Mandala

2

September 22, 2019-

The mandala was prescient.

This is the last day of summer/winter (I reference the juxtaposed seasons, in acknowledging the essential unity of north and south.  Both extreme seasons present challenges.)  Fall/spring, starting tomorrow, will offer celebrations of fruition or of new beginnings.

I drew a mandala, yesterday, in the course of attending a small peace gathering, in the early evening.  Being no great artist, but having a curiosity, I let the Universe guide my thoughts, starting with a bright, fiery orange circle and moving outwards.

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Clashing, opposing colours are placed alongside, or in succession to, one another.  A green human and animals of colours with which they are not normally associated, occupy the outer layer. That you may not be able to distinguish which is which, is a testimony to my own rudimentary art skills and to the thick, stubby crayons provided.  No matter-the message is one of coexisting with differences and among opposites.

That was a key point of the entire day.  I spent a good part of Saturday walking a hilly neighbourhood, visiting people ranging from a transplanted Southern man proudly displaying a Confederate flag to a young woman professional and her dogs, all for the sake of verifying that the homes either had working smoke alarms or that my team mate and I installed them, before leaving the area.  It was all part of a concerted effort by the Red Cross to keep yet another neighbourhood safe.  Most people in the area covered have indeed tended to their own safety.  Heightened awareness, and insurance company diligence, have greatly lessened our workload.

After resting a bit, the evening Peace events beckoned.  I walked a labyrinth, at a church up the street, savouring the serenity that such calm attention to detail brings.  Then came mandala activity, followed by three of us Baha’is saying prayers, in front of  a very small audience-quality not quantity!  Before we prayed, a very nice lady, who had practiced three songs of peace, but had not had an audience for her scheduled performance, was invited to offer the songs.  Delivered a capella, these original songs, in a soft jazz lilt, created a lingering air of power and strength.

The evening brought another activity- Dances of World Peace, which I learned is an ongoing monthly activity of the Prescott Sufi Community.  Building peace between individuals, these dances involve following a few fairly simple moves, and rotating among partners-without regard to gender or age.  The point is acknowledging each person’s presence and spirituality.  That draws people out of pre-conceived notions and out of their comfort zones.  Yet, as I think of it, that which takes me out of my own comfort zone, has the effect of expanding that zone.

The mandala was prescient.  It had me draw opposites together, which is really the point of world unity.  The past several days, most recently this morning, I have been contacted by  social media friends from countries I’ve never visited, and which have not been on my immediate radar.  The Universe is telling me, a few years in advance, to get ready to expand my world, and comfort zone, even further.

The words that came to me, to write on the mandala:  “Night is the frontier we cross. Daylight waits beyond the gate of trial.”

Home Is Fluid

6

September 17, 2019-

“Well help me figure this place out.  I know I’m an outsider, but I’m not an enemy.” “No, you’re not.  But in this town those two words mean the same thing.”                     – Toni Morrison, “Paradise”

So, I was part of an interview, this morning, promoting a Home Safety event, sponsored by the American Red Cross, and to be held this coming Saturday.  Inside that little room, among friends, I felt like somebody, safe and honoured.  The interview went well, and I felt secure in sharing it on social media, once back in my apartment.

Walking from the studio to Ms. Natural’s, I crossed the Courthouse Plaza, normally a neutral place, where all are welcome, at least officially. Today, I had to pass by those who glared at me in my Red Cross shirt and ball cap; pass by the well-to-do, who look down at anyone not dressed for business.  It’s never pleasant dealing with the Self-Perceived Originals, in any community.

It was much different at Ms. Natural’s, as it always is.  Claudia and the young ladies are not from here, either, and know some of what gets thrown around, by some of the Pioneer Families and the faux elite.  I am at home there.  Sharlot Hall, one of the original pioneers, for whom Prescott’s Historical Museum is named, would spin in her grave  at the pretense and the snobbery.

No matter; I am here to serve those who need it and just have to put my lingering Impostor Syndrome and refugee mentality aside.  The people who accept me, and take me into their circle, are also from somewhere else.  These are the ones who matter.  They are the ones who make it all worthwhile. Home, for me, is a fluid term.

 

 

The Gold Standard

4

September 9, 2019-

Bill Tracy passed away last Thursday, after a month-long decline, triggered by a fall from the roof of his Palm Desert restaurant.  Bill was one of those rare individuals whose concept of business was primarily as a means of giving back. He had three restaurants in Prescott-The Dinner Bell (ironically, a breakfast and lunch establishment), Bill’s Pizza and Bill’s Grill.  Feeling age, he sold those establishments, in 2015, to a friend who has kept Bill’s vision.  Bill’s Pizza, for example, donated about twenty large pies to the Farmers’ Market Board, yesterday, to feed volunteers and staff at the Farm-to-Table Dinner.

