Growing My Vision, Part II

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October 24, 2019-

I’ve had a fair amount of time to reflect on how life has been, and where it’s going.  An online purveyor of life coaching is claiming I will “stagnate”, if I don’t pay for his coaching method, as opposed to The Law of Attraction and its 11 corollary laws, which he says “fail”.

Well, so far, since I studied and implemented these twelve laws, my life has, for the most part, worked out in a satisfying way.  He sees me as stagnating, because my nest egg is modest, I don’t have one special significant other, and my travel plans don’t involve expensive resorts.  Sound familiar?

I live in a small apartment-true, but it’s comfortable.  I live in a town where I am, for the most part, loved and respected.  I would only move, if it seemed like my family needed me to be closer.  So far, I have seen no indication of that.  I do plan on a more fluid schedule,  even more of being on the move, after next year-but that’s also contingent on whether I am needed by anyone.  Family will always trump journeys of discovery.

There is also the slim possibility of serving at the Baha’i World Centre, in Israel, for 12-18 months, in a couple of years.  It would be strictly dependent on that institution’s needs.

My vision, regardless, will continue to grow.  There are always new things to learn about the nature of the soul, about quantum physics and the vastness of the Universe, both macro and micro.  There are always new friends to make and new things to learn about those in my life at present.

The old dog is up for learning new tricks.  Just don’t ask me to jump out of a plane, unless the thing is going down.

Stirrings In The Heartland

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July 11-12, 2019, Richmond to Goshen, IN-

I stood in the small drive, next to a fence, and observed a mother donkey carefully watching over her seemingly forlorn baby.  One of the girls on the farm made a move to check on the little one, whereupon the foal got up on all fours and dashed off to a further spot in the meadow.

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Stops in certain areas have become part of my itinerary, over the past several years.  There are people I enjoy seeing, or to whom I feel drawn, and whether I visit them or not, depends on their circumstances on the ground.  Two young women, whom I love like daughters, were obviously busy and nearly overwhelmed by life, this time around, and so I gave visiting them a pass.  Others, like a waitress at Bedford Diner, in southwest Pennsylvania, are always good for an hour or so of bantering.  So, my breakfast yesterday featured some of the finest breakfast sausage anywhere, great hotcakes and the wisdom and humour of K.

After the Baha’i Holy Day commemoration, to which I alluded in the last post,  my route towards the Midwest took me through the backstreets of Homestead and McKeesport, then to I-70, Wheeling and Zanesville, where dinner at a Bob Evans to which I am also drawn, when in that area, was served by similarly engaging young ladies.  Zanesville has made some positive strides, in terms of civic pride, in the two years since I last visited.

I crossed Ohio without further ado, choosing Lewisburg, just shy of the Indiana line, as my rest stop for the night.  Despite some rough characters also taking the evening air at the motel, I had no trouble.

This noon, I was one of the first people to take lunch at Fricker’s, just off the highway in Richmond. It is party place, similar to the Dave & Buster’s chain. Mothers with their young children were enjoying the arcade.  Old duffers, with ball caps and white beards, were sitting at the bar, dispensing grandfatherly advice to the young servers and bantering with the forty-something bartender.  I took a bistro seat, and got prompt, attentive service from J., a shy but caring teen.  I could easily find my way back here.

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By the time I left, Fricker’s lot was full.  On  a whim, I stayed on U.S. 35, to Muncie, another Indiana city about which I had often thought.  Walking about downtown, I saw several references to “Chief Munsee”, who was a Munsee-speaking Lenape and whose real name was Tetepachsit.  In the early Nineteenth Century, there was a brief flurry of  witch-hunting activity, which resulted in his trial, being found guilty and execution.

There is a statue of a Plains Indian, at the southern entry into Muncie.  He is not Chief Tetepachsit, whose forebears hailed from the Delaware Valley of eastern Pennsylvania. Several assimilated Lenape moved west with  European settlers, some settling in Ohio and others, including Tetepachsit’s family, landing in the White River Valley, of which present-day Muncie (named for the Munsee people) is a part.  I could not find a parking spot near the statue, so it is not part  of this blog. More solid buildings, downtown, like this telecommunications office, were walkable from a spot near a coffee house, The Caffeinery.

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First Baptist Church presents a fortress-like image.

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This building houses the Downtown Housing Development Program.

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I saw flashes of artistic revival, on my brief walk around downtown.  This engaging ceramics studio and shop, had a well-attended class in session, at the time of my visit. Anyone is free to come in and paint their own ceramic piece.  I selected a lovely, sale-ready plate as a gift for my evening’s hosts.

