Little Ado, Almost Nothing

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September 18, 2021- The call, for which I waited all day, never came. There was a flurry of phone activity on Thursday, with Red Cross dispatchers asking me, first to go to Louisiana to work as a computer operator, then deciding I might be better at supervising a shelter. Since I couldn’t go there immediately, owing to faith-based commitments, it was agreed I would go on Sunday-with documents to be handed me today.

Today has come, and is almost gone. With no word from RC, (and yes, the ball is in their court), I have concluded, from checking the weather forecast for Baton Rouge, that the need is fading. Bright sunshine lies ahead, after Monday, and good on the folks of Louisiana, who have been much put upon, again this summer.

We had a final monsoon storm here, this evening, as the major faith-based activity of the weekend was playing out. The rain was welcome, and did not interrupt our Zoom activity. Afterward, I felt the need to go across the mountain to Synergy Cafe, so off to Sedona it was. A two-hour visit with a mostly male troupe of musicians and a lengthy conversation with a spiritually-awakened lady made the evening worth the drive, as it usually is. The lady came here from Russia, as an adolescent, some twenty years ago, still retaining the more global view that many from that part of the world seem to embody.

Remembering that a meeting for tomorrow still had not been set up on my laptop, I made exit earlier than planned, but not before our little drum, guitar(electric and acoustic) and didgeridoo set of tunes had inspired the lady and her husband to dance in slow embrace. Romantic couples always make me smile.

I did learn one thing from today- don’t speak of service online, before boots are on the ground.

Blue Moon Spirit

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August 21, 2021- I sat in my portable chair, facing the almost-full moon and its attendant-the planet Jupiter, in a quiet spot atop Sedona’s Airport Mesa. The airport itself was closed, as was Synergy Cafe (apparently a Delta thing)-and thus, the Mesa’s Vista Point, with its vortex energy, was a good place to draw in that bounty and to reflect on all that has been given me.

So, I wish to offer shout outs to all those who emanate those blessings: My son and daughter, Aram and Yunhee; my siblings, Dave, Glenn and Cheryl and their spouses Deb, Barbie and Steven; my heart siblings John Glaze, Judy Russell, Linda and Randy Smith, JoEllen Coney, Wes Hardin, Valerie and Mark Schroeder, Corina Luna Dea, Janet Waters, Lal Fernando, John and Tammy Lambert (brother and sister), Laureen McBradeigh and her husband Chuck, Akuura Kulak, Dawn Wasowicz, Carl and Marcia Brehmer, Molly Beverly, Michele Smith and Melissa Monahan; countless friends and well-wishers around the country and the world; my nieces and nephews, Matt, Nick, Marcy, Melanie, Kim, Curtis, Chris, Jeff, Rebecca, their spouses and their children; my sisters-in-law Wynne and Mindy. Then, there are my star family: Souls like Sierra, Kathleen, Christina, Pam, Joy, Elizabeth, Wendy, Ebbie, Haylee, Annie and Holly, whose presence radiates power and affirmation at a higher level. Each of you has made my life fuller, in just the conduct of your daily lives and I am honoured to know you.

My drive back from Sedona, this evening, was done in the glow of the vortical energy. I am supremely at peace right now.

Coralie

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August 14, 2021- The slender young woman accepted my offer to check out my deer hide drum, and began gently beating it, while her exquisitely melodic voice sent forth a Plains Indian chant. The offering electrified the room and set several others to join in, singing in Spanish and Portuguese as well as using their own drums, several rattles, and a flute.

The day had begun with my being greeted by another young woman, across the country, whom I regard vey much like my own daughter. C told me that she had had a hard day at work, yesterday. I assured her this was quite common these days, that she could only do her best and that this should be enough for anyone. I know that she is up to whatever challenge she has to face. I love her for that, and for all that she does in this life.

The more people, especially the young, whom I meet, day by day, the more loving I feel towards them. God knows I have felt so, towards my own son, from the day he was born, and my nephews and nieces, students and those I encounter along the way. With this feeling, my main role is that of advocate and encourager.

Days like this seem to come more frequently now, and the darker it gets in the wider world, the more ferocious become my own determination to love and stand by those who will inherit this world of turmoil and hope; the stronger comes the resolve to give encouragement to all, even those who don’t quite understand me. It’s more readily accepted by women and children, though the number of men who recognize the need for sensitivity and a supportive approach to life is growing.

Coralee, an angel from France, by way of Florida, won just about everyone’s heart this evening, in Synergy Cafe, and made a particular friend of a fine young man, with whom she will attend other events during the rest of her stay here. Such turns of events warm my heart. There was a night, in December, 1980, when such happened to me, in equally unanticipated fashion.

