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Abiding Blog
Lucki Melander Wilder

Still digging the blogs. Keep up the good works.  -- Jim (a reader since the first-ever announcement)

These are personal ruminations on divers and sundry topics of interest to me and, I hope, also you. Some are long, some short. Some are silly, some serious. Some are trivial, some profound. Nor is it always easy to tell which is which, even for me. And all opinions expressed are subject to change without notice.

Email me to subscribe or give feedback, or if there's a topic you'd like me to ruminate about. Not all feedback necessarily appears in this page, and may be edited for links, typos, multi-source redundancy, and relevancy. That doesn't mean we consider negative feedback irrelevant or refuse to post it, as negative feedback can often help us learn to do more and better.

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"Mycelium (botany) plural: mycelia: The mass of fine, interwoven filaments that forms the vegetative portion of a fungus (analogous to roots), usually under the surface of the soil or other growth-promoting medium, and gives rise to its fruiting bodies (analogous to flowers) such as mushrooms." -- Dictionary Composite

Did you know that:
Mycelium seen from below the surface
= Mycelia (fungi in general) are neither plants nor animals, but a taxonomical kingdom of their own with DNA closer to the animal than the plant kingdom.
= Mycelia are some of the oldest and largest and longest-living organisms on the planet?
- All the mushrooms of the same species that you can see in a widespread area are probably part of the same mycelium?
= A mycelium can survive, grow, and spread virtually indefinitely?
= Individual mycelia start off so small that a single cubic inch of soil can hold enough to be, if stretched out as a single strand, eight miles long; and a single mycelium can spread over an area of ten or more kilometers?
= Mycelia form underground networks that facilitate communication not only between their various parts, but even between other plants and even trees?
= Mycelia even share stored nutrients with young plants, such as tree saplings, that make those plants more resistant to climate change?
= People in the know call mycelia both nature's world wide web and its recycling center?

Why should you care about any of this? Good question. Thanks for asking.
Nycelium seen from above the surface
Let's start with the fact that mycelia are more closely related to us humans than they are to plants. And more closely related to us than any plant is. So maybe mycelia have more to teach us about ourselves than we suspect. Including important intangibles like communication and cooperation among themselves and with other things in their environment.

I'll leave it up to you to think about what we might indeed learn from all that. I trust you to have the wit and the will to do so. But for right now, I want to take off on a bit of a tangent.

If you've read Twigs of a Family Tree (if you haven't, you can find it here or, if you're in Chicagoland, email me to learn about available discounts and obtain an inscribed copy), you may remember my saying: "It's been my experience that what's true in the physical universe is also true in the spiritual universe. Which makes sense, since both were designed by the same Architect." And later, in talking about no longer acting out in a negative way, I said, "I honestly don't know how or even if souls are connected. But if there's even the slightest chance that souls may be connected in some mystical way, by even a single silken strand, what damage might I do not only to my own but, worse, to some other soul? Whether we know each other or not?"

Which leads to a further consideration: If there's even the slightest chance that souls may be connected, what can I do to support and serve some other soul? Whether we know each other or not? What can I do? What can you do? What can we do?

Well, I think the first thing we can do is recognize and believe that we are all connected in some so-hidden-as-to-seem-mystical way. Like all the mushrooms (remember, they're its flowers) that spring from a mycelium. And if we're up for doing that, we need another serious sniglet to call it. So we can more easily begin to ponder it. Talk about it. Act on it. So that we can use it as a foundation for and of the human coöpera.

And so, for your consideration, I offer the word


to ID that hidden yet manifestly real network, a worldwide web, spiritual in nature, that connects every member of the human family. That allows us all to communicate with each other whether we know each other or not. Whether we realize we are communicating or not. That fosters cooperation among us, and between us and everything in our environment. That nurtures and supports and serves us as individuals and as a species in our efforts to survive. To be physically and emotionally and spiritually healthy. And to grow. To (bad-pun warning) mushroom into the caring, loving, noble, glorious beings that we all are meant, are created, to be.

You, thoughtful reader, are part of my mysoulium, and I'm the richer for it. I hope I've been making it richer for you, too.

Khoda hafez,
P.S. You'll notice I didn't get into whether there are mysoulia, plural, other than the human mysoulium. I suppose it depends on whether one wishes to use the word "soul" informally as in "spirit" or only formally. But just as various mycelia can communicate with each other, so might various mysoulia of different stripes. I, for example, might be said to really have an indescribable connection with a feline mysoulia. And heaven knows there are certain flowers whose soulful beauty uplifts me and speaks volumes to my soul. But none of that is substitute for (or an excuse for not) striving to be a force for good in the human mysoulium.

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Entries During

2021-12-06 Connection

2021-11-15 Savva A.
guest blogger: Savva Amusin
Declaration Stories

2021-11-06 Transition

2021-10-15 Walter M.
guest blogger: Walter Mays
Declaration Stories

2021-10-01 NCISly

2021-09-15 Danika A.
guest blogger: Danika Amusin
Declaration Stories

2021-09-06 De-Termination

2021-08-13 Marielle A.
guest blogger: Marielle Audet
Declaration Stories

2021-08-01 Whereditgo?

2021-07-12 Valerie S.
guest blogger: Valerie Smith
Declaration Stories

2021-07-01 Cycle

2021-06-11 Milton L.
guest blogger: Milton Lucy
Declaration Stories

2021-06-01 Modernaty

2021-05-14 Kim B.
guest blogger: Kim Bowden-Kerby     Declaration Stories
2021-05-09 Reduce!

2021-04-12 Helena C.
guest blogger: Helena Carnes-
Jeffries     Declaration Stories

2021-04-01 Stunted

2021-03-12 Rheta P.
guest blogger: Rheta Posey
Declaration Stories

2021-03-05 Woof?
Cat Power

2021-02-14 Nancy B.
guest blogger: Nancy Bagley
Declaration Stories

2021-02-09 Nursery

2021-01-15 Harold W.
guest blogger: Harold Williams
Declaration Stories

2021-01-08 Cabbage
The Wilders


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S A V V A   A.

"It was also little teddy bear e-cards."

