Mandala

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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.

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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?

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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.

Light Time

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May 24, 2018, Prescott-

Corruption is a terrible thing,

alluring and insidious.

It breathes noxious fumes

into our psyches,

and holds them in place,

through a constant appeal

to our sense of “What If?”

The root of this allure

is disquiet,

the feeling that

just maybe,

THIS will be something better;

just maybe,

THIS will relieve insecurity,

once and for all.

The only thing,

however,

that will relieve

insecurity,

pain,

the ongoing lack,

is faith in action.

This is the message

of the life of

a divine Herald,

Siyyid Ali Muhammad,

known to posterity

as al-Bab (The Gate),

Whose Declaration of Mission

we Baha’is celebrate today,

on Its 164th Anniversary.

Like every Messenger/Prophet

before Him,

al-Bab lived His days

in service and in courage,

giving His earthly life,

for our sake,

killed by the agents

of corruption and ignorance,

some six years after

the Declaration we honour today.

 

Out of Water

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April 15, 2018, Tempe-

I felt like a fish out of water,

yesterday and today.

It’s not that

the place is awful.

It’s quite beautiful here.

It’s not that

the people are disagreeable.

Even in expressing

an alternate opinion,

my fellow Baha’is

are quite loving.

No, the problem was,

I left my do Terra supplements

at home.

These make all the difference,

in my body chemistry.

(Two hours later, in Prescott, I am back on an even keel.  This is not a mistake I’ll make again!)

Reading List and A Full Plate

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January 7, 2017, Prescott- 

My best friend and I had a wide-ranging conversation, yesterday, about  inner peace, among other things.  She suffered a loss, recently, and the subject arose about those who blame others for their pain and suffering.  Neither she nor I blame anyone but ourselves, if things go sideways in our lives.  I love her dearly, but if she bid me farewell tomorrow, I would go on, and figure it wasn’t meant to be, for longer than it was.  On the other hand, I am glad for every minute of our friendship, and will treat her like royalty, as long as it lasts.

Those of us who are blessed by the Universe tend to have a mighty full plate.  I was informed today about another responsibility that my fellow Baha’is would like me to assume.  My financial education continues, work resumes tomorrow and I still like to read as many of  the posts on my Reader, as humanly possible.    Exercise remains important. I will also make time for M, when she needs me. So, the schedule remains, 4:30 AM-10 PM, 6 days a week, and a “sleep-in” until 5:30, on Sunday.

My winter reading list is also present, to fill in the “gaps” in my day:  “Cash Flow Quadrant”, by Robert Kiyosaki; “Facing Grief With Eyes Wide Open”, by Medea Bavarella Chechik; “Tribe”, by Sebastian Junger; “Winter of the World”, by Ken Follett; “Footloose in America”, by Bud Kenny; “The Elegant Universe”, by Brian Greene.  That should last until March 21, or 31.

We were talking, at a meeting today, in Phoenix, about how people often assume the young and the old have lots of time on their hands.  I can’t speak for the kids, but there is joy for me, in choosing to maintain a full schedule.

Amen To All That

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May 17, 2016, Prescott- Things went better at work today, as I knew they would.  Contrition replaced stridency, and my supervisor announced, at the start of the day, that no one would be allowed to talk politics in class.

My son had a successful laser eye treatment, this morning, and is now at his home, enjoying renewed clarity of vision.  We had a fine conversation, this evening, as usual. He is proactive with his personal affairs, so I feel a firm foundation was set, both with our guidance and with our mistakes, from which he learned.

Preliminary job feelers have come out, regarding next academic year, from my current department.  It’s nice to be again making a good impression.  I would be primarily responsible for helping a young autistic man, with academics and life skills, and, by extension, working with others who need academic assistance.  The process should take not much more than a week.

I have been admonished by some who feel I am too busy.  Well, there is always a lot going on, but here I am with the free time to write, in clear-headed fashion.  There are end-of-year events, this week and next, along with a charity dinner for the family of a woman who died from childbirth complications.  I will need to get my vehicle serviced on Friday, and head to an old stomping ground, Keams Canyon, on Saturday, to support Baha’is who have moved there recently, at a devotional meeting they are having.  Then, once school is done, it’ll be time to help a friend in Reno move to Carson City.

Busy, somewhat, but feeling productive is a good thing, for me.

NEXT:  Another hike along Prescott Circle, this time in Granite Basin.

 

 

 

 

Adventine Hope

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December 12-13, Prescott- It seemed this weekend saw no end to meetings and gatherings.  Saturday dawned with the placing of wreaths on most of the grave sites at Prescott National Cemetery.  The event was part of Wreaths Across America, in which I have participated for the past four years, in honour of my late Uncle Carl, who was intensely active in Wreaths, when it first started, and remained so until his passing in 2010.  Snow made it interesting, but we’ve had a white ground cover every year, except last year.  The children who participate are a major reason for its success.

