The Love of God

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December 25, 2020-

A small group of us gathered this afternoon and evening, sharing a light repast made with love by one of my best friends. The conversation afterward devolved, for a time, to the affairs of State. Once that was out of everyone’s system, there was a focus on the news of the terrible and confusing attack on downtown Nashville. It was then that the discussion turned to God’s love for mankind.

To my mind, and that of my dear friend, there is no daylight between His love and the challenges that are sent us, which are largely consequential of our own actions. Most misfortunes that I have experienced in this life have stemmed from either a bad choice that I have made, or from a weak area in my character that I have refused to acknowledge. There are also those times when I have happened along at a time when another person is struggling, and lashing out at all those who happen to be around.

There is the notion that we are all in this together, and indeed we are. I cannot be ignorant of my friends’ or family members’ struggles, nor do I wish to be. I will need to check on another friend, who has been incommunicado with members of our wider circle, for a day or so, and will need to answer a query from a needy person in another country, making both to be urgent business tomorrow.

Simply put, God’s love is not something we can either ignore without consequence, or put on a shelf to be dealt with at our convenience. There is, in truth, not much I can accomplish, without accepting His love, either as a direct flow of Grace or in the form of assistance from my Spirit Guides, first and foremost being my Guardian Angel-who has had my back, continuously, for seventy years. The payback for this love comes in the form of service to humanity, to our planetary home and to all its creatures.

It has been a fine Christmas Day, from the morning conversation with my mother, through other communications with each of my siblings and to the lovely time spent with the little group, near the foot of Thumb Butte. Let us each approach the last week of this unusual and challenging year, with a mindset aimed towards growth and equanimity.

Elasticity, Drums and A Nerf Torpedo

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March 8, 2020, Phoenix- 

I drove down here, this afternoon, to take in the last day of a the three-day McDowell Mountain Music Festival (M3F), held in my former home base’s spacious Hance Park.  This is a time when I touch base, however briefly, with a hyper-energetic artist friend, Pam Mayer, who dances, with and without hoops, encourages young women to do the same and rivets the attention of many, with her irrepressible mien.  Today was more of the same- I may not be Pam’s favourite pest, but  do get in enough quips, and pitches for the Drum Circle that is M3F’s spiritual centerpiece, to get at least a few eye rolls out of the Valley’s most mature “teenage girl” (my term, not hers).  I don’t go looking for her, mind you, but if I turn around at the right moment, there she is, hoops and all.  So it was, this afternoon, at two of the five locations to which I wandered.  Good hoop dancing requires elasticity, which God knows I fairly lack and of which Pam has an abundance.  She’s a treasure.

The other riveting thing about this festival, besides the music, is the mass of humanity.  There was no climate of fear in this gathering- with people of every age, generation and ethnicity-in abundance.  I spent a fair amount of time bouncing along to both reggae and country rock bands, as well as taking in a show by a techno-pop DJ.  He calls himself Bardz.

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At the country rock set, Los Colognes, a band out of Nashville, kept us leaning in and bouncing along. They have not been back to their own homes, to assess any damage from the recent deadly tornado, so the poignant musical tribute to Music City was one of the auditory high points of the day.  I wish the guys safe passage home.

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In between the reggae set  by The Green, not pictured, as I was too busy bouncing up and down, and practicing my shaka (easier with the right hand, than with the left, for some reason), and LC’s performance, I took a brief rest, along the black mesh fence at the park’s northern edge.  There, I was captivated by two adorable children, who were tossing a Nerf torpedo back and forth, sometimes getting in the personal spaces of other concert goers.  Everyone played along though, and when the toy ended up in The  Green’s buffer zone, event security people gleefully came over and gave the torpedo back to one of the kids.

That brings me to the Drum Circle.  This time, I sat in on both of the sessions.  Hand drumming, besides bouncing along to the music, is one of my favourite sound-centered pastimes.  Today was no exception, and as I kept up with the drum master’s rhythms, it was enjoyable to also encourage a variety of people to join in.  A couple of  families were led by one or two of the children to sit in and a couple of elders joined the festivities.

The festival’s energy and vibrations were perhaps best summed up by a group of five friends, who clasped their right hands together, towards the end of Los Colognes’ set.  Even in this challenging month and season, with Coronavirus and the accompanying economic setbacks, we are together in this joyous thing called life.

 

 

 

 

 

Nashville

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March 3, 2020-

The two little boys missed their Mommy,

as the wind sounded for all the world

like a freight train, headed straight towards them.

Daddy was there, and got his two cowboys

to the safe room of their house.

When they talked with their mother,

later on this first horrific day of their young lives,

they learned that she had been safe, too,

throughout.

She was in another part of the country,

doing her work.

A musician friend, who has been ailing,

had to flee her home,

along with her beloved soulmate.

They will go back there,

to recover what’s left,

and then move on,

in the light,

provided by a Loving God,

through the portal

of an enveloping community.

