Stay Close to Those Who Feel Like Sunlight

2

May 3, 2022- This phrase, taken from a quote by Xan Oku, a Japanese poet and philosopher, has come to define the way I am moving in life. It came to mind when I heard a jingle on the computer, a short while ago, and began musing about those in my life who reflect that image.

I’ve mentioned those who mean the most to me, several times in past posts-so briefly, my Sunshine Tribe are closest immediate family, several of my fellow Baha’is, more than a few social activists in the Prescott area and dozens across Arizona, around the country and all over the planet.

The people who feel like sunlight are named Dave, Aram and Yunhee, John and Gladys, Mike and Pooran, Dave and Annie, Linda and Randy, Molly, Ashley, Emily T., Melissa, Robert and Andrea, Annie B., Tom and Jeanie, Val and Sparky, Beth and Dave, Kathleen, Akuura, Sierra, about five dozen children and teens who wouldn’t want their names mentioned and even people I have never met in person, like Marianne, Emily D., Enya, Dan, Valentina P. and Heather, whose words or singing never fail to elevate my spirit and edify my consciousness.

To be fair, almost everyone else in my world does bring a fair amount of sunshine, often with struggles-many of which I gladly share, in the hopes that their burdens might be a little lighter. So, maybe next time, the list will be longer. Let us continue to work at bringing the sunlight, after the clouds have done their work.

Ridvan

2

April 21, 2022- The titular word means “Paradise”, and is the name given to two gardens in west Asia. The first was a lush garden, north of Baghdad, from whence Baha’u’llah departed for what is now Istanbul, in April, 1863. It became the site of Baghdad Medical City, a large complex of hospitals, in 1973. The second is an island, surrounded by canals, in the vicinity of Akka, Israel. It was rented by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, in 1875, as a place where Baha’u’llah could spend time away from the dust and confines of the Prison City of Akka. It reminded Him of the Iraqi Garden of Ridvan, thus becoming eponymous to that spot, and also sacred to Baha’is.

Ridvan is also the name given to the twelve-day festival that celebrates Baha’u’llah’s declaration of His mission, which occurred on or around the ninth day of His stay at the original Garden of Ridvan, and made in the presence of His family and closest followers. Today, April 21, was the day of His arrival at the Garden and May 2 was the day He and His entourage departed. Thus, we celebrate the first, ninth and twelfth days as Holy Days, suspending work to the extent humanly possible.

Today also begins the nine-year period of which I have spoken in a few previous posts. The Universal House of Justice, our Supreme Body, has issued the framework for a Nine-Year Plan. Baha’i communities are also devising plans, within that framework and individual believers in turn are planning activities that fit within both the global framework and community plans. Our Faith works in both a top-down and bottom-up manner; the two being in synchronicity, through constant communication and consultation.

Both my activities here at Home Base and my travels thus have an essentially spiritual component. The goal is always building unity between people.

Right Up To The End

0

January 23, 2022- Each of the semifinal games in the National Football League were decided at the tail end of the contest. Three of them had photo finish field goal-based victories. The last, a see-saw of a touchdown festival, went into overtime and one last touchdown decided the match.

It is taught to us Baha’is that staying true to one’s soul is vital-right up through the last breath a person takes. A person could very well live a life distinguished by meritorious deeds, only to collapse into moral turpitude in the last days of earthly life. Another, who has lived a degenerate existence, could conversely rise above past actions and finish mortal life in a flurry of penitential acts.

Having been told by some in our generation that this is the “fourth quarter” of life, I choose to examine my actions, day to day-and even hour to hour, with a view towards simply doing my level best, for self and others. This is not an end-game on my part, but is an acknowledgement that there remains much to be done-whether I have thirty years, or thirty days, left in this mortal frame. It actually behooves each person to proceed thusly, which would undoubtedly up the individual’s productivity and quality of life.

I also find that this makes getting up each morning, at a regular hour, much more satisfying-whether I have plans for the day, or not.