All of our declaration stories to date have been one person's standalone story, whether any other members of their family have been Baha'i or not. (Although you can, of course, read about Marielle Audet's journey here in relation to parts of her husband Mead Simon's journey in your copy of Twigs of a Family Tree.) But this month, we have the opportunity to feature the story of Savva Amusin, a husband whose wife gave us her story back in September. Share your side with us, Savva.

I grew up in a family where both my parents were Russian Jewish. In Russia, after the fall of the Soviet Union (during which religion was not allowed), the very interesting and complicated history of my family was that on one hand we were persecuted for our Jewish Faith and on the other hand we were not allowed to practice it.

My grandfather grew up in a Jewish shtetl (a close-knit, religiously observant, Jewish community in Eastern Europe). However, when he eventually moved to Moscow to attend university, he had to practice  his Jewish rituals and traditions in secret there. In fact, he was once caught attending a synagogue, and almost lost his job. My father and mother weren't even allowed to talk about God, and any religious thought or yearning was driven out of them in school. So their faith was like an atrophied limb; it was never allowed to develop. That resulted in this crazy contrast: my grandfather being strongly and actively religious, then practicing in secret at his own risk, followed by my parents who never practiced at all, followed by what happened to me (and my children).

Savva with daughter Eliana & wife DanikaAs you can see, Judaism in Russia was very different than in America. I'm the first one in my family who was allowed to freely explore religion. When I came to America, I was allowed to learn about religion, which was a great bounty and a great responsibility. But even though I was allowed to, I'd still grown up in Russia for seven years, and that early suppression still had some impact on me. My daughter Eliana (<=== far left) is the first one in my family in 100 years, spanning four generations, who has full religious freedom. It's blown my mind to see what happens when an individual can develop their religious self from birth.

Let me reiterate: I didn't even know about my Faith until I was 7. I found out as we were leaving Russia as refugees. We went by way of Vienna and Italy, where we spent months waiting to be accepted by one of the countries accepting refugees (Australia, Canada, Israel, the US), not knowing which one we'd go to. My father sat me down and said, "If they ask you in immigration and customs why you're leaving, you tell them it's because you're Jewish." That was the first time in my life that I heard I was "Jewish". That was a shock. Here we are leaving to go to a brand new life, and I get told I'm Jewish.

That's how I heard about my Faith; but the part that comes right after is how I learned about my Faith. During the immigration process and then when we settled in America, the Jewish community here (and worldwide) was eager to support the Jewish refugees coming from Russia. One way that eagerness and support showed itself was the extension of Jewish education to kids. Entire families were in limbo, so it's nice that education was extended to us. Even while in immigration, I went to Sabbath School. Then when we got to America, I also attended a Jewish school. It was like going from zero (by the way, you're Jewish) to 100 mph (and you're attending an Orthodox day school). I barely knew English, I didn't know Hebrew, I didn't know any Jewish customs or practices, and all of a sudden I was going to a school in an environment where I had to learn English, learn Hebrew, learn about my newfound Faith, read the Torah, pray in Hebrew multiple times a day, learn Jewish stories, and observe Jewish practices and holidays.

Remember, too, that my parents couldn't help me; they knew nothing about it. So you had this completely confused kid bouncing back and forth between Jewish Orthodox school and a newly immigrant family. I might as well have gone to a Christian or a Muslim school; it wouldn't have been any harderor easier. For example, in Russia, there was no Christmas. I'd never heard of it; it wasn't a thing. For New Year's, however, everyone put up a New Year's tree (which looked exactly like a Christmas tree). Those were some of the best memories of my life: put up the tree, decorate it, have presents under it. In America, though, when I went to Jewish school, I learned that my beloved New Year's tree was actually a Christmas tree here and a sign of being Christian; so I couldn't do it. I came home crying to my parents and told them we had to take the tree down. My parents reluctantly complied, but they were confused. They had gotten more than they bargained for by sending me to Jewish school, as I began to cross over from cultural to religious Judaism.

In the years between attending Jewish school and going to college, I experienced a big transition. You've got this small scared child in a very unfamiliar setting; and my way of surviving was compliance. But over time, I learned to own my Judaism and personal prayer, rather than just comply. Developing a personal prayer life transformed me. To share an illustrative anecdote: I was doing prayers in Hebrew because that was what I was told to do; but over time, I forgot much of the Hebrew and started replacing words, then phrases, then whole sentences in my own English. It was still prayer, though. By time I was 18 and starting college, I had even gone on pilgrimage to Israel. And it was right at this pinnacle of my ownership of my Faith that I heard about the Bahá'í Faith.

At the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in the year 2000, two weeks into the start of my freshman year, I heard about the Bahá'í Faith from my later-to-be best college friend, Nate House. It was a deeply humbling experience. If I told you the things I initially said in reply, I'd be embarrassed. At 18, I'd finally figured out my world view, I'd come to terms with my religion, I'd taken ownership of my faith, and here was a perspective that threatened all of it. Still, frustration and anger motivated me to learn more. I wanted to study more just so I could disprove it; because it was college, and you can be anybody you want to be in college. My burning desire was to have a cohesive world view, and at first the Bahá'í Faith shattered it. (Actually, in my twenty-year journey, there were several instances of complete shattering and rebuilding of my world view; and learning about the Baha'i Faith for the first time was one of them. As soon as I ever rested on my laurels, God always sent me a new test to shatter and  rebuild my world even better.)

I dove into that further study headfirst: deep involvement in Jewish life on campus, Bible study, attending a local mosque, the Bahá'í community, even exploring Hinduism. I still have on my bookshelf many of the interfaith and multifaith books I acquired in college. And boy, did I try to argue and debate religion with Nate. His response, though, was to politely urge me to study and learn on my own, in my path, instead of ignorantly debating. He encouraged and accompanied me in doing this endeavor. That's why I consider Nate my spiritual father.

That learning process about world religions took over five years,. Learning what I needed to about the Bahá'í Faith took even longer, from 2000 to 2009, although it was not a steady process and had its ups and downs. I said to myself that if all religions come from God, then I need to study them all. Over time, I saw that on the surface they seemed different, but the underlying meaning was the same. On the surface, everyone had different customs, practices, holidays, and ways of praying or going to church; but as I went past the surface, I came to see the underlying unity. And I also saw firsthand how reluctant and disinterested most people are in doing that.

