Random Observations, on A Quiet Sunday

6

November 3, 2019-

I see that my recent posts have led quite a few people to delete my site.   All the best, but my writing is, first and foremost, sharing my thoughts, not pandering to yours.  If I have ten followers left, so be it.

People who stand up for themselves very often have to get past the trolls and pundits.  I notice that, in the current presidential campaign.  Anyone who crosses the Establishment is attacked as “weird”.   That will never change their truth.

We had a great day, yesterday, as 65 people observed the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab, at Prescott Senior Center.

I heard a Roman Catholic say, this morning, that all Muslims should be killed.  The Quran mentions Jesus, in a reverent way, countless times-and more often than the New Testament.  Fighting extremism is one thing, blind genocide, quite another.  By the way, anyone interested in mass slaughter, of any population, will have to include me among their victims.  God willing, I’d be standing in front. (Yes, that includes Christians being persecuted by Muslims and Hindus. Wrong is wrong.)

The most important thing facing me, this month, is setting up a safe, comfortable place for my daughter-in-law, who will be here for several weeks in December, while her husband is separated from the Regular Navy.  Happily, he will have six years of Reserve duty, to help them get established in civilian life.

 

 

 

The Spiral

4

November 2, 2019-

The day wound around, on a gradual upswing.  There being no Farmers’ Market today, I found my way to a special event:  Highland Nature Center’s Holiday Bazaar.  There, I found a booth where two young boys were selling some interesting, and well-made craft items, whilst being cheerfully coached by their father.  I bought a lavender cold pack, which is good for 30-40 uses.  Another booth had knit caps, for women and girls, so I bought one for a friend’s 3-year -old daughter.  Finally, some graphic artists had a booth, where I found a lovely “Welcome to Our Home” placard, as an advance gift for a couple who’ll be married next weekend.

With that, it was off to the preparation for our public observance of al-Bab’s Bicentenary.  A goodly crew of us set up an exquisite setting, at Prescott’s Senior Center, and all told, we had 65 people who attended all, or part, of the festivities.  It was a quality program, and I was glad to help several people feel at home, from a skittish woman who could barely relax, to a visitor, who was a friend of the hymn singer, and was happy to visit with the singer and his wife, if only for a short time.  The spiral continued upward.

We were done with clean-up by 5 p.m., but where is my cell phone?  I retraced my steps, found no phone, let the janitor of the hall know to look out for it, and left to take care of a couple, more urgent errands.  The errands done, a friend tipped me off that the event hall was still open, for an evening event.  So, back to the Center I went, and with the night janitor leading the way, I went to the back stage area, where I’d eaten a snack, out of sight of my satiated friends, towards the end of the set-up.

It was the night janitor who spotted my phone, neatly camouflaged, as it was monochromatic with the stereo speaker on which I’d set it, during said snack.  The day thus ended with yet another upward spiral.

 

Two Centuries Ago

0

October 29, 2019-

Two hundred years ago,

Europe was pulling itself out of the wreckage of  the Napoleonic Wars.

The young United States of America was also healing from the wounds of  its second major war.

Asia was finding that Europeans, and some Americans, were interested in far more than trading goods. British outposts in Australia and India were established, towards the goal of domination of Asia. Spain had done likewise, in the Philippines.  France, Portugal and the Netherlands were not far behind.

Africa was seeing its enslavement declining, but a bigger problem-European ownership of land, would soon become the order of the age.  The Dutch had already established a settlement near the Cape of Good Hope.

In Persia (now Iran), a land that was seeing its own slow decline, two children were born, one in 1817, the other in 1819- with their birthdays coming a day apart. These boys would grow into men who would realize high spiritual stations.   These Messengers would stand out from Their peers, require little or no formal education and stand up, however respectfully, to the increasingly corrupt and wayward clergy and royalty of the Persian Empire.

The first of the two to declare His Mission was Mirza Ali Muhammad, known to posterity as al-Bab (  “Bab” being Arabic for “gate”.  He is commonly called The Bab, in English-speaking countries.) He was born in 1819, thus being honoured in the Bicentenary of His Birth, during this week.

Al-Bab was the Herald, or Forerunner, of Baha’u’llah, and declared His Mission in May, 1844, in the southern Persian city of Shiraz.  He appealed to thousands who were disillusioned by the state of Persian society.  Corruption and decadent behaviour were rife, across the country.  It was to this scene that Al-Bab spread His message that the human race should prepare itself for a Messenger, Who would bring Teachings that would unite humanity-not by force or by deception, but by independent investigation of truth and gradual bringing together of the hearts and minds of men.  This, of course, alarmed the powers that were, who, fearing the loss of their status, imprisoned al-Bab in three separate locations.  None of the three served to squelch His appeal to the masses.  Thus, in July, 1850, al-Bab was executed by firing squad, in the main square of Tabriz, in northwest Persia.  This, likewise, failed to destroy the Faith He had established.

Baha’u’llah, likewise, would endure His own series of persecutions,  to which I will refer tomorrow, on the 202nd anniversary of His birth.