Bill’s philanthropy was where his heart was.  He gave to a variety of causes and regarded the needs of the community, both in Prescott and in the Palm Springs area. He has helped our local Red Cross Chapter, as well as the Farmers’ Market and a local street ministry. Bill hired those who were disadvantaged, and worked with them to develop job skills.  I have eaten at all three of his restaurants, on several occasions over the years.  I never met the man, but I saw his ethic at work and notice that there is a close camaraderie in each of the establishments.

People like Bill Tracy are the gold standard, combining social sense, business sense and deep character.   Many of us strive to develop one or another of these qualities, and make a good effort at it.  Bill had the drive and sense of constancy to keep up with the changes and chances of economic downturns-and was a force in establishing shelters and care programs for the homeless, both in Prescott and in the Palm Springs area.

He won’t return to Prescott, but I daresay his spirit will never leave this community.

Back to Harmony

6

September 8, 2019-

Yesterday, I let the sour mood pass through. I think it was a reaction to the falling barometer.  We got about 1.3 inches of rain, in this neighbourhood and in points east.  A trip to the laundromat, on the northwest side of town, revealed continued “dry as a bone” conditions. Whilst at Farmers’ Market, I learned, from a vendor, who is a mutual acquaintance, that an erstwhile tormentor had found some peace in her life.  That is comforting, as unhurt people are less likely to hurt people. As the day wore on, and the rain had passed, I felt more in tune.  Spiritual Feast, in the evening, was vibrant and well-attended, another uplift.

Today has seen a nice breakfast at Post 6 come and go.  Now the long and celebratory Farm-to-Table Dinner will occupy my afternoon and evening.  This is one of four large social events of the Autumn-three of them this month and the last, on November 2, which will keep me connected to the community and offer a form of activity, in addition to Planet Fitness and whatever hiking I do, here and elsewhere in the Southwest.  Service projects, other than the above, will also be performed, through the Red Cross.  Home safety, simply put, is our major focus, in areas at risk for wildfire.

The message comes to me that disharmony is, largely, actually a product of not being in sync with the community.  Letting other people’s pain affect my own self-concept is a disservice, to them and to myself.  So, back to a state of balance I go.

Today will make many people happy.

Inside and Out

6

September 3, 2019-

I stopped, briefly, at the new location of SunFlour Shops, about four doors down from the former SunFlour Market.  My purpose was to deliver a bouquet of sunflowers, on the occasion of the store’s Grand Opening.  This, I did, and was treated to a fine cup of coffee, whilst the owner hobnobbed with the people who will make up her primary customer base.

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The store is more focused on dry goods than its predecessor, although her fresh-baked pastries are still featured, along with espresso and other coffee drinks.

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As a result, seating is less of a priority, at this point. There is, however, a huge patio, which will be amenable to visitors tarrying, in a month or so, when the heat subsides.

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The storefront is not signed, as yet, but I knew the location from the window decorations.

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My time there was limited by two things:  I wasn’t entirely welcome in the shop and there was a meeting of the Prescott Red Cross Chapter, where I was welcome and where my input on a few things was needed.  After being asked if I needed anything else, I left Superior quietly and headed back  to Home Base, getting to the Red Cross office, in time for a barbecue and the brief meeting.

The two situations are a snapshot of my relations with groups.  There have been, historically, few groups where I have been “on the inside”.  The old SunFlour was one of those.  The Red Cross Chapter has evolved into such a place.  My last fulltime place of employment was, as well, until newcomers decided I was not ” a good fit”.

These situations are always fluid, given the vagaries of human nature. So, I’ve learned where, with whom, and how much time, I should focus.  It’s no surprise that some parts of southern California, the Midwest and South are always places of refuge.  The area of my childhood and youth will remain welcoming, also.  Wherever my little family is, likewise, will be home.  Prescott, and a few other places in Arizona, are ever home.

Maybe it’s more because of my more globally-focused nature, that I am more of an outsider.  It’s not something that hurts all that much, though running into closed groups is always a challenge.

 

The Cleansing

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August 31, 2019-

The day began with my usual Saturday ritual:  Get up, sans alarm, devotions, coffee& paper and a visit to Farmer’s Market.  What is different today was the call to clean up.  A local business owner found an abandoned homeless camp near and around his property, in a wooded area by Granite Creek, one of Prescott’s many streams.  The creek flows into Watson Lake, a reservoir that is also a prime boating and fishing venue.  Thus, it’s a good idea to keep the watershed clean of trash and debris, a notion that has not been front and center for those who regard themselves as desperate for a place to live, or for those who rousted the squatters out of their encampment, nearly a month ago.