Yesterday afternoon, we Prescott Baha’is had our Spiritual Feast, a worship service held every nineteen calendar days, or so, which features devotions, consultation about the business of the community and a social gathering.  We have a good rapport with each other and the home-based gatherings add to a family feeling.

In the evening, I joined the staff of Mingus Springs, for their Christmas party, also held in a spacious home, with a lovely view of the valley below.  Exquisite food, raucous camaraderie and intelligent conversation on a variety of topics lit up the four hours we had together.  The party games were both wholesome and spirited-one involving a question and answer competition between two teams, and the other an unravel-the-ball-of-tape, which involved rolling a pair of dice, and getting a chance to peel back on one of two taped balls, which had small treats inside.  Rolling doubles was required, in order to have at the ball.  It got quite energetic, when two people rolled doubles at the same time, and we were down to one taped ball.  The evening ended with the usual White Elephant gifting.  I came away with Ben Goode’s “857 Habits of Annoying People”.  I’ve seen some his other books in various truck stop diners in the Southwest.

This morning, after such a frenetic day, saw me get up a bit more hesitantly than usual.  I got it together for a short meeting, first thing this morning, then went to a Legion gathering to honour one of our members who is going to California for a while.  Of course, there was yet another full buffet. The cooks of Yavapai County do supreme justice to our community meals!  Somehow, I am not packing on the weight, but it sure is fun being part of things.

Now I am just enjoying the quiet of my little place.  Someone asked me, last night, if I found it lonesome since my wife passed on.  There are such times, but in the presence of so many loving friends, I haven’t found them to be all that frequent.  Besides, she is taking good care of me, from the place beyond the veil.

I called my replacement teacher, this evening, and will meet with her, at the end of December.  In the meantime, the kids and I will finish up our quarterly business, and I will tie up loose ends, before heading off to Boston, at the end of the week.

The Road to 65, Mile 238: What Now?

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July 24, 2015, Prescott- I had little time, this morning, to ponder the title question, as there was an urgent service event taking place, from 9- 1.  About forty of us gathered in the assembly hall of United Methodist Church, to fill backpacks for students from grades K-12.  School supplies, as many are aware, are a major expense for households and we were fortunate to have over $ 1,000.00 worth, from backpacks to pencils, donated for distribution, both by individuals and companies.  In addition, several hundred books were donated, by various corporations.  Half the group were us Baha’is, which further gratified me.

It is a lovely season, here in central Arizona.  I will have some time, before school starts, to help where needed with the Red Cross and Yavapai County Angels.  These opportunities will, of course, be available during the year, as well, though I will be also about the business of replenishing my resources.

Some have gotten the notion that I am primarily just a guy who runs hither and thither, photographing people, places and things, visiting historical sites and hiking mountains, canyons and beaches.  That is part of who I am, but it can hardly stand alone, in anyone’s life.  Indeed, except for about a dozen close friends, most of the people I have met this summer will not give me much thought, and several, I may never see again.  That doesn’t make the experiences any less memorable.  I will treasure each day spent in Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia and Alaska- just as I treasure each day here.

A friend spoke recently of “destination addiction.”  I remember, years ago, reading of a man from Italy, who had not been home in ten years, and had been so many places, with so little time to absorb each new experience, that he snapped, and was in the care of the Libyan National Police, spending his days staring into space, and mumbling.  Such a fate could not be more terrifying.

I will leave Yavapai County only once in August, to visit some long-lost friends in Hopi, an indigenous area about 100 miles northeast of Flagstaff.   Fall might afford some hiking opportunities, here and there- but not more than a day’s drive from base. The Christmas and New Year holidays will find me visiting family, but as an independent member of the brood.  I find I am altogether more settled, as many would expect, after four years of rather frenetic road trips and a European jaunt.

They have taught me, though, that I am a worthwhile person, that I can survive on my own, that I can make mistakes in my relationships with others, sometimes dreadful ones, and recover, with a major lesson learned.  I don’t need everyone’s approval, and there were a couple of people on the road, this summer, who made it clear that I was far from welcome to visit them. That was fine, because there were a vast number of others who were glad for my presence.  I take advantage of no one, and no one takes advantage of me.

The Road to 65, Mile 224: Light of the World

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July 10, 2015, Prescott- Today, we Baha’is observed the 165th anniversary of the Martyrdom of al-Bab.  On July 10, 1850, the Persian government, at the behest of powerful clerics, conducted the execution of Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, given the title al-Bab “The Gate”, in Arabic.

Briefly, He was Forerunner to Baha’u’llah, the Founder of our Faith.  Al-Bab challenged the orthodoxy of Islam, noting how far it had strayed from the Teachings of Muhammad.  He called for the purification of the human heart, as an essential prerequisite to the dawning of an Age, in which the human race would become unified, and would enjoy the Kingdom of God on Earth, as promised by Jesus the Christ.

