What Is Always Known

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May 9, 2021- One thing about the mothers, and mother-figures, whom we honour today, is that there is nothing that escapes them, at least at the deepest level. My mother knows, even a continent away, that I am essentially doing better than I have in a long time. She knows that there are a few challenges I face and a few people, some far away, who want to take from me, without giving back. She knows that my siblings are also, essentially, in safe places. Most importantly, she knows that her decision to adjust her lifestyle is the right one.

Baha’u’llah teaches us to be fair to self and others. Mom was teaching us that same thing, when I was the eldest of five. We were never deprived and when, in her humanness, she did not do the right thing by one of us, she made amends ten-fold. The lesson Mother taught, of compassion, has been one of two abiding truths that I have incorporated into my being. The other is to temper that with not being the foil of con artists and those who take full advantage of others,.

So have I balanced my life, and will, as I told another group of people earlier this evening, focus on building group cooperation. It was our family working as a team that got us through downturns and the challenges of caring for those members of our family who suffered from disease. It is our family working as a team that will bring us to say farewell to our family home of sixty-six years and guarantee that the woman we’ve always known has our back will know that we always have hers.

(In)tractible-Part I

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February 12, 2021-

So much of what remains to be resolved, in our world, seems insoluble. People speak of being depressed, mired in anger or even bored by “same old” requests and demands from others, day-to-day. Many of the same headlines get pushed, in the news cycle.

Allow me to post an observation: In reading just two friends’ posts on another social media site, this afternoon, I saw people about whom I care deeply, with one foot in the a land of compassion and justice, and the other in a place of suspicion and the denial of humanity towards people of a different point of view.

It is, simply put, this dichotomy, this lack of inward and outward unity, that keeps the individual, and thus the community, from addressing what truly matters. Unless and until we can truly, of our own choosing, put our eggs in the basket of the Oneness of Mankind, the same problems WILL continue to pop up, and put a damper on our days.

I am keeping this post, and its companion post on Sunday, short and succinct. In that post, the focus will be on two continually vexing issues, of which some of my fellows in Faith are aware, but about which they choose to complain, wishing the matters would just disappear. As my late wife said, “Standing at the foot of the mountain doesn’t put you at the top.”

Crawling,or Walking, Out of The Tunnel?

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February 5, 2021-

I was gratified to see an extended family member write that she was moving on, from a climate of fear and distrust, to affirming her faith in God and country. To be trapped of one’s own accord, in a tunnel of false hopes and unfulfilled promises, is bound to lead to the depth of despair.

I’ve remarked in the past, that there is much to admire in both conservatism and progressivism. Placing value on hard work, a measure of self-reliance and pride in one’s legitimate heritage can see a person through a good many of life’s misfortunes. At the same time, embracing new ways of solving problems, being open to a wide variety of points of view and being inclusive of all groups of people can ensure that a person is never truly alone-even in the direst of times. What matters, regardless of one’s personal ideology, is a deep-seated respect for ALL life. Compassion must ever rule over transaction.

So it has been that I have opted for walking out of various tunnels of darkness and deception. Many have offered quick fixes to problems, false hopes for resolution of matters, in which my personal growth actually mandated seeing them through. It was cold and lonely in those tunnels-and the demons that did keep me company were worse than no company at all.

In the gathering light of day, and in the shimmering starlight, walking upright and looking straight ahead have rekindled strengths that I had nearly forgotten, whilst crawling about the tunnel of delusion. Those who maintain clear vision, and retain a healthy sense of their own truth, will be sources of untold strength-to selves and others.

The Visitor

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March 25, 2020-

(This is a short story which came to me, this evening, as I was in a meditation group.)

Katrin was playing in her room, with Bradley Bear and Kimmy Koala. She had just sat her animals in the little chairs, and was preparing to play teacher, when she heard a bump in the family room next to hers.  She told the “children” to stay quiet, and went to check out what had happened.  Mommy was getting stressed, with new baby coming in three more months, and Kat did not want her mother to fall down and have an accident.

She saw the breeze rustling the curtain-an odd sight, given it was early April, and Mommy never opened the window much before the first of May.  Kat went towards the window and was startled to see a pair of shoes behind the curtain.  Although she was only four years old, Katrin Leigh Osterman was the epitome of boldness, as her grandmother put it.  She went slowly, but confidently, towards the curtain and pulled it back.

There, looking unusually fearful, was a big man.  He reminded Katrin of the main character in a show that she watched with Mommy, called “Reading Rainbow”.  She asked, “Mister, what are you doing, standing behind our curtain?  Are you okay?”  The man stared, still fearful, at the little girl.  Then, he spoke:  “I am very hungry.  I have not eaten as much as a crust of bread , in almost five days.  I have been hiding, since I got off a small plane.  I watched your family and saw they seem friendly-but I could not be certain.  So, I had to sneak into the house first.”

“What’s your name, Mister?”, Katrin whispered, feeling sad at his story.

