Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part LXVI: Days of Earnestness

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November 22-26, 2017, across Arizona-

I cannot not serve others, even on holiday.  I am hard-wired to look for how best to relieve another’s pain and ennui, while finally having learned, thanks to my blessed departed wife, how to involve the other person in the solution to that suffering and ennui.

It comes to me, as to where I should go, on a given day, and who I should visit.  On Wednesday, with no prior schedule, I went out to Superior, to see my friends at Sun Flour Market.  I learned that my friend, whom I felt as if I’ve known forever, had left, to pursue other ventures.  I learned that my friend, who owns the enterprise, is facing a great personal challenge and that my unexpected visit, along with those of a few other friends, was most comforting.  No journey is ever wasted.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, was spent with my best friend and several of her family members.  It’s always a blessing to be with this woman, and my favourite holiday was no exception.  One of the other men carved the turkey, but I got the best job- trimming all the meat off the carcass, after dinner.  That, to me, has always been the most satisfying task- guaranteeing that there is plenty of meat for many a meal to come.

Friday morning, I went down to Phoenix, and visited a long-time friend who is entering the vacation rental business.  Here is a photo of the house in question.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

If interested in a Phoenix getaway, check this one out: https://evolvevacationrental.com/387677.

After looking over the house and yard, I headed up to Cave Creek, lunch at Local Jonny’s and a couple of hours of hiking at Spur Cross Ranch Preserve.  I will have more to say, and show, about this lovely expanse, in a few posts from now, but here are a couple of scenes of Spur Cross Trail and its offshoots.

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Above is an oasis, built along Cottonwood Wash.

This is A’s stone ruin, which he built with his mom and grandma.

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Here is a Huhugam mano and metate, from the 11th Century.

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Spur Cross will see me again, soon.

Saturday morning found me up early and headed out the door by 6:30. A stop fro breakfast at Verde Cafe, Camp Verde, got me well-set for the rest of the drive to Native American Baha’i Institute, at Burntwater, on the Navajo Nation.  The occasion was the Light of Unity Art and Music Festival.  I bought a few things, and took several photos, mostly in low light.  The power was in the music and in the accompanying dance.  Here are a few scenes of the power that radiated outward.  Diversio,  The Treasure Crew and the venerable Benally family laid down that power.

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There is unstoppable power in unity.  I haven’t been up to visit the Dineh as often as I might.  My role is increasingly cast in Prescott and vicinity, but as another friend remarked, this afternoon, distance to a friend’s house is ever small.  I will support these great efforts as best I can.

Sunday, I happened over to my best friend’s sister’s house, and ordered a Christmas gift, as she is a rep for a nationally-known cosmetics firm.  This took a couple of hours, well-spent, discussing a variety of subjects, around the display table.

Now, it’s back to work and a satisfying routine.  When I wake up, I will be 67, and a whole new set of expectations come with that seemingly artificial renewal.

 

Friends Never Leave

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November 26, 2017, Prescott- 

I admit it, I am behind the 8-ball on posts about this weekend, as far as my trips to Cave Creek, Phoenix and the Festival of Light and Unity at Native American Baha’i Institute are concerned.

It’s late, and I had a ton of stuff with which to deal today.  So, let me briefly deal with the most important item.

Lest a couple of my dearest friends get the feeling that I am trying to join them at the hip- rest assured:  You will see a bit less of me, over the next several days, except for when you WANT me to be around.  Those whom I haven’t seen, for a few days, weeks or months:  Well, if you are at the weekend events that Prescott is having, over the next three fins de semaine, we may well find each other close at hand.

My take is that friends are ever in one another’s heart, and so even if the physical or verbal contact doesn’t happen for a good long while, there are hundreds of people who go through my mind and heart, in the course of a day.

Now, I must sleep- as the work week begins in earnest, faster than one might think.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLV: The Enduring and The Fleeting

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July 6, 2017, Santa Rosa, NM-

My day began, fresh and rested, with a stop at Wilson Arch, on the south end of a tourist attraction called “Hole In The Rock”, a collection of trinket shops and oddities.  It was easy to avoid, being closed.  The Arch, though, called out for some meditation time, so I walked to a sandstone bench, where I was able to sit undisturbed, while watching a group of other visitors, clambering up to the Arch, 300 yards away.