After college, I went through another dark period: life (getting married and a job); fear (of letting my grandfather down, he who was now for the first time proudly going to synagogue); complacency (you know how life is: you get married, you get a job, you are in the drudgery of day-to-day life instead of the challenges and freedoms of college). Life and fear and complacency took over. My wake-up moment came through Danika. Many years before she became Baha'i, she saw me one evening (like many others) in a tired mode, after work, playing video games, not doing much of anything productive or exciting; and she confronted me. She said "What happened?" She reminded me how I used to be on fire with religion, faith, desire to learn, attending interfaith gatherings, engaged with people and communities of faith; and now I'd stopped doing all of that. That was my wake-up. I remember sitting there and realizing how I had drifted away from all of it.

This was another, second humbling moment. I don't have a victorious story where I declared my faith from a mountaintop. Instead, I was quietly rescued by God. Whenever I thought I was all that, God humbled me. This was great. It was through this process that I was lifted back up. I'm glad God chose Danika to carry that message. With her encouragement, because she reminded me of all the Bahá'ís in Chicago I could connect with, I looked up and reached out to and tried to reconnect with them. I very quickly connected with Shiva Arami.
Savva with Jeremy, Danika, & Allen
I began to study Ruhi books with her and her family; and because of that, I consider her my spiritual mother and her family, my spiritual family. I also have a spiritual brother, Allen Eghrari (far right ===>). The Aramis took me under their wing and I attended their weekly Ruhi studies; and as God would have it, Allen came to Chicago at the same time to continue his medical education. For a year or more, I was accompanied and supported on this final part of my declaration journey as Shiva and her family and Allen did those books with  me. I declared on October 29, 2009 as a culmination of two decades on this journey. And I was once again humbled, which I'm grateful for, as I had climbed back up the mountain of faith and engagement.

For much of my life, I had considered people who practiced their Faith - especially ritually - as otherworldly, mystical "gods"; so I thought when I declared, it would be as one of those mystical otherworldly people. That was my expectation because of my journey. But my actual declaration day - when the floodgates were going to open and Bahá'u'lláh was going to come down and welcome me into the Concourse - on that momentous day what actually happened was this: I prayed; and in the midst of my prayers, I felt the need to declare. I was alone, though, so I went online, filled out a declaration form and submitted it. There was no fanfare whatsoever. About a day later, Camilla Krueger welcomed me into the Faith by sending me a teddy-bear e-card. I opened it up and I don't know why, but there was this little teddy bear just floating in the sky and then landing. No robes, no trumpets. Now, I had just witnessed my father-in-law declaring his faith as a Christian of the Catholic branch, his name being recorded in the Crimson Book of the Elect and, in a grand processional with all the priests, the book being marched to the front of the church. And me, I got a teddy-bear e-card.

The message to me was clear: So you've climbed this mountain and okay "congratulations"; after twenty years you've declared as a Bahá'í. Instead of being all high and mighty, now on your first day as a Bahá'í, the real work begins. You focused for so long on what faith to be, now you have to refocus on how to be.

You know, I thought I was going to become Catholic. I was drawn in by the pomp and circumstance and rituals. In fact, a few years after college, Danika and I went to Rome, Italy and visited the Vatican. I remember seeing all the priests and deacons and all, and being enthralled by the pageantry and the outer wrappings of it. I know why that resonated, because of all the way back to Hebrew school when I saw all those "real" religious people. And I thought that's what it was. I didn't know it was also little teddy bear e-cards. Danika and I still laugh about that.

Since my declaration, I've been continuing my studies in Ruhi. I also reached out and learned about opportunities to serve. I quickly discovered that several Bahá'ís were looking to start junior youth group programs in Rogers Park, and I got involved with that as my active path of service. Too, Danika and I and Jeremy Lambshead (above, with Allen) began to host musical devotional gatherings in our home, which have now reached the ten-year mark. Plus, several years after I declared, I was elected to serve on the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chicago, which I am still on.

But they still won't let me wear any priestly robes. :-)

That was beautiful, Savva. Thank you so much. What a joy to watch a family work together on finding their Faith even before either of them becomes Baha'i. And to realize the effect of that on their children's lives.

Dear readers, this concludes the series of a dozen stories that I committed to publish this year. I can't promise anything for sure, but I may have time next year to solicit another set of stories for publication in 2023 or thereafter. Ya never know, but maybe. Who knows: if I keep it up, there may be a future book in there, even.

Khoda hafez,

Mon, Nov 15, 2021 at 11:37 PM, Nancy B. wrote:
  Wow! That was good. I enjoy reading how people declared. It was very interesting to see how Savva's faith was guided in his search. And how if the Baha'i Faith said it was all from one God, then he needed to study all religions to see if that was true or not.
  Lucki responds to Nancy B.:
  Yes, that insight resonated with me, too. That while various Faiths might have different social messages geared to people in different times/places having different levels of understanding, the spiritual message of one God and one human family is at the core of all of them, if we just have eyes to see it.
Tue, Nov 16, 2021 at 1:28 PM, Mark E. wrote:
Hi, Lucki,
  Such a beautiful story! It is good to hear from you. I have been meaning for a long time to reach out to you...and pick up the book.
  Lucki responds to Mark E.:
  Thank you. As for Twigs of a Family Tree, Chicago-area people can get an inscribed copy directly from me. Or they might ask at the Baha'i House of Worship Welcome Center's bookstore in Wilmette, IL. People in the Vancouver Island, BC, area might also be able to get an inscribed copy directly from Mead.
Wed, Nov 17, 2021 at 2:17 PM, Allen E. wrote:
Hi, Lucki,
  Thank you so much. Very interesting. I'd love to hear [my relative Rezvanieh's] story.
  Lucki responds to Allen E.:
  Thank you. I'm glad you had the opportunity to see how you've figured in Savva's journey...and life. His story, the longest we've gotten to date, came in at a little over 2,200 words. The story Rezvanieh wrote, because it's way longer than that, isn't suitable for publishing here. But Twigs of a Family Tree - which commences with Rezvaniehi's family-tree story, from the days of Baha'u'llah, in her own words (and also contains other stories about her) - is also available from Amazon and from the Baha'i Bookstore online.

