Solstice to Christmas

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December 22, 2019- 

Last night marked the December Solstice, and though I didn’t do anything special to mark the passing of the shortest amount of sunlight, I felt the energy.  I call this  the December Solstice, being mindful that as we in the North experience cold and darkness, our brothers and sisters in the South have heat and light in their midst.  In June, of course, we trade places.  Many of us will enjoy a White Christmas, and my hope is that those in the Antipodes will find respite from the fires which have plagued Australia, Africa and the Amazon region, for much of this year.

This evening, Hanukkah begins at sunset, marking the eight days which commemorate the re-dedication of the second Temple of Jerusalem, following its profaning at the hands of the Seleucids (a dynasty of the Persian Empire).  The Judean commander, Judah Maccabee, ordered this celebration, so that none would forget the degradation that was followed by resilience.  My late wife, our son and I would light the menorah, a candelabrum that is used to hold nine candles, a central one called shamash, or “attendant”, from which the eight other candles are lit, one each evening of the festival.  Penny would recite the blessing, in Hebrew, before we lit each candle.

Gold-wrapped candies, called gelt, are often given each night and small gifts may  be exchanged, among those celebrating the Festival.  It may be that this is the basis for the gift-giving which accompanies the celebration of Christmas, as December 25 either falls within the Hanukkah celebration, or immediately follows it.  The rest of what we, in Western civilization and its offshoots, have come to associate with Christmas, largely comes from having adapted the traditions of others, first the Yule tree and its trimmings,  along with robust feasting, from the pre-Christian cultures of northern and western Europe, then a host of others:  Communal singing, special foods from various cultures which have adopted Christianity and alms for the poor.

The basis of all these holiday traditions, underneath all  the pomp and camaraderie, remains spiritual.  It was  awe, at changes in the celestial realm, that prompted the Druids and their followers to observe Yule.  It was the resurgence of Judaism, which inspired Hanukkah.  It was the reverence which Christ’s first followers had for His birth, and for His life, which brought about the first Christmas.  That it should have taken on elements of the two other great end-of-year celebrations, as well as modern commercialism,does not negate the spiritual basis for the near-universal appeal of Christmas.  This is solely owing to the greatness and universality of the character of Jesus the Christ- His love of humanity, His fealty to the Creator and His inherent wisdom.

So, for me, for my family and for all humanity- Let this be, as Judah Maccabee decreed, in the days of resilience after the overthrow of tyranny:  A Season of Light.

 

The Conscious Step Away From An Abyss

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November 20, 2019-

So, it now happens that, if I want to truly understand what Jordan Peterson is trying to say, in his Twelve Rules for Life, I will have to actually read his book.    The reason is the depth of Rule 9.  A simple synopsis is: Understand Your Dark Side. Know exactly that of which you are capable, and resolve not to do it.

Each of us has a dual nature, which is exactly why Christ endured 40 days of temptation and His Crucifixion.  He wanted us to know that the path away from self-destruction lay totally in following the Teachings of the Divine, which derive, essentially, from the Golden Rule.  Not only acts of goodness, but consciousness and dismissal of, the darkness within.  Baha’u’llah endured the indignity of His tormentors, who included many within His own family, that we may see the two paths down which we might each go, and that we may choose  the Path of Light.

I have had struggles, all throughout this life, and only after enduring Penny’s disease, vicariously- and as her caretaker; only after wrestling with left-over baggage, following her passing, and making a conscious decision to turn aside from the darkness, have I ended up in a place of Light.  So, I get the gist of what Dr. Peterson speaks here.  Seeing the dark, and teetering on the edge of it, is debilitating. Seeing the goodness, and nurturing it, sends the spirit soaring.

 

Blamecasting

6

November 10, 2019-

In examining Jordan Peterson’s remarks on what he sees as the Eighth Rule for Life, essentially “avoid vengeance”, it occurs to me that the basic issue stems from being other-focused, with regard to the  quality of one’s life.

This is a recipe for disempowerment, in the sense that  giving people, even those we love most, responsibility for what is good and bad in our lives.  Christ used the construct He called “Satan”, or “the devil”, to illuminate the lower nature which leads people to act in ways that are of a disservice to self and others.  People have taken that construct and used it as a scapegoat, as an actual being outside themselves, on whom to blame when they make bad choices.  God, Himself, also gets blamed, when there is misfortune in the lives of many people.

The choice, that those who give others control over their affairs often make, following a misfortune that is laid at the feet of another, is taking revenge.  This, of course, prolongs and most often deepens the agony.  I can think of no problem that I ever faced, which was solved by blamecasting or looking outside myself for resolution.  Indeed, when Jesus was tempted by His own human lower nature at Gethsemane, He gave us a road map for overcoming such weakness, with the words, “Get thou behind me, Satan!”