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It was getting to be breakfast time, so I headed to the Monticello branch of Moab’s famed Peace Tree Cafe.  The small eatery features a wealth of inventive breakfast items, such as Coconut French Toast, which sustained me for nearly the whole day.

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Continuing to Bluff, a small settlement, off the hipster trail that encircles Moab, I found a functioning laundromat, which was sorely needed, and Bluff Fort- a restored Mormon settlement, and testimony to the hard work and suffering that pioneers experienced, in the late Nineteenth Century.  This story did not, thankfully, involve conflict with Native peoples.  It was all about the harsh terrain that the Mormons found, in the course of settling southeastern Utah.

Here are some scenes of the Co-op store, water wheel and  a few of the sixteen cabins that greet the visitor. The first stop, in a self-guided tour, is the Old Schoolhouse.  Note the beamed roof.

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The brick and mortar building, below, is the Co-op, a restoration of the original, which was burned to the ground by an outlaw, in 1909, after a botched robbery attempt.

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Then, it was on to the water wheel and cabins, which highlight the differences in status among the settlers.

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Despite the seeming differences, it is remarkable that the group braves the harshness of the Kaiparowits Plateau, with its nearly-impenetrable maze of sandstone formations.

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Once laundry was finished, I drove straight on down to Native American Baha’i Institute, where I left a set of crafts supplies, and headed eastward, in short order.  This was punctuated by my scrunching a desperate, nearly heat-prostrated couple into my front seat, and taking them to their utility’s office.  After the errands,  a dinner of  chicken and salad, at Gallup’s Sizzler, and a long haul, across New Mexico, brought me to the lovely Route 66 Inn, in this high desert town.  The motel is run by a wonderful family- grandparents, Mom & Dad and three happy children.

It is amazing, that the pioneers accomplished so much, by working together, in enduring camaraderie, while others seem to be just spinning their wheels, by indulging in caprice and in fleeting acquaintances.

NEXT UP:  Texas to Illinois

He Bids Us All To Arise

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April 16, 2017, Prescott-

Today, nearly a billion people, around the world, commemorated the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ.  Many combine the sacred with the whimsical, filling baskets with candy of all sorts, making Easter the second most popular candy-eating holiday, after Halloween.  Others leave out the sacred, altogether, thus making Easter little different from the Feast of All Hallows.

Christ overlooked the faults of others, save the Pharisees, whom He scolded and the merchants in the Temple, whom He chastised more forcefully.  He was far kinder to those who committed indiscretions of the heart.

The lesson I get from this, and from His very resurrection, is that the human spirit is capable of enormous resilience.  We fall down and hurt others, either physically or emotionally, yet some of these same people could very well return to at least a modicum of friendship, over time, if we ourselves recover our moral bearings.

Christ was not only saving us, by His sacrifice.  He was also showing us, how we might save ourselves, albeit by less supreme means.  Each of us can arise, in our own way, through adhering to the Golden Rule and by making amends, for wrongs that we have done to others.

As a Baha’i, I revere Christ as Messenger of God and Supreme Teacher.  Accordingly, I know that it’s my bounden duty to serve others, both to make amends for what I’ve done wrong in this life, and out of love for them.  Love is the basis for everything the Messengers of God, from Adam to Baha’u’llah, have taught us, over the millennia. Yesterday, I had the bounty of visiting several people, at the Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning (at Houck,AZ) , in the Hopi village of Polacca and in the small Verde Valley town of Rimrock, where a longtime friend is in the fight of his life, against a crippling disease.  What I went to impart, was a very simple message:  Your life matters.

Christ said this, repeatedly, 2000 years ago. Baha’u’llah said this, repeatedly, 164 years ago.  Both gave us the admonition to say this to one another.  Both gave us the bidding to arise, to lift ourselves, and one another, out of despair and trouble.  That is the message I get from Easter.

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Onward

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January 1, 2017, Chula Vista- Seems people were so fed up with the year just past, that my retrospective montage was received like a lead balloon.  No matter- the clouds have cleared, from the torrential rains of the past two days (most welcome, here in southern California, and the neighbouring states of Arizona, Nevada and Baja California Norte).  My hope is that the clouds hanging over our nation, and over many parts of the world, will dissipate, as well.

