The Kiosk

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April 30, 2018, Prescott-

(This piece is based on real events in my life, recently).

As Gregory was walking through the Saturday Market, he noticed an unusual kiosk, offering raw  cacao beans and blended products.  A winsome lady smiled and beckoned him over, then proceeded to explain the efficacy of cacao, as a health aid, whilst offering samples of both the raw bean and blends.

“I’m Greg, and these are delicious items.  Let me buy this peanut butter-cacao cup and a bag of maple infused flakes.!”  “Thank you, Greg.  I am Medina.  It’s nice to make your acquaintance.”

“And I am Gerhard”, came a deep but not unpleasant voice from Greg’s rear.  “Geri is my beloved”, Medina interjected, “We work together on this project.”

Gerhard changed the subject, inviting Greg to sit, in the back of the kiosk. “Gregory, we know who you are.  I have been watching you since the tragedy.  You have done well, keeping your health, as Leanna would have wanted.  You have branched out some, traveling widely and learning to not let naysayers tie you down.”

“Yes, it has been a time of growth for me.  I know Lee wants me to do these things.”

Gerhard held up a hand.  “You must visit this kiosk, every Saturday that you are here, for the foreseeable future.  On each visit, you will encounter an angel, who will teach you a key step in your continued growth.  You will also encounter a challenger, who will try to ensnare you with the darkness of your past environment, making it seem like a way to pleasure. Medina and I will witness, and the beings may interact with us.  You, though, will make the choice.”

Greg felt a wave of reassurance, and on each subsequent visit, he indeed met both teacher and charlatan.  He listened carefully to both, whilst making a decision to more carefully honour the angelic.

On the penultimate kiosk of the winter season, Medina cautioned Greg.  “You are in late middle age, yet you are attractive to several women-other than me.  Some are close at hand; others far away.   Towards some, you will feel a like attraction; others will not entice you in the least.  Some are close to you in age; others could be your child..  You must, of course, treat each and all with profound respect.”  “My mother always told me these things, when I came of age”, Greg replied, ” I have held them in my heart, all these years.”  “Yes, and you were most loving to Leanna”, Medina intoned. “Soon, though, you will encounter five women.  One, a decade your junior,  will be your prime mentor, and will alternately encourage and chastise you.  Another, very young, will love you from a safe distance, always wanting your attention but feeling guilty about it, with all the drama this conflict entails.  A third, also a decade your junior, will want you to return to the Faith of your past, as a condition of friendship.  The fourth will correspond with you for a time, and will prove a challenger, enticing you, then disappearing.  The fifth, close to you in age, will dally with you from a distance, and will ignore your lack of interest in romantic interlude with her, pleading, for what will seem like an eternity, that you join her in the desert.  You will choose among them, but I must caution, as your mother surely would, to hurt none of them.”

Greg was taken greatly aback by this admonition.  He vowed to not let either his attraction or disinterest lead him astray.  A few years earlier, after all, his mourning for Leanna had clouded his vision, and caused two fine women considerable harm.

Across town, Nikki thought of the older man who frequently came into her store and had been uniformly interested in her as  a person, if shy.  She wished he would come by this day.

Tales from the 2016 Road: Christmas in July

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July 3, 2016, Avilla, MO- There was a span of 38 years, since I last saw Lisa, one of my younger cousins.  In our family, last has never been least.  Each member of the brood has an essential place.  Lisa followed in the footsteps of her mother, who served as a WAVE during World War II, by becoming a member of the Women’s Army Corps, for several years.  When that was finished, she became a teacher, like her father.   She’s still a teacher- and a farm wife, in this little slice of heaven, in southwest Missouri, between Joplin and Springfield.

I was invited to join their family’s Christmas in July celebration, with attendant fireworks.  People in the Midwest set off their own fireworks, as befits a farm culture.  There was a marvelous spread, to get things started, and as we recalled from our childhood days, such gatherings involve sitting around ad spinning yarns, as well as discussing the topics of the day, in a civil fashion.