As for Synergy itself, the owner, one of a half dozen, or so, women to whom I am particularly drawn in close friendship, stopped by a couple of times during the evening. I hadn’t seen Sierra in about eight months, so it was especially joyful to visit, just a bit, with this effervescent, irrepressible soul. She promised that the venue’s weekend hours will increase, which suits me just fine. Any time with such friends lifts my soul.

The key to all this is apparent: “O COMPANION OF MY THRONE! Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore.”- Baha’u’llah, “The Hidden Words”

I have no inkling as to when my own mortal frame will be put away, so for the time being, I will see all I meet as friends, not strangers-and be glad for my dearest friends, that they may only grow in number.

A Natural Pace

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February 15, 2021-

It took a while, and a few messages back and forth, before I connected with a friend who recently moved out here, from the East Coast. Once we did finally meet up, a delightful two hours of conversation and The Raven’s usual fine lunch ensued. Friend got an introduction to downtown Prescott, Courthouse Square and one of the town’s many antique shops.

It will be a process of acclimation to higher elevation for my friend, but it will be nice to have at least an occasional hiking buddy and someone to tag along for other outings, like Synergy Music Nights. The key to this is that my life is resuming a natural pace. Work will wind down, after this week, and after Spring Break, I will cut back to three days a week of availability. It is time to focus on the avocational.

There is much to be done for my Faith and so much of my stamina to be rebuilt, with more time on the trails and a greater devotion to overall exercise. I have come a long way, towards letting life unfold at a natural pace, not so much focused on making things happen according to my schedule. The organic unfoldment of this day taught me a lot, in that regard, and it felt refreshing.

Working Towards The Inside

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January 2, 2021, Sedona-

I brought my Bear Drum to Synergy, once more, this evening. This time, there were no men my age and older to complain about the noise. That’s good, because in addition to my hand drum, there were two tube didgeridoos, one coiled didgeridoo, a French horn, three shakers, two acoustic guitars and a violin. There were people playing chess, but they were not the least bit bothered by the cacophony.

I don’t go over here often enough to be widely viewed as an insider, but I am starting to think that means little. I am one of the few people over the age of forty who sits in, but that doesn’t seem to matter much, either. No one is coming here to troll for a significant other. We are just making a space to relax and engage in some meaningful conversations, every so often.

When I spoke bit about plans for later in the year, there were the expected cautions about the chance that the pandemic will still keep us locked away. There was also the caution that some countries don’t allow people my age to stay in hostels. I will need to look into that, of course, but I see that more as the travel industry trying to squeeze money out of people who are seen as well-to-do. I have not had any trouble staying in hostles or pensions, in the past ten years of being a sixty-something.

One of the young men here this evening put it best: “Don’t act like an outsider, and you won’t be treated like one.” That was one of the biggest lessons I had to learn, all the way up into my fifties. It is comforting to take a place on the inside, every so often.

Deep Dish

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December 19, 2020, Phoenix-

Last night, whilst visiting with some new friends, at Sedona’s Synergy Cafe, I got a call for which I’d been waiting. Aram was en route here, to retrieve a few personal possessions that had been stored by one of his closest friends. So, I made plans to zip down to this desert metropolis, masked and covered, to join him and another friend, for Deep-Dish Pizza, at a place called Lou Malnati’s.

We had a bit of a wait for the pizza itself, and so our conversation took off, on several topics, the common thread of which was the need for universal compulsory education. Given the current state of affairs, in which ignorance is prized, in some circles, on an equal level with empirical knowledge, the need for carefully guided enquiry is that much more evident.

‘Abdu’l-Baha advocated a system whereby a child would pose a question and another child would give the answer, thus establishing a discourse-related system of learning. It would thus become far more natural for independent investigation of truth to take root. I regret having largely adhered to a “top-down” imparting of knowledge, for much of my own teaching career. That system would do well to be consigned to the scrapheap of outmoded practices. The teacher-as -guide concept has found welcome acceptance, in many quarters of modern society.

Deep engagement of learning is fostered much more strongly, when learners take prime responsibility for its acquisition.

Blue Star

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December 18, 2020, Sedona-

The tower of strength walked in to the room, where four of us were having an earnest conversation about stars, planets and the Earth-bound, and calmly introduced herself. Her first act after that was to bond with the thirty-ish woman in our group, sharing photos of herself at a younger age, of her grandmother and great-grandmother and of her late first husband, a World War II veteran.