Narrow Passages

4

April 11, 2021- This afternoon, one of my friends and I were hiking in a park in Prescott Valley, which is one of Prescott’s sibling communities. We took a trail less trodden and found ourselves, briefly, in a slot canyon. This is a narrow passage, in which it is okay to walk when there is absolutely no precipitation, even remotely in the forecast. Rain and snow can turn even the dustiest creek or river bed into a deathly torrent, for anyone in a slot canyon. We got through the slot canyon and back onto the main trail, with no threat of water overtaking us.

This evening, a group of Baha’is presented an update on conditions on the Navajo Nation, which has had an especially difficult row to hoe, even before the pandemic hit. There is progress being made, in terms of infrastructure (Roads, running water, utilities and technology), but we are talking a decade or two, even with systematic dedication, before the Dineh (Navajo) can emerge from this narrow passage. COVID19 is a torrent that is slowing down their walk, and which has taken too many people downstream.

Indeed, far too many communities are finding themselves in similar slot canyons. We, as a species, and as a planet, are in a collective narrow passage, and vacillate between thinking we can inch our way out of it, by just going on as usual and flailing through the waters of tests and difficulties. There are too many who think this is something that can be negotiated individually-and too many who think that they can just appeal to others to solve the problems.

The fact is, we all are needed to think globally and act locally. Only then will the passage be widened and, with more room to walk ahead, the human race can bring the gifts of each and every soul to bear on the ills that have arisen because of the neglect and misfeasance of the past.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 69: Lions Gate

4

August 8, 2020-

The eighth day of the eigth month of the year finds our Sun in alignment with Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. This arrangement is believed, by astrologers, to generate an energetic effect across Earth, as this planet is also aligned with Sirius, at this point in time. As the zodiac is now in the sign of Leo (Lion), this alignment is known as the Lion’s Gate.

Baha’is believe that Divine Teachings constitute all the necessary portals or gates one needs to advance, spiritually. We are discouraged from placing much stock in astrology, as well as from dabbling in the supernatural or in psychic phenomena. These are primarily intended for use in the next level of life, beyond the present physical realm.

Energy does present itself to us, however, and often comes on numerically auspicious days, such as the “doubles”: 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, et cetera or the “triples”: 1/11 and 2/22, These may be individual events. For example, Penny and I were married on 6/6 (1982) and our son was born on 7/7 (1988). They may also be days of societal significance-as 6/6 also marks the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, during World War II and a quadrupal numerical date, 11/11 (1918), marks the Armistice that halted World War I.

Numerology in the Baha’i Faith assigns numerical values to alphabetical letters, according to the order in which they appear in the alphabet. So, the numerical value of A is always 1; that of B is 2; that of Z is 26, and so on. 9, the largest number to have value, in and of itself, is a sumbol of unity and completion. Numerology has an esoteric quality to it, as does astrology, so that in and of itself, it has no scriptural or divine authority.

There is much talk of this or that portal, to increasing spiritual understanding. As said above, though, energy portals are intended for Light Beings, who have left their physical bodies behind. They would be cumbersome, indeed, for corporeal beings, such as us humans, to attempt to cross, back and forth.

The eighth day of the eighth month passed quietly, and pleasantly for me: A Farmers Market visit was again beneficial; I got a fresh tray of Wheatgrass from an organic farming friend; I paid a visit to Synergy Cafe, in Sedona, as the owner is back from a much-needed vacation.

Auspicousness is sometimes merely what you make it.

Keeping It Together

0

March 17, 2020-

Hope all who wanted to have a festive St. Patrick’s Day, did so.  I was occupied with helping someone by giving him a safe space, for a day or so.  We ended up being among the relative few who enjoyed a meal at our local Texas Roadhouse.  That will be my last dine-in experience, for at least the next few months.  I will still use such take-out and delivery options as remain available,

There are lots of other changes.  My meetings with Baha’is, the Red Cross and Slow Food will be virtual.  My inchoate connection with Prescott College’s Sustainability Club will remain on hold, until some means are found to also connect online.  Work is suspended, though we may well be compensated, somehow.  Travel?  Only for family emergency, or to explore some of the Southwest’s wonders, in an unobtrusive manner.