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A bright mural, which has been restored, following vandalism, graces the side of another downtown.  It is a response to the Orlando nightclub shootings, and thus is a manifestation of an inclusive mindset.  A man and his 12-year-old daughter were taking this in, just prior to my visit.  It is a testament to the quietude of the area, that I would come across them twice more, taking care to reassure the father that I was NOT following them around.

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I headed towards my place of rest:  Mishawaka, encountering a slog along their development’s main street, due to the other access road’s having buckled from the heat.  After dinner, we took a stroll around their neighbourhood.  Narcissuses are a point of pride here, as are these Tropicana roses.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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My Plant Snap identifies these as Hosta Tardiana.  Anyone think differently?

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I had lovely visits with my hosts in Mishawaka and the next day, here at a farm in Goshen, where the donkey shown above was among the new denizens.    There will, no doubt, be a far different environment waiting for me at the next stop, Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighbourhood.  It’s all great, though, and part of a quite fascinating world.

 

The Way of Sacrifice

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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.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He Wrote, Sang and Loved

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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.

Niners

2

April 18, 2019-

Age nine found me whimsical,

lost ever in my own thoughts,

save when it came to lessons,

in Mrs. Kimball’s class.

Age nineteen found me lackadaisical,

flitting in and out of other people’s lives,

with no thought as to my effect on them.

Age twenty-nine found me desultory,

often lost in the bottle,

floating along Arizona’s highways,

or the backroads of the  wider West,

yet making a stab at conveying math,

to myself and my students.

Age thirty-nine found me devoted,

to my wife and toddler son.

The fragrance of Jeju,

and the progress of my English-teacher candidates,

filled out my world.

Age forty-nine found me wary,

of any and all politicians,

of a wayward shaman,

whose stated goal was

to bring about my ruin.

Age fifty-nine found me crumbling,

about to lose the most important

person in my life,

to the dis-ease that had

stalked her,

for over fifty years.

Age sixty-nine is seven months off,

yet it may well find me

in a state of flux.

Regardless,

I know my life is aimed

towards wholeness,

towards growth,

ever looking past

mere survival.

 

Flex Schedule

4

April 6, 2019-

Insights into the wider implications of my being released from my most recent position seem to be coming to me, usually in the early morning- a time when I had been doubting my effectiveness at times, only to pull myself together-and usually do a credible job, on any given day.

There are always aspects of one’s day-to-day life that are not readily understood.  Why, for example, do crisis moments seem to happen, almost out of nowhere?  Why do some people seem to be keenly interested in one’s shortcomings, when they have no supervisory role of which to speak?  Why do processes come to an abrupt end?

I have chosen to not concern myself with any of that.  I will go back to what has sustained me, in times of trial before:  Working where I am most needed, from day to day.  There are nineteen months until I would, optimally, prefer to retire from education: November, 2020.  I would work through December,  if the need arises.

It also occurs to me that the needs of my Faith, and possibly other needs that have yet to reveal themselves, are the true reason for my newly resumed flexible schedule.  Another, younger person could do what I had been doing with my former charges, from one day to the next and do as well, if not better.  I see that there are already areas, in which having the freedom to determine my own work schedule will do more good than I’d been able to do, in those areas, over the past three years.

Everything happens for a reason, and usually for at least two or three.

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.

 

 

 

Gratitude Week, Day 7: The Finest Fruits

9

November 24, 2018, Prescott-

I have decided to end this week of gratitude, by looking back at the ten best choices I ever made.  I am grateful to the Universe for having placed these in front of me and I have a measure of self-gratitude for having made them.

10,  Serving in the Army– At 18, I had little to show for my life. There was no discipline, of which to speak and my world consisted of drooling over girls and imbibing too much alcohol, too fast.  Other-imposed discipline gave me a regimen, which I could add to the work ethic that my parents instilled in each of us and it set me on  a course of self-reliance, which I still need and use.

9.  Studying Psychology- It didn’t make me wealthy and barely got me a job, but knowing something of what makes the human mind tick has given me insight into myself and has made me more understanding of others.

8. Living on the Navajo Nation- I have a strong genetic memory of the Indigenous. I am not much, in terms of blood quantum, but my nature fairly burns with the feeling that I belong in the woodlands; that I am a gatherer and a sharer; that I am one with the Universe. Being on the same page, day to day, with Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi people reinforced that unity.

