Alpha and Omega

4

January 1, 2019, Prescott-

It is bright, beautiful and 18 degrees outside, on this first morning, of the last year, of the second decade, of the Twenty-first Century since the birth of Jesus the Christ.  Life has not changed much, outwardly, from yesterday-other than that the storm has moved eastward.

Thus far, this decade has brought both great joy and intense pain.  The pain came first, and Penny spent 2010 in agony and decline, before being delivered from all suffering, in the early part of the following year.

I have since left my Phoenix home, gone through the recovery phase of Chapter 7, lived in, and sold, my in-laws’ Prescott home-at their behest and settled in this comfortable, one bedroom apartment, which will remain my residence until it is time to move on, at the point of my retirement from education, likely in December, 2020.

I have seen our son, Aram, blossom into full manhood, going full force up the enlisted ranks in the United States Navy, though he currently plans to return to civilian life at the end of this enlistment.  He’s a husband now, with he and his wife, Yoonhee, affirming their marital vows in a sacred setting, this coming March.  They have fine examples, of dedicated marriage, on both sides of the family.

I have said farewell to my parents-in-law, in 2014 and in 2018.  Uncles, aunts, cousins and friends have gone on, also, though many remain.  I am also blessed that my mother is still keen of wit and able to live on her own, in the very home in which my siblings and I were raised.

I have always been a wanderer.  The first time I can remember going off on my own involved crossing a street unaided, which earned me a few strokes of a hairbrush, on the backside.  My subsequent sojourns have not been quite so problematic.  While some of my travels have left family members, and others, shaking their heads, nothing has befallen me that was not able to be rectified in fairly short order.  To be sure, even greater adventures are, God willing, in store.

The same is true of my friendships.  Since being on my own, I have found just what a fallacy “on one’s own” is.  Hundreds of people have come into my life.  The best of them have remained, even if some of them are only present electronically.  The worst have, thankfully, moved on.  All have taught me valuable lessons.  There are good friends across the North American continent, in Europe, India and Africa- and I would be overjoyed to visit with them, at least once.  For now, we can see one another here.

Finally, there is the question, “Where is home?”  I could choose the grandiose answer:  “Why, all the Earth is my home!”, and I would be telling the truth-as I feel relaxed, anywhere.  Practically speaking, Prescott is home, for now.  After this phase of my life comes to an end, “home” could be in the Pacific Northwest, in the Heartland, in southeast Alaska, on the East Coast or, for a time, on the road-with my permanent possessions largely in storage.  My little family, good friends and the needs of the wider community will all play a part in where I find myself.

For now, let’s enjoy the sunlight.

The Cusp

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November 27, 2018, Prescott-

As I look back on being 67, living my 68th year, there have been some delirious high points- The wedding gathering of my youngest niece and nephew-in-law, the marriage of my son and daughter-in-law, the deep, loving welcomes I received at some friends’ home in Mishawaka, IN; at Auberge Bishop, in Montreal; at the above-mentioned gathering, in Philadelphia; in my in-laws’ home, in Florida; at a friend’s house in Salisbury, NC;  at a family gathering of some friends, in Crossville, TN; at Convergence at Arcosanti.

These loving environments almost overwhelmed me, but they shouldn’t have.  I have been very well-treated, for many years now, by the vast majority of those closest to me.  I am not sure why the shadows, the relatively few dark episodes of the year now coming to a close, seem to loom so large.  In objective terms, they pale beside all the times I have been greeted by my dear friends, at regular events around our area.

My steadfast friends range from those I see daily, at work, to those I see 2-3 times a week, at faith events, to those who, for whatever reason, I rarely see or with whom I seldom speak.  Then, too, there are the thousand-plus fields of people who regularly read my posts, and who have showered so much love on me, some for nearly a decade.  There are those I have met, who have become friends for the long term and others who are nice enough, but whose inner pain has taken them out of my life, after just a few encounters.  I last saw one of those people, not two days ago.

As with any year, there were farewells:  My mother-in-law and her older sister; one of Penny’s maternal cousins; a dedicated staff member at a Baha’i Institute, northeast of here; a long-time friend in New Zealand and several friends and elders from my childhood, most prominently an upstreet neighbour, who was virtually one of my surrogate fathers.

There were also hellos, some fleeting- like the woman who got me to put Penny’s and my wedding bands on my right ring finger and another woman who got me to attend a Game Night at a local coffee house. Neither were very long in my life. There are also the hoop dancers of Phoenix and the crews at Ms. Natural’s, Cuppers and Rustic Pie, here in town. These friendships are more likely to last.

The year brought me to California, in late winter, and from Nevada -to Quebec -to Florida and back to Arizona.  I camped in both rain and clear sky, spent a night in a private condominium,   stayed in four hostels, a business hotel, seven motels, three comfortable homes and slept one night in my car.

It has been a year of risks and rewards, more so than some years. It has prepared me for more.

