Friday, June 29, 2012

On Getting a Jump on Growth: Decision making is easy when it starts with study of the texts

From Teaching the Cause, Ruhi Book 6
The Baha'is of Pierce Couny, Washington, got a jump on their upcoming intensive campaign to expand the participation in the core activites of devotional meetings, study circles, children's classes and junior youth groups with a meeting of the cluster agencies last Monday night. The cluster has become very efficient in its use of time. These meetings don't go on forever. They often begin with a study of the texts. Decision-making comes easily when that context is set. -gw

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

On Turning Towards God: Trees do

C              Dm                   C      G
turn towards God and seek always to do that which is right and noble

Turn towards God. Everything else in the universe does. -gw

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On He Plays Football Into His Forties: Understanding the meaning of old age

OK, let's clarify up front. It's American football this guy plays. Not the round ball kind. American football is tough on the body. Injuries mean that the career of professional players is short -- what? on average less than four years. Granted, this guy is playing semi-pro, not the NFL, nevertheless, the guy looks in shape. Here he is exercising AFTER the football game, after everybody else has departed from the stadium. He also reportedly does yoga to stay in shape. My source on this? Coach Sharp, who himself played into his forties at semi-pro level, playing on the Tacoma Invaders against this guy's team, the Seattle Stallions, in the 2010 post-season.
Man must walk in many paths and be subjected to various processes in his evolution upward. Physically he is not born in full stature but passes through consecutive stages of fetus, infant, childhood, youth, maturity and old age. Suppose he had the power to remain young throughout his life. He then would not understand the meaning of old age and could not believe it existed. If he could not realize the condition of old age, he would not know that he was young. He would not know the difference between young and old without experiencing the old. Unless you have passed through the state of infancy, how would you know this was an infant beside you?

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Youth at the Roots of Our Endeavors: Tacoma gears up for it's Baha'i intensive

One thing you can say about the Tacoma Baha'i community, it's humble -- as in, not pretentious. We gathered at Coleen and Jeanne's, Baha'is old and new, youthful and mature, for the Feast of Rahmat, a family favorite, as we have a son named Rahmat. But he wasn't there, boo hoo.
Rahmat did make
 it to the Swan Creek Apartments junior youth group last night with friend James, who has come out for the second week in a row, to join the Baha'is in their endeavors. He and Rahmat are going to Fox Island tomorrow for consultation, gearing up, I'm sure, for the intensive campaign that is just around the corner. I'm thinking a lot about the youth who are our generals. I mean, they really are in charge.

Hope James can get to Gustaff Besungu 's home concert at Tim & Deb's on Thursday. James is from Brooklyn, but his mom is from the Cameroons, where Gustaff is from. Great chance to hear some African-style Baha'i-inspired roots music.  -gw

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On the Water Dogs of Ancient Iran: Evidence here, too, of these sacred animals

The beaver was one of the most sacred animals of ancient Iran. According to the Avesta, beavers are formed from the ghosts of dogs. So beavers were known as "water-dogs." A single beaver was thought to have as much holiness as thousand dogs. Ancient Iranians believed that killing a beaver would produce drought. Corn and grass would cease to grow until the killer received punishment.

In ancient Iran those who harmed beavers had to pay a heavy fine of 60,000 dirhems and kill ten-thousand snakes and tortoises to compensate for their sin.

On the other hand, the Avesta says that goddess Anahita ( on the right) wears a garment made of thirty beavers of fine color and fine quality. This shows that the wealthy people used beaver fur for their clothes.

Like ancient Iranians, Native Americans love beavers. They use beavers' flesh and fur. The Native Americans have named many places after beavers. For instance, Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, means "land of the beaver" in Iroquois.

We canoed the Black River, a old favorite southwest of Olympia, Washington, a river that twists and turns and becomes so narrow in places that you have to push through the foliage to get through. And then there are those beaver dams. Gotta get out and pull the canoe over them. These old and grizzly American canoers, although hardly native, love to encounter evidence of the beavers in our midst. -gw

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Friday, June 22, 2012

On Healing and Self-Care: Today and 1800 years ago





We are a team of outpatient behavioral health clinicians who use evidence-based practices like Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Parent Child Interaction Therapy and who gathered to study a paper on self-care and to learn about healing practices that date back 1800 years or more -- acupressure and acupuncture. Our particular kind of get-together is commonly called a retreat, but we called it an advance. All of the ingredients for rejuvenation were there: meaningful content, warm sunlight and blue skies, a home and garden filled with corners of beauty, and tender collegiality. -gw

