Whose Laws?

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May 30, 2019-

I am a law-abiding citizen.

When it comes to the laws of the land,

in which I live,

or the land in which I find myself,

I am very much in synchronicity.

I am a God-fearing soul.

When it comes to the Laws of God,

I am obedient, for therein

lies my safety.

I am connected,

to the messages

of my spirit guides.

When what they tell  me

conflicts with the opinions

of those telling me

to stay put,

lest I be seen as

unwilling to sacrifice,

I go with the spirit guides.

They’ve not failed me.

Last year, my angels

told me to leave the city.

Someone else wanted me

to visit a shrine.

I sought to visit the shrine.

I was robbed.

The angels sighed,

and stayed with me,

bringing friends who

comforted me and

skilled craftsmen,

who repaired the damage.

This year, my guides say

“Go serve, at the beginning

and at the end,

of this summer’s path.

Then, go forward

and be with some of those

who love you,

in other parts

of the nation.”

A voice of discontent

says “Sacrifice your wanderlust.

Stay put!”

My soul knows that

I will be of intense service

here,

when autumn comes,

when winter returns,

when another spring beckons.

For now, in summer,

I belong to the wider country.

There is more sacrifice in this,

than the person

who sees time

on the road,

as a mere break

in the routine,

can ever know.

 

 

 

Valentine

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February 14, 2018, Prescott- 

While there were many Roman Catholic holy men named Valentine (from the Latin valens (worthy, strong, powerful), the one most commonly associated with this day of celebrating romance, and. more recently, other forms of love was a Roman priest of the Third Century, who gave his life in witness to the Faith of Jesus the Christ.

It’s said that the most powerful love is indeed that which is given in sacrifice.  We all know of parents and grandparents who sacrifice their all, for the welfare of the children they love.  Countless spouses put all they have, and more, into their marriages.  Siblings go the extra mile for one another.  Service professionals, in the military, first responders, educators, health care professionals, social workers, more often than some believe go way beyond their job descriptions- even if it means ignoring said documents, in ensuring the welfare of their charges.

I have known many such people, among them one Augustine “Gus” Belmonte, a police officer in my home town of Saugus, MA, who was killed in the line of duty, on February 16, 1969, whilst responding to an armed robbery, at a local restaurant.  I knew Gus as the consummate neighbourhood patrolman, usually on duty in Monument Square ( “the Center”), in the afternoons and evenings, when many of us would congregate near Sanborn’s News or McCarrier’s.  He was strict with us, but never rough.

Later that same year, on a jungle path in VietNam, Private First Class Stanley Egan was walking point guard for his squad.  He was mortally wounded, in an exchange with the Viet Cong, and died several days later, in hospital.  Stan was a year my senior, and was ever both the life of any party and putting the welfare of others ahead of his own.

In August, 1984, a humble Indian Health Service dentist named Gordon Tong was attempting to get his truck out of the mud, on a back road in the central Navajo Nation.  In the back of his vehicle were three of his four children and two elderly Navajo women.  I had been riding with Gordon, and had been helping him get the vehicle unstuck, when his oldest son decided to run off and “go get help”.  I left in pursuit of the child, and a short time later was met by a vehicle, driven by another friend, who had the boy with him, and informed me that Gordon had passed away, at the scene of the mishap.  He had suffered a heart attack.  This was the final sacrifice of a man who, with his wife, had given countless hours of his time and energy, in service to the Navajo and Hopi people, in the name of his Faith.

There are many others I know, who have given their all, while short of giving their lives.  “Living sacrifice” is as meritorious as death, in a good many of their cases, as the lives they impact in a positive manner are ever stronger and happier.

So, in the name of a love that is far more basic than any romance, have a blessed Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Sixty-six for Sixty Six, Part X:The Hotshots Trail

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February 25, 2017, Yarnell-

A lone cactus wren croaked, as I came up the first stretch of hillside, on the way to the spot where, on June 30, 2013, nineteen formidable men met their doom, while working to safeguard this small community at the southeast edge of the Mohave Desert.

I encountered a moderate trail, whose increase in elevation is tempered by long switchbacks, frequent stops to read and ponder each of 19 memorial plaques, set in stones along the way.  Wooden benches and informational signs also provide respite, for anyone who finds the place more strenuous than anticipated.

Yarnell Hill abounds in granite boulders, much as does the back country between here and the east side of Prescott, nearly 50 miles away.  One of these boulders resembles a praying monk.  It is one of the first sights greeting the hiker, on the way up from the trailhead, 1 1/2 miles southwest of Yarnell’s center.  He stands, as lonely as the wildland firefighters must have felt, on that blazing final day of June.

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Each man left people in grief- parents, a loyal woman, young children, siblings and entire communities, from Prescott itself to places as far afield as Oregon, Idaho and North Carolina.  Each man is immortalized by his own plaque.  Crew Chief Eric Marsh founded the Granite Mountain Hotshots, and was responsible for the recruitment and training of the men he led, for ten years, in the aftermath of the Indian Fire, which came close to obliterating downtown Prescott, in 2002.

