If

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November 14, 2017, Prescott-

If I am chosen to serve as a co-ordinator for international students,

I would work to make their time here a cornerstone of the rest of their lives.

If my son safely completes his time in service,

I know he will make a huge mark in the world,

in the time afterward.

If it be God’s Will, I shall not be moved aside

from generous acts of service,

both here and far afield.

If there be a clear sense of reality,

the good people of the world

will find a way,

to end imbalance,

for Puerto Rico,

Kurdistan,

Rakhine Province,

Sri Lanka,

Syria,

South Sudan,

Rockport- Port Aransas,

central Appalachia,

the Navajo Nation,

Uyuni,

Haiti,

Chicago.

If  justice prevails,

those being marginalized

will see solutions,

that honour their

creativity,

their intelligence,

their dignity.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIII: Beyond Measure

6

July 9-10, 2017, Portage, IN-

My life has not been seemingly on a higher plane, since being invited to the spiritual forum that flows, quite nicely, with the tenets and expressions of faith that emanate from the Writings of Baha’u’llah.  A lovely service honoured His Herald, al-Bab (The Gate), who was so brutally executed on July 9, 1850- as part of a religious pogrom, that continues, to this day, in Iran.

The Baha’i House of Worship, in Wilmette, north of Chicago, blesses the entire area and brings solace to people of all spiritual traditions and inclinations.  The serenity extends to the surrounding shoreline of Lake Michigan.

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Despite the solemn nature of the service, there is still much joy that the Baha’i friends take, from being together at this beloved Temple.

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I was pleased to have met a new friend and mentor, at this gathering, as well as long-time fellows in Faith.  The energy propelled me, rather easily, through the freeway drive that could be otherwise rather draining.

I reached Indiana, in plenty of time for a Stromboli repast, in the town of Lake Station.  I did not hear back from a friend here in Portage, who has seemed a bit beleaguered, of late.  My plan to camp at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, however, did come to fruition.  There was a hint of a storm, which fortunately, did not strike the area until a bit after dawn, allowing me to break camp and head for the Dunkin Donuts.  My sad looking little tent is actually quite comfortable.

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I like that Mother Nature waited, until I had everything down, folded and in the trunk, before the downpour began.  I felt badly for my neighbour,though.  She was a Hispanic woman, with four kids in tow.  I think the boys were in a tent, and she was in the camper, so it was probably only a temporary inconvenience.

After eating a breakfast sandwich and warming up with coffee, I headed to the Dunes.  The early morning was dark, and could have been gloomy, if I’d let it be.  There is a majesty, in the stark horizon and in the interplay between shore and lake.

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There are all manner of trails, around the Dunelands- and one goes from the Illinois state line to the Michigan line.  I was content, today, just to enjoy the shoreline and life in the sand dunes.

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There are several estuaries, a testimony to the sheer size of the lakes.

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Here is a look at Portage’s harbour house and marina.

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Vegetation and flowers are always very thick, among the dunes.

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The allure of reflection is ever present.

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Michigan is not quite visible, through the haze, but it’s there, way beyond the steel mill.

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There is a fine interplay, at long last, between conservation and metallurgy, in this often buffeted area.

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The “closeness” of Chicago?  At least, the haze is not strong, to the north and west.

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The steel barons, long ago, had a lighthouse placed at the north end of the mill site. It is almost a stone’s throw, from the public walkway, west of the mill.

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Here is the beach area, of the Portage shoreline.  A few hardy souls were here, in search of at least a morning’s catch.

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Finally, this wetland area has been reclaimed, fully, from having been a Superfund waste site.  Indiana’s Congressional representatives and the steel industry managed to get this one right, and wildlife thrives, in the restored hills.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESJuly 10 was a most momentous day, with two great visits, each of which will be the subject of a post.  Part XLIV (44) will feature the University of Notre Dame and Part XLV (45) looks at Elkhart, and a most unusual family farm.

 

 

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLVII: A SunFlour Doppelganger and A Room On A Bluff

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July 8, 2017, Lake Bluff, IL-  Today was sunny and the Ozarks gleamed brightly, after last night’s paltry drizzle.  I drove out of Joplin early, as there was no Internet at Tara Motel, and I wanted to get to the Chicago area by nightfall- with an urge to find a campground, somewhere in the northwest suburbs.  I also didn’t know, at that point, whether any northern Illinois friends would have time to visit a bit, on such short notice.