Blue Star is still formidable, at 91, has traveled far more broadly than I and has established herself somewhat, in the literary world. After a fashion, she blessed me and the other men in the circle, and told fascinating stories of her Lakota ancestors, as well as of all the experiences she’s had, driving several times across the nation, and abroad-in Europe and in South America. Self-care, she said, has made much possible, as has looking beyond any current upheavals or mischief at a high level.

The luminous presence has, among other things, operated a coffee house on Charles Street, in Boston, and said the late Ted Kennedy was one of her regulars. She spoke of having walked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a few of the marches he organized and of having met Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, in Newport, Rhode Island, at that city’s Folk Festival, in 1962.

I had a newly-bestowed drum with me, showed it to her and gave it a couple of taps with the drumstick, drawing her approval. A scowl from a fellow Baby Boomer across the room put a stop to the tapping, (Why is it that men who are my contemporaries are so often the wet blankets in a group?), as we place harmony over self-satisfaction. Blue Star quietly assured me that the rhythm was good and that there would be many occasions for the drum to aid in my self-expression.

She has a sense of celestial energy about her, and imparts a re-assuring message: ‘It is a restorative thing, to treasure the people and spaces where one happens to be. If the person for whose presence one makes a journey is not available, then those whom one is INTENDED to encounter should have full attention. There are no wasted journeys.’ She was alluding to her own having come to Synergy to visit with the owner, who happened to be elsewhere this evening. The message was apropos for each of us, as various people sat in the circle for a while, then got up and went to an impromptu Blues guitar session in the next room, or wandered outside for the night air.

Blue Star showed me what may well lie ahead, should my fate, as another friend recently wished for me, be one of “iron longevity”. I look forward to seeing her again, at one of the gatherings here.

A Long Way From Unlucky

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November 13, 2020, Cottonwood-

Friday the Thirteenth has always had a bad rap, in my book. I can count on one hand the number of even slight misfortunes that have struck on this particular day-regardless of what month it happens.

Today was no exception-and I hope this was true for most everyone else. First thing this morning, I received notice of a generous gift from a loved one. At work, I arrived early, got plenty of help in preparing for the day and was able to accomplish all that was listed on the Substitute Plan. The children worked hard, and though they started to flake out, towards day’s end, I was pleased with the overall work day.

I came here, to the commercial hub of eastern Yavapai County, as part of a planned late evening at Synergy Cafe and a quick start to tomorrow’s jaunt to Homolovi Ruins State Park, north of Winslow. After two Zoom calls put me on the dinner hunt a bit late, I set off for Black Bear Diner, five minutes from the motel. Alas, there was no one at the host station-and not only was I being ignored by the staff, but two parties waiting to pay for their meals were also being treated as invisible. I left them with a “Good luck” vibe, and chalked it up to ONE minor irritation. Dinner came a bit late, but Cowboy Club, in Sedona, is fabulous.

Synergy was even more crowded than usual, so the late night did not transpire. I will go back there again, when I have a drum-and thus, something to offer the group. So, I am back at Verde Valley Inn and am quite comfortable for the rest of the night.

Friday the Thirteenth is also said to have feminine energy about it, which is just fine by me!

The Eve’s Eve

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October 31, 2020-

Some nights bring almost an altered state of consciousness, even when one has not indulged in mind-altering substances. Last night was one of those nights.

Hallowe’en (All Hallows Eve) is one of those evenings which has grown so much in popularity, that it has its own Eve-especially when it falls on a Saturday or Sunday. So, yesterday featured many people in workplaces, in costume.

After a quotidian day of paying rent and bills, it was time to head over the mountain, to Synergy, where the Friday musical gathering, these days, typically offers a more balanced energy than the testosterone fests of Saturday night. It was anything but disappointing.

The Real– At first, it was a quiet affair, with a few of us musing about the need for both social companionship and for space to recover from a dissolved relationship, as one of my young friends is experiencing now.

The venerable drummer came in first, almost as a herald. We exchanged thoughts about the general atmosphere of the community. He allowed as how he missed the presence of children, in the transitory neighbourhood, in which he lives.

The flood tide of people came in, in wavelets of 3 or 4, first sitting and engaging in several conversations, whilst sipping their drinks and nibbling artisan chocolate or cookies. The music began in the back, and I stood tapping on the door sill, for want of another instrument. When the owner of a cajon drum left it and went away for a while, I borrowed it and joined in accompaniment to two guitar players and a flautist. Upon her return, and subsequent departure with the cajon, I used a table top for a while. This let me know that I need to get a drum of my own-preferably before my next visit to Synergy.