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I know some of the family members, of four of the Hotshots.  Each of the families has a solid work ethic, reflected in what their sons, brothers, husbands and fathers gave, however long their terms of service were.

The terrain that presented itself, that blustery, torrid weekend, was no gracious host to anyone hauling 50 pounds of gear uphill.  It was, as I say, of moderate difficulty for me, with my 15 pounds of day pack, and for those between the ages of 15 and 75, who I encountered along the way.  A couple of ladies said they found the trail scary.  I could easily figure out which places to which they were referring, though long ago, I stopped fearing secured heights.

Following, are some scenes of just what the wildland fire crew faced, in terms of terrain.  Three red-tailed hawks circled, above this rock.

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Notice the charred mesquite, above, and the manzanita, below.

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Unlike today’s hikers, the Hotshots had to pick their way up granite-strewn hillsides.

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The town they were working to save survived, and will be a more vigilant place, with regard to fire safety.  Like the boulder below, Yarnell shows a large, if broken heart.

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I continued from the main trail’s overlook, at the two-mile marker, to the memorial at the fatality site, another 3/4 mile to the east. At the site, 19 cabions encircle 19 crosses, one for each man who gave his life that day.  Some mementos have been left here, as well as at the flagpole that stands 500 yards to the east.

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I sat here, in the wind, contemplating the meaning of sacrifice, while a lone woman circled around the memorial, lost in her own thoughts.  It is said that the mystery of sacrifice is that there is no sacrifice.  That can be understood, but, I would venture, not easily by a small child who wonders why Daddy went away.

Long may the heroes comfort the grieved, from their own private Valhalla.

 

 

Light of the World

11

March 25, 2016, Prescott-

The Light spoke:  “I came unto you, and offered Myself unto a crucifix,

upon the Plains of Ganges,

and you slumbered.

Later, I showed you Light and Darkness,

and you made them into caricatures.

I then showed you the Eight-Fold Path,

and you found it too complex.

When I came to you, as a Carpenter, a Fisher of Men,

you asked for Barabbas, and worshiped Mithras.

So, I again let Myself be crucified, that you might be saved.

You responded by quarreling, as to which of you heard Me correctly.

I came to you, in a time of darkness, and showed you the ways to

nationhood, and the gathering of knowledge.

You were  most interested in the battle techniques of My generals.

Still, each time I came, there were those who heard the truth.

Their genetic memory was strong enough, that I came yet again,

and through a life of great heartache and sacrifice, I have brought

you the way to unity, a path towards reaching the Day that shall not

be followed by Night.

As you commemorate My prior sacrifice, will you listen to Me now?”

(This is offered as testament to the Truth, which sacrificed Its

Messenger, on this day, some 1,983  years ago.  It has never left us

alone.)

 

An Eastward Homage, Day 3: The Sum Total

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I had no trouble getting up the morning of May 29, having briefly risen at 3 AM, said a prayer in honour of Baha’ullah’s passing, 122 years ago today.  I thought later that morning of my youngest brother, Brian, who would have turned 50 today, had he not suffered for 22 years and died after 29 of them.

Today on the ground, however, was about the family Norm Fellman left behind, especially his wife, my mother-in-law.  The family is at their south Jersey home, in a place called Vineland.  I had a heart-wrenching visit with my MIL, and will not go into detail as to all she, or her daughter, shared.  .

What were nice were two things:  A walk around their immediate neighbourhood, and the London Broil dinner we had, fresh off the grill.  Wynne and David have worked hard at making the home nice for her devoted mother.  Here are some scenes of home and neighbourhood.  The sum total of this whole trip is the devotion of family.  I have my part to share in this.  It is to visit those sites which Norm and his comrades-in-arms sanctified with their sacrifices, whether by dying or by suffering both internal and external wounds.

For most of us, wounds are hard to conceal.  The pain of loss is felt by all, including the family’s last surviving dog. The window box, though, is a spirit lifter, which Wynne has prepared in her father’s memory.

 

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We did get a change of scene, by walking about the immediate neighbourhood, which is filled with both architectural and botanical gems.  The first we saw was a red maple, spread fully with stunning foliage, long before Fall.Image

 

Here’s a little rabbit, just before Willow charged at it.

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The great forests have nothing on Vineland.

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One of Vineland’s most stately Georgian era homes is now an attorney’s office.  Note the special feature in the chimney.

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Back at the house, it struck me how it is similar, in some respects, to the old house at Longmeadow Farm.  Mom remembers the farm as their strongest dream, and greatest success, as a couple. Joseph Campbell advises us to “Follow your bliss.”  This, the Fellmans did, and in spades.  Now, all of us are protected by a cadre of angels.

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