Gratitude Week, Day 4- Those Who Serve

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November 21, 2018, Congress, AZ-

I’m enjoying dinner here, at Nichols West, a small but elegant restaurant, on the north side  of this tiny ranching and mining town, itself at the western edge of Yavapai County.  The place is the love-work of an English-South African-New Zealander couple, and has not once left me wanting for a fine meal.

I came here, after setting myself the challenge of re-training my knees to work together, whilst paying respects for a second time, to the nineteen men who perished in the Yarnell Hill fire, on June 30, 2013.

I know members of four of the families of those who gave their lives that day.  Their collective sacrifice is typical of those families who give us their finest members, each and every day, never knowing whether their child, spouse or parent is going to return home, safe and sound.

This sacrifice has been written large, in the 9/11 attacks, in the mass killings of military and first responders of less celebrated, but equally compelling, disasters, and in the wildland fires, and other natural disasters, that continue to ravage locations across the country and across the planet.

So, I walked to the circle of gabions, in a quiet valley below the boulder-racked ridges of Yarnell Hill, the southern tip of the Santa Maria Range.  There were several others, enjoying the bright blue sky and rugged trail, whilst paying their own homage to the brave.  It is always worth the trek.20181121_121343[1]

I took my time, and was nearly the last one out of the park, with fifteen minutes to spare. The day  began with me befriending a frightened woman, who is caretaker to the love of her life (Yes, we also serve, who sit and wait), and listening/counseling her to keep on loving and cherishing the man who has been everything to her for decades. It is now ending, with my knees no worse for the wear and a restorative meal, having honoured those fallen men, whose memory is indelible.

Answers to “Getting to Know Me” Query

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April 20, 2018, Prescott-

The day begins with the news that there will be a teacher walkout, across Arizona, next Thursday.  What that means for us, at Prescott High School, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, here are some answers to questions posed by gaillovesgod.

  • What are my strengths?
    • Faith in God
    • Steadfastness
    • Love for humanity
    • Being proactive
    • Adaptability
  • What are my short term goals?
    • Serving my school and community, for at least the rest of the academic year
    • Visiting friends and family, across the continent, between Memorial Day and July 4
  • What are my long term goals?
    • Remain faithful to the Lord God
    • Finish my work in Prescott
    • Itinerant service, through Workaway, or a like organization
  • Who matters the most to me?
    • God
  • What am I ashamed of?
    • Not treating others as I wish to be treated
  • What do I like to do for fun?
    • Hikes
    • Writing
    • Game Night with friends
    • Drum Circle
  • What new activities am I willing to try?
    • Anything that elevates the human race
  • What am I worried about?
    • Being careless
  • What are my values?                                                                                                                       Honouring human dignity                                                                                                         Developing my strengths                                                                                                             Good stewardship
  • If I had one wish, it would be…?
    • To do what God expects of me, without fail
  • Where do I feel the safest?
    • Anywhere in His Light
  • What or who gives me comfort?
    • God’s Love
  • If I was afraid, I would…?
    • Pray, and get myself into a safe place
  • What is my proudest accomplishment?
    • Having helped raise my son
  • Am I a night owl or early bird?
    • Early Bird
  • What does my inner critic tell me?
    • Bring self to account each day
  • What do I do to show my self, self-care?
    • Bathe and groom
    • Start day with devotions
    • Take natural supplements, each evening
  • Am I an introvert or extrovert?
    • Ambivert
  • What am I passionate about?
    • Life
  • What do my dreams tell me?
    • My spirit guides are with me
    • My life will unfold in a good way
  • What is my favourite movie?                                                                                                         The Fisher King
  • What is my favourite band?
    • Arcade Fire
  • What is my favourite food?
    • Fiery chili
  • What is my favourite colour?
    • Navy blue
  • What am I grateful for?
    • God’s Revelation is continuous
    • I have many good friends
    • Large extended family
    • My good health
  • When I am down, I like to:                                                                                                                 Breathe deeply
  • I know I am stressed when
  •          I start making odd mistakes
  •           I get tongue-tied

If

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November 14, 2017, Prescott-

If I am chosen to serve as a co-ordinator for international students,

I would work to make their time here a cornerstone of the rest of their lives.

If my son safely completes his time in service,

I know he will make a huge mark in the world,

in the time afterward.

If it be God’s Will, I shall not be moved aside

from generous acts of service,

both here and far afield.

If there be a clear sense of reality,

the good people of the world

will find a way,

to end imbalance,

for Puerto Rico,

Kurdistan,

Rakhine Province,

Sri Lanka,

Syria,

South Sudan,

Rockport- Port Aransas,

central Appalachia,

the Navajo Nation,

Uyuni,

Haiti,

Chicago.

