Convergence and Re-emergence

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October 9, 2018, Prescott-

It was a consummate joy to have been in Arcosanti, for 2 1/2 incredible days.  The social climate felt different to me than last year’s- in an incredibly beautiful way.  I think that is a continuance of the greater self-confidence I have felt this year, both at work and at leisure.

In one sense, the trials that come along have sparked incidents that have actually augmented the lessons which the trials themselves are meant to impart.  The vandalism to my Elantra, in Montreal, was followed by an evening of healing and joy, at Auberge Bishop, a visit to my Grandma’s hometown and the incredible celebratory weekend in Philadelphia.  A solemn, but blessed, visit with my mother-in-law, was followed by an affirming day with an old Baha’i friend in North Carolina and two days in the sun, with two other friends, in eastern Tennessee.

I felt my rhythm come back, that Sunday night in Montreal, explode in Philadelphia and flow like heaven, this past weekend.  A powerful new friend helped greatly in that regard, and more than she may realize.  Then, too, the music we enjoyed and in which we reveled, was a huge part of this flow.  There were academic presentations as well,  plus I served in the kitchen and in the Monday morning transition to another workshop week.

Insightful, talented men and women brought us to our feet, engaging body and soul.

Most powerful of all was Daniel Hirtz, whose love of the drum, as a sacred instrument of healing, imparted several affirmations of my own growing love of this instrument.  While a few sad, misguided people tried to interrupt Daniel’s session with us, it continued, until the group felt fulfilled.  Drumming and breathing are keys to healing.

Returning to Prescott, I resumed work with another  friend of power, who needed help with getting a safe living situation. That work has partly been achieved, and will continue, albeit around my other endeavours, until it reaches a sense of permanence.

As for my trip to California, it has been delayed by two days, so that the above-mentioned work will see a few more steps achieved, and that a dental procedure can be completed. More details about the coming Thursday-Sunday, in the next post.

For now, I am grateful to Daniel, Pam, Eliana, Tom, Jess, Nick, Conor, Beth Ann, Dave, Ray and all the kids-of-all-ages who made Convergence 2018 such a surging beginning to Autumn.

The 2018 Road: Honours, Learnings and Observations- Part 1

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September 2, 2018, Prescott-

The forty-day journey, whose chronicle I have just completed, is now well-past the reflection stage.  The longest trip I have undertaken, since 2015, has passed without controversy, among those of my family and friends who have viewed my travels in the past, with some consternation.

There were mostly good things that happened, this summer that is nearly passed.  I want to first note those who have honoured me with their presence, in the deepest of ways.  Then, I shall note the learnings I picked up from the trek. Finally, some observations are in order.

Honours-

The first of these always goes to my family: Being in Christ Church, Philadelphia, for the wedding of my beloved youngest niece; having my son, Aram, and his girlfriend next to me during the service, throughout the reception and for much of Father’s Day.  I’m grateful to her, for having given him much happiness; being with all of my siblings, nieces and nephews and nearly all of my extended family.

My northern Nevada family has always been there for me, as well.  This year, over Memorial Day weekend, was no different.

My sister in spirit, Corina, drove an hour each way to visit with me a bit-once I got to Wilmette, but to no avail.  My arrival was way too late, so back she went, to spend Sunday afternoon with her beloved. I feel honoured, nevertheless.  Just being in the embrace of the Baha’i House of Worship is a singular honour, in itself.

Having dinner with friends in Mishawaka, IN, was a sublime blessing.  Thanks, Val and Sparky.

I cannot say enough, for the staff and fellow hostelers at Auberge Bishop, Montreal, for confirming my worth as a human being, in the aftermath of a serious loss.  I am also grateful to the agents at USAA, for mitigating that loss.  It was a joy to take lunch at one of  the restaurants of a friend’s establishment:  La Panthere Verte.  I would feel similarly honoured, again, at hostels in Baltimore and in Memphis.

One of the greatest honours is to connect with the spiritual energy of one’s ancestors. My maternal grandmother’s hometown, Plattsburgh, NY first welcomed me, and a few weeks later, my sister and a maternal cousin connected with some of Grama’s grandnieces and great grandnephews.

Penny’s family will always be my own, as well.  They helped me greatly, in the wake of Montreal.  A few days’ respite, in the family home, in Spring Hill, FL helped me rest before the home stretch, and reaffirmed our bond.  Paying my respects to her departed cousin, a few days before, in Maryland, was essential.

There are many, across the nation and world, who I regard as spiritual family. They are of all Faiths and of no Faith.  Connecting with a woman who is like a daughter to me, in Virginia Beach; an immigrant friend who is like a brother, in Salisbury, NC; and my Tennessee brother and sister of the heart, in Crossville, have made all the difference in healing a part of me that still grieves, somehow.