7. Blogging-   Writing is a skill that three of my four high school English teachers saw as a talent that I needed to sharpen.  They gave me the tools to keep on sharpening that talent.  College brought it up another notch.  As a caretaker, and then as a widower, far from extended family, blogging gave me an outlet, one step up from journaling  (which I also still do) and a wider appreciative audience.

6, Returning to work, full time- In 2016, having been a substitute teacher, with a couple of other jobs, whilst being Penny’s caretaker, I found a niche at Prescott High School.  My place there was, more or less, secure and I was urged to return full-time, for the years leading up to my retirement from education.  That work has been fulfilling, and will remain so until I reach 70, two years from now.

5.  Working as a counselor- As a school counselor, I was able to impact thousands of lives, over the span of eleven years, between Tuba City and Keams Canyon/Jeddito, and some of those lives were saved.  I am haunted by  a few lives that weren’t and by those I couldn’t reach.  The majority, though, learned life skills and resilience, and knew that someone had their backs.

4. Settling in Prescott- The job aside, moving here after Penny’s passing was a lifesaver.  I had the anchor of a house, for the time I needed it, and of a Faith Community with whom I was already familiar and who were not intimate with Penny’s suffering.  That last was important.  I could not have the constant reminders of all that we had endured together.  Since then, I have made many new friends and branched out in several directions-all healthy.

3. Widespread travel-Besides going back and forth from Arizona to the East Coast, for family visits, my wanderlust has taken me to western Europe, Hawai’i, the Pacific Northwest and southeast Alaska.  I took in a small swath of eastern Canada, last summer and am likely to cross our northern neighbour again, in the summer of 2020.  California, Nevada and Colorado have also seen a lot of me, these past seven years, as have the South and Midwest.  This is an essential part of who I am.

2.  Getting married- I have always been crazy about girls and women.  There isn’t much about the opposite gender that I don’t like, though I am proud to be male.    Self-dislike got in the way, though, when I found myself drawn to one young lady after another.  Penny didn’t fall for any of that, and we built a solid foundation, by which both of us were able to tame most of our demons and raise a fine young man, who has taken his full place in the world.

1. Recognizing Baha’u’llah- I received a solid spiritual foundation, having been raised in the Roman Catholic faith. As I matured, though, the rituals and practices began to feel automatic to me, and I have always known that there is a continuity to Divine Revelation, superseding any one of the faiths or denominations that are commonplace.  In 1972, I heard of Baha’u’llah, and the Baha’i Faith, for the first time.  Nine years later, I embraced Baha’i as my own.  I have found its precepts teach everything in which I already believe, and the teachings regarding health are exactly what I needed, to tame the demon of alcohol dependence.  Far beyond those, however, are the vision of planetary and human unity-dispelling the darknesses of racism, nationalism and excessive materialism.

I am sure I will have other choices to make, in the coming days, months, and years.  Perhaps a life-changer will be among them, as well.

The Fast: Day 18-Continuity

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March 19, 2018, Prescott-

Today found me back at work.  Spring Break was restful, if as fast-moving as the Academic Year itself.   No matter who a person is, how old one gets or where s(he) finds self, there are certain constants.

Mine are waking at or near dawn, careful bathing and grooming, devotions, nutrition, focused prayer, communication with friends and family and some act of daily service.  Work, in the Baha’i Faith, as in Christianity and several other religious traditions, is an act of worship, when performed in service to humanity.  This goes for manufacture, public service and parenting.  That implies a goodly amount of integrity, in all one’s acts while on the job, or while representing one’s place of work, or one’s employer.

Continuity is also a sign of cognitive awareness, when performed in a logical and mindful state.  So, as my sixties roll on, I’m glad to be at work, winding down my third-to-last physical 19-Day Fast and being in good company, wherever I happen to be.

 

Demise or Abeyance?

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January 25, 2018, Prescott-

A poetry reading gathering, here in town, has been canceled, for the rest of this year.

I had planned on rejoining it, after an absence of five months.

Goes to show, what Shoghi Effendi, who guided the Baha’i Faith, from 1922-1957, said

about opportunities:  “Some opportunities only come once.”

Carpe Diem, indeed!

I wonder if someone may pick up the slack.

I am considering approaching a different venue,

and doing so myself.

It would only need to happen once a month.

I am availing myself of some serious business education.

The advanced level would be a bit costly, out the gate,

but I would recover that amount, in six months’ time.

Due diligence says it’s a good risk.

It would not represent yet another fiscal demise,

but rather, a state of abeyance.

My hikes and adventures have been

in a state of abeyance, as well.

That will change on Saturday,

but I don’t know where, just yet.