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"The stresses and strains of the modern world throw up all kinds of situations
and emotions for which there is no proper word
" -- Express

When you think "there ought to be a word for that" and then you come up with one in a humorous vein, you've created a sniglet. You can find examples - from my file of favorite sniglets thunk up by friends (and me) - posted last year on July 29, August 26, and September 23.

But sometimes we need words for important things. Words that don't exist yet. So we start with long (sentence-long if we're lucky, paragraph-long if we're not, pages-long in some cases) descriptions. And then someone comes up with a shorthand term. Probably many someones come up with many shorthand terms. Some of the terms catch on. Some don't. The ones that don't, eventually fade away. The ones that do, persist. And the best of the ones that do, they eventually end up in the dictionary.

One of the Baha'i principles that resonates with me is that there is only one human race. THE human race. This is scientifically provable. All modern humans are Homo sapiens sapiens. Our DNA proves it. There have been other human races, such as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, but now their DNA in us ranges from only about 4% in East Asians and Europeans to less than 1% in sub-Saharan Africans. Now there's one human race, and we're it. All of us.

The Baha'i teachings go further. They say that we are all part of one human family. THE human family. This is also scientifically provable. Simple statistical analysis applied to genealogical backtracing shows that everyone on the planet today is at least 50th cousins. And 50th isn't all that big a number when you're talking about billions of people.

Of course, race as a cultural construct is a different matter. And families can certainly be dysfunctional. But where does people's thinking seem to be headed right now? Today? Especially in the Baha'i community? But also in the wider community?

IMO, enough of us in this culture have gotten our heads around the one-race meme to have made it a meme. In such a way as to at least give it lip service. Maybe to commit to teaching it to our children. Even to try to model it. To expect and encourage each other to model it. To encourage our children to model it better than we do. [ASIDE] Of course, those who deny this, whether overtly or covertly, have become more and more intractable. But that's a different article [/ASIDE]

We have a long way to go. But we've come a long way, too!

The Baha'i teachings also talk about family unity being the foundation of world unity. I think that's true about individual families and also about the family of humanity. But there's still a lot of dysfunctional. In both types of family. So we have a long way to go in figuring out how to truly treat each other like family. Close family. Functional family. Loving family. But most of us , IMO, just aren't ready to get our heads around that one. Even if we wish for it, we not sure how to model it, never mind trying to encourage or teach someone else to.

Attributes of a Coopera

I was talking with a friend recently, and she expressed a desire for a word to get us from here to there. How can we verbally build a bridge between seeing ourselves as one human race and seeing ourselves as one human family? Is there a transitional word we can use? I couldn't think of one that exists. But I thought of one that could exist. And that word is


as in the human coöpera. A grouping wherein enough members of the human race want, and have learned, to truly cooperate in local and regional and global projects for the benefit of all humanity, our homeworld (or maybe, eventually,the whole solar system), and everything in it. My friend liked the idea and the word, and actually even used it in a presentation she did for a City-sponsored workshop on promoting racial unity among Chicagoans of all stripes.

Book - Babel-17Book - DragonflightAnother post last year, on March 11, pointed out the reciprocal relationship between the way we think and the words we choose. If not impossible, it's extremely difficult to think about something for which we have no word. For an in-depth look at this phenomenon, check out Chip Delaney's novel Babel-17. <===

But when we have a word for something, even if it doesn't (yet) exist, we can think about it. Think, for example, "dragon". You have an image in your head now. It may not be real; but it's there. So maybe someday, someone will figure out how to bioengineer a dragon (preferably a protective Oriental one rather than destructive European one) In the meantime, Anne McCaffrey writes the popular Pern series, starting with Dragonflight. ===> (Yeah, my copies of both are OLD.)

From human race, a somatic fact, to human coöpera, a social construct, to human family, a spiritual relationship. Not a bad trip, For now, stop by and enjoy the rest stop in the middle there.

Happy Twin Birthdays, everybody!

Khoda hafez,

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W A L T E R   M.

"You see how that worked out."

It's a pleasure to offer another new declaration story from an old friend. Walter Mays became Baha'i just over a year before I did. Still, I never really knew his whole story before now. It's amazing how people can take such different journeys and still arrive at the same destination. Your turn to share, Walter.

I was born and spent the first either years of my life in Chicago, IL. In 1947, my family moved to the all-Black community of Robbins just south of Chicago. In 1957, I joined the United States Air Force, where I remained a member for the next 28 years. I returned to the Chicagoland area when I retired from the Air Force in 1985, In 1986, I went to work in charge of facility maintenance at O'Hare Airport,* using the skills and experience gained during my time in the Air Force.

Walter Mays talking at a conferenceI was raised as a Christian in the Protestant branch, being christened as a Methodist and then later, in my tweens, baptized as a Baptist. The thing that stands out in my mind about my childhood religious experience was that I loved Sunday School because I could ask questions. I didn't like the preaching services so much because I couldn't ask questions. The preacher often made comments that I had a question about, but I couldn't just raise my hand and ask it. I don't even remember now what those questions were about, most likely something that Jesus or the apostles said. But I couldn't ask; so I don't remember the questions but I do remember the frustration.

In my years of going to services and Sunday School, I did like to go to church on the days that the youth choir sang. I was part of the choir and enjoyed being with my friends there. I was never a good singer, but I enjoyed it anyway. After I became Bahá'í and took part in a quarter century of local and national Black Men's Gatherings (BMG), I felt the familiarity and enjoyed the camaraderie of singing with my fellow participants. It didn't matter that I couldn't sing well, because it wasn't about the performance, it was about the prayerfulness.

In 1965, I was stationed at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, IL. It was during that assignment that I was introduced to and in time became a member of the Bahá'í Faith. My first teacher was Kay Stephens, a neighbor from across the street. I should mention here that I have five sons; and it was because of one of my sons that I got to meet Kay, who was the mother of a son the same age as my youngest son. It was her son's birthday party that initiated my journey into the Bahá'í Faith. Towards the end of 1966, when her son was 3 or 4, she threw a party for him and invited my youngest son. Somehow, my middle son Michael thought he had gotten invited, too. He was around three years out of the age group, though, which is a big deal when you're that young. So I went over and asked her if my son Michael was invited, too, and she said that, no, it was another younger boy down the street who was also named Michael.

