Letting Go; Not Giving Up

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November 26, 2018, Prescott-

This day is to honour  ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Who guided the Baha’i Faith, from the Ascension of Baha’u’llah, on May 29, 1892 to His own  passing, on November 28, 1921. It is called the Day of the Covenant, as ‘Abdu’l-Baha symbolized the agreement between Baha’u’llah and His followers.  He explained much of His Father’s Revelation to us.

‘Abdu’l-Baha suffered, physically, for much of His life on Earth.  He came to North America and Europe, from 1911-13, visiting many major cities, and maintained a schedule that would have been daunting for someone half His age.

He made this journey when He was between the ages of 67-69. As I will turn 68, in a few days, I have to admire His fortitude.  The example set was a strong one, and was derived from both detachment and commitment, in equal balance.

An example came when He was in San Francisco, and it was requested by some Baha’is in Los Angeles, that He visit their city. Bear in mind that this was in 1912, and there were costs involved that seemed insurmountable.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha did not impinge on anyone, in meeting His expenses.  He at first told the Los Angeles friends that He would not be able to make the journey, though it caused Him great sorrow.  A short time afterward, though, money was found. ‘Abdu’l-Baha and His entourage made the train trip south to Los Angeles and spent a day or so there, specifically visiting the grave of the first American to declare his faith in Baha’u’llah.  That man’s name was Thornton Chase.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha showed that, by letting go, a person gives the Divine, the Universe, room to muster its energy and bring things to fruition.

I have been in many situations, including this year, where it has been prudent to let go of plans and expectations, and to move with the flow of energy.  These situations have, in the long run, not hampered my well-being and have actually helped to purify my life.  There will be others, I’m certain, as this year winds down and subsequent years unfold.  I can rely on the example set by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, in pondering my reaction to the changes that are in store.

Vortices

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December 15, 2016, Prescott- 

Four years and a day ago,

a vortex of hate came to call,

on a little town in Connecticut.

These past few days,

that vortex, and its cohorts,

have moved on, to Aleppo,

and left a once vibrant city

looking like Dresden,

or Nagasaki, after

Hate came to visit.

A chill vortex is bringing

snow, from the Rocky Mountains

to the rocky Atlantic coast.

It even brings rain,

to parched Los Angeles.

In special spaces,

around the world,

other vortices bring solace.

I wonder,

which vortex

will I encounter, next?

 

This Living Dream

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February 4, 2016, Prescott- It’s been nearly three weeks since the nation took time to honour the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It’s been three weeks, since we heard this year’s iterations of the speech he gave, sharing his dream of a nation whose people were at peace with one another.

I have thought, long and hard, about the years that have passed since then, and the years that have passed since his slaying.  We no longer, thankfully, have full-on urban riots, at least not since Los Angeles, and 25 other cities, in 1992.  We no longer tell people of colour that they cannot live in certain neighbourhoods, or parts of the country. We have, on the one hand, made an attempt to include people of colour more fully in the outward cultural fabric of our world-with HipHop and rap becoming de rigeur, worldwide.  On the other hand, there is so much unfinished, and even some progress at risk of being undone.

I have to say this, sans hard hat:  There are still several areas of daily life, mostly involving how I, and people who look like me, are perceived by law enforcement, especially on the road at night, that are not experienced the same way by people of colour.  As a nation, we buy too easily into stereotypes, still.  It was not so long ago that I would lapse into a lilt, when speaking with African-Americans.  That had to rankle the people with whom I was speaking and I apologize, profusely.  It said volumes about my own gap in self-identity and deficit in self-confidence.

I am over that personal roadblock.  The Dream that Dr. King shared with us, while speaking at the National Mall, those 53 years ago, was meant for all of us.  It was meant for Blacks, Native-Americans, Latinos to claim a place in the true life of the nation.  It was meant for women to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with men.  It was meant for Caucasians to recognize that sharing the full life of the nation with people of colour, in no way diminishes who we are as a dynamic force in the progress of mankind.  It was meant for those of both sexual orientations to be afforded the opportunity to share their God-given strengths and talents, in making the world a better place.  It was meant that the Dream be truly universal. I believe the Dream is alive.  I believe that this is truly the Day that will not be followed by Night.

