Loves of a Life

8

September 30, 2017, Flagstaff-

I told an old friend that Penny has been gone,

for six years.

He spends lots of time,

off the grid.

So, he missed all that’s happened to us,

since 1997.

Twenty years have come and gone,

and he is a loving husband and father.

I was the former, and am still the latter.

After leaving this generous man,

and his fine facility,

lent us for our Baha’i gathering,

I turned on my laptop.

I went to cbs.com,

and selected

the most recent episode

of “Blue Bloods”.

In this one, it’s revealed

that a man has lost

his wife,

in a helicopter crash.

He wants to turn inward,

shut the world out.

He has two teenage sons,

to finish raising.

His family,

and the Universe,

conspire to keep him

afloat.

Today would have been

her 63rd birthday.

I told an old friend.

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.

Charlottesville

0

August 13, 2017, Prescott-

It’s rather ironic, that my journey series has reached the point where my next few posts will be about Antietam, Harpers Ferry, Harrisonburg/Lexington and Olive Hill, KY.  I did not visit the seat of the University of Virginia, this time out.  It is my late wife’s alma mater and Charlottesville is the first place where Penny heard about the Baha’i Faith.  There is a strong Baha’i presence there, to this day.  Were my fellows in faith to be given charge of this weekend’s gatherings, they may well have had white and black extremists cordoned off in one area, as was done at a Baha’i gathering in Orlando, several years ago.  It taught more than a few of them the absurdity of their positions.

Fear has a lot to do with what went on, on both sides.  Fear makes people do prudent things, like staying aware of their surroundings, watching where they put their hands and feet, not picking fights with those who could seriously cause harm.  Fear also can make people do stupid things, like assume a person, who has certain physical features or styles  of dress/adornment, is dangerous or argue a point, that they know is ridiculous, “could possibly be right.”

I believe every life matters, too.  I believe it is right to learn from history and that it is wrong to try and erase history.  There was once an emperor of China, who tried to expunge the record of every ruler who came before him.  He wanted to rewrite history, in his own hand.  It’s said that history is written by the victor, but that didn’t turn out so well, for said Emperor.  Others kept records, then, and others will keep records, now.  Those who remove our statuary are not being honest with children.  They are no better than those who gave short shrift to the legacies of people of colour, over a nearly 200-year period.  History needs to be full and balanced, if we are to learn from our errors, as a nation and as a species.

I am very saddened by the needless and premature death of Heather Heyer.  This wanton act of murder had nothing to do with a certain number of Antifa members being mixed with the anti-Nazi protestors.  Ms. Heyer was not with Antifa, nor was she “bused in by George Soros.”  She was a Charlottesville resident, employed as a paralegal.  It had everything  to do with the killer’s being an impressionable young man, of questionable emotional stability, being influenced, to some degree, by the words and taunts of a good number of Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Party members.  The reactions of many of the alt-right protesters does indicate they were not out to kill those who confronted them.  The obscenity-laced comments filling the air- on You Tube videos- did, however, set some people off, including the errant driver.

It’s  long past time to start serious, but respectful and frank dialogue.  Let’s do it, anyway.  It’s long past time for the President to set a strong tone of domestic leadership, aimed at getting differing sides together, peacefully,  but nose-to-nose, if necessary.  The air needs to be cleared of the noxious.  Citizens, however, as was said this evening, at a candlelight vigil here,  also need to set the moral tone, at their level..  No far-off politician can do all the heavy-lifting, nor should a local demagogue be allowed to stir up the passions of one segment of the populace, as happened in Charlottesville.

I am not any kind of supremacist.  I am not any kind of ideologue.  I have lived long enough to know that we lose, mightily, by excluding any group, based on any physical characteristic, faith or creed.  So, on we go, without the vivacious young paralegal, who just wanted to love her community.

P.C.

6

June 25, 2017, Bellemont, AZ-

We’ve undergone a wealth of name-changes, relative to how people see various groups, into which we classify ourselves, and others, since the early 1960’s.  It’s almost become so that many are almost paralyzed, when it come sot referencing people who “fall into categories of ‘the other’.”