I have a few, short-term, goals for this year:

January- This week, for the most part, will find me in the San Diego area, largely here in CV, with an Orange County outing, to Crystal Cove, on Thursday, before I head to Phoenix, and a dental check-up on Friday.  Training in Psychological First Aid, on Saturday, will let me bone up on those skills.  Who knows, as to just how many occasions such will be necessary?  Next Sunday,  my penultimate trek along Black Canyon Trail will bring me to the Emery Henderson Trailhead, in New River.  The last hike on that trail will follow, later in the month, (probably on the 21st. ) Over the Martin Luther King Day weekend, Aram is likely to visit, so the three days will be open-ended, to his preferences.  Other weekends will be divided between Baha’i studies and the trail.

February-  Son heads out to South Korea, the second week of this month, so I will spend 2-3 days in southern California once again, to see him off.  It’ll mean 1-2 ,years of Skype and a once-a-year visit.  I’ve been in those shoes, several times.  President’s Day weekend will likely find me in the McDowell Mountains, northeast of Phoenix.  A service project will also be done, during the Baha’i days of giving and service to others, known as Ayyam-i-Ha (Feb. 25-28).

March- This being a month that features a Nineteen-Day Fast, with Spring Break coming towards the end of said Fast, my plans are open-ended.  The inclination is to head over to  southern New Mexico and western Texas, to pay a couple visits to friends in the area, and take some relatively moderate hikes, the likes of which have worked out nicely, over the past few Fasts.  The Baha’i New Year (March 20, this year) will be followed up by a journey to Native American Baha’i Institute, to re-charge spiritually.

April- This is the month of the twelve-day Baha’i festival known as Ridvan,  commemorating the days when Baha’u’llah declared His mission, in 1863.  My energies will be thus directed. A few jaunts along trails in the Sedona and Payson areas will also be on the agenda.

May- Decision time, as to keep my current position, or move to a different school, will be at hand.  A long-postponed revisit to Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and neighbouring Superior, is the only existing item on the hiking agenda, for this month.

June-The first month of summer will keep me in the Southwest.  A week in SoCal will focus on Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  Visits to Navajo and Hopi are also on the agenda.

July- My now customary week in Carson City and Reno will move to the first seven days of this month.  Then it will be northwest, to Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. From there, finances and circumstances will dictate my direction- either a week’s visit to Korea, or down the road, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.

August-Back to whatever work assignment awaits, and whichever forays into nature are allowed by the Monsoon rains.

September-The Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth will be celebrated next month, so this foot soldier will be ready to do whatever the Commemoration Committee needs done.  Otherwise, Labor Day will take me up Granite Mountain, and the end of the month will mean a weekend in Flagstaff’s Inner Basin.

October- The aforementioned Commemoration will take place on  October 22.  Hope Fest will also happen this month, so there will be much work, in service.  Fall Break is a cypher, at this point:  Tucson and vicinity will get first dibs.

November- Thanksgiving, this year, will be observed at Desert Rose Baha’i School, between Phoenix and Tucson.

December-  Christmas week will find me in Massachusetts, with family whom I feel have been somewhat neglected, over these past several years.  Several fences need mending.  That will include a train trip to Philadelphia, right before New Year’s, and on down to Tampa Bay, for the first week of 2018.

Books?  “The Brothers Karamazov” slog continues.  “The Standing Stones Speak”, by Natasha Hoffman, “The Century Trilogy”, of Ken Follett, “The Alchemist”, by Paolo Coelho and a pair of books on rebuilding communities take top priority.  Speaking of which, my long put-off book of poetry and short prose will be put together, starting with choosing the better of the poems I wrote, over the past year, and adding verse as it comes to mind.  No specific promises, as to date of publication, but it will be sometime this year.

So, off we go- Trump’s wild ride,  widespread exercises in patience with one another, and continued healing (on both a personal and a collective level) will define this next chapter in the life of this beautiful humanity.

 

Guiding Spirits

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June 4-5, 2016, Burntwater, AZ-  There are, as I have indicated various times, several places in the world where I feel like family, and not just a passing acquaintance who is forgotten as soon as I leave.  Reno/Carson City is one such place, the Prescott area, where I live most of the time,  Metro San Diego (where my son lives) – and this small corner of the country’s largest Indian Nation, are among the others.  Burntwater used to have a trading post.  Now, it has the Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning.  That may sound redundant, but educating people of all ages has been the core purpose of this facility, since it was founded, in 1981.  I always feel like the Guiding Spirits are with me here.  When I arrived here, on Friday night, it was late, so I rolled out the sleeping bag and slept under the stars, as we all had, that first weekend on the property- when there were no buildings.