I am approaching the end of my last physical Fast, ever.  Future Baha’i Fasts will find me praying for those who are abstaining, not eating or drinking in their presence and performing acts of service, as they present themselves.

I am finding that there are multiple requests for assistance, mostly emotional support, and that they come in clusters of two or three.  Thankfully, I have been able to meet the needs, with a minimum of difficulty.  My main job now is to keep myself together, physically and emotionally. With all that I’ve been given in this life, it has not been hard to do.

Stay focused, and be thankful for what is, and what will be again.

Loving, In The Face of Hatred

10

January 18, 2020-

Much of the past two decades has seen me fairly being fairly comforted by those around me.  Even two rather difficult people, with whom I had to interact for a time, in the mid-2010’s, were at least offering constructive criticism, rather than trying to see me on a path of destruction.

So, it was rather jarring, last night, to open a message feed and hear a slew of expletives, directed towards both me and my late wife (who has been gone for nearly nine years).  It thus became only the third time I have felt it necessary to block someone from access to my social media. While I can blow off people cussing at me, to a fair extent, I draw the line at my nearest and dearest-especially the departed.

I know that modern-day America behaves as if there are no sacred cows, or anything else that is sacrosanct.  This is the Age of Comedy Central, Cartoon Network and all manner of bottom feeders.

We Baha’is are taught that no one should be considered as a  desolate soul or beyond salvation.  It’s certainly reasonable to recognize that the Supreme Being has it in His power, to make gold out of mud, and thus we mortals are in no position to judge anyone, in perpetuity.  We are also taught, however, to guard ourselves from those who mean us harm.  A soul lasts for eternity and enabling someone, in his/her bad behaviour, is doing no one any favours.

It is entirely possible to love a person and take the steps needed to safeguard everyone involved.  I did so last night, and this morning.  The hate-filled individual cannot harm me, nor can he denigrate Penny, at any time in the foreseeable future.

Anarchy

0

January 17, 2020-

This weekend is a respite from the urgent task I’ve accepted, albeit for probably not much more than the coming week, after all.  I spent the morning catching up on what’s happened here and further afield, over the past  several days.  I also spent an hour at Prescott College, reflecting the engaging presence of people who are on the cusp of adulthood.  I was there to offer a view of ordered life, that departs from the draconian and the decrepit.

When the small group of young women had left, I perused some of the literature which they had brought to the table.  Among the tracts was one on anarchy.  I was raised to think of anarchy as synonymous with chaos, and it can indeed be accompanied by such a state of affairs. Then again, chaos can also accompany too strict a social order, much as over-tightening the threads on a screw, or a fitted pipe, can strip the equipment.

Anarchy, as defined in this tract, eschews chaos.  It is, instead, defined as a state of complete internalization of responsibility for one’s actions. The advocates of such a community, while seemingly naive and idealistic, see a place where there is a total absence of egoism.  This is, of course, straight out of Thomas More’s “Utopia”, and would presage a complete transformation of the human spirit.

Baha’u’llah points out that there is no system, in the phenomenal world, where a need for order is obviated.  Order may be internally imposed, or be the result of external codes.  The goal, in any case, must be justice.

The anarchist will, of course, retort that externally-imposed codes fail to secure justice because, in the end, they serve one group of people over others.  Initially, that is difficult to avoid, with a truly equitable society coming only after a process of inclusivity, that requires a level of fairness to self and others, not seen on a wide social basis, as yet.

I’ve seen a few families, where child-rearing practices and relationships between adults are based on the true equitability and high level of personal responsibility advocated by the authors of this tract on anarchy.  These qualities are goals on which, I believe, anarchists of this school of thought and Baha’is can agree.  It will be a process that will take far longer to establish, however, than the time any of us now alive have left.  The initial steps, though, are well worth taking.  Internal codes of fairness, also known as conscientious mindsets, can be established.

“Be fair to yourself, and others”-Baha’u’llah

Mandala

2

September 22, 2019-

The mandala was prescient.

This is the last day of summer/winter (I reference the juxtaposed seasons, in acknowledging the essential unity of north and south.  Both extreme seasons present challenges.)  Fall/spring, starting tomorrow, will offer celebrations of fruition or of new beginnings.