“I am Adibe Junius.”, replied the man.  ” My family name comes first, then my given name, so please call me Junius.”

“I am glad to meet you, Junius. My name is Katrin”, said the girl, still whispering.  Kat knew that Mother would be a bit scared of this stranger in her house, but Junius seemed tired, weak and more than a bit scared, himself.  She asked him to sit in a chair and said she would get him something to drink.  Then, she went to the kitchen, where her mother was resting in a comfy chair.

“Mommy, I have something to show you, in the family room.”, Kat said, in her Big Girl voice.  She then stepped on a footstool and got a glass of water from the refrigerator spigot.  ” Pleas come with me.”

Brittany got up, in a world-weary manner, wondering what her bright and adventurous offspring was up to now, carrying a glass of water to the back of the house.  Was she going to “teach” the stuffed animals how to drink without spilling?

Junius looked up at the five-foot, five inch cinnamon-coloured woman, who gasped at seeing a nearly six-foot tall man, sitting in her rocking chair.  “KATRIN LEIGH !  What on Earth are you doing, letting a stranger into this house??”, the horrified woman scolded her daughter.

“Please, Madame”, the chastened man spoke up, “She did not let me in.  I came in, through the window, as I am desperate.”

“DESPERATE?  I’ll  show you desperate!  Since when do you just walk into someone’s home, without so much as a ‘By your leave? And who are you, anyway?”, Brittany snapped.

At this point, all of Junius’ hunger and thirst pangs left him, and he burst into tears.   “I knew this would be a mistake.  I left Congo in a flight of panic and have not eaten since I got off the plane, five days ago.  All the smugglers gave any of us was a bowl of rice, with peanut sauce.”

“Congo?  Smugglers? Peanut sauce?”, the flinty-eyed mother said, her eyes getting narrower by the second.  “If this story gets any weirder, I’m about set to call Santa Claus.”

“It’s true”, Junius said, collecting himself , just a bit.  “I fled the war back home, and a white man came up to me, in Kinshasa, and said he could get me to Cape Town, so long as I carried a crate of animals to a certain spot.  I delivered the animals to a wet market, in the Chinese neighbourhood, then I was chased out of there by a gang of teenaged boys.  They called me ‘dirtbag foreigner.’  Imagine that, I am an African, and they said I didn’t belong.  So, I wandered around, until I came to this neighbourhood.”

Brittany was drawn in by this story, and he certainly wasn’t dressed like anyone from around Cape Town.  “Give Mr. Junius the glass of water, Katrin”, she relented.
Junius sipped the water surprisingly carefully, and threw his head back, letting out a heavy sigh.  “Do you know where I might get a clean bed, Madame, and a plate of food?”

Tears started to well up in Brittany’s eyes.  “I can get you to our church.  The pastor will let you clean up, help you get some fresh attire and see that you are fed.  He can do this a lot easier than we can, and he will put you to dignified work.”

Ten minutes later, Brittany Osterman had spoken to Reverend Stenbeek, who readily agreed to take Junius in, provided he followed the church house rules.  Junius walked with the two ladies to the rector’s house, and was warmly greeted by the Dutch Reformed Church pastor and his wife.  “Junius, you stumbled upon the nicest people in this parish,”  Leonidas Stenbeek proclaimed, “and you couldn’t have been greeted by anyone kinder than our Lady Katrin!”

“Please put your bag in the first bedroom, then go and shower yourself. ” Leo said, and then to his smiling wife, ” Margrit, I shall grill some prawns, in our guest’s honour! Please prepare him some porridge, for when he gets showered and dressed.  Then, we shall all dine together.”  “Yes, that we must.  It’s a great day to welcome one of our brothers,” the sturdy pastor’s wife announced, “Brittany, do sit and rest. Katrin, please help me peel some carrots.”

The proud little girl carefully peeled and sliced seven carrots, one for her and two for each of the Big People, just as Grandmother had taught her. It was a great day to welcome an uncle.

Foreshadowing

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December 17, 2018, Prescott-

This time of year always seems to feature a battle between those who just want to celebrate and share the good things in life, and those disquiet, greedy people, whose only satisfaction comes from depriving others of their possessions.

I’ve already spoken of the larger entities in our midst, and how they are robbing hard-working people, as we speak.  There are also scammers-among whom are those whose outstretched hands appear on our screens, wanting money for one questionable cause or another.

In 2011, while I was still reeling from my loss, someone got the drop on me and appealed to my sense of compassion, getting a small portion of my available funds,  This ended up inconveniencing a couple of family members, who ponied up what I needed.  I was glad to reimburse them, in relatively short order.

This sort of thing is damaging, both to my credibility and to my sense of fair play.  So, it is with the utmost caution that I am rejecting any requests for funds, without first doing uber diligence.  The season is rife with both deserving and rapacious people. 2011’s difficulties, still unpaid by the “borrower”, foreshadowed what could happen again, if that lesson had been lost on me.

It hasn’t been.