Knowledge of human conditions and the needed remedy for them is not the cause of their betterment. To admit that health is good does not constitute health. A skilled physician is needed to remedy existing human conditions. As a physician is required to have complete knowledge of pathology, diagnosis, therapeutics and treatment, so this World Physician must be wise, skillful and capable before health will result. His mere knowledge is not health; it must be applied and the remedy carried out.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On Establishing Friendships to Serve Humanity: The Baha'i core activities take us beyond self

No collective action goes unanalysed in our new era of growth and expansion guided by the institute process. The Eastside Tacoma Baha'i core activities initiative is ALIVE and WELL. -gw

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Monday, June 18, 2012

On Resurrecting the Feast of the Ancients in an Old Home Made New: Facing the sky and sound

The occupants of a newly remodeled old Tacoma home on the hillside facing the western sky and the sound hosted their first Baha'i Feast in it. The friends filled the home with great anticipation, as news of the remodeling process had been filtering through the community for months. Architecture, landscaping, artful decor, and the spirit of the Faith combined to create a very special environment for the prayer, consultation, and fellowship, as the friends discovered that magical evening. -gw
The feast (supper) [every nineteen days] is very acceptable and will finally produce good results. The beloved and the maid-servants of the Merciful must inaugurate the feast in such wise as to resurrect the feast of the ancients—namely, the “lord’s supper.”

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On Of Brides and Bridegrooms: As the beating of the drum announced the hour of departure

A guest post by someone I know quit well --  my wife. It appeared originally here on her blog, the venerable Flitzy Phoebie. -gw 

Well, I'm shocked at how full my weekend was - lots of conversations with really nice people, most of whom have learned to bring their hobby to an art form! People who make sauerkraut, raise goats and make cheese, grow amaranth, and sell fresh garlic at the Farmer's Market.

I had spiritual conversations with visitors at the community garden - the sudden loss of a wife, a diabetic crisis, a divorce that shredded a woman's life; and moments with friends and family who came to the house for a meal or a study class. My son Rahmat and his friend appreciated my Egyptian food and George's friends noticed the beauty of my garden, which is at its peak right now.

On Sunday, George and I drove up to Rattlesnake Lake to canoe and hike, but the wind and rain caused us to detour into the Cedar River Watershed educational center instead, where a volunteer was eager to answer all our questions. We dinked around (George's term) for part of the afternoon, just relaxing in the woods, listening to the birds, the drops of rain. The educational center is in the forest, surrounded by a little stream. Drums are placed throughout the garden and a simulated pattern of rain drops causes them to vibrate in unison, creating a pattern of music! Simply beautiful! So relaxing!

We went to a Thai restaurant afterwards, for a hot curry. The owner, who 'works iron' at another job during the week, was greeting customers and helping his wife, who is the cook. Her cooking was phenomenal, all fresh, and properly done - traditional, from scratch. He sat down for awhile with us and we discussed Thai cooking - much to my satisfaction, since I'd just gone to the library to learn more about this cuisine. He, rightly so, was so proud of his wife's cooking!

While at the library getting my cookbooks I also enjoyed a performance of Kodo drums. They were the most powerful drums I've ever heard! Initially, I thought I better leave, before the vibrations trigger my heart palpitations, arrhythmia. But my curiosity got the best of me, I didn't care if it killed me! I wanted to enjoy this type of artistry!

"Kodo is forging new directions for a vibrant living art-form. In Japanese the word "Kodo" conveys two meanings: Firstly, "heartbeat" the primal source of all rhythm. The sound of the great taiko is said to resemble a mother's heartbeat as felt in the womb, and it is no myth that babies are often lulled asleep by its thunderous vibrations. Secondly, read in a different way, the word can mean "children of the drum," a reflection of Kodo's desire to play the drums simply, with the heart of a child."

Initially I stood by the doorway, wondering if my heart could absorb the intensity. All seemed well, so I stood and watched, just loving the deep sounds, the warrior stances, the tai-chi type postures. It was simply stunning! Everyone in the audience was smiling, the joy of the drummers/dancers spread throughout the room, and everyone clapped to the rhythm.