Being in Memphis, and feeling the pain that all of us who are of good heart experienced, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. died, was cathartic.  I had not cried in a good long while, and this overwhelming sadness brought out a lot.  Later in the day, walking along the banks of the Mississippi and along Beale Street, felt like a dirge was playing.  Dr. King honoured us all.

NEXT:  Learnings

 

The 2018 Road, Day 16: Unlocking Myself

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June 10, 2018, Montreal-

The thieves gave me more than they took, actually.  An extra day to enjoy the comfort of Auberge Bishop’s community and to spend twilight in downtown Montreal were unexpected delights.

Here are some scenes of Montreal’s old and new, around the Cathedral of Mary,  Queen of the World and St. George’s Anglican Cathedral.  Statues honour Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as a row of figures atop the Roman Catholic Cathedral.  Below is a scene of the cathedral’s cupola, with CIBC Tower to its right.

 

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The great tower also watches this gate to the cathedral’s grounds.

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The Cathedral’s own watchmen are also quite vigilant.

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Here is a memorial to the city’s fallen, in World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

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In addition to the excitement of Formula 1 Grand Prix, there is a dazzling amount of construction here.

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This abstract piece graces the Garden of the Cathedral of St. George, an Anglican house of worship.

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This statue honours Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s Prime Minister during the Fin de Siecle, the turn of the Twentieth Century. Sir Wilfrid promoted both the expansion of Canadian territory and a retreat from Federalism.  He espoused increasing harmony between English and French Canadians.

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The “Mounties” are honoured here.

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This likeness of Robert Burns celebrates Canada’s debt to Scotland, as regards its settlement.

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With the dark looming, I headed back to the hostel.  There, as an offbeat round of Bingo was beginning, I took a seat at one of the “audience” tables. The “winners” of a call had to perform a silly act. One young man came up and meowed at me. A few calls later, a pert young woman was to ask an audience member to dance.  So, I accepted her motion and let myself move to the beat.   At that moment, I realized why this extra night in one of my favourite cities happened. Business as usual, with no break-in, would have had me on the road, charging full speed ahead, to New England,  It was essential, in fact, for me to slow down and get off the treadmill. So many “daughters” have appeared these past few days, from Toronto to here, offering messages of support and encouragement, in big ways (the policewoman) and small (this pleasant dancer).  I went to bed, two hours later, feeling safe among the young.

NEXT:  A fine repair and Grandma’s roots.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 15: Montreal, Light and Dark

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June 9, 2018, Montreal-

The gargoyles came to life, this afternoon.  My Lenovo, my warhorse, which has been with me across the country, five times, to Alaska, Hawai’i, British Columbia, western Europe, now has a new “owner”.  Whilst I was walking to and from the polyglot neighbourhood where Montreal’s Baha’i Centre is located, one or two interlopers broke into my car and rummaged through the backseat, finding the laptop case, underneath two backpacks. Nothing else was taken, but the drivers’ side windows were shattered.

A police officer came, after about 45 minutes, and took down the relevant information, as well as a sample of the shattered glass.  She dusted a bit for prints, and filed a report, giving me the number, by which I can send the laptop’s serial number, from my files, once I get back to Prescott.  This has all been explained earlier, in “Dear Thug”.

Now to the draw of Montreal- its majesty, as a city.  I came here in the first place, because of my memories of the city, when I visited in 1972-73, as part of a college tour group.  I had also told my seat mate, on the way back from Europe, in 2014, that I would visit this year.  She may well have forgotten, and was not even here, this weekend, but I did visit a branch of the restaurant in which she works:  La Panthere Verte.

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I was pleased that it was just a short block from Auberge Bishop.

Also in the vicinity of the hostel are the facilities of  La Musee des Beaux Arts, along Sherbrooke Avenue.  The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul is in the midst of these properties.

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The church even has a “guardian”!

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Below, is one of the museum’s  main buildings.

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Mount Royal Park’s eastern flank is not far from this complex.

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Walking back towards the hostel, I spotted Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, mounted on a mighty steed.

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Here is the bright side of my ill-fated walk of this afternoon, which took place after I had checked out of the hostel, with every intention of beginning my drive south, to New England, this afternoon.  May I present Mc Gill University, Victoria Hospital and the Montreal Baha’i Centre:

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Victoria Hospital now has a different campus.  This is one of the main buildings on the original campus.

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Montreal Baha’i Centre is a small, but graceful building,  I spent only twenty minutes here, as, ironically, I wanted to still find the Baha’i Shrine,  a house where ‘Abdu’l-Baha stayed, during His 1912 visit to Montreal.  That did not happen, on THIS visit. Here, though, is the modern centre of our Faith’s life in this great city.