The dead are being recovered,

and will long be remembered,

by a city, state and nation,

which cast their arms around

those left, in neighbourhoods,

vibrant, once, and again.

Nashville, resilient.

The 2018 Road, Day 37: All The Way To Memphis

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July 1, 2018, Memphis-

With apologies to the campy 1970’s band, Mott The Hoople, the above title just jumped at me.  Driving clear across Tennessee in one day would ordinarily be wasteful-no Nashville stops, blowing past Jackson and no diversion to Shiloh or to the Land Between the Lakes. Time is getting short, though, for my stated intention is to get back to Prescott, sometime on July 4, rest up and then do a few days of service at a Baha’i camp, west of Flagstaff.

In the meantime, though, a day or so in Grind City has been long overdue.  I had contacted a friend in the Nashville area, and she turned out to be busy, so after saying farewell to Laureen and Chuck, and making a snap decision to take lunch at Country Kitchen (cute waitress wanted to go to Memphis with me, but that’s another story), I headed out of Crossville, bypassed Nashville and bore on to Jackson, making a brief refueling stop.

Hostel Memphis is a faith-based center, properly called Pilgrim House, in the midst of Memphis’ hip Cooper-Young neighbourhood, in Midtown.  In addition to the hostel, the organization offers separate programs to assist the homeless and needy families.  No Memphis residents, save the staff, are allowed to stay in the hostel.  Shelters are dispersed, elsewhere throughout the city.

I entered here.

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and was permitted to exit here.

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This evening was well-spent, on a Cooper-Young walkabout.

In the immediate vicinity of the hostel, there is a food bank, with a cafe for low income people.  It would not open until 11, on Monday morning, so I had no chance to visit, with the Museum of Civil Rights being on my itinerary, by then.

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The storage unit of Pilgrim House is right next to a playground, so it is dressed up for the occasion.

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Walking further, to the corner of Cooper and Young, I found a number of inviting restaurants and chose Young Avenue Deli.

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The atmosphere was one of modest young partyers, still all having a great time.  I took a table by a window, watching both the antics of a little girl “feeding” her stuffed animal, on the outside patio, and those inside, teasing one another and posturing for people they found attractive.  I find it life-affirming, to be among the younger generations, making the world over, as they see fit.

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After a satisfying Reuben plate, served by a steel and velvet, tattooed waitress, I strolled further down Cooper Street, finding unique little shops.  This little shelter is devoted entirely to the needs of cats.

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It is neither safe, nor legal, to climb up the berm to this railroad overpass, but it surely is a joy to see from below.

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This mural, across the street from an ice cream parlour that’s attached to Railgarten Diner, is one of several that celebrate Memphis’ diversity.  I felt very much at home here, whilst walking and licking away at a double scoop mint chip cone.

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That, in a nutshell, is, to me, the whole purpose of traveling as I do:  Expanding my feelings of being at home, and of who my family is.

NEXT:  The National Civil Rights Museum

 

Medicine for the Soul

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September 17, 2017, Prescott- 

The poor man is, no doubt, sitting with his head in his hands, wondering what his beloved will conjure next.  Rebecca spoke, sympathetically, of her husband’s reaction to her doing things like writing a song a week, for a year or writing a song and a related poem, plus painting a picture, each week, for so many weeks.  I would guess that a certain number of said works are about him.

Last night, Rebecca Folsom and Sally Barris offered two hours of rapturous song, interspersed with the kind of banter indicated above.  They came to us from Boulder and Nashville, respectively, and offered “medicine for the soul”.  The repertoire ran from Rebecca’s songs of her beloved Colorado;  an homage to Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and Carole King (see below); and a bluesy paean to what women can do, to Sally’s  impromptu “Halloween Love Song”; a tribute to those who accomplish much, with a “Little Voice”; and her signature “Let The Wind Chase You”, which earned a Grammy nomination, in 2009, when it was recorded by Trisha Yearwood and Keith Urban.

The ladies captivated the vast majority of the audience, including me in my box seat, just to the right of the stage.  We joined in, on cue, for the choruses of the Halloween Love Song and “Wilder Girl”.  Their nearly matching red dresses were a sign of the slight ache in their hearts, at not being with their sweethearts, on a Saturday night.  The loving audience at Prescott’s Elks Theater did what we could to make up for it, and like so many of us who have traveled far, in the line of work, they carry on.

There was a bit of personal resonance in the ladies’ presence.  Rebecca’s voice resembles that of my mother, in her prime.  Sally both looks and sings like my late wife did. Both  despite, and because of, that eeriness, I was all in with their performances.  Their work speaks of liberation and trusting love.  They stood, solidly, for the achievement that is in every woman’s soul and by extension, in the soul of the person she loves.

I’m sure I’d be fast friends with either one of them, should I encounter her in a more casual setting.  Perking up a visibly tired Sally, by thanking her for a lovely evening, was enough for last night.  I wish them, and all women, full progress towards that sense of attainment.  In the end, it will serve to benefit us men, as well.