I drew a mandala, yesterday, in the course of attending a small peace gathering, in the early evening.  Being no great artist, but having a curiosity, I let the Universe guide my thoughts, starting with a bright, fiery orange circle and moving outwards.

20190922_112022[1]

Clashing, opposing colours are placed alongside, or in succession to, one another.  A green human and animals of colours with which they are not normally associated, occupy the outer layer. That you may not be able to distinguish which is which, is a testimony to my own rudimentary art skills and to the thick, stubby crayons provided.  No matter-the message is one of coexisting with differences and among opposites.

That was a key point of the entire day.  I spent a good part of Saturday walking a hilly neighbourhood, visiting people ranging from a transplanted Southern man proudly displaying a Confederate flag to a young woman professional and her dogs, all for the sake of verifying that the homes either had working smoke alarms or that my team mate and I installed them, before leaving the area.  It was all part of a concerted effort by the Red Cross to keep yet another neighbourhood safe.  Most people in the area covered have indeed tended to their own safety.  Heightened awareness, and insurance company diligence, have greatly lessened our workload.

After resting a bit, the evening Peace events beckoned.  I walked a labyrinth, at a church up the street, savouring the serenity that such calm attention to detail brings.  Then came mandala activity, followed by three of us Baha’is saying prayers, in front of  a very small audience-quality not quantity!  Before we prayed, a very nice lady, who had practiced three songs of peace, but had not had an audience for her scheduled performance, was invited to offer the songs.  Delivered a capella, these original songs, in a soft jazz lilt, created a lingering air of power and strength.

The evening brought another activity- Dances of World Peace, which I learned is an ongoing monthly activity of the Prescott Sufi Community.  Building peace between individuals, these dances involve following a few fairly simple moves, and rotating among partners-without regard to gender or age.  The point is acknowledging each person’s presence and spirituality.  That draws people out of pre-conceived notions and out of their comfort zones.  Yet, as I think of it, that which takes me out of my own comfort zone, has the effect of expanding that zone.

The mandala was prescient.  It had me draw opposites together, which is really the point of world unity.  The past several days, most recently this morning, I have been contacted by  social media friends from countries I’ve never visited, and which have not been on my immediate radar.  The Universe is telling me, a few years in advance, to get ready to expand my world, and comfort zone, even further.

The words that came to me, to write on the mandala:  “Night is the frontier we cross. Daylight waits beyond the gate of trial.”

There Was No Wolf Howling, or Was There?

6

September 12, 2019-

The nation, eighteen years ago, was both united and frightened.  This, of course, did not last much more than a fortnight, in terms of a unified populace.  The first questioning of the events came from abroad.  French and English gadflies were already asking difficult questions, which could not be answered with glib replies-as the questions themselves were rather detailed, and reached back to suspicion about secret societies.

We Baha’is are prohibited from belonging to such secret societies, for the simple reasons that they are exclusive, promote anti-social agendas and seek power through unscrupulous means.  We are inclusive, pro-social and only accept authority that is earned through service.

Let’s look, though, at what produces conspiracy theories, in the first place:  Greed, lust for power and lack of transparency have combined, over the centuries, to fuel fear, suspicion and lack of trust.  There is, in reality, no good reason for greed, lust for power or hidden agendas, save hatred and loathing of others, either one’s own immediate kin or neighbours, or those further afield, who may or may not be different.

So, power grabs, in the aftermath of the Dark Ages, set high-ranking clergy on a path away from the Love preached by Christ and on the path of seeking more power and wealth.  The quest for dominance led European monarchs to send merchant ships to Africa, where the captains fell into the midst of tribal conflicts and used those troubles to enslave large numbers of people and encumber African leaders in their wider economic servitude, in the form of colonial dominance.

Many seemingly wild, imaginative stories have arisen, regarding just about every prominent historical figure, from the days of ancient Egypt, until the present day. However,  I just have to remind myself:  Just because the wide-eyed boy is sounding an alarm, doesn’t mean there is no wolf at the door.  Statements and evidence need to be weighed carefully, by anyone of sound mind.