This won Him the allegiance of thousands of Persians and Arabs, and the admiring notice of many Europeans.  It also won Him the enmity of those whose vested interests were threatened by such a call to change.

The execution did not proceed without a hitch.  Al-Bab warned his captors that He would not depart this life until He had completed certain matters, with his secretary.  They took Him out to the killing plaza, anyway, and He was joined by a young man, who insisted he be allowed to die, alongside al-Bab.  The firing squad commander, who was Christian, pleaded with al-Bab that he not be forced to complete the execution.

Al-Bab responded, “Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity.”  Thus did it transpire, that the volleys were fired, and when the smoke had cleared, al-Bab and his devotee were found, not dead on the ground, but alive, and with al-Bab in a room with His secretary, completing His business!

Once this was finished, al-Bab and the young follower submitted to again being escorted to the execution zone.  This time, a Muslim commander ordered his regiment to carry out the volley.  The bodies of the al-Bab and His devotee were fused together, with only their heads untouched by the bullets.

With the complicity of the prison yard’s guards, some other followers of al-Bab spirited the remains out of the area.  These were carried, from place to place, in secrecy, for 59 years, until ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, placed them in a vault, in a crypt on the slopes of Mount Carmel, near Haifa, in what is now Israel, in 1909.  The remains so rest, today, in the magnificent structure, known as the Shrine of Al-Bab, or “The Bab”, as He is called, in English.

I view this series of events as further evidence of the re-appearance of Divine Light in the world, just as it appeared at the time of Christ, before that, in the times of Moses, Krishna and Buddha, and after that, in the days when Muhmmad walked the Earth.  That mankind chose half-measures, in embracing the Teachings of these Sacred Beings, does not take away from the efficacy of those Truths.  God is nothing if not patient, though.  He certainly has been so with me, and is no less so with the human race as whole.

The Road to 65, Mile 181: Carson City and Karaoke

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May 28, 2015, Carson City– I am not graced with a melodic singing voice, and dancing came to me only after a lot of practice.  Today would be capped by my artistic Washoe County extended family members, dancing (3-year-old ballerina) and singing (professional disc jockey).

We headed out for Carson City a bit before noon, the eventual goal being to watch a pre-school graduation, with several dances and Nursery Rhyme skits.  First up, though, was a visit to one of downtown Carson’s neat eateries- Comma Coffee.  It is just down the road from the St. Charles Hotel, on Carson Street. The Ferkin & Fox Company now owns the St. Charles Hotel.

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Comma Coffee is home to a rather spooky group.

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The walls reflect 150 years’ worth of memorabilia.

The “performers” prefer to hang loose.

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Carson City’s beginnings, rooted in the days of the Pony Express, are commemorated in front of another cafe.

We spent a half hour or so walking around the State Capitol District, the heart of Nevada’s capital city.

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This is one of three buildings used by the Attorney-General of Nevada.

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West of the AG’s complex is the Donald W. Reynolds Press Center, of the Nevada Press Association.

Uptown from the complex is the Nevada Commission on Tourism, in one of Carson City’s oldest buildings.

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We then sauntered over to the grounds of the Capitol itself.

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This statue honours Nevada’s miners, a collective mainstay of  the state’s economy.

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The state has seen its law officers more at risk, as the population has grown so rapidly, in the past thirty years.

There are several other statues on the Capitol grounds.  There are also more than two dozen types of flowers.

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We took a short break in late afternoon at LA Bakery, another fine little cafe, in the West Side Historic District.  It is owned by some Persian-Americans.

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My affinity for bonsai was satisfied by this little gem, in the dining room of LA.

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My mom  had a Ming-style bonsai, in our parlour, for over forty years.

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The Stewart-Nye House was home to a Nevada governor, James W. Nye, in the last years of the Nevada Territory.  Mr. Nye, and his predecessor in the house,  William M. Stewart, became Nevada’s first U.S. Senators.  The house now is the site of a law office.

The Pre-School ceremony was held in a former Catholic church, now a Performance Hall, ironically called the Brewery Arts Center.

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The children did an admirable job, with the various songs, dances and skits set before them by the veteran Pre-School Director.  Our youngest generation is up to reaching the bar.  My Reno extended family’s youngest member did her part in the dance, and made us all proud.

We headed back up to Reno afterward, and enjoyed an hour’s worth of karaoke, with thin-crust loaded pizza on special, at Uncle Vinny’s Pizza.  My host, Steve, was the DJ at the event, and it featured five melody masters, each doing their covers proud.  Of course, in keeping with my policy, no personal photos are posted here.

It was a fabulous day, and my Nissan is close to being roadworthy once again.