Rolla is one of my favourite towns in Missouri, and became more so, when I found Cupcakes and Cravings.  Here is a coffee house and lunch counter that is a dead ringer for SunFlour Market, which two friends run, in Superior, AZ.  Since one of SunFlour’s owners is from the St. Louis area, maybe there is a connection with this lovely spot.  I had coffee and a sandwich, then bought a cupcake, for later on.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It’s another fun place to browse and pick up a gift, for the lady who has everything.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI can think of a few, for whom this would be the right special occasion cake.

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Once lunch was done, it was time to get back outside, so that Amanda could clean up and go home.  Rolla has a large community park, just off I-44.

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There is much to recommend this beautiful town, whether passing through, or settling down- but enough of the doggerel.

The rest of my drive was peaceful, even in Chicago, where the multitudes practice what my brother calls “the zipper method”- drivers take turns, when consolidating traffic lanes.  This keeps a slow crawl from turning into gridlock, especially at the choke point, on the southwest segment of the Dan Ryan.  One hour after entering the DR, I was looking for a campground in Lake County- but to no avail.  I was just too beat, and By The Way Motel presented itself, at a reasonable rate.  So it is, that I am here, and getting ready for a special event at the Baha’i House of Worship, tomorrow, without having to go further- to Waukegan, or North Chicago.

NEXT: Further reflections on a Holy Day, and camping at Indiana Dunes

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XXIII: Great Lakes and Muddy Rivers

4

April 12, 2017, Prescott-  Every major transportation route, from airlines to roads, seems to lead to Chicago, or at least within its magnetic sphere.  For me, there is an added draw:  The Baha’i House of Worship for North America, in Wilmette, north of the city.  The House of Worship’s location, overlooking Lake Michigan, highlights the fascination I’ve long had, with the Great Lakes.  I would frequently visit “the Temple”, regardless, but the lake is a draw, in itself.  A few dips in its waters, as well as at Indiana Dunes and Fruitport, MI, have been a tonic, on a hot day. I have also been alongside Lake Erie, in Toledo, Cleveland and Erie, as well as Lake Superior, at Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The lakes are only part of what I have enjoyed about the east central region, between the Great Plains and the Atlantic Coast.  Chicago, as problematic as its internecine battles have been, remains a majestic city.  So, too, does St. Louis, especially with the Gateway Arch, and nearby Cahokia Mounds, highlighting the importance of the confluence of two great rivers.  Speaking of which, Cairo, IL has a special place in my heart, marking the union of the Ohio and the Mississippi.  I have prayed at Trail of Tears State Park, in Missouri and at Scioto Hills, Ohio, for the recognition that mankind is one, and that the Aboriginal nations feel vindicated of their long ago suffering.  I have felt intensely welcomed in Des Moines , in Cape Girardeau, New Madrid, and Rolla (MO), Quincy (IL), Francesville (IN) and Fruitport (MI).  Two of the best meals I’ve ever had, were in Dixon and in Vandalia (IL).

The Indigenous People of the riparian region may have irritated Abraham Lincoln, whose heritage I have honoured, in New Salem and Springfield (IL) and in Hodgenville, KY.  There would, however, not be as rich an overall heritage, for the Midwest, were it not for Cahokia, Chillicothe (OH), Pipestone (MN)  and the remaining nations that grace nearly every state in the East Central swath.  Too bad  that Honest Abe didn’t get to know the Native peoples better.  It may have made a great difference in the fates of their descendants.

I have plenty of family in this vast region- in Avilla and Blue Springs, MO, plus  Jeffersonville, IN.  Friends abound here, as well, in northern Illinois, the Twin Cities, Wisconsin, several parts of Missouri, eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, across Indiana, Little Rock, New Orleans, and eastern Alabama.

There remain many parts of the mid-section that pique my interest, from northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, to bubbling, revitalizing cities, like Kansas City, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Detroit.

I will be back across, on the way to/from a family reunion, in mid-summer.  It’ll be a fine thing to feel the water, and the warmth of Midwest welcomes.

The Flip Side

4

March 10, 2017, Prescott- 

God has graced man and woman

with one another.

Most children are blessed

with loving parents.

I have been so graced and blessed,

since before I was born.

There are, however,

those, of both genders,

who neither grace their mates,

nor bless their children.

They, of both genders,

who beat their mates,

who abandon their children,

either physically or emotionally,

what do they suppose

happens to those they discard?

There is no human refuse.

Whoever gets left behind,

by those they love,

gets picked up by someone else.

Teachers, social workers,

volunteers, family members,

sometimes,

even neighbours, take up the slack.

Most are good-hearted,

but sometimes,

they are more of the same.

The question begs:

How can anyone look at a child and not love him/her, unconditionally?

We have so much work left to do.

(This was motivated by the report, out of Chicago, that a woman brutalized and killed her granddaughter. She was found guilty today.  It was further motivated by today’s findings at work.)