As we were talking just inside of  her front door, I noticed two books on a nearby self. One was a metaphysical book and the other was Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era. I asked her about the second book, because I was having a little trouble pronouncing the name in its title. She explained to me that she was a Bahá'í and that the book was about the Founder of the Faith, Bahá'u'lláh. I asked a couple of skeptical questions about Bahá'u'lláh because I assumed Bahá'u'lláh was of the same ilk as Father Divine and Prophet Jones, who seemed in the 40s and 50s to be conning poor people out of their money in the name of God. She didn't get insulted, though. She just gave me a pamphlet to read for more information.

It happened that, as part of a course I was taking at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, I was doing a paper on "From Death to Resurrection" of Christ; so I figured this was right up my alley. Here I am doing all this research about Christ, so I can quickly disprove this Bahá'u'lláh guy (however badly I was pronouncing the name). The pamphlet had quotations from Bahá'u'lláh and sometimes references to Christ. I was going to the stacks in the university library and looking to what was said in the Bible and by Christian writers, then looking to what was said in the pamphlet and about the Bahá'í Faith; and I was having difficulty disproving what the pamphlet said.

This went on for weeks; and I really can't remember how and when I went back to Kay and asked to borrow the New Era book. I read that and went back to her with more questions. She connected me with a nearby Bahá'í couple and with another Bahá'í named Fitzpatrick. He was a black military guy, a corpsman in a hospital, and we started having fireside conversations in Rantoul. As I got deeper and deeper into it, at some point I went from working to disprove the Faith to working to verify it, to substantiate what I was beginning to believe.

In that process, Fitzpatrick and I started going to firesides together because the others were all white. He had been going to firesides in Champaign-Urbana, IL, so he invited me to go with him. There I met Greta Bussey, whose home was the first Bahá'í Center in the Urbana area. I really began to connect with the Faith, especially because I could always ask questions and get answers. We could stop and talk about it. What most attracted me was the tenet of independent investigation of the truth; and my investigation was not only allowed, not just tolerated, it was encouraged.

Walter Mays with a group of Baha'i friendsThere wasn't some single burning spiritual question that the Faith answered for me. Rather, it was just a matter of enlightenment about many topics that I'd been questioning from childhood. In fact, the Faith gave me a better understanding of Christianity than Christianity itself did. The comparisons to Christianity validated rather than invalidated my concerns and questions. It proved rather than disproved. It was the same spiritual message as Christ's, but for this day and age. My "aha" moment was understanding the concept of Progressive Revelation. That Christ was one in a series, that made sense to me. I realized that the Manifestations come and have messages that fit their time; but that doesn't mean they don't know more, just that it isn't time to reveal it yet.

I consider Kay to be my Bahá'í mother. I declared my acceptance of Bahá'u'lláh to her in March of 1968. I did so just before I left for an assignment to Shenya Air Base on an island at the end of the Aleutian chain in Alaska. She gave me a book for my declaration - Bahá'í World Faith (which I have in my hand right now) - and inscribed it "For Walter - With warmest Bahá'í love and a special affection. - Kay Stephens, March 1968.

I've remained active in the Faith. Besides being a member of the BMG and the Community of Practice: Race in America, I served as a member of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chicago for three decades; worked at the National Bahá'í Center in Evanston, IL (from which I retired after 13 years) and at youth conferences and workshops; held and been a guest speaker at firesides; pioneered to Adana, Turkey; and, at the behest of the Universal House of Justice to the members of the BMG, traveled with a group of African American men to Africa to provide support for Bahá'í teaching efforts in various locations.

All i can say now is that I started out 55 years ago wanting to disprove the Faith, and you see how that worked out.

* Coincidentally, this airport is named after an aviator war hero who became the Navy's first WWII "ace" and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The connection may be tenuous, but it's there.

Thank you so much, Walter. There really is more than one way to earn one's wings, isn't there?

Khoda hafez,

Sat, Oct 16, 2021 at 12:17 PM, Nancy B. wrote:
  I was excited to see Walter's story this month.
  I'm not used to seeing him so dressed up like that first picture; it's realy nice. I was also excited to see so many other friends I know in the second picture.
  In the last line, did Walter really stare out at something, or is that supposed to be started?
  Lucki responds to Nancy B.:
  I'm glad you enjoyed it.
  I believe that first photo was taken at the office of Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez (but don't quote me). Walter knows when casual is appropriate and when it isn't. I suppose I could say something dumb like "He sure do clean up pretty, don't he?"  BUT I WON'T!
  You're absolutely right. And thanks for catching it. That typo, which is now corrected, was totally my fault. In fact, Walter even caught it once and corrected me, and I still didn't get it right. *Sigh*
Mon, Nov 08, 2021 at 10:41 AM, Saba A. wrote:
Dear Lucki,
  I wanted to tell you that I have been enjoying reading the declaration stories you share on your blog site.  What a historical treasure!
With much love.


Lucki responds to Saba A.:
  I'm glad to hear that. Thank you, Saba. I'm considering whether I want to continue them in 2022 (or possibly work on collecting another dozen ahead of time next year to publish in 2023). Maybe someday I'll have enough to turn into a book, or at least to forward to the Afnan Library for the benefit of future researchers.



Tue, Nov 09, 2021 at 4:41 PM, Saba A. wrote:
  Love all your ideas and I am sure if you persist, the fruits will be yummy :)

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"Did you see? That email to TV Guide...." -- Bri Landis

Do you remember when then-new reader Bri wanted to write a comment to TV Guide and requested my help? And what they crafted with that help? And how excited they were when it got published in "Cheers & Jeers"? At the top of the column, no less?

Well, I sorta know what that felt like. Not AS excited. But an enjoyable feeling nonetheless.

I'm not into casual fannish things. Especially not on a fluffy site like TV Guide. Either something's important enough to consider and address very carefully and at length in my own time and venue, or it's just not important enough to waste my time on at all. Usually. But for some reason, this particular irk fell in that sweet spot: important but only casually so. Or maybe enough other people with similar thoughts were thinking their way into my head a little.