I’ve spent the past 48 hours at a Baha’i camp, 1 1/2 miles west of this small village, itself 12 miles west of Flagstaff.  Several new friends, of different ages, were made, as is always the case.  One beautiful family of seven is “racially-blended”, if we are to believe the doctrine of political correctness.  The father of this family was one of the presenters at our Summer School.  He addressed racial identity and political correctness.  He is not a fan of P.C., insofar as it allows us to dance around the subject of racial relations.

When I was growing up, my parents told us never to use racial,  ethnic, or sexual epithets.  I was taught to address people by the name which they used to introduce themselves.  It was fine to call a person of colour a Negro, until people of colour themselves preferred Black, then African-American.  Using the pejorative form of Negro would have earned me an oral cleansing, and not with candy-flavoured mouth wash.

We Baha’is believe, as one of the central tenets of our Faith, that there is, as Baha’u’llah wrote. “but one race, the human race.”  Having said that, it is NOT WRONG, to stand firm against discrimination of any kind.  This runs the gamut- from denying people their basic human rights, based on pigmentation, height, gender, change of gender, economic status, or personal creed/religion.  It is also imperative to acknowledge someone’s basic goodness, in any area of endeavour or character feature.

“One race, the human race”, does not exclude people of colour, people of intense faith, people who hail from  desert wastes or from an urban wasteland, who eat mainly fast food or who eat raw food. It safeguards the human rights of people who adhere to our Faith, to previously-revealed Faiths or to no Faith at all.

So, political correctness has its limits.  These are tantamount to over-tightening a nut, on a wheel.  The nut becomes stripped, useless.  Not being able to describe a person, in terms perfectly acceptable to that individual and her peers, is a paralysis of denial.  My new African-American friend, his European-American wife, their four creative, lovely daughters and vibrant, disabled son should never have to endure the embarrassment of having to watch as someone, who claims to be their well-wisher, is tongue-tied, when it comes to describing any of them, to someone else.

This weekend was time well-spent.

Thirty-fifth

10

June 6, 2017, Prescott- 

So, on this day, thirty-five years ago, I made the wisest move I have ever made, and took the vow of matrimony.  A Baha’i marital vow is simple:  “We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.”  That divine will took the two of us to great heights:  Pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holy Places, in Haifa and Akko’, with side visits to  Holy Places of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Galilee; various journeys of service around North America, to Guyana and to Taiwan; many years of work with children and youth, on the Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi Nations and perhaps, most consequentially, five and one-half years in Jeju, Korea, the birthplace of our son.  There were depths to be navigated, as well:  Penny’s debilitating disease, the worst effects of which were concurrent with the subprime mortgage crisis, the Madoff scandal and the “Great Recession”-each of which impacted us, directly or indirectly.  Standing by her side, until the end, was simply part and parcel of what my love called me to do.  Likewise, as I confronted my own demons, in the midst of all this, she supported me and her spirit has brought me through to the other side of the tunnel.

I am reminded of so much, this morning, after talking at length with our son, who, likewise, has stood by me, disagreeing with some family members, when they castigated what they saw as my irresponsibility and setting me straight, when he has seen the path veering off in an odd direction.  He’s been right, on both counts, showing that the one thing I have done right in this life has been to raise and guide an exemplary human being.  This morning, I looked at photos of Aram and his sweetheart, sensing that he continues to thrive and find his way along this marvelous, but often treacherous, road.

I have reached a minor crossroads, in my own life.  There is the option of staying the course, which would cause discomfort for my critics, as well as, initially, for me.  There is the option of moving to a more rustic part of Prescott, a place I visited yesterday, and find most salubrious.  There is the option of moving to a high desert community, close to the workplace of two of the most supportive souls I’ve ever known.  In each case, I know it’s time, as I’ve said repeatedly of late, to simplify, to downsize and to detach.

Thirty-five years after we took our vows, my love’s spirit urges me on.

May Beetles, June Bugs

7

May 31, 2017, Prescott- 

This has been a grueling, yet vital, month.  In retrospect, though, the transition that has arisen as one of the options I must consider, over the summer, has been bubbling up from the magma flow, for quite some time.