The Way of Sacrifice

2

July 10, 2019, Pittsburgh-

Let your mind’s eye envision

the scene in Tabriz.

Hundreds of soldiers lined up,

thousands of onlookers behind them.

All are there to put an end

to the presence of a Light Being,

the Herald of a New Age;

the Divine Teacher, Who

became known as Al-Bab,

The Gate.

The rounds are fired,

the smoke clears,

and there is His devoted companion,

tied to Him,

before the shots were rendered;

now, just wandering about, in confusion,

That confusion spreads like wildfire.

Where is the Prisoner?

Why, He is finishing His business

with a follower,

in an office room,

elsewhere in the prison!

Al-Bab is taken outside,

once this matter has been

completed.

He is bound to His companion,

again.

A different regiment

fires its rounds.

The smoke clears,

the deed is done.

The bodies, left for the jackals

and wild dogs,

are retrieved in the night,

kept safe,

from one place of refuge

to another,

and finally laid to rest,

in March, 1909,

at His Tomb,

in Haifa, Israel.

There, we may honour Him,

at the Shrine of The Bab.

(This is a matter of historical record. Russian observers were present at the execution, were astounded and horrified, and made certain this matter was recorded in words, for posterity.  Al-Bab was executed on July 9, 1850.  We Baha’is commemorate His Martyrdom, each year.  The date this year happened to fall on July 10, according to our commemorative calendar, which is based on lunar reckoning.  I joined a group of Baha’is and friends of our Faith, in a quiet neighbourhood of southwest Pittsburgh, for today’s observance.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Tasks

2

January 19, 2019-

Many people make resolutions, the first thing, when the calendar rolls over.  I don’t indulge in that particular practice, knowing that making firm commitments to new practices takes time.

There are nine task areas, labours of love, that have defined my life, since the passing of  Penny, nearly eight years ago.  I will focus today on what these mean, relative to 2019.

1.  Family- With Aram and Yoonhee based in Busan, for at  least the rest of this year, my focuses are: To be in Korea for their sacred wedding ceremony, in March; to tend to such of their needs as can only be addressed on this side of the Pacific; to meet them in the U.S., should they visit here in the summer.

2.  Work- I remain committed to working, during the regular academic year, through at least December, 2020 and no later than May. 2021, depending on the needs of the school, preferably in the High School Autism Program.  Thus, work is a major daily focus through the fourth week of May and from August-December.

3. Faith- No day has gone by, since February 23, 1981, that I have not begun my morning in devotions and a fairly long recitation of prayer.  Service to Baha’u’llah remains  a prime expression of my inner joy and love for humanity.  This year marks the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab (The Gate), Who we revere as both Baha’u’llah’s Herald and His Twin Messenger of God, as al-Bab’s spiritual Dispensation took place from 1844-1853, immediately before the beginning of Baha’u’llah’s.   Their birthdays also fall on two consecutive days, on the lunar calendar.  This year, these are October 29-30, with al-Bab’s  anniversary occurring first. (Historically, Baha’u’llah was born in 1817 and al-Bab, in 1819).  There are also regular Spiritual Feasts and other Holy Days, throughout the year and I  am participating in regular study groups and other activities.

4.  Community Life-  I take part in volunteering on community projects, with the American Red Cross and Slow Food Prescott.  The focuses are on disaster response, home safety, school gardens and,  new this year, food recovery.  These activities largely define my giving back to Prescott and Yavapai County, for having been a large part of my solace, in the Fall of 2011.  The American Legion’s Post 6 celebrates its 100th anniversary, in May, and I will have a part to play in that celebration.

5. Writing- Blogging and journaling have also been critical to my inner healing, even in the midst of my caretaking, in 2008-11.   They remain an integral part of who I am, and so Word Press, with its being extended to Facebook and Linked In, remains my primary means of self-expression, through this year and beyond.  I also maintain a pen and ink private journal.

6, Hiking-  This has been a huge lifelong pastime, pretty much since I was old enough to walk.  Since I’ve been old enough to take off on my own, without getting into trouble, many trails and paths, from my native Massachusetts to the desert Southwest, Colorado, southeast Alaska, Korea and northwestern Europe have seen my bootprints.  This year, my focuses will be on further segments of the Maricopa Trail, at least two visits to the Grand Canyon, more beach walks in southern California, Fall hikes in Utah and the Navajo Nation, and several walks with Aram and Yoonhee, whilst in Korea.

7. Travel-  This has also long been one of my passions, often dovetailing with hiking.  The Korea trip will take me to Gwangju and Jeju, as well as Busan.  Prior to that, will be a Presidents’ Day weekend visit to southern California, hopefully connecting with friends in Orange County and the San Diego area-with La Jolla, Dana Point, San Clemente and possibly Crystal Cove being on the itinerary.

June and July largely hinge on my little family’s schedule.  Carson City, in late May, is a given, with a new extended family member having been born, this past week.  A 1-2 week visit to the Northwest, Vancouver Island/Sunshine Coast and southeast Alaska is likely-as is the now customary jaunt through the Midwest to New England and back through the mid-South.

