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?

 

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, 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.

Sutherland Springs

2

November 5, 2017, Prescott-

My post about a visit to Cave Creek will be up soon.  In the meantime, another Sunday, and more mayhem.

Upwards of thirty people may be dead,

and 30 others with life-threatening injuries.

All they set out to do, was worship.

Someone else had a different plan.

Bring on Armageddon.

Others responded to his act,

predictably-

blaming the Government,

blaming Trump,

blaming the Democrats,

even blaming anyone who

showed outrage at the horrific act.

This last, shades of post- Sandy Hook,

post- Las Vegas.

“It can’t be the shooter’s fault.

Maybe there was no shooter at all.

Maybe the Government made it all up.

Maybe it’s just a hologram.”

Tell that to the wounded.

Tell that to the families

who will be burying

their dead.

Tell that to all those

who have INDEED

lost their children,

parents,

siblings,

neighbours,

friends.

Denial means continuity.

 

 

Day of the Dead

4

November 2, 2017, Prescott-

Hispanic families, in Mexico and elsewhere, observe this day as a way to honour their departed ancestors and strengthen the ties between this world and the hereafter.

As I looked out the window, this morning, I swear I could see Penny’s image, and that of her father, looking back at me, in a tree across the way.

Some have gone on, this past year, who had roles, large and small, in my life.

Uncle George Boivin, one of my last surviving father figures, gave me a paving stone from Boston’s old Scollay Square, which was transformed into Government Center, when I was about 12.  He was ever available, when I was in Colorado, to set me straight, in the difficult  2 1/2 years, immediately following Penny’s passing.  His mind was sharp, until the end, and those doll houses live on.

Al Tercero served our American Legion, at the post and district level, for over 30 years.  Now he is in what we call Post Everlasting.  The Honour Guard he helped establish is still the finest in Arizona.

George Marchessault, also a Past Commander and Honour Guard stalwart, stayed true to the Legion code and was ever present at our gatherings, on almost a weekly basis, until his last illness confined him to rest.

Bea Cronin, a grand-aunt’s sister-in-law, was always outside watching the Saugus High football team, from her back yard. There was an open door and welcome to the kids who knew her sons, and to us, her far extended family, when we were in the neighbourhood.

Ivaloo Mac Vicar was always in the hall, when I was passing to classes in seventh grade, admonishing us boys to WALK down the stairs, ONE step at a time.  She made it to the Century Mark, and a bit beyond, as did-

Evelyn Porter Anderson, who gave my mother a shot at success as a hairdresser and cosmetologist, in the uncertain days after World War II.  She never stopped doting on the five of us, until blindness and infirmity kept her confined to her last home.

Bernis Hanlon taught me, in fifth grade, to rely on my own wits and to start building  layers on my thin skin.  It took twenty more years for that lesson to really stick, yet less time for her next life lesson, appreciation of fine drama, to be absorbed, six years later, when she was the  High School Theater Advisor, who didn’t mind my being on the periphery of that club’s efforts.

Firuz Kazemzadeh was a high-level scholar of the Baha’i Faith, and one of our most accomplished mentors, serving in so many capacities, legal and educational.  His was always a bright and friendly face, at national and international gatherings, as well as at “our own” Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, held annually in Phoenix.

So many others have come and gone- and some day a person or two will write of my time on this Earth.  There is much to do, as yet, so let it not be too soon.

 

Forgiveness

16

October 29, 2017, Prescott-

A couple of years ago, one who is closest to me

said “I forgive you”,

in the context of reassuring me

of his filial devotion.

It was not specific to anything,

leaving me to guess,

as to which of several possible

lapses in parental judgment,

to which he might have been referring.

Others, over the years,

have accepted apologies

and held me to my word.

Still others, have simply

dropped out of sight,

though no one ever

drops out of my mind

or heart.

Conversely,

I have forgiven

all but one or two,

of those who caused

my late wife so much

unnecessary pain.

All she wanted was to die in peace.

That was too much for that one,

those two,

whose concern was more about

money,

about rules and regulations,

than human decency.

If I want to be forgiven,

by those whom I have wronged,

then I have to forgive

the worst of the bad,

as well.

Christ said it,

so did Baha’u’llah.

So be it.

 

But For Now

9

October 23, 2017, Prescott-

Tomorrow, I will write at length about two parts of New Mexico,

but for now, I am content to set my boundaries here, in this room.

Some day, I will likely balance my time between a beautiful little family

and my larger worldwide family,

but for now, I will tend to the needs  of my students and team mates.

Some day, I will be comfortable in the large group of people,

who have recognized the Presence of Baha’u’llah,

but for now, I am patient with my friends who are a bit skittish

about the beliefs I am sharing.

Some day, I will see the world, from a mountain redoubt,

but for now, I am happy to have that world close at hand.

Light of the World

5

October 22, 2017, Prescott-

There is ever a power in love.

It is the greatest, and most inextinguishable power,

in all Creation, and is the reason for Creation itself.

God so loves the world,

that He sends His Message to Humankind,

in new form, every 500-1,500 years,

as He sees our need.

Thus did He send the Spirit of the Son,

some two thousand, seventeen years ago.

Two hundred years ago, today,

there appeared the Person of Baha’u’llah,

literally the Glory of God.

The Presence of God is always

the Light of the World.

Only our lower nature

can blot out that Light.

A Chrysanthemum Morning

2

October 21, 2017, Prescott-

This was a crisp, cool respite from the ongoing summer onslaught.

Coffee came before, and after, a Farmers’ Market breakfast,

of quiche, and a lamb samosa.

My favourite cold brew purveyors have taken to the wind.

Jonathan Best was there, though, bouncing the air around,

and waking up the mountains, with his enormous energy.

Becky was there, too, with her mother, Bonnie,

and Dalke Farms’ unique toffee bar.

A comely lady was selling gourds and squashes.

I picked up an acorn squash, and a small gourd.

I will get more gourds, next weekend,

with a view towards a painting project,

on Halloween.

The last stop was the Whipstone stall,

and chrysanthemums will grace this afternoon’s

commemoration:

The 198th anniversary of the Birth of Al-Bab,

Herald to  the Light of the World.