I am likely to hang on to this apartment, for at least the rest of 2017, although rents in this area tend to command 60-70% of the fixed portion of one’s income, thus making it essential to be able to earn one’s keep, above and beyond government checks.  This is as true of “senior” apartments, as it is of the general housing stock.  The other factor is that the chief of our department will need some time to sort out who should work in what capacity.  Although this is hardly an employer’s job market, when it comes to the well-being of children, standards need to be maintained.  This, I understand and support, while being one who poses no threat to any child.

All the while, as I mentioned to an online friend, in a comment, this morning, I am continuously building a network of solid contacts, across the continent, and abroad, so that, even if I am relegated to staying in legitimate campgrounds, in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to hold my head up, engage in acts of service, and earn my way.  I had hoped that this would wait until I reached age seventy, but the Universe moves as it will, and we have to maintain some flexibility.

So, May ends, with me being halfway done with the task of clearing our overgrown back yard, and having been able to serve my Lord, in a few small ways.  June beckons, starting with taking care of an important errand in Phoenix, combined with a small act of service.  I will then complete the yard work; downsize my possessions; go to  Hopi land, for a weekend visit; go to southern California the weekend after, on another errand of service; and toward month’s end, take part in a Baha’i Summer School, at Bellemont, west of Flagstaff.

May slogged along, though not for naught.  June will blaze on out, and I hope to have some sense of accomplishment, when heading to Ventura, Santa Barbara, Carson City and cross country, after Bellemont.

 

He Bids Us All To Arise

8

April 16, 2017, Prescott-

Today, nearly a billion people, around the world, commemorated the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ.  Many combine the sacred with the whimsical, filling baskets with candy of all sorts, making Easter the second most popular candy-eating holiday, after Halloween.  Others leave out the sacred, altogether, thus making Easter little different from the Feast of All Hallows.

Christ overlooked the faults of others, save the Pharisees, whom He scolded and the merchants in the Temple, whom He chastised more forcefully.  He was far kinder to those who committed indiscretions of the heart.

The lesson I get from this, and from His very resurrection, is that the human spirit is capable of enormous resilience.  We fall down and hurt others, either physically or emotionally, yet some of these same people could very well return to at least a modicum of friendship, over time, if we ourselves recover our moral bearings.

Christ was not only saving us, by His sacrifice.  He was also showing us, how we might save ourselves, albeit by less supreme means.  Each of us can arise, in our own way, through adhering to the Golden Rule and by making amends, for wrongs that we have done to others.

As a Baha’i, I revere Christ as Messenger of God and Supreme Teacher.  Accordingly, I know that it’s my bounden duty to serve others, both to make amends for what I’ve done wrong in this life, and out of love for them.  Love is the basis for everything the Messengers of God, from Adam to Baha’u’llah, have taught us, over the millennia. Yesterday, I had the bounty of visiting several people, at the Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning (at Houck,AZ) , in the Hopi village of Polacca and in the small Verde Valley town of Rimrock, where a longtime friend is in the fight of his life, against a crippling disease.  What I went to impart, was a very simple message:  Your life matters.

Christ said this, repeatedly, 2000 years ago. Baha’u’llah said this, repeatedly, 164 years ago.  Both gave us the admonition to say this to one another.  Both gave us the bidding to arise, to lift ourselves, and one another, out of despair and trouble.  That is the message I get from Easter.

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Thinking, Feeling, and Knowing

11

March 18, 2017, Prescott-  Let’s take a break from the posting of travel photos, as I sense there is ennui setting in, among my readers here.

All my life, I’ve been through a dichotomy between thinking, usually based on incomplete information and feeling, based on my emotions of the moment.

I came upon the third component of personal reality, knowing, in the intuitive sense, not the cognitive meaning, a few years into my time as a Baha’i.  The fact that I had given up a rather intense devotion to alcoholic beverages, at the same time, also helped.

These days, I put feeling and knowing into use, before thinking.  It’s helped avoid a lot of the pitfalls, into which I have placed myself over the years, from being repeated.