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On the way back to my car, I had this view of Montreal’s downtown.  In the foreground is McGill’s soccer field.

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In the end, one gets up, dusts self off and moves forward with gusto. No one knew this better than Montreal’s bard.

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So, in honour of Leonard, I made the most of my unexpected Montreal Sunday, returning to Auberge Bishop and taking in one of the city’s historic districts, in the afternoon.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 14: All Along ON Route

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June 8, 2018, Montreal- 

Late this evening, I have arrived at Auberge Bishop, arguably one of the most welcoming places I’ve been in quite a while.  The people are relaxed, indoors and out. Even the House Psycho is not going to be much of a problem- I just need to remember that she hates men.

But, let’s get back to the day’s start.  I enjoyed a full breakfast, in Neill-Wycik’s cafeteria, then went up to the penthouse to get a view of downtown, as only the top of  a high rise can offer.

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I got carried away with writing, whilst sitting at a desk, in said penthouse, so I ended up checking out at  11:15.  The uber-officious Day Manager had a field day with this, and $ 25 worth of surcharges later, I left Neill-Wycik, with a promise to myself to not return.  Toronto has smaller hostels, and one of them will be my base camp, on the next visit here.

Downtown I drove, stopping briefly at Toronto’s lovely Baha’i Centre.  I was let inside by a lovely and gracious lady, who had to then leave.  I was allowed, by the office manager, to look about for a few minutes and so I share these scenes.  Anyone in the Toronto area who has a desire to investigate spiritual truth for oneself will certainly do well to attend one of the Centre’s public events.  Toronto’s Baha’i community is certainly a vibrant one:  https://www.bahaitoronto.org/

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Whilst on a trip around North America, in 1912, Abdu’l-Baha briefly visited Toronto, en route from Montreal to Buffalo.

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I was given the address for Canada’s Baha’i National Centre, in Thornhill, north of Toronto, but gauging my arrival time in Montreal, I opted to leave that visit for next time.

Ontario’s segment of Route 401 features several ON Route Service Centres.  These allowed this Yank to get my fill of Tim Horton’s fare, and keep the Elantra happy with gasoline.  There is much to see, off-highway, along this route: It is, after all, the Canadian side of the Thousand Islands sector of the St. Lawrence Valley. Again, stuff for next time.  After leaving sleepy Morrisburg’s ON Route Esso, with its wary station attendant and taciturn cashier, I was soon in Quebec. Montreal, in its majesty, appeared an hour after that.

A ten-minute Blue Tooth-based conversation later, I had deposited Elantra in a parking garage and found my way to Auberge Bishop.  Here, at least, I feel entirely welcome. At Chicha Donburi, a curry house next door, I received an equally robust welcome. The cheerful Japanese-Canadian proprietress, and her chef, never stopped moving, the entire hour I was there.  I love Katsu (Japanese-style cutlet), and this did not disappoint.

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NEXT:  Montreal’s Light and Darkness

 

 

Grama in Time

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June 12, 2018, Plattsburgh-

My maternal grandmother, Estella Myers Kusch, was born here, in 1892 and passed on in 1960, in Stoneham, MA. It’s been a long-standing desire of my siblings and me, to spend time in this area. Last night, and this morning, I got the chance.

Sunday brought me back to Auberge Bishop, which now takes its place among the places where I feel a special measure of love. These places exist in every part of the world I’ve visited and are sure to grow in number. As another friend pointed out, the opposite is also true. Yes, every place has its shadows, as well as its light. I was, however, enormously comforted by my young friends at Bishop, forming a cordon of love around me on Sunday.

Monday came and went, nicely. I had no problem getting cleared by theU.S. Consulate to leave Canada. The auto glass replacement took mu h of the day, but it, too, got done. I fetched my bags from Auberge Bishop, then navigated my way to TC-15 and the border. By 8 p.m., I arrived here, my Grama’s hometown.

Grama was an anchoring presence in my first decade of life. She watched my sister and me, when our parents went shopping on Saturday morning, always warning us to behave, lest Mom get “terry”-her term for being angry. I loved going up to her house, about a mile from our duplex, from which we moved when I was four. In fact, the first time I caught a hair brush to my backside, was when I walked up there alone. I was three. I can only imagine my Mom, crying and trembling, even as she tended to my punishment.

I saw several people around Plattsburgh, who resemble my Grama, my maternal Uncle Jim and few others in the Myers-Kusch family.

The town itself is a most picturesque place, with a compelling story, especially relative to the War of 1812.

I will have photos of Plattsburgh, nearby Ausable Chasm, and all the places before and after, when I get my new laptop and The 2018 Road series resumes.

She became seriously ill, when I was eight years old and I didn’t see her anymore after that.