Going into the front room, I sat in a swivel chair, and fell into a meditative state, whilst still tapping in unison with the rising crescendo of a group that had gathered in the area outside the shop. So much joyful noise, being made by loving beings, and I have not felt this level of positive energy in a large group, since the Convergence at Arcosanti, in September, 2018.

I left, around 11 p.m., as an hour’s drive homeward remained. One of these times, I will spend the night in a small motel not far from Synergy, and thus be part of the gathering until it is finished. The drive home was serene and uneventful, but for a brief stop by a police officer who was doing sobriety checks.

The Dream– Sedona, Bisbee and Boulder, Colorado mashed up, as I was sitting in my car at a curb. A man and his little daughter got in the back seat, thinking I was an Uber driver. They asked me to take them down an alley. When I stopped to wait for another vehicle that was backing up, I turned around and there was another man sitting by himself in the back seat. I asked what had happened to the other man and little girl. He said, “They got out to go to the grocery store. Could you take me to my neighbourhood?”

This was getting interesting, and did not leave me disconcerted. For some reason, though, the road was closed, after a few minutes. I got out and started walking, with the man beside me. Three pit bulls appeared, with one of them leashed, I took the leash and walked the animal, while the other two were alternately licking my hands and playfully tussling with one another. The two unleashed dogs spotted a cart, which had several caged parrots. They headed towards the cart, but I called out to them, while Passenger # 2 just stood, staring blankly into space. The leashed dog followed my command to stay away from the cart, and just before one of the others got to one of the parrots, a window opened, from a room overlooking the street. A small boy called to the parrots, startling the pit bulls. A light came on, the front door opened, and a robust man came out, speaking firmly to the dogs, in Spanish, and holding a hose, from which he shot water towards them.

I received a call from Uber, saying a small amount had been paid them electronically. I explained that I was not an Uber driver, and had no idea which of the two parties who sat in my car would have made that payment. By then, the stoner had disappeared, but along came the first man and his daughter, apologizing for their abrupt disappearance, while he asked for his $40 back. When we walked back to my car, the owner of the three pit bulls came and apologetically took his animals back. I looked in my cup holder and there was $40, along with a credit card receipt, for $14.78. The dream ended, then and there.

It must have been the chocolate beverage that I had at Synergy. Please, though, if you have pit bulls, keep them away from othe rpeople’s parrots.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 70: From Suffrage to Success

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August 9, 2020-

I am at a point, right now, where the last thing I need in my life is a significant other. That may sound either self-deprecating or standoffish. In reality, it is neither.

What I feel the need to offer women is support and encouragement-in their forging of their own paths. I am, at the moment, a regular and supportive customer of five women who have either built, or are constructing, their own businesses. I regard all of them as good friends and have found that their products enhance my life in unique ways.

One is a Cosmic Adviser, offering insights into the influence of stars and planets, and their energy, on the energy flow of human beings. There is more to this than many might immediately assume. Her emphasis is on taking personal responsibility for one’s progress. Her insights have greatly helped me in understanding the ups and downs that have been generated by the flows within our solar system. https://elizabethperu.com/

Another sells cacao-based confections and baking aids. I lean towards the healthful digestive effects of chocolate, but am grateful when there is no refined sugar included. She works out of area Farmer’s Markets and at a central kitchen in Sedona. https://cuchocolate.com/

One of her colleagues, in the three-woman kitchen, known as Synergy Cafe, is a barrista and tea maker, with her emphasis on healthful energy blends, tonics and shakes. There are also vegan baked goods and artisan chocolates among her fare. http://synergysedona.love/

Here in Prescott, another health-conscious lady has a fully-operational kitchen, called Ms. Natural’s. The emphasis here is on artisan sandwiches, muesli, and a variety of tonics, lattes and shakes. There are mostly vegan and vegetarian offerings. https://www.msnaturalsprescott.com/

The most recent of the businesses I am patronizing is SuperNaturalSprouts. An entrepreneurial friend of seven years hit upon the idea of growing microgreens and wheatgrass, out of her home in Prescott. Having a recent experience with microgreens being beneficial to my digestion, and being curious about the joys of wheatgrass juice, I signed on as a customer. I’m in the early stages of this, yet the same person got me started on doTerra Essential Oils, nearly seven years ago. These have made a huge difference in my overall health and energy levels. https://supernaturalsprouts.com/

These represent the tip of the woman-led business mountain. I find that their drive, and commitment to customer service, on a heart-level, to be both a fine example to young women and girls who are looking to start out on their own and a pathway to reinforcing good physical, mental and emotional health for people of all ages.