If  justice prevails,

those being marginalized

will see solutions,

that honour their

creativity,

their intelligence,

their dignity.

May Beetles, June Bugs

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May 31, 2017, Prescott- 

This has been a grueling, yet vital, month.  In retrospect, though, the transition that has arisen as one of the options I must consider, over the summer, has been bubbling up from the magma flow, for quite some time.

I am likely to hang on to this apartment, for at least the rest of 2017, although rents in this area tend to command 60-70% of the fixed portion of one’s income, thus making it essential to be able to earn one’s keep, above and beyond government checks.  This is as true of “senior” apartments, as it is of the general housing stock.  The other factor is that the chief of our department will need some time to sort out who should work in what capacity.  Although this is hardly an employer’s job market, when it comes to the well-being of children, standards need to be maintained.  This, I understand and support, while being one who poses no threat to any child.

All the while, as I mentioned to an online friend, in a comment, this morning, I am continuously building a network of solid contacts, across the continent, and abroad, so that, even if I am relegated to staying in legitimate campgrounds, in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to hold my head up, engage in acts of service, and earn my way.  I had hoped that this would wait until I reached age seventy, but the Universe moves as it will, and we have to maintain some flexibility.

So, May ends, with me being halfway done with the task of clearing our overgrown back yard, and having been able to serve my Lord, in a few small ways.  June beckons, starting with taking care of an important errand in Phoenix, combined with a small act of service.  I will then complete the yard work; downsize my possessions; go to  Hopi land, for a weekend visit; go to southern California the weekend after, on another errand of service; and toward month’s end, take part in a Baha’i Summer School, at Bellemont, west of Flagstaff.

May slogged along, though not for naught.  June will blaze on out, and I hope to have some sense of accomplishment, when heading to Ventura, Santa Barbara, Carson City and cross country, after Bellemont.

 

This Memorial Weekend

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Memorial Day this year has a special poignancy for me, with the departure of my father-in-law on May 7.  We have traded Father’s Day, my in-laws’ wedding anniversary and his birthday for this special day of remembrance.  I am grateful for every year he was within earshot, a phone call away or a shoulder to lean on- though never to cry on.  Now, he gets to see us from a different realm, a more distinct vantage point.

Memorial Day has somewhat gone the way of other “Holidays” in America.  We are bombarded with offers we “can’t refuse”, many are expected to work through the weekend and others just seek a chance to unwind, in their usual manner.  There is nothing wrong with relaxation.  We all need it.

It has been gratifying, though, that in communities both large and small, people seem to be returning to things that matter most during this weekend of reflection.  Yesterday, I went to the Phoenix area a day earlier than I had planned.  The young grandson of a long-time friend had died, in a tragic accident, the weekend before, and yesterday was his memorial service.  Such a vibrant, vital child was now with the Holy People and several hundred people came from all over Metro Phoenix, and beyond, to show their love.

The Christian pastor said it well- We know not why such an early death happens to a young child, but as a gardener chooses a variety of flowers for his bouquet, so does the Heavenly Father choose those of different ages as His angels.  We prayed, hugged one another, cried and laughed at remembrance of this beautiful child’s antics.  In the end, after a satisfying meal, nearly a hundred balloons were released into the air, in his honour.    The loss of a child is always jarring, horrifying, yet the send-off for a soul can be magnificent, and this was so.

I drove off, after the service, and paid private respects at Penny’s gravesite, and at nearby tombs of two other Baha’is:  Kenneth Jeffers, and the little boy’s great-grandfather, Bill Karnes.  Three undaunted teachers of our Faith, laid to rest in a triangle within several hundred yards of one another, and now they are circling around us all, in the spiritual realm.  The Messengers of God promise us this and it seems so, every day as I arise and every night as I get ready for sleep.

Today, I focused more on service close to home, pulling a dead tree branch back from its overhang over our north wall, where it jutted into our neighbour’s parking lot.  So, one less eyesore and safety hazard is in the way of honest people trying to earn a living. I made some progress on clearing brush and weeds along the wall and in front of the wooden sheds.  More needs to be done tomorrow afternoon, once Memorial Day itself has been observed at our Citizens’ Cemetery and in front of the VA Hospital, and I have visited some hospitalized patients there.

Time is now getting short, before I head off to what amounts to a memorial month- World War anniversaries in France and Belgium, a visit to my paternal ancestral city of Rouen, France and walkabouts in cities large and small in Germany and Luxembourg, as well as the aforementioned countries.  Part of my mind and heart will be watching what goes on here in Arizona, as the fire season continues to play out, in Flagstaff, Sedona and other towns.  My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in Isla Vista, near Santa Barbara and to those dealing with extended flood emergencies in the Danube Basin.  I will have more to say about the UC shootings tomorrow.  Be safe, my friends and readers.