The Road to 65, Mile 295: Where I Stand, Part 1

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September 18, 2015, Prescott- One thing about transitions, there are small stretches of time when money is tight, communication gets garbled and difficulties ensue.  I was raised to work through them, and so it is, right now.  I have had a few confrontations with people, both online and in real time, over the past three days.  In each case, rather than start World War 10,000, I have chosen to rely on my intuition, as to what the other person(s) was/were getting at.  One is simply a snarky, and somewhat abrasive, individual who enjoys a good comeback.  A few of those have defused that mess.  Another wants to know whether I have just moved on.  That is really up to that person.  I am still here, and as said earlier, I will not impose myself on anyone who seems to want to be left alone.  Another individual doesn’t want anyone who doesn’t drink, and doesn’t seem to have much money, in his establishment. (It is a restaurant, not a bar, per se, so the clientele ought to be mixed).

I sense the mood in this town is changing.  Hipsters tend not to like anyone who isn’t strutting their cash, and I see more hipsters around, over the past few months.  I haven’t had much money, over the past six years or so, though that is about to change, albeit gradually, and modestly.  I will be EARNING a living wage, starting next month.  Life will be more on an even keel.

I’m not going anywhere, though.  My son is in San Diego, until the end of next year, at least, and I have a growing number of friends in Los Angeles. Prescott is six hours from San Diego, seven from LA, and proximity rules.  I still have a good many friends here, even those with whom I seem to be having misunderstandings.  I am also very much enamoured of a place where I can walk just about everywhere that matters, and drive to the rest of the places, in a half hour or less.

In the next several posts, I will be commenting on points made by Chief Phil Lane, Jr., who heads up a spiritual retreat in Surrey, BC, as to the development of a spiritual community.  His heartfelt and well-considered tenets could be applied in a good many settings.  I stand in a circle, where heart, patience and intuition matter.

The Road to 65, Mile 213: Manzanar

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June 29, 2015, Lone Pine-   Today is the last day of my second long road journey of this year.   Like all trips, it has been less of a “vacation”, (though to some, any time spent away from one’s home town is a vacation), and more of a time of self-discovery.  I learned that I could handle the worst of circumstances, with help from the spirit realm and logistical support from steadfast friends.  I learned that there are those who will love me, regardless of what condition I am in and that there are those who will despise and avoid me, no matter how humbly I approach them.  I learned, again, that there is no Final Destination, and that, no matter how far one goes, there is that one step beyond.061

My last key destination on this road trip is a place of national shame, and of continuous soul-searching.  Fear itself drove Franklin D. Roosevelt to order the removal of Japanese-Americans from the immediate Pacific Coast and of smaller numbers of German-, Italian- and Romanian-Americans from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, from 1942-1945.  These American citizens were interned in what the President himself called “Concentration Camps”, though there were no pogroms planned or carried out against any of the interned.

Manzanar was the largest of the camps, with the Sierra Nevada serving as a wall between its Great Basin location and the western 2/3 of California.  People were rounded up, without explanation, by the FBI and the military, early in 1942, from places like San Diego, Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland and Seattle, and transported in buses and trains to this desert camp, and several others, such as Poston, AZ and Tule Lake, CA.  There are two ironies here:  The camps were often close to, or on, Native American reservations, though Manzanar was not- as the reservations in this part of California are on the outskirts of small Great Basin towns.  Manzanar was a small collection of farms and ranches, such as Wilder Farm and Shepherd Ranch.  These had been abandoned, before the U.S. government took over the area.  The second irony is that, in 1944-45, internes were recruited into the U.S. military, for service in the European theatre.  Many Japanese-Americans distinguished themselves in military service, including the late Daniel Inouye, who later served several decades as a U. S. Senator from Hawaii.