Be that as it may, here's what I myself emailed to the magazine's Matt Roush on Monday, September 20th. Which got published online in the "Ask Matt" column the next day. Not, like Bri, first in the column, but a solid second. And with a meaningful response. Which also seemed to indicate, again, that they want to get a bunch of input about the same subject, and even the same take on the same subject, before they consider publishing. And then they pick the one they think is most representative, best presented, punchiest, most unusual, or something. (BTW, the blue ID's links that they inserted in my text.) I'll happily settle for that. Lemme know if you agree.

TV Guide "Ask Matt" published 09/21/21, second comment & Roush resopnse

And THANX, BRI, you inspired me.

Khoda hafez,

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D A N I K A   A.

"Huh, these words are really beautiful!"

Yet another declaration story has come our way. Danika Amusin was very excited to share her story, and actually beat her husband to the punch (though we may still hear from him in future). Take it away, Danika.

I'm so grateful that my parents brought me up in the Christian church - my father taught me, as my grandmother had taught him, that your prayers should have feet. Dad has always made service to humankind a central part of his life, through sharing his musical gifts, cooking huge amounts of delicious food and welcoming everyone to the table, and caring for people emotionally. We attended church weekly, and I was in youth groups, led worship choruses and hymns from the front, completed a "read the Bible in a year" course, worked in the church office, and was generally deeply involved in church life. However, though I don't think I recognized it at the time, my faith was shallow; I loved the warm feelings of the music, and "passing the peace" coffee hour was the highlight of my week; but I didn't have a strong prayer life myself and would shy away from any serious discussion of theology.

My husband Savva and I have been together as a couple since three days before my 16th birthday; and since I hope he shares his declaration story here soon, I won't get into all the details. But pertinent to my faith journey is that Savva has had a love for the Bahá'í Faith since college and declared as a Bahá'í years before me. He would come to Christmas and Easter services at my church, and I would go to Holy Day celebrations and musical devotionals with him every now and then; and we certainly agreed that there is a God, that He loves us, and that there's more we have in common than differences in our beliefs. But we didn't really talk about faith together, especially because in college, Savva had gone through an argumentative phase where he loved to debate theology. Those conversations had not gone well, so we were in no rush to try them again.
Mother Danika Amusin & son Josiah
Fast forward to 2013. My second child, Josiah (<=== with me), was born and, unlike his sister Eliana, this one was NOT a sleeper. Caring for Josiah through his first year was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and the sleep deprivation really broke me down to a base level. I was emotionally and spiritually raw and open in a way that I hadn't been before. By this point, Savva and I were hosting regular interfaith musical prayer gatherings in our home. Our dear friend and co-host Jeremy Lambshead gave me a CD of Bahá'í music to listen to; and one day, folding laundry, I put it on. And as I was listening, I thought, "Huh, these words are really beautiful! I should read more from where they came from." This led to me diving into the ocean of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, and the wealth of guidance and wisdom in the writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. This was such a precious period of my life, awakening to the reality of the Day of God, with my heart yearning and aching for deep spiritual connection in a way it never had before. Jeremy invited me to enter into the Institute process* and explore together with some other friends how we can transform ourselves and our society. I began my first study of Reflections on the Life of the Spirit; and before we finished, I had declared my faith in Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of this day and pledged to do my best to live by His Teachings.

Jeremy Lambshead & Danika Amusin, really into their musicIf I were to identify the pivotal moment that led to my declaration, it would be a conversation I had with Jeremy (===> with me, really into our music) in my kitchen. I recollect I said something to him like, "I think I may be becoming a Bahá'í." And I probably said it with a bunch of trepidation, awkwardness, and discomfort in my voice because the swirl of emotions around the idea of changing religions from what I'd been brought up with was pretty intense. Jeremy looked at me with his face actually shining with radiance and said slowly, speaking of faith in Bahá'u'lláh, "Danika, it is the BEST THING." The joy in his spirit was so palpable in the room. He also said that, while of course there is no pressure at all, the community would be so delighted to welcome me any time I wanted to join. It helped to hear that.

I don't much remember actually filling out the form on the Bahá'í website (in place of a physical declaration card). But I do so fondly remember my dear friend Mutale Hobbs bringing a cake to the Evanston children's class, which my daughter was participating in, and celebrating my declaration with the other parents there. I also remember my conversation with my dad when I called him to tell him. He said so many beautiful and accepting things about how happy he was that I had gone on this spiritual journey and found my faith, and that there are many paths to God. With a warm feeling in my heart, we hung up, and then about 10 seconds later my phone rang again; and the moment I picked up, my dad said (90% joking, 10% serious), "Hey! Wait a minute! This means we can't DRINK together anymore!" Of course, that hasn't been a barrier to our continued close relationship as father and daughter. :)

One of the biggest transformations in my life since becoming a Bahá'í has been the spiritual foundations of my and Savva's marriage. We consult together, pray together, and look to the Writings for guidance on everything: from our finances, to raising our children, to how to serve our community. This has been one of the greatest bounties.

Another huge blessing, out of the infinite blessings of God, has been a reorientation of my life towards service. While most days I fall way short, I have tasted just a bit of the sweetness that comes from detaching yourself from your own plan and desires for your day-to-day life, and instead focusing on serving others and the needs of the Cause of God. Like my dad and grandmother before me, I hope to continue putting feet to my prayers each day and living a life that is pleasing to God.

* The Institute process helps Bahá'ís strengthen their ties within the Bahá'í community and throughout the wider community, develop spiritual insights and practical skills, and offer community-building service through taking part in capacity-raising activities like devotional gatherings, children's classes, youth empowerment programs, and study circles.

Beautiful story, Danika. It always amazes me how unique each person's story is, yet how much of all those stories we share in common.

Khoda hafez,

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"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? ... Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." -- King James Bible, Matthew 7:3 & 5

I have never had an abortion. For three distinct reasons, that's moot now. But even if it weren't, I wouldn't want to. Part of the reason I wouldn't has to do with how my Faith informs me about the subject. I'm not going to quote chapter and verse, though, 'cuz using scripture to rattle your cage or justify my thinking is not the point of writing this. I'm not trying to persuade you to agree or disagree with what my Faith tells me. I'm just hoping to share a personal reaction to a particular happening.