At the end people from the audience were brought up to participate in a song, and shown how to stand, twist and bend, and pound the drum - hard and loud, so the entire body is engaged and flowing. I was invited to try it, and I did, and it was addictive, like running - once you start you want to pound that sound into the core of the earth and out into every direction! It creates a connection and pulse, very powerful and joyous.

When we finished two songs one of the drummers told me I really used my core muscles, which is so necessary for delivering the power behind the sound. I told her Kodo drumming demands the same kind of discipline as running - one becomes attuned to every muscle working in harmony to get results.

Most poignant memory of the weekend: Visiting with Betty, who has succumbed to anger and sadness. As we visited, I mentioned to her that one must have a tool box for that, cognitive strategies to overcome the force of it, or it will keep her down. As she left my garden I encouraged her to 'be the joy you want to feel', you cannot wait for it to happen.

With what tenderness would the bride entreat the bridegroom to tarry awhile longer beside her ere he rushed forth to win the crown of martyrdom! “I can spare no time,” he would reply. “I must hasten to obtain the crown of glory. We shall surely meet again on the shores of the great Beyond, the home of a blissful and eternal reunion.”  
No less than two hundred youths were joined in wedlock during those tumultuous days. Some a month, others a few days, and still others for but a brief moment, were able to tarry undisturbed in the company of their brides; no one among them failed, as the beating of the drum announced the hour of his departure, to respond joyously to the call. Each and every one ungrudgingly offered himself as a sacrifice for his true Beloved; all drank, eventually, the cup of martyrdom.  

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On My Dwelling Place: In the heart of the mountains

Perhaps the most enjoyable hike we have taken in Eastern Washington, and only 110 minutes from our home in Tacoma. Hard to believe there is such dry-side of the mountains loveliness so close. -gw
Thou beholdest that My dwelling place is but the heart of the mountains.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

On Pelicans On High: Shining in the plentitude of glory

There is no Starbucks at Coffeepot Lake 510

One of the most beautiful sights in the world is to see a flock of pelicans soaring on wind currents high in the air, Pelicans may look goofy on the water. But not on high. -gw
It strikes me that there is something equivalent going on for us humans. We may be a goofus at one thing, but a gallant at something else. And certainly we all have the opportunity to soar --  and soar together, like the pelicans.. -gw
Who can measure the heights to which human intelligence, liberated from its shackles, will soar? Who can visualize the realms which the human spirit, vitalized by the outpouring light of Bahá’u’lláh, shining in the plenitude of its glory, will discover? 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

On Having an Appropriate Protest Board: What a concept!

O God! Educate these children. These children are the plants of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy meadow, the roses of Thy garden. Let Thy rain fall upon them; let the Sun of Reality shine upon them with Thy love. Let Thy breeze refresh them in order that they may be trained, ...

I have worked with kids and families in community mental health for going on 20 years know. My recent interest has been around challenging behavior in special education classrooms. Taking a cue from this video, it seems to me that all of us could benefit from having an Appropriate Protest Board to point to when people don't understand what we are feeling. Behavior is a form of communication, you see. And we are all trying to be understood. -gw

What's it like to be in preschool?

There is something missing in the telling of this joke, but I don't think you'll mind. 

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On Meditation: Sanctified souls should ponder and meditate in their hearts regarding the methods of teaching

Rahmat speaks to the importance of meditation ... sort of. -gw

The sanctified souls should ponder and meditate in their hearts regarding the methods of teaching. From the texts of the wondrous, heavenly Scriptures they should memorize phrases and passages bearing on various instances, so that in the course of their speech they may recite divine verses whenever the occasion demandeth it, inasmuch as these holy verses are the most potent elixir, the greatest and mightiest talisman. So potent is their influence that the hearer will have no cause for vacillation. I swear by My life! This Revelation is endowed with such a power that it will act as the lodestone for all nations and kindreds of the earth.