It is, simply put, up to each person to put the lower nature behind them-not often an easy task, but one which must be done.

Random Observations, on A Quiet Sunday

6

November 3, 2019-

I see that my recent posts have led quite a few people to delete my site.   All the best, but my writing is, first and foremost, sharing my thoughts, not pandering to yours.  If I have ten followers left, so be it.

People who stand up for themselves very often have to get past the trolls and pundits.  I notice that, in the current presidential campaign.  Anyone who crosses the Establishment is attacked as “weird”.   That will never change their truth.

We had a great day, yesterday, as 65 people observed the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab, at Prescott Senior Center.

I heard a Roman Catholic say, this morning, that all Muslims should be killed.  The Quran mentions Jesus, in a reverent way, countless times-and more often than the New Testament.  Fighting extremism is one thing, blind genocide, quite another.  By the way, anyone interested in mass slaughter, of any population, will have to include me among their victims.  God willing, I’d be standing in front. (Yes, that includes Christians being persecuted by Muslims and Hindus. Wrong is wrong.)

The most important thing facing me, this month, is setting up a safe, comfortable place for my daughter-in-law, who will be here for several weeks in December, while her husband is separated from the Regular Navy.  Happily, he will have six years of Reserve duty, to help them get established in civilian life.

 

 

 

Another Song Celestial

2

September 29, 2019-

The humble, soft-spoken man recounted the life of his father, who is, to date, the only conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Desmond Doss, Sr. was portrayed by the actor Andrew Garfield, in the film “Hacksaw Ridge”.  His son  briefly detailed the actual man and the fullness of his life, at yesterday’s Hope Fest.

Desmond Doss, Jr. is at lower left, below.

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This day-long celebration of purpose-driven life is primarily about service to the community, with a clear message that peoples’ lives are best led through a personal relationship with Jesus the Christ.  I have helped the organizers of this effort, for the past five years.  One of the elements of this event is recognizing and honouring the veterans of present and past conflicts.  VietNam is not the least of these conflicts.

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Though I take a longer view, seeing a relationship with the Creator and His Messengers as essential to a well-lived life, by way of accepting that Revelation is progressive and God’s message unending, I see that encouraging others in the positive,  personal growth-oriented aspects of their own Faith is the finer path.

I came by my understanding of Baha’u’llah’s Teachings honestly, and will never hide my Faith from anyone.  It was actually the very essence of what Jesus the Christ taught, that love is paramount, which drew me to the Baha’i Faith, as “Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings.”- ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

It never made sense to me, even as a child, that God would visit Mankind with His Grace but once.  Knowledge given is as the rays of the Sun.  The solar rays of a thousand years ago, of ten thousand years ago, warmed the Earth and were beneficial.  They remain praiseworthy, for all they brought forth.  Likewise, the rays of the present day sustain life.  They, too, deserve our appreciation.  Understanding all that is given us, by the Creator, is a worthy effort.

So I offer service to those who themselves serve others, in the highest way they can conceive.  It is our shared love for humanity that propels gatherings like Hope Fest.  Long may they continue, and bear fruit.

Heavenly Flow

8

April 21, 2019-

Today brought me close to two faith traditions:  A musical, somewhat relaxed Evangelical Baptist service- which I attended at the invitation of a former co-worker.  I didn’t see her  there, but met up with another former colleague with the Red Cross.  After exchanging pleasantries, I took a seat in the congregation, while he took his place in the choir.  My part was to sing with the rest of those in the congregation, join in greeting those around me, and respond to an occasional call.  I only regret not raising my hand when the pastor asked who believes in the Christ. I do, certainly.  One cannot accept the Message of the Father and discard That of the Son.

At our Baha’i community’s gathering, this afternoon, I joined with about 45 fellows in Faith, to commemorate the first day of Baha’u’llah’s declaring His Mission, even as He and His companions prepared for a long journey overland, from Baghdad to what is now Istanbul.

The message is similar:  None of us is squeaky clean, and God alone can absolve us with Grace.   The sufferings of each Divine Messenger are what free us from our wrongdoings.  Only by acknowledging this, and not wanting to be distant from the Divine, does one progress spiritually.

So, that was my day of spiritual fellowship.  Connection with the Divine, though, is what has eased my path, even when I find myself alone.  In times of uncertainty, as to my course of action, I find my Spirit Guides provide a very clear framework, within which I must make informed choices.

This week, for example, will bring me to Flagstaff, then to the Desert View Tower, at the eastern end of Grand Canyon National Park- honouring the Centenary of that great national entity.  From there, it will be time to honour an old friend, who passed on, last week.  His services will be east of Tuba City, at another lovely locale:  Coal Mine Canyon.  Then, I must return here to Prescott, and look after my own health, with a lab test on Wednesday.   Matters of faith, possible acts of service with the Red Cross, another friend’s birthday party and a presentation by Slow Food-Prescott will fill out the week.