In Fall, 1980, I felt that I was ready to meet a special person.  When I met Penny, a month later, I knew that special person would be in my life, for a very long time, and would be present in my being, forever.

 

In Winter, 2011, when she left this world, I entered a period, of about 2 1/2 years, in which I felt that a person who resembled Penny, either in countenance or in blithe spirit, would be my solace. I knew, though, in the end, that  this fabrication was doing me no good, and that I had to go through the hard work of getting myself settled, of becoming in tune with who I was, in my own space.

These days, I feel another special presence in my life.  I don’t know much about this person, yet, so I can’t say I am certain, as to how things will pan out.  I do know, cognitively, that she lives on the other side of Arizona.  I know, intuitively, that I regarded her as a dear friend,  as soon as we met, a few days ago, and that I will let that friendship go where it will.  I am under no illusions; yet, it seems like I’ve known her for a very long time.

The writer and philosopher, Shakti Gawain, talks of her varied relationships, at all levels.  She makes the interesting point that one can know, intuitively, when a person is part of one’s soul family.  I have many such brothers, sisters, children, and extended family.  Each is of particular  value and there will be many others; of this, I’m certain.  Let’s see where the path leads.

 

 

Soul Family

10

February 3, 2017, Prescott-

I just read a post, by a friend who wishes to remain at a certain distance, both physical and fraternal.  She wrote of people with whom she feels exceptionally close, but who live far from her.  This got me thinking, once more, about my soul’s family.

My biological family, and Penny’s, to a one, scattered from Massachusetts and Maine, through Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Florida to Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, California and Oregon, perhaps, in and of themselves, justify my peripatetic nature.  Yet, they are also largely occasional in my life, and I, in theirs.

My son,  as well as my Baha’i family-here in Arizona, in Nevada, in Alaska, in South Korea and across the Atlantic, in Europe, are on their own paths, also, and will figure in mine, only to the extent that my path dovetails with theirs.

The same is true of each person in the web that my life has woven, across every state in the United States, much of Canada,the northeast tip of South America, a bit of eastern Asia, the State of Israel,the West Bank, and a slice of western Europe. The network of people whom I’ve met has been my greatest blessing, since the physical loss of my wife. It has been a rich series of life experiences.  I am hardly the world traveler that some see, especially compared with the many correspondents, whose work I read on Word Press, on a daily basis.  Yet, in every state, province and nation, there is at least one place, and often several, where I am well at home.

There are no strangers, anywhere, only friends I have not met.  This is not a cliche, at least not to me, and much more, I’ve been assured, is to come.

Seeking Light

2

January 22, 2017, Prescott-

I spent much of today in spiritual study, first attending a Baha’i group, which is focusing on our Supreme Administrative Body, the Universal House of Justice.  Afterwards, I continued a simultaneous reading of “Apocalypse:  A Spiritual Guide To The Second Coming”, by Dr. Jim Richards and “The Standing Stones Speak”, by Natasha Hoffman and Hamilton Hill.

Many of us are on a spiritual quest, of one sort or another.  My purpose, in reading the two, rather divergent books, is to find the common cord, which Baha’u’llah says exists in any faith that is based on Divine Revelation.  Dr. Richards cautions the reader against taking everything, in conventional religion, at face value.  He offers a good compendium of religious trappings that appeal to one’s ego, or are drawn from darker practices of the past.  Ms. Hoffman and Mr. Hill advise the reader to open spiritual channels and meditate, deeply, on the positive and pure  elements that reveal themselves to the discerning, while being wary of negative forces.

In other words, both the conservative Christian and the spiritualists are warning us away from negative forces, and pointing us towards the forces of light.  This is what I’ve seen, so far, and verifies my learnings from Baha’i Scripture.  It’s important, to me at least, to not be too attached to names and titles, but to look, carefully, at the lives of the Great Spiritual Teachers and to sift out any indication of self-aggrandizement, on the part of the writers.

All I have read, thus far, encourages more comparative study- including a simultaneous study of the New Testament and the Quran, later this Spring, Summer and Autumn.  Baha’u’llah teaches that each individual is to learn spiritual truth for her/himself.