Just Because…

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July 23, 2108, Prescott-

Of course, my accounts of my travels will continue, later today.  My mind was roiling, earlier this morning, with a feeling that someone was silently accusing me of prejudice, for not settling into another relationship, for not ending my widowhood.  Penny appeared to me afterward, in my mind’s eye, and told me:

“You love, intensely.

Just because you have no romantic feelings for anyone in your present Baha’i community does not make you callous, unfeeling, prejudiced.

You are there for each person, helping each as needed.

That does not require you to fit into a niche.

You love, intensely

Just because you have a strong friendship with a woman who is of entirely different mindset, in terms of Faith, does not mean you are disloyal to Baha’u’llah.

Conversely, as I’ve told you before, you and she are steadfast friends, no more, no less. You would gladly see her find someone who will cherish her, forever.

You love, intensely.

You see your younger co-workers as if they were your own daughters.  Their struggles are your own and you help them where they need help, taking nothing from their dignity.

You love, intensely.

Each day, whether on the road or at what you call Home Base, the needs, large and small, of women, men and children who cross your path have as much urgency as your own.

Just because some are, occasionally, put off by what they see as your shortcomings or errors, does not mean you are unworthy of respect.  They have their own burdens.

Carry on, my love.  As time continues, your true destiny will keep on unfolding.  You have miles to go.”

With that, my angst subsided.

 

To Account

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March 29, 2017, Prescott-

(“Bring thyself to account each day, ere thou art summoned to a reckoning…”

Baha’u’llah gives His followers this instruction, not as any sort of threat,

but as sage advice to keep our social and spiritual affairs in order,

as one does with financial affairs.)

I have completed today’s self-accounting.

There were three instances, in which I feel I could have done much better.

There will be a chance to do so, tomorrow and in days to come,

as the same people will present themselves, over the next two months.

Am I still worthy of some new friendships?

So far, yes, and my personal growth needs to continue, in that regard.

Did I ignore the one detractor who insulted me, this noon?

Yes, because she was speaking more out of her own pain,

than anything to do with me, whom she had never met until today.

Good things continue to happen.

Our study circle covered some intense spiritual ground.

One of my boys, who lacked self-control, is making a very strong effort

at maintaining it, these past two days.

His struggle is real.

I met another sweet, loving person, this evening.

Such friends make any trials seem like trifles.

A long absent cousin contacted me,

with a plea for me to go back East, in July.

Will see where the guidance takes me,

on that matter, but I have had a little voice

say “Head east, not northwest”, not long ago.

So, the ledger is balanced.

 

 

Sixty-Six, for 66, Part II: Solstices, Hot and Cold

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December 21, 2016, Prescott-  So, from today, our days will be getting ever  so slightly longer, with minute temperature changes a-coming, until June 21.  One of the kids asked about the Southern Hemisphere, and learned that the days in Australia,  most of South America and much of Africa, will now be getting shorter, until that same date, next year.

I was in Sydney, once, in mid-September, 1971, and enjoyed a mild Spring week.  I even had a few hours at Bondi Beach, and didn’t need a sweater, on the hydrofoil to Taronga Park.  Our seasons aside, I felt rather at home “Down Under”, and will someday make my way again to those parts, and to many others, for the first time.

Enough of things about which I can do nothing.  I’d rather focus on the emotional solstices that we seem to experience.  A few questions for thought:  How often have friends, some of them trusted, turned aside for the least perceived slight?  How often have friendships turned, because of unshared convictions, or a feeling that perhaps one is no longer “useful”?  How often has a friend looked upon you as a surrogate, either for a lost loved one, or for the person him/herself?

I am comfortable in many climates, and in many situations.  It’s something to which I have gravitated, all my life.  My peculiar form of loyalty is to humanity, as a whole- so slights are forgiven, secrets are kept, and often forgotten, and people are valued, even when they forget to value themselves.  I guess this is a fine way of remaining adaptable to both earthly and human environments.

Human seasons continue to come and go.  May they become milder, in tone and sharper, in meaning.

Flow

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August 16, 2016, Prescott- 

It’s said that heat enervates, stifles many things.

Metal can be an exception; loving the liquidity brought to it, by heat.

Man is largely made of water , however.

Water, and Man, evaporate with too much heat.

Physical relationships love warmth.

It’s no accident that physical attraction is often characterized by the term “hot”, to  describe an attractee.

Then again, scorpions are attracted to a steaming cup of coffee, when it’s left on a patio table, in a desert condo.

Friendships need warmth, too.

That is a fortunate thing- for dogs lying at their masters’ feet; for coffee house owners and barkeeps keeping their patrons’ lively tables well-plied; for the muscles that are so soothed by a respectful, but heartfelt, hug- and for me.

The ocean flows, largely warm, in its midsection and cold at its extremities.

Snakes like warmth. Fish prefer cold.  Birds take what they can get.    Man gets whatever he can take.

The Universe flows on.