Homage and Outrage

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September 19, 2022- The world’s longest serving Head of State received a well-deserved send-off, this morning, with all but the most pompous of politicians taking their prescribed places, either in an assigned seat at the funeral service or in the background at home, patiently waiting for their own countries’ memorial services.

That is how homage is done. There is no braying, “Hey, what about me?” It is the life of the deceased that gets honour and attention. In recent days, a paternal aunt, a second cousin and a revered Baha’i elder in Phoenix have gone on to their own places in the spiritual world. Each had people, myself included, who treasured them and focused on their positive attributes. Each had lessons they imparted to anyone who was willing to listen and pay attention.

There are, however, those who subsist on outrage. Their whole being reflects back on all the mistreatment, real and imagined, that occurred in their lives-sometimes clear back in childhood. Life is not guaranteed paradise for anyone. I’ve had my share of misfortune, some of it self-imposed, but in each case, I have been able to listen to voices of reason and overcome any lapse into self-pity. Outrage at my lot is no longer an option. It is a different matter when the well-being of children is at risk.

I spent the day, as it happened, making sure that Special Needs children, in a small class, were maintaining safe practices around self and others. These students, more than others, are also inclined to live in the moment and resist correction. Only a strong dose of encouragement and patience gradually makes a difference in their demeanour. There is the occasional need to stand up for them, against adults who persist in trying to knock down their sense of worth. Thankfully, the team with whom I worked today are just as vigilant in that regard.

I continue to work for the best of the community.

A Cosmic Soaking

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September 10, 2022- Today was the latest, in what seems to be a series of auspicious days. This began, this past Tuesday, with the passing of one of my last four surviving paternal aunts, continued Thursday with the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and today, a more cheerful celebration of my mother’s 94th birthday. I was able to sing her birthday greetings, via Face Time-and she liked my singing voice. That’s not a given. Had I sung off-key, I’d have heard about it. Mother has kept us each authentic, over the years.

It was just before starting a day of service, at the Tenth Annual Hope Fest, that this brief phone connection occurred. Hope Fest, for those not familiar, is a large in-person celebration of community service, modeled by the life of Jesus the Christ. So, my own service was basically “serving the servants”, doing whatever was requested by the organizers of the event. I am always a “floater”, going and doing tasks that range from driving back and forth to pick up items overlooked by the Event Director to stomping on excess ice (reminiscent of helping a neighbour of Greek descent stomp on his grapes, as a child). Being the volunteer not as well-known by the Director as her closer friends, I generally keep busy otherwise by finding things that need doing and getting them done.

Today’s event was similar to that of the first year-in that it was punctuated, and interrupted three times, by heavy rain. The first downpour occurred at lunch time, pre-empting the opening ceremony, which is usually a welcome by the Mayor of Prescott and a group photo. The second was in mid-afternoon,just before one of the musical guests was to perform. The third was in late afternoon, and was accompanied by thunder & lightning. The intensity of that downpour led the electronics director, and the scheduled headliner band, to cancel the evening’s performance.

I think it is a good thing that those in charge have a deeply spiritual vision, These, especially the last one, seemed to be cosmic downpours, perhaps testing the mettle of the participants and audience. They did not seem to dampen anyone’s spirits, and those arriving in anticipation of the evening concert were quite accepting of the cancellation, and grateful that the safety of the band and the sound crew were prioritized. The concert artist, who usually paints energetically, in accompaniment to the music, went about her work with only the music in her head to guide her. She is magnificent, in and of herself.

It was a warm rain, and even the young children who were momentarily caught in it were delighted. The monsoon season itself is winding down, and is expected to mostly finish by this coming Tuesday, with a chance for one last sprinkle to accompany the Autumnal Equinox. The Cosmos has been kind to the Southwest, in terms of rain, this summer. Now, we look to whatever lies ahead for Fall.

Regina

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September 8, 2022- She passed, as she had lived-Stoically, without the pain that some blinkered souls had wished upon her and mindful of the overarching love that many, even in nations that are rivals to her own, felt towards her in life.

I was never much for the idea of colonialism-or paternalism, for that matter. That there are still countries which are “owned” by others, including the territories of the United States, seems quaint, in an insipid way. That there was ever a legal system that permitted one ethnicity to subject another to legal chattelhood, or to a second class status, seems sinister at the least, and pure evil at worst.

Some fuss has been raised at the fact that a 22-year-old Elizabeth Windsor visited Cape Town, at the inception of apartheid, and did not send thunderbolts down on its initiators. She was probably kept from the decision-making process, but no matter. A ceremonial royal can occasionally mount a bully pulpit, but not often. Her influence in most issues was far more sublime, delivered with a sly remark or a piercing look.

To most, Queen Elizabeth II’s life, and its end, have been occasions for catharsis-either love for how she conducted herself on the world stage, or vitriol for the way Britain treated some of its colonies, prior to the decolonization of the mid- Twentieth Century. She herself struck me as a benign presence, who nonetheless rose to greet her challengers and critics with the same stoic mien that she employed with well-wishers. She was also capable of listening to her Prime Ministers and Cabinet Secretaries, and of advancing with the times. How many nonagenarians keep a Twitter account or a YouTube channel?

When Donald Trump, on an official visit, walked ahead of her, the Queen just shook her head and kept walking at her own pace. She knew that certain people would just do as they’ve always done, and would have to reap the consequences of their actions, regardless of input from anyone else.

In seven decades, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, “Her Majesty” to most, and Elizabeth, to a select few, kept her nation’s image far more cogent and vital than a lesser personage might have. There may not be another like her, for a good many years.

Rest in Peace, Your Majesty.