called “The Last Kingdom”, an historical fiction loosely based on the life and times of Alfred the Great, who began the process of unifying the regions of what is now England, in the 9th Century.  It is similar to Barbara Tuchman’s  “A Distant Mirror”, in tone and scope.  Many of the themes with which we are familiar today, occurred in both long-ago times, and most likely have appeared in every era of human endeavour.

I focus here on two recurrent themes in human history:  The tendency to gloss over a person’s achievements, whilst calling excess attention to the same person’s failures; the dichotomy in the level of treatment of women and girls, between those interested in maintaining authority and those living a simpler life, closer to the soil.

In “Kingdom”, Alfred is depicted as one more concerned with maintaining the primacy of the rich and powerful, including himself, than with dispensing true justice.  It is noted, as we know about the Dark Ages, and on into the Renaissance/Reformation, that alliances rose and fell on a whim.  It is noted that manipulative figures operated with impunity, and those who challenged them were either killed or banished-as the central character in “Kingdom”, Uhtred Ragnarsson, experiences banishment and redemption, several times.  It is shown that women had to assert themselves, fiercely, if they were to avoid battering and a life of humiliation.

Of course, as in any depiction of events not occurring in real time, there is undoubtedly a fair amount of amplification and embellishment in the series, based in turn on Bernard Cornwell’s  “Saxon Tales”.    The human struggle will long be what it has been, as man deals with the issues of justice, equity and the balance of power in society.

I have my sense as to how the series will pan out.  I also have a sense as to how the human race will continue to evolve-and the ebb/flow inserted into both processes.

The Shortest Distance, and The Longest

2

May 5, 2019-

“Civilization is precisely the human capacity to say no…….”- Rob Riemen, To Fight Against This Age

Viewing the film “Room”, this evening, I prepared myself for a variety of possible outcomes, none of them good.  Having worked for so long in child protection and recovery from abuse, I know the permutations that such cases can take.  I know that attorneys for the abuser will sometimes do their job all too well, and the cycle will repeat itself, ad nauseam.  I know that sometimes, the good guys win, and people like Erica Pratt, Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart go on to achieve at least a fair amount of normalcy and success, on their own terms.  I’ve seen a mix of the two outcomes, with identity mix-up and role confusion, only resolvable with the maximum amount of patience and sensitivity.

In a complex world, where everyone gets to jump in and have a say, many times with an agenda that has nothing to do with the recovering child, the cases can take  a long sideways route, often twisting like a corkscrew, until nothing is left.  In these cases, money is made, but no one wins.  Fame is achieved, sometimes for people who had nothing to do with the original case-and sometimes for those who did, but who have moved on, past the reality of the victim.

It’s been long enough, since the film was in theaters, that I can applaud how the story panned out.  “Jack” used native intelligence and common sense to save his mother twice- first from their captor, then from herself.  “Joy”, the mother, did well to keep both of them alive, and to recover, from both abandonment by her father and a misguided barrage of criticism from a sensation-seeking journalist.  The film is thus a cautionary tale, for several sectors of society.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  “Jack” was young enough to use that logic, in describing his former place of captivity to the police, and in avoiding the long, twisting, jagged-edged road to recovery faced by his mother.

I like to think that I prefer taking the short route, in my own life, but time has proven that sometimes, the long route has ended up being chosen.

Hard-Wired

7

May 4, 2019-

Today has certainly been a splendid day.  I never feel more alive than when I am strolling the Prescott Farmers’ Market, learning new things about the produce that ever abounds here, and the advances in Earth-friendly natural solutions to our environmental bug bears.  For example, today I was introduced to Soap Nuts, a lavender-based, eco-friendly laundry product, which may be re-used as many as eight times.  See http://www.heddaskincare.com, for more information on this unique product.

I was able to pass, to another person, a mattress that had been sitting, unused, in my apartment, for the past five years.  Needless to say, I have given myself the gift of more space and will continue this process, over the next few weeks.  Lastly, I completed the online documents needed for my new work assignment.

I am hard-wired- to love other human beings, to forgive all but the most egregious and willful assaults on my character.  I am hard-wired, to not anchor myself to any one place too long; instead, to want the very best for every soul I meet-even if that best requires my absence from their lives or their absence from mine.

I am hard-wired to be proactive, in solving issues; to share what I have, sometimes down to the nub.  I am hard-wired to regard no matter as being intractable, to regard even the slowest of progress, as forward motion, nonetheless.

I am hard-wired to neither be discomfited by crowds, nor by isolation.  I am good, with huge numbers of people,  or none at all.  I am hard-wired to look past a person’s outer shell, no matter how ungainly or repellent he or she wants us to believe is the case.  There is good, detectable in most, and definitely present in all-even to the extent of a “grain of a mustard seed.”.

I am hard-wired to cherish life.

 

He Wrote, Sang and Loved

4

May 3, 2019, Benson, AZ-

I spent the better part of the day honouring yet another long-time friend, who passed on this past week.  He was, like me, a member of the Baha’i Faith, but it wasn’t always so.  Like yours truly, he did things his way and it didn’t always turn out so well.