So, here's where I'm coming from. My Scriptures tell me that the soul begins to associate with the body at the moment of conception. OK, so for a moral reason - ethics being how I live with myself, and morals being how I live with other persons (including a new little one I'd be creating and developing responsibility for) - I wouldn't want to get an abortion. That's just me, though. After all, that the particular Scripture doesn't even tell a believer what decision to make; it simply offers a piece of information to help inform their decision.

BUT my Scriptures also tell me that I don't get to decide what moral decision you should make in a like situation. If you're not Baha'i, then Baha'i laws don't apply to you anyway. Even if you are Baha'i, obedience to God's law is between you and God, not between you and me and God. In either case, I don't get to use physical or mental coercion, threats of harm, or promises of material gain (not to you and not to anyone else) to force you to obey my moral tenets. I don't get to demand my Scriptures be used as a prescription for public policy. I certainly don't get to insist that you believe and/or act as I do. Or put a bounty on your head if you don't!

State of Texas with a no/stop symbolWhat's going on in Texas and SCOTUS is a travesty ... people using partisan politics to enforce their particular (and particularly vehement) brand of religious self-righteousness. Which is anything but righteous in the true sense of the word. A brand that even a majority of their co-religionists disagree with. Weaponizing their faith. Using it as a bludgeon. Pointing it like a gun. With a vengeance (literally). Without any pity whatsoever, even, for victims of rape or incest, or concern for the life/health of mother or fetus.

[ASIDE] All while also doing everything they can to strip people of the means to avoid getting pregnant, too. Because they assume the right to police your sexual activity ... even in your own bedroom with your own spouse. [/ASIDE]

How wonderfully caring. How Christianly loving. NOT!

To my mind, they must be leaving their Voice of God, Jesus Christ, in scalding tears.

Actually I think I'll stop writing now, and talk (yes, pray) to Him about my understanding that what some of His (alleged) followers are doing is in no way His fault, and that I blame neither Him nor God for their heinousness.

Mon, Sep 06, 2021 at 11:02 PM, Nancy B. wrote:
  Wow, that's a good one. You got that right. No matter what they believe, they don't have a right to decide what other women should do with their own bodies. It's OK to teach; it's not OK to force.
  Lucki responds to Nancy B.:
  Absolutely. Coercion like that doesn't change hearts, it just makes them ache.
Tue, Sep 07, 2021 at 4:09 PM, Marianne wrote:
  This piece expresses a strong opinion in very clear terms.
  Personally, I do and would work very diligently to promote elements of my religious belief, e.g., the oneness of humanity, the elimination of racial prejudice, the equality of women and men, the promotion of universal education, etc., to be adapted into public policy. The distinction here, and which you rightly allude to, is that what has happened in Texas was passed by its lawmakers, not by a vote of its general population. Supposedly, those lawmakers are "exercising" their "right" to make laws ostensibly in the best interests of their constituency, yet doing so in a very disingenuous and hypocritical way under a very selective interpretation of religious principles.
  For [another] example, when immigration is the topic, what about the biblical injunctions to show hospitality to strangers? "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2
  Lucki responds to Marianne:
  Thank you. And yes, as Nancy B. also noted, it's about the difference between educating souls and coercing bodies. And I really appreciated your other example, about the hypocrisy of espousing animosity against certain immigrants just because they're "different".

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M A R I E L L E   A.

"My father was right!"

Time for another declaration story. And it occurred to me that, while y'all can read my spiritual son Mead's declaration story in Twigs of a Family Tree, that doesn't tell you about his wife's journey. So I decided it's about time that my spiritual daughter-in-law Marielle Audet had the chance to tell her story here. Enjoy!

I grew up in Laval, Quebec, about half an hour northwest of Montreal, in a very staunch [Christian] Catholic family. In Quebec in those days (the '70s), all public schools were Catholic schools. They had just retired the old nuns who used to be the exclusive kind of teachers in those schools when I arrived. So I had lay teachers, some of them ex-nuns, but still had a catechism program.

My parents took us to church every Sunday and on holy days. I didn't like it very much. I found it stodgy and too much always the same; but I did like the music. My dad was extremely shy and antisocial, so as soon as mass was over, instead of sharing cookies and drinks in the church basement, we piled into the car and were driven home ... which was only four blocks away!

I felt a need for the support of my community as a teenager, and deplored its lack. This only occurred to me much later, when I met a man who recognized me (and that was amazing) hundreds of kilometers from where I grew-up. He said that he had wanted to know us better but we never let anyone approach us. I was very sorry; learning this moved me to tears!

Anyway, I eventually had a falling-out with the church because I was not treated fairly or with respect by the priest we had at the time. I became very angry. I think that some of that also came from my reaction to my dad who, I felt, was pushing his religion on us. His was the "blind faith" style, which didn't fit with my values one bit.

I had to accept that I just didn't understand him, though, when as a young adult rejecting religion, I heard him tell me: "I taught you the Catholic religion because it's the only one I know. If you don't like it, go find one that you do like. But you cannot live without a faith, you can't live without God!"

At the time I wasn't ready to go do that; but I never forgot his words. They surprised me so deeply. Later, I became even more aware of my father's words when I found myself searching. I looked into Buddhism, yogic philosophy, and New-Age stuff; but nothing truly engaged me. I was curious, but only on the surface.

I finally stumbled upon the Bahá'í Faith in 1997. I was at the time living in a very unhealthy relationship. I was also writing music, singing and leading a Celtic-rock band. I had been asked to play at the Coffee-House of the Bahá'í Center in Winnipeg. That engagement was very interesting and I met with many friendly people. I was given a tour of the place, which gave me a little idea about the Faith. I'd had earlier encounters with Bahá'ís but had never had the opportunity to investigate it before. So I started going to the Sunday Unity Gathering several times.

And the dreams started.

I have always had dreams that prepared me for new chapters of my life. In these dreams, I am going to a meeting with people of different colors, dressed in so many varied cultural attires, representing ethnicities and religions from all around the world. Now, these dreams started screaming at me. I couldn't understand why.