One longtime friend of the owner has been steadfast in helping him clean the place, over the past three days.  I joined them today, and will do so again on Monday morning and any morning that I am not working, Wednesday-Friday of the coming week.  Much of the large items, like  tents, blankets, coats, and sleeping bags were bagged and set for disposal on Tuesday.  Disclosure:  NONE of the items are salvageable, as water and mud have rendered them useless.  This is the cost of “sweeps”, and of random, ungoverned squatter camps.

That brings up a broader issue:  The matter of personal responsibility for self and for community.  The lay minister who was my partner on this endeavour, this morning, raised a valid point as to the tendency of people to leave solutions to issues to government- or to some other group.  Many people in Prescott, and in other places across the globe, tell themselves that it’s the government’s job to tend to social issues.  This attitude can be shown either vocally(including online posts, telling the police, Parks & Recreation, etc. to “Do their job”) or by attrition (i.e. volunteering for an activity, then just not showing up).

I was, thankfully, raised to take responsibility for the neighbourhood and/or the community, and trust me, I was not always the kind of child who wanted to get out and volunteer for such projects.  My parents kept after us anyway, and instilled that sense of community involvement.

There are as many ways to “cleanse” a community and build its strength, as there are people.  The Red Cross effort to make sure smoke alarms are working, in modular homes and more conventional dwellings, is also an effort that is gaining steam here.

Lastly, the cultural strength of a community matters greatly, in building a civil society.  The Folk Sessions and Concerts at the the Court House are a major piece of this effort, as are the art fairs, soccer matches and the Farmer’s Market itself.  Last night, an intrepid young woman,who I am proud to regard as a friend, made Prescott a stop on her way from Portland to Boston, just for the sake of supporting the musical scene in a town that welcomed her, three years ago.

There are many ways to build a community-and I know of shut-ins who make quilts or stuff backpacks for needy kids, in the new school year, or the disabled man who fashioned an “adventure train” for stray dogs, whom he takes out of the shelter, two or three days a week. I am fortunate to still be able to be of more ambulatory service, and thank my spirit guides and the Creator for this.

Just, let’s not pass the buck back to the next one, or to the Government.

Dribs and Drabs

9

August 29, 2019-

It’s been a fine week, so far.  I just feel like making a few random observations, today.

The National Weather Service has one forecast for Prescott, from now til October:  Sunny and warm.  The skies, though, have their own ideas.  One area, or another, of Yavapai County has had a fairly good soaking, the past few days.  This is what is most likely to continue.

A few shout-outs to local residents:

My Red Cross volunteer partner, Jenn Winters-Ashcraft, has largely been the force behind our finally canvassing homes in western Yavapai, for working smoke alarms. This endeavour will compete with substituting, on my own schedule.  Money aside, it’s academic (no pun intended) as to which is more important for our community.

Mr. Matt Williams is spearheading the clean-up of an abandoned homeless encampment along Prescott’s main waterway, Granite Creek.  Yours truly is part of that, as well.

The Boars Head girl, at Sprouts, offered us kids a fine deal on cold cuts & cheese, so I have had four days’ lunches all covered, for a reasonable price.

A variety of workers, across business fields, are holding down the fort in this season of high heat, for their less heat-tolerant colleagues.  I have seen this in at least a dozen places, this week.

When someone is uncomfortable in another person’s presence, it falls to that other person to give the uneasy one some space.

The Epstein Horror Project is finished, kaput-but the victims will long need the support of every decent human being.

The Amazon Basin Horror Project, it seems, is just getting started.  Sorry, but there is no comparison between the willful decimation of a global resource and the accidental spark that set Notre Dame Cathedral alight.  The very farmers being sent to do this dirty work are bound to be among its first victims.

I look forward to a weekend of celebration. God bless the workers whose efforts are tantamount to acts of worship.

Summer is almost, “officially”, over.  Friends, don’t worry about wearing white after Monday.  We have at least three weeks of heat left.

 

 

Speaking of……

10

August 21, 2019-

An invitation came in the mail.

It was to the wedding of the youngest child

of one of my best friends.

Quickly, and joyfully, I replied,

“Absolutely!”.

An invitation came, on my phone messenger.

It was to a college event, on Friday.

I quickly responded,

“Certainly, if I’m not working that day.”

A call came for a Red Cross meeting, today.

I cleared my calendar,

and drove over to the site.

We got a fair amount accomplished.

A caterpillar was inching its way

across the road.

I said. “Good luck to you”.

It kept on its way.

As I sat, watching the sunset,

atop Acker Hill, yesterday evening,

a lone jogger came by and said,

“Isn’t that a great scene?”

I said, “Positively!”

My neighbour said, “I’m moving out!”

I replied, “Sorry to hear that.

Hope it’ll work better at your next place.”

A school sent a request for my presence, tomorrow.

I said, “Amen!”

All this, alone, is reason enough to get out of bed,

and dedicate the day’s praise,

to honouring what lies in store.

 

 

 

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.