Baha’u’llah helped him, the way He helped me.  God’s Messengers do that, for those who pay attention.  People whose lives have been straightened out by their association with Christ can appreciate that.  Of course, there are those who will say they have been helped  solely by their own efforts, and good for them.

In my humble view, though, the efforts of a human being, to overcome insurmountable issues, are only catapulted by Celestial Energy.  So it is, that someone dependent on attraction to something material gets the best leg up, by letting go and letting God.

I invite you to give the video, by the late John Cook and his granddaughter, Britani.  Little by little, each of us can turn weakness into strength.

Ever-Advancing

9

May 2, 2019-

Here’s what I’ve experienced,

over nearly seven decades.

For every person who has left my side,

five more have appeared.

For every person who has stuck his foot out,

so as to trip me up,

ten pairs of hands have broken my fall.

For every voice of doom,

there have been a dozen angels,

singing of hope and gladness.

For each act of destruction,

a host of projects,

glistening with resilience,

have sallied forth.

In each person,

who bristles outwardly with hate,

I see a small shining star,

struggling to get out,

and so dissipate,

the outer darkness.

In each act of destruction,

there is the seed of recovery,

that will burst forth,

given its nourishment.

One hundred fifty-six years ago, today,

the Light of the World,

set forth, once again,

to bring hope and strength,

to creatures that their Creator

loves so well.

Through all the darkness,

into the light,

we, of humanity,

are ever-advancing.

(Today is the Twelfth Day of Ridvan, commemorating Baha’u’llah’s departure from Baghdad, together with his family and closest followers, for the north of Iraq and on into Turkey.)

 

Seventeen Analogies

2

May 1, 2019-

Baha’u’llah ends his advice to the reader of the Tablet under discussion by listing seventeen analogies, which I repeat below.

“Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”

In physical terms, my current Home Base is a tiny spot, though big enough to offer 3-4 other people space to sleep.  Yet, I like it when people feel at home in my presence.  I work to relieve suffering, in both physical and social terms.  It is always best when  errant people can stop running, on their own.  I have walked with them, and tried to guide, using whatever time is needed.  Being a pillar of the temple of righteousness, the name of my blogsite aside, is more problematic.  We have all had feet of clay at times. I will own mine, and certainly have either been sent, or have sought after, people who will take me to task for them.  Truth, even by, or especially by, admission, is part of what Baha’u’llah calls “spotless purity”- a goal He has set for each of us to pursue, in the course of our spiritual development.  Inculcating wisdom, the valuing of knowledge, the maintenance of humility in a boastful society, each serve to invigorate not only one’s spirit, but the collective spirit of one’s generation.

So, as Ridvan draws to an end, with tomorrow’s commemoration of the Beloved’s departure from that sanctified garden, and His long overland journey to what is now Istanbul, I take stock of all the ways in which advancement, in these virtues He offered us, as divine gifts, is being manifested and the still further way that I have to go, in that regard.

I have learned, since last Ridvan, that even when life does not roll out in a tight plan, it has the most exquisite of offerings to place at one’s feet.  I sense it will be thus, in the next twelve months.

Meeting Needs of Self and Others

5

April 30, 2019-

I spent a few hours, this morning, with a small group of people whose world view is something of a throwback to the time when Big Band music was de rigeur and good manners were the bedrock of society.  They are finding it hard to deal with the unraveling of society, viewing liberalism as the cause.  In my view, it is simply one reaction to the upheavals, rather than being causative.

Yesterday, I introduced Baha’u’llah’s prescription for the individual.  Today, let us look at sentences 5-8, of the Tablet:  “Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts.”

The people to whom I refer above would strike some as antiquated in their views.  As many of you know, I associate with many types of people, across the political spectrum and of all ethnicities and Faith groups.  Being fair in judgment so often requires one to hold the tongue- so being guarded in speech is a very critical trait, one on which I had to work very hard.  It does not mean suffering calumnies against other groups or rosily accepting what ever comes out of the person’s mouth, without challenge.  Nonetheless, a person does not do well to “shoot his mouth off.”  Justice shown to one man should not preclude justice to others.  Such would be a false justice.  Meekness- that is something of which I have often been accused.  So, it’s ironic that not being meek was cited as the grounds for my recent change in employment status.  No one can claim perfection.     I do, however, strive for humility, in my dealings with others.

Comfort and defense, both to myself and to those around me, have indeed been primary goals, and these make sentence #7:  “Be as  a lamp unto them that walk in darkness……..”, that much more cogent, the last clause being the driving force behind my having become a counselor and child advocate.  Integrity has been huge; so that even when I have failed in the matter of uprightness, the ownership of those failures has had to be indelible.

So onward I go; forward we all go.  Even when change is difficult to face, let us apply those values we hold dearest, to the resolution of the challenges we face, such as we will ever face.