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

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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

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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.

Weather-wise

5

January 18, 2017, Prescott-

Three storms are said to be headed our way.

The eternal optimist at the Arizona Republic calls for heavy rain,

all three days.

Locals in the know,

say there’ll be tons of snow.

Taking one day at a time,

all I’m sayin’

is, I am, as usual,

going to move nice and slow.

(This weekend was to be full, with a quick trip to Phoenix, on Friday night, to join a peace vigil.  Then, I was going to Camp Verde, on Saturday morning, to help install smoke detectors.  Sunday was to be devoted to Baha’i study.  Right now, my first event will depend on whether the roads are not too slick.  The second has been postponed.  The third is still a definite go, but that could change, if the storm lags.)

Hope all in the northwest, Midwest and southeast are getting back to normal.

Onward

5

January 1, 2017, Chula Vista- Seems people were so fed up with the year just past, that my retrospective montage was received like a lead balloon.  No matter- the clouds have cleared, from the torrential rains of the past two days (most welcome, here in southern California, and the neighbouring states of Arizona, Nevada and Baja California Norte).  My hope is that the clouds hanging over our nation, and over many parts of the world, will dissipate, as well.

I have a few, short-term, goals for this year:

January- This week, for the most part, will find me in the San Diego area, largely here in CV, with an Orange County outing, to Crystal Cove, on Thursday, before I head to Phoenix, and a dental check-up on Friday.  Training in Psychological First Aid, on Saturday, will let me bone up on those skills.  Who knows, as to just how many occasions such will be necessary?  Next Sunday,  my penultimate trek along Black Canyon Trail will bring me to the Emery Henderson Trailhead, in New River.  The last hike on that trail will follow, later in the month, (probably on the 21st. ) Over the Martin Luther King Day weekend, Aram is likely to visit, so the three days will be open-ended, to his preferences.  Other weekends will be divided between Baha’i studies and the trail.

February-  Son heads out to South Korea, the second week of this month, so I will spend 2-3 days in southern California once again, to see him off.  It’ll mean 1-2 ,years of Skype and a once-a-year visit.  I’ve been in those shoes, several times.  President’s Day weekend will likely find me in the McDowell Mountains, northeast of Phoenix.  A service project will also be done, during the Baha’i days of giving and service to others, known as Ayyam-i-Ha (Feb. 25-28).

March- This being a month that features a Nineteen-Day Fast, with Spring Break coming towards the end of said Fast, my plans are open-ended.  The inclination is to head over to  southern New Mexico and western Texas, to pay a couple visits to friends in the area, and take some relatively moderate hikes, the likes of which have worked out nicely, over the past few Fasts.  The Baha’i New Year (March 20, this year) will be followed up by a journey to Native American Baha’i Institute, to re-charge spiritually.

April- This is the month of the twelve-day Baha’i festival known as Ridvan,  commemorating the days when Baha’u’llah declared His mission, in 1863.  My energies will be thus directed. A few jaunts along trails in the Sedona and Payson areas will also be on the agenda.

May- Decision time, as to keep my current position, or move to a different school, will be at hand.  A long-postponed revisit to Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and neighbouring Superior, is the only existing item on the hiking agenda, for this month.

June-The first month of summer will keep me in the Southwest.  A week in SoCal will focus on Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  Visits to Navajo and Hopi are also on the agenda.

July- My now customary week in Carson City and Reno will move to the first seven days of this month.  Then it will be northwest, to Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. From there, finances and circumstances will dictate my direction- either a week’s visit to Korea, or down the road, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.

August-Back to whatever work assignment awaits, and whichever forays into nature are allowed by the Monsoon rains.

September-The Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth will be celebrated next month, so this foot soldier will be ready to do whatever the Commemoration Committee needs done.  Otherwise, Labor Day will take me up Granite Mountain, and the end of the month will mean a weekend in Flagstaff’s Inner Basin.

October- The aforementioned Commemoration will take place on  October 22.  Hope Fest will also happen this month, so there will be much work, in service.  Fall Break is a cypher, at this point:  Tucson and vicinity will get first dibs.

November- Thanksgiving, this year, will be observed at Desert Rose Baha’i School, between Phoenix and Tucson.