It was a lovely day and evening, so here are a few scenes from down on the farm, in Avilla.

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The farm property at Avilla

Lisa and family were busy, setting up the festivities.

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Here are some scenes of the gang sitting around, and of the fireworks.

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Grandkids getting ready for the display.

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Solving the world’s ills

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Fire away!

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Sky lit up!

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Light show!

We then exchanged gifts, in White Elephant fashion.So went a fine re-connection with a bright and loving member of my extended family, which is now extended even further, with her husband, kids and grandkids.

The Road to 65, Mile 54: Who Serves Whom?

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January 21, 2015, Prescott-  I am a member of the Baha’i Faith, as many of you know.  The Baha’i concept of service is one of humility and reverence for the human spirit.  It was modeled by the eldest son of our Faith’s Founder, Baha’u’llah.  This eldest son is known to posterity by His title, ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  The title is Arabic, and translates as “Servant of the Light”, in English.  Although ‘Abdu’l-Baha was, and is, revered by all Baha’is, in His lifetime, He walked a humble path of service to others.  For example, He organized and saw the establishment of a series of storehouses in the Galilee, during and immediately after World War I.  He visited North America and Europe, during the period, 1911-13, and would often prepare meals for His visitors, in the course of His travels.

I will have more to say about ‘Abdu’l-Baha, in later posts.  The above anecdotes, though, form the backdrop for my own view of what public service is.  The person working with the public is in a position of trust.  The teacher is responsible for the education, welfare and safety of all students with whom she comes in contact, during the day.  The bus driver, both school and public transit, is responsible for the safe transport of paying and subsidized riders, for the duration of their travel in his vehicle, as well as safe ingress and egress.  The health care worker, be he or she a physician, nurse, pharmacist or medical technician, is responsible for the well-being of any patient in a care situation, within his or her purview.

Most such public servants know these responsibilities, and take them to heart.  So, too, there are a large number of people serving in the social welfare field who do their jobs with the best interests of their clients in mind.  There are, unfortunately, a disconcerting number who view the people coming to their offices as wards, as people to be pushed around, browbeaten and treated in an undignified manner- because they are down on their luck.

It’s time to take the “Kick Me” signs off.  I received word today, from a credible source, that one of the local offices purporting to help veterans is engaging in browbeating and intimidating the homeless, and refusing service to those who stand up for themselves in a respectful manner.  It is past time for the veterans of our Armed Forces to be treated as full human beings, and not just in the VA Hospitals, where  slow, but considerable, progress is being made in that regard.  Anyone who hangs out their shingle as a Veterans’ Resource Center has no business refusing service to someone for not going along with psychological gamesmanship, or not wanting to indulge a caseworker’s quirky behaviour, or for just being homeless.

I mention all this because I am tired. I am sick to death of the patronizing, bullying, gamesmanship and dereliction of duty that I have witnessed from various government officials, both elected and appointed, at the Federal, state and municipal levels, over the past eight years.  From the hired thugs who threatened to beat a man for stopping to eat an apple, on a sidewalk in Washington, in 2007, to a mayor and  several councilmen of a small city, who personalized a conflict with a constituent, over the past year or so, there is an increasing air of arrogance, and “Feed my ego” seems the name of the game.

I serve in a few capacities.  I am not the greatest Chaplain the American Legion has ever seen, and at least one member of the Auxiliary can’t wait to see me go, but I approach my fellow members in a spirit of service.   I take  any posting as a Substitute Teacher seriously, and am well-regarded by students and colleagues, precisely because their well-being and quality experiences trump any desire I might have to be revered or obeyed. I take any work I do with the Red Cross seriously, or any recommendations I make to people, regarding use of Essential Oils, because there are lives and healthful situations at stake.  Because of the way I was raised, ego gratification is not an option.

It ought not be an option for anyone in public service.