October (Fall Break) will find me in Monument Valley and southeast Utah- returning to Capitol Reef and Natural Bridges, as well as the Goosenecks of the San Juan River.  Christmas, God-willing, will see a return to Massachusetts.

8. Diet and Exercise- Planet Fitness and our daily Adaptive Physical Education regimen have largely provided my continuity as a healthy physical specimen.  Stretches at home have also proven critical, as I recovered from a posterior knee strain, over the past ten weeks.  Things are 99% back to normal and I want to keep it that way- up to, and maintaining, 100%.  I am cutting back on coffee consumption, not out of any pressure, but because my body tells me that’s what it wants.  Less red meat is also finding its way onto my plate-and what there is, is certified grass-fed and organic.  A greater percentage of my diet being of vegetables, fruits and whole grains is on tap for this year, as well.  Yes, I will drink more water-that’s not an empty statement. Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, including Lifelong Vitality Supplements, are a continual source of sustenance.

9. Study-  My mind is always looking to keep current with advances in health, trends in positive thought and expanding my awareness of subjects in which I have scant knowledge- as well as continual study of Baha’i texts and new correspondence. This will continue, as 2019 progresses.

This is a longer post than usual, but there you have my year’s plan.

 

 

 

Light Time

9

May 24, 2018, Prescott-

Corruption is a terrible thing,

alluring and insidious.

It breathes noxious fumes

into our psyches,

and holds them in place,

through a constant appeal

to our sense of “What If?”

The root of this allure

is disquiet,

the feeling that

just maybe,

THIS will be something better;

just maybe,

THIS will relieve insecurity,

once and for all.

The only thing,

however,

that will relieve

insecurity,

pain,

the ongoing lack,

is faith in action.

This is the message

of the life of

a divine Herald,

Siyyid Ali Muhammad,

known to posterity

as al-Bab (The Gate),

Whose Declaration of Mission

we Baha’is celebrate today,

on Its 164th Anniversary.

Like every Messenger/Prophet

before Him,

al-Bab lived His days

in service and in courage,

giving His earthly life,

for our sake,

killed by the agents

of corruption and ignorance,

some six years after

the Declaration we honour today.

 

Walking in Place

3

September 23, 2017,Prescott- 

Several readers have, over the years, expressed a preference for my travel posts.  While I greatly enjoy visiting places old and new, there has been an increase in responsibilities and commitments, hereabouts, since my return from the East Coast, at the end of July.  Not the least of these is my work with autistic teens, a veritable payback to all who have guided me, over the past several decades.  There are also two major public events here in town, in October:  Hope Fest (October 14), a celebration of faith, which I will be assisting for the third consecutive year and, a week later, the Festival of Light and Unity- commemorating the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, on October 22.  As the Baha’i calendar is a lunar construct, the Birth of His Herald, al-Bab (The Gate), is observed the day prior to that of Baha’u’llah.  This year marks 198 years, since al-Bab was born and we will observe that event, as well, on October 21.

My friendships being wide-ranging these days, several events tend to converge on given days. So, today, largely devoted to Prescott Stand Down, an event dedicated to serving homeless veterans in our community, took up much of the day.  I was later able to make further progress on clearing my backyard and 3-4 more hours of concerted effort ought to get the job completed, for this year.  Tomorrow, two events at the American Legion, two Baha’i activities and an hour or two helping a good friend move, will keep me honest and productive.  This coming week, there is a gathering, of one sort or another, every night.  Looking ahead to October 14, that day will see me at two other events, in addition to Hope Fest.  Life is never dull.

With regard to travel, Fall Break will be here, in two weeks.  I am in between going to Joshua Tree and Lake Cachuma, California, or down to Superior, Globe and over to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, for 4-5 days (in which case, the California trip gets done over an extended Presidents’ Day weekend). My spirit guides will advise me, on this matter, as with so many others.

Yes, I do get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, as well as a 30-minute power nap, most afternoons.  Stay tuned.

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

6

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.

 

 

 

The Road to 65, Mile 349: Anticipating Twin Lights

3

November 12, 2015, Chino Valley-

I head homeward,

upon ending a successful day.

Many bright ideas were in view,

As our Science Fair displayed.

Now come the Twin Birthdays,

of Al-Bab and Baha’u’llah.

The Gate and Blessed Beauty,

Behold, and stand in awe!

This verse is in honour of the commemorations of the Births of Baha’u’llah, and His Herald, Al-Bab (The Gate), which are celebrated on November 13 (Al-Bab’s) and 14 (Baha’u’llah), as these are the days on which the Anniversaries fall, when gauged by the Badi, or Baha’i, Calendar, which is pegged to begin with the Vernal Equinox of the Northern Hemisphere (Autumnal, in the Southern Hemisphere).  As the Equinox may fluctuate, from year to year, so will Baha’i Holy Days, including the Twin Anniversaries, fall on slightly different days, from one year to the next.

We Baha’is in the Prescott area had a lovely devotional, followed by an incomparable Persian dinner, in honouring Al-Bab, this evening.  The same will ensue on Saturday, in honour of Baha’u’llah.