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Native American Baha’i Institute’s 35th Anniversary

Thus, about thirty of us gathered here, these past two days-  to recount the past thirty-five years and to plan, with a group of service-oriented youth, for its immediate and short-term future.  NABIL has come far, since 10-15 of us gathered here, in June, 1981, and sat with a group of Dine’ (Navajo) elders, asking them what they wanted to see here.  I remember the first thing on their list was reliable water.  So, a dowser came to visit, a well was dug, and the long drive to a pump, of spotty reliability, was over, within three months.  That well has been replaced, by an even more reliable water source, in the past ten years.  Local residents can get a portion of water that they all agreed upon, in council, with everyone’s opinion heard and considered, by the community. This is how Dine’, and most Native Americans across the country, are used to doing things.  A weekly community dinner is offered on Thursday evenings, and this is also a chance for residents to freely air their concerns.

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The Library is the central meeting place, for consultation and mindfulness.

Financial literacy classes, the trades and some college preparatory classes are among the services that the current staff are hoping to see offered here, in the next several years.  The Institute has come a long way.  I stayed in a comfortable lodge, for the second night I was there.

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As with any place that people gather, the dining hall is also a key place for consultation and camaraderie.

I was asked, upon getting ready to leave on Sunday morning, to remember that I must not be a stranger here.  The permanent staff have been like family to me, for a long time, so I will bear that in mind.  Driving across Hopi, also a place that is home, I found the place quiet, though I later learned that there was a social dance, which I apparently missed.  No worries, as there were two fires, along the route  back to Prescott, and I had to focus on getting back in one piece.  It looked as if the fires were under control, though.

I was back, and had my house cooled off, by 6 PM.  Now, let’s see what a week in one place will look like.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 263: Gordon

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August 18, 2015,Prescott- Each year, on this date, my mind goes back to an area called Burntwater, about an hour’s travel west of Gallup, NM.  Here is the Native American Baha’i Institute, where many gather to discuss the growing ties between our Faith and traditional Navajo teachings.

On August 18, 1984, I set out with a Baha’i friend and neighbour, Gordon Tong, three of his children and several Navajo elders.  We were headed to the Institute, to attend a meeting that was designed to address concerns of the traditional Navajos, as to how some visitors from the cities to the south could be more aware of customs and etiquette, when among the Dine people.

As is customary in that area, in August, it was raining heavily and the roads were thick with mud.  We got stuck in some of that mud.  Gordon got his shovel and a couple of young men got boards, to put under the tires. My task was to man the wheel and follow Gordon’s instructions on which way to steer and when to give it gas.  At some point, as we were making slow progress, one of his sons decided to “go for more help”.  I left the truck, for one of the young men to drive, and headed after the boy.  Five minutes into my pursuit, a truck came in the opposite direction, with the boy inside, and the driver explaining that he had received a radio report that Gordon had collapsed and died.  I got in, rode back to the Institute, then to the sheriff’s substation, where Gordon’s body was brought, twenty minutes later.

The meeting became a time of mourning, and two days later, Gordon was laid to rest, under a torrential rain. People came from as far afield as Seattle and the Pine Ridge Lakota Nation. Gordon was Native Hawaiian and Chinese, so his family came from Hilo, to honour their brother and son.  He was 38 years of age, at the time of his passing, and his still young family left to carry on.  They have done so, by and large.  There is no overcoming a deeply-entrenched spirit.

As I write this, the scent of rose oil wafts through the air.  I have no such oil, but I know how much Gordon loved it.  He loved all such fragrances, having grown up with hibiscus, coconut  and all manner of tropical fruit trees, with their own blossoms.  After 31 years, he is telling me that all is well.

I can only marvel at the way the Creator has seen fit to let such as myself remain on Earth, for so many years after the passing of a very worthy man.  All I can think is that there is so much more to do.  Gordon, and all my departed loved ones, are in the next plane of existence, or perhaps higher, lending their support.  I cannot let them down.