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Friday, June 08, 2012

On Kids Who Hurt Other Kids: To look to the good

More from Colleen Nolan, M.A., NW Regional ESD, Oregon,who presented on "Understanding and Addressing Challenging Behaviors," at the Infant and Early Childhood Conference in Tacoma in early May 2012. --  a story about a preschool kid who hurts other kids, Below is the rest of the story. -gw
To look always at the good and not at the bad. If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, to look at the ten and forget the one; and if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

On Promoting the Health of Girls and Women of Child-Bearing Age: Peer orientation stunts healthy development

“If our society were truly to appreciate the significance of children’s emotional ties throughout the first years of life, it would no longer tolerate children growing up, or parents having to struggle, in situations that cannot possibly nourish healthy growth.”
(Stanley Greenspan, M.D., Child Psychiatrist and Former Director, Clinical Infant Development Program, [U.S.] National Institute of Mental Health).
An ADD forum participant cites an outline by Gabor Maté M.D.that includes the above quote by Greenspan, and reposts its salient points to consider for promoting the health of girls and women of child-bearing age. -gw
How Attachment Supports Parenting and Child-rearing
1. Arranges the parent/adult and child hierarchically
2. Evokes the parenting instincts
3. Commands the child’s attention
4. Keeps the child close to the parent/adult
5. Makes a model out of the parent/adult
6. Designates the parent/adult as the primary cue giver
7. Makes the child want to be good for the adult
Peer Orientation Stunts Healthy Development
1. The flight from feeling
2. Immaturity, lack of individuality
3. Aggression
4. The making of bullies and victims
5. Precocious, inappropriate sexuality
6. Unteachability

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On the Musical Tastes of a Baha'i Youth: He likes Protomen

In Act I, the band's first album, Dr. Wily is represented as an Orwellian ruler over a dystopic City, full of humans who are too scared to stand up to his control. Dr. Light creates a "perfect man, an unbeatable machine", Protoman, to fight to free the City, but Protoman is destroyed by the overwhelming power of Wily's armies. Defeated and despairing, Dr. Light then creates a second son, Megaman, who he attempts to dissuade from battle. Megaman runs away from home and confronts his brother in an apocalyptic concluding battle. The album has been described by the band as "the sound of the end of the world" and straddles the line between chiptune and hard rock, with heavier focus on distorted 8-bit synthesizers and electronic instrumentation.

The best way to be introduced to new music is to ask someone to tell you what songs they have on their phone. I did. He told me. Now I, too, know about the Protomen. -gw

The band performs a variety of '70s & '80s cover songs along very specific themes in live performances, usually related to the band's preferred motifs of heroism, struggle, and self-determination.  


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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

On Pausing at the Top of the Hill: We're all pretenders trying to be real

I was running late to Feast, but I couldn't help but stop at the top of the hill down to Jim and Kay's to take in the view. What was playing on the CD player --the Pretenders.
Blessed the man who hath sought enlightenment from the Day-Star of My Word. Blessed he who hath attired his head with the diadem of My love.

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On Norman Rockwell's Cover Painting of Baha'i Feast: It might have looked like this

Norman never did a painting of Baha'i Feast that I am aware of, but if he had, if might have looked like this. (Photo taken last night, enhanced using Picasa photo editing.) -gw

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Monday, June 04, 2012

On Coming to the End of the Lake: Living within the constraints God has given us

Lote Tree: In ancient times, the Arabs planted such a tree to mark the end of a road. In the writings of Baha'u'llah, the Lote Tree generally refers to the Divine Messenger of God. The implication is that this Messenger occupies a station to which ordinary human beings can neither attain nor surpass.
When Bonita and I go canoeing, there is some satisfaction in going as far as the body of water will physically allow before returning to our put-in point. We call it conquering. We can go no farther. There is something special about limitations. We discover true freedom when we live within the constraints God has given us. -gw
Say: True liberty consisteth in man’s submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. Were men to observe that which We have sent down unto them from the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain unto perfect liberty. Happy is the man that hath apprehended the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed from the Heaven of His Will, that pervadeth all created things. Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven.

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Saturday, June 02, 2012

On What Happens When Baha'is Are Imprisoned in Iran: They immediately found ways to serve their fellow prisoners

The PBS website has commentary on the plight of Baha'is in Iran. -gw
When three Baha'is were placed in a cell with me shortly after their release from some four months in solitary confinement, they immediately found ways to serve their fellow prisoners. One of my Baha'i cellmates, Afif Naeimi, a businessman and a father of two, would go out of his way to wash other prisoners' dishes. He would also clean the bathroom for our cell, even when it was not his turn. Another Baha'i cellmate, Behrouz Tavakkoli, a social worker who lost his government job in the 1980s because of his religion, offered counseling services to his cellmates.

Read more:

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Friday, June 01, 2012

On Tacoma's Humble Holy Day: In the neighborhood, Eastside

I love our humble, in-the-neighborhood home-based Holy Day commemorations. This one was complete with a skit by the children (video coming). -gw

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