December-  Christmas week will find me in Massachusetts, with family whom I feel have been somewhat neglected, over these past several years.  Several fences need mending.  That will include a train trip to Philadelphia, right before New Year’s, and on down to Tampa Bay, for the first week of 2018.

Books?  “The Brothers Karamazov” slog continues.  “The Standing Stones Speak”, by Natasha Hoffman, “The Century Trilogy”, of Ken Follett, “The Alchemist”, by Paolo Coelho and a pair of books on rebuilding communities take top priority.  Speaking of which, my long put-off book of poetry and short prose will be put together, starting with choosing the better of the poems I wrote, over the past year, and adding verse as it comes to mind.  No specific promises, as to date of publication, but it will be sometime this year.

So, off we go- Trump’s wild ride,  widespread exercises in patience with one another, and continued healing (on both a personal and a collective level) will define this next chapter in the life of this beautiful humanity.

 

Sixty Six, for 66, Part III: People, Places and Things

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December 23, 2016, Prescott- School is out, for two weeks.  After helping to re-arrange the classroom, I took off from work, and decided to spend the afternoon and evening around town.  I will head for Phoenix, and the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, tomorrow morning, after a full night’s decompression.

Enough of that.  I wish to share 66 of my favourites- persons, places and things, in keeping with the Christmas spirit of positivity. So, in no particular order:

1. Mountain vistas

2. Posole

3.  Monty Python films

4.  The Olympic Peninsula

5.  Celtic Woman’s music

6. Fried clams

7.  The Harry Potter series (films and books)

8.  Baha’u’llah’s teachings

9.  The harbour at Vannes, Brittany

10. The presence of children

11.  Do Terra Essential Oils

12.  Honesty

13.  Pizza

14.  My biological family-wherever they are

15.  The United States Constitution

16.  Sweet potato pie

17.  Manitou Springs, Colorado

18.  Bears

19.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha

20.  Mint chip ice cream

21.  My Reno family

22. The Grand Canyon

23.  The Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette, IL

24.  Trustworthiness

25.  Equity for women and girls

26.  San Diego

27.  The Fisher King

28.  Forthrightness

29.  Jennifer Lawrence, as an actress

30.  Denzel Washington, as an actor

31.   Gatherings at Prescott’s Courthouse Square

32. Justice

33. My mother’s love

34.  Memories of my wife

35.  Sharp cheddar cheese

36.  The Field Museum, Chicago

37.  My Tampa Bay family

38.  Jeju, South Korea

39.  Les Miserables

40.  The Sonoran Desert

41.  My son’s devotion

42.  Crispy bacon

43. Dogs

44. Thumb Butte, Prescott

45.  A job well done

46. Crystal Cove Beach, CA

47.  A Path With Heart

48.  Caramel

49.  Bluegrass music

50.  The Lord of the Rings 

51.  Consistency

52.  Sedona, AZ

53.  Hopi culture

54.  Whales

55.  Persistence in faith

56.  Boulder, CO

57.  Pumpernickel bread

58.  My southwest Missouri family

59.  Lemurs

60.  The Holy Bible

61.  Gyros

62.  Heidelberg

63.  Navajo culture

64.  Reuben sandwiches

65. Hot coffee

66. Southeast Alaska

There are so many more that I love, but I sense the reader’s flagging attention. 🙂

 

 

No Abyss Needed

0

December 20, 2016, Prescott-

Today was either a day of mourning,

if one sees oppression and catastrophe ahead;

a day of rejoicing, if one sees opportunity to prosper,

or to return to old ways of looking at the world;

or, as it was for me, a day when the imperative,

of seeing one’s perceived adversaries as like unto

oneself, has become manifest.

In a few short days, I will bid farewell

to another old soldier,

whose interment will take place,

two days before Christmas.

Then, it will be time

to listen to the Divine,

in another group setting,

as we Baha’is gather

in consultation and spiritual discovery,

for the thirty-second consecutive

Christmas season.

I’m close to finishing

“The Tenth Insight”,

a novel of intense

spiritual energy,

of visions

of Armageddon,

of Rapture,

of Afterlife.

Much will happen,

in those regards.

I believe, though,

that we need not

leap into an abyss

of self-doubt.

We need not

head backward,

into a jungle of despair.

Our journey,

of true togetherness,

may cast a bridge

across the widest gulfs.

It is a matter

of free will.