The flow of celestial energy is constant, and bears heeding.

 

 

 

 

 

His Timeless Love

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December 25, 2018, Prescott-

The conference over, it is back to Christmas City.  Two gatherings graced me with their invitations today.  A small group of friends has taken to observing special holidays, with a noon meal, sparing no celebratory detail.  On Thanksgiving, it was a full-on turkey dinner.  Today, it was ham; broccoli and kale salad, in poppy seed dressing; sweet potatoes and acorn squash.  Homemade fudge and chocolate chip cookies were the desserts. We watched a fresh performance of “The Nutcracker Suite”, on PBS.  It got Christmas off to a fine start.

In the late afternoon, I headed to another gathering of friends; family members who have been consistent friends of mine for the past five years.  We enjoyed four kinds of homemade pizza, then watched a segment of “Bolt”, followed by a Hallmark love story-much needed by some, after the intensity of the holiday.

Two things jumped out at me about the day.  First, I encountered a part of myself that needed to be let go.  Without going into detail, one of my friends let me know, very subtly, that this unattractive aspect of my personality had worn out its welcome.  I also recognize that a small leap needed to be made, in my personal growth- so here goes another small step for a man.

Second, and most importantly, the day may have had Wiccan roots, centered on the Winter Solstice and acknowledgement of nature’s rhythms, but it has long become a universal recognition of the power of Divine Love.  We can say, with some assurance, that Jesus the Christ was actually born closer to the coming of Spring, perhaps late March or early April, yet here we celebrate love and the work of peace.  Once again, it’s obvious that peace is messy, at first, and comes hard.  So, Christmas can be tortuous for those who feel unappreciated or shut-out.  I have been there, in my youth, and fortunately had family members who knew how to assuage my fears and anxieties.  I will do what I can for those who are going through that now.

I hope all have a blessed Christmas season- clear to New Year’s, and beyond.

Feet of Clay

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December 1, 2018, Prescott-

You say that my dear friend,

someone I love very much,

is not measuring up,

not cutting the mustard.

I know differently.

I know just how hard,

how diligently,

how effectively,

my friend has pleaded your case.

I know the high regard in which

you have been held,

in my friend’s estimation.

Frankly,

I have always had my doubts.

No human being,

myself included,

even remotely

approaches the level,

of  Jesus the Christ,

of  Gautama Siddhartha ,

of Baha’u’llah.

You have made

some very high claims.

You have not exactly SAID

you are above it all,

but by your behaviour of late,

you act as if that is the case.

I love my friend,

and will stand by her,

throughout.

You, though,

will have to

be content,

hardening your feet of clay.

 

 

Whither Goest Thou?

12

April 21, 2018, Prescott-

I was brusquely informed, this morning, that I was headed for Hell.  My crimes? I believe in the unity of spiritual truth.  I believe that it was last revealed to mankind by God, come in the Spirit of the Father, in the person of Baha’u’llah, just as it was revealed to us, some 1, 987 years ago by Him, come in the Spirit of the Son, in the person of Jesus the Christ.  This is a threat to those whose purpose is to keep us divided.  This is a dire catastrophe to those whose grip on power over the common people depends on a belief in us vs. them.

The fact remains- I will continue to work with everyone, serve anyone, love even those sworn to enmity- because Baha’u’llah said so; because Jesus said so; because every religious Teacher since the world began has said so.  Only the inner cravings of humans, for power, for control, for dominance, say otherwise.  Our lower nature-personified, in the Words of Zoroaster, Christ, Mohammed and Baha’u’llah, as Satan, the Demon, is behind all work to maintain division.

So, I’m not concerned with the allegorical Fire.  I won’t stop serving, loving and looking towards the Light, in this life or the next.  My next act of non-remunerated service will be among Baptists, in fact, on Monday evening, helping my friend, a Baptist youth pastor, named Randy, in his humble soup kitchen.  Randy doesn’t care that I am Baha’i.  To him, it is our shared love for humanity that counts the most.

Funny, that my accuser of this morning should have touted her admiration for the late Billy Graham, whose attitude in his later years, towards the advocates of division, was: “Get thee behind me, Satan”.

That’s the end of my preaching and screeching, for now.  I just needed to clear the air.

Billy Graham

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February 21, 2018, Prescott-

He was a staple of my Catholic father’s television fare,

whenever he aired a Crusade, in the evening.

He was a subtle influence on me, as well,

bringing Jesus the Christ to my heart,

in a personal way.

Years later, he went on a crusade of a different sort,

trying to win back souls for Christ,

from the ranks of Baha’is.

Still more years later,

when I had found Baha’u’llah for myself,

he realized that there were many

paths to the Realm of the Father.

He only wanted to see Heaven.

Now, he is on his way.

Bless you always,

Reverend Mr. Billy.