The Visitor Center at Manzanar National Historical Site has elaborate displays of both the Internment Period and of the history of the region.  The other big conflict between ordinary citizens and the governments, both state and Federal, involved water rights in this region, the Owens Valley.  The City of Los Angeles has bought up the lion’s share of water rights and built a pipeline, to meet much of its water needs.  There is ongoing discussion with Owens Valley residents, from Bridgeport and Bishop, in the north, to Lone Pine and Lee Vining, in the south, about how to strike a balance with the City of Angels.

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Here is a scale model of the Internment Camp, at its peak.063

Some dormitories are maintained, by the National Park Service, to show just what living conditions were for the detainees.  Remember, in 1942, there was no air conditioning, such as we know today.

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The dining halls were crowded, and there were few safeguards against infestations by vermin and scavenging insects.

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Ruins of several areas are accessible.  Here is what’s left of the house at Shepherd Ranch.

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This was once a koi pond, maintained by the internes.

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They kept up a splendid “city park”, on the north side of the camp.

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Yes, it was called Pleasure Park.

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This part of the park is sealed off, to prevent injuries to the public, and defacing of sacred inscriptions.

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These are scenes of the hospital zone.  There was a full medical facility, separate doctors’ and nurses’ facilities, and as was the wont of the internes, a garden.

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There was also a cemetery, and this cenotaph stands today, in honour of those who died during internment.

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At the southeast corner of Manzanar, there is this slab, the remnant of a camouflage tent factory, where many internes worked, “for the war effort.”

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This time in an American government internment camp was nearly as jarring, and as thought-provoking, for me, as my visit, about this time last year, to Berga, Germany, where Jewish-American and Hispanic-American POW’s were kept, in slave labour conditions, during the last months of World War II.  The difference was that the U.S. was, and is, a representative democracy, and Germany knelt to the whims of a few. The similarity:  Bigotry called the shots.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan formally apologized to those interned, and to their families, and signed legislation which authorized $20,000 to be paid to each surviving victim.  This was the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

I drove, purposely, with the windows rolled down and no AC, from Manzanar to Prescott.  Stopping for lunch and a copious amount of iced tea, at Totem Cafe, Lone Pine, set the stage for this.  I came in to the pleasant establishment alone, but was followed by 28 other people, within ten minutes.  The couple running the place managed to keep everyone pleased, but I had some concern fro the wife, who had to brace herself on the back cabinet and apply a wet towel to her forehead, for several minutes.

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My heart goes out to all those who work in the hospitality industry, during these days of triple digit temperatures, in so many places, around the globe.  I also stopped at Juicy’s Famous Riverfront Cafe, Needles, for an early supper, before heading on across the Colorado and back to base.  Juicy was a stray dog, who attached herself to the fire company in Needles, and to the hearts of the entire town.  That, alone, made it worth the stop.  The service is excellent and the food fine and dandy.

I got back to Prescott at 9:40 P.M., exulting in the drizzle and cooling temperatures, no worse off, for the heat, having plied myself with lots of iced tea and cool water, along the way. Oh, yes, and plenty of sunscreen was applied.

A Personal Homage

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  •  (Reposted from Xanga)

    I stopped for about an hour on 12/29/11, at Inglewood Community Cemetery, just west of Los Angeles, to pay respects to the first American member of the Baha’i Faith.  He was  Thornton Chase (1847-1912).  After an upbringing in the Baptist Church, and some dabbling in the teachings of the mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, Mr. Chase encountered the Baha’i Faith, while living in Chicago in the 1890’s.  He became the first American Baha’i, in 1895, and confirmed his faith further, by visiting ‘Abdu’l-Baha in the Holy Land, in 1899.

    Mr. Chase moved to Los Angeles in 1909, a move orchestrated by his employer, so as to diminish his involvement in Baha’i.  It only resulted in his being more involved, as he traveled the West Coast for business, and spent time with Baha’is in the Bay Area and in Seattle, in the course of his professional duties.  His funeral in early October, 1912 was attended by ‘Abdu’l-Baha and nearly a hundred other Baha’is.

    His grave site is elegantly marked:

                       

    The inscription at the top of his tombstone is in Arabic, and translates in English as “God is the Most Glorious”.