I was visiting the Bahá'í Center and reading a lot. One day at the Center, an old lady asked me if I had a boyfriend and if I cohabited with him. I said yes. She immediately proceeded to tell me that, if I become a member of the Bahá'í Faith, I would have to leave this relationship; otherwise, I would be "kicked out".

My eyebrows raised at that. I turned and quickly walked toward the door. On my way I came across a man I recognized from past meetings. He was, I learned later, a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly. An intuition came, telling me that I should confirm what the lady said with him. He was quick to refute what she had said, explaining to me the law of marriage and that more support and education would be provided by the Institutions; but I would never be "kicked out" for that. I was satisfied with the answer and decided to go back in. It was my first test.

After a couple of meetings, I received an invitation card to an event at someone's home, called a fireside.

Marielle Audet with Nazrine MoslehiOn the appointed day, before I woke up, I had this very peculiar dream. I saw a lady, beautiful and radiant, with the sun behind her head and the wind gently moving her hair. I didn't know this lady. I had never seen her before. Still, there was nothing else but this vision ... for a good fifteen minutes. Then I woke up. I got up, quickly forgot about the dream, and went through my day.

In early evening, I made my way to that address on the invitation card. After I rang the doorbell, a lady opened the door to let me in; and my jaw hit the floor. She was exactly the same person I saw that morning in my dream.

I don't know what the fireside talk was about. I just couldn't pay attention to it. I kept looking at the lady and was filled with amazement. But I tried to not be too obvious that I was looking at her so much. At the end of the talk, people stood up and mingled to chat and snack. I went to her directly and, after introducing myself, apologized for looking at her; but I explained to her my dream. She introduced herself as Nasrine Moslehi (<=== right, with me), and she replied not to worry because she also couldn't stop looking at me. She said she would hear "brilliant star" each time she looked. So she invited me to dinner the following day.

After that dinner, we had many more meetings. She listened to all my questions, doubts, and reflections. She offered very wise encouragements and explanations, and I loved our interactions. But the day I discovered that service in the Universal House of Justice was only open to men, it was a huge blow to my fledgling faith. She's told me she will never forget that day. I showed up on her doorstep, with my boyfriend, and demanded an explanation. I felt betrayed and duped but mostly disappointed. I had so much hope for this new-found faith and it hurt to have to admit that it was just another hypocrisy.

She's told me that inside she was terrified and ardently prayed for a peaceful resolution. But as I remember it, she seemed gentle and calm. She listened until both my boyfriend and I had finished venting. Then she started answering as honestly and sincerely as she could. "I don't know," she said. "This is one of the Faith's great mysteries. Άbdu'l-Bahá says that 'There is divine wisdom in this which will presently be made manifest even as the mid-day sun.' "

Anyway, happy to not have to throw away a perfectly good baby with the bath water, I made my own supposition for this teaching* and resolved to stay within the embrace of the Faith and move on in my spiritual growth. Nasrine knows the date I declared my Faith in Bahá'u'lláh; it happened in her living room. I knew in my heart and just came to her to announce it, on a fall day of 1997.** I nearly lost my lunch from her intense hug! She suggested to call everyone I knew to let them know, which I did with her help that very moment.
Marielle Audet with husband Mead Simon & son Shoghi
That is what I have done, kept my resolve. I enjoy giving service to the Faith and to my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers (I'm a musician in the Royal Canadian Navy).

And giving service also led me to meeting Mead Simon (left ===>) in the Winnipeg Bahá'í community, marrying him,* and eventually moving our home to Vancouver Island, where we are raising our son, Shoghi. (right ===>)

I have a lifelong commitment to my Faith, my family, my indigenous community, the planet and all its people, and to God. My father was right! I cannot live without a faith, I found a faith that I like, and I don't ever have to or want to live without God!

* When Mead and I married, Nasrine and Mead's spiritual mother Lucki were both in our wedding party. When I told Lucki the part about what Nasrine had said to me regarding the Universal House of Justice, Lucki smiled. She said she too had questioned it, had decided to accept it anyway, then thought of and heard others mention a couple of possible reasons why it might be best now. And she said she figured that if she could see at least one good reason why, she assumed God could see a hundred.

** Regarding my declaration date, please understand that different cultures view things differently. To judge one culture by another's priorities is inappropriate. It's not that the event was not important; it's that the date is irrelevant. Dates have never been important enough for me, but it was the year and the season that was important enough. Call it a cultural difference in how I rate my priorities. It's always been an annoyance of mine that people would be judgmental of my sincerity because I don't put importance on dates. I live my Faith in the now and that is more important to me. I'm putting this in the narrative of my declaration story, to de-colonize the process of storytelling. Thank you for allowing me to express this old issue of mine.

Thank you, Marielle. I appreciate the time you took from your now-even-busier schedule (congratulations being in order, there) to write this. It obviously can't make up for my having to cancel my trip to see you guys (when the pandemic closed the border), but it's a joy to be able to offer to my readers this declaration story of a First Nations Canadian. Still, I hope to visit you, Mead, and Shoghi again one of these days, God willing and the crick don't rise.

Khoda hafez,

Fri, Aug 13, 2021 at 11:33 PM, Nancy B. wrote:
  Oh gosh, that lady that told Marielle she could get kicked out. That couldn't happen. What was she thinking?
  It's amazing, about the dream. Seeing her spiritual mother so clearly, and then Nasrine hearing those words when she looked at Marielle.
  Lucki responds to Nancy B.:
  I concur on both points.
  I don't know if the lady actually thought that was true, or if she just said it badly. But it's a blessing that Marielle encountered, and was willing to ask, the Assembly member on her way out.
  And of all the things that Nasrine could've heard, to hear that phrase from that children's prayer was amazing, presaging that Marielle would become her spiritual daughter:
O God, guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.  - `Abdu'l-Bahá
Wed, Sep 01, 2021 at 5:10 PM, Kim B. wrote:
  I had a bit of time and looked through everything.
  LOVED the declaration story - and LOVED the photo of Mead (I finally see his face!) and Marielle and Shoghi - what a beautiful family. And really loved what her father said and how that all played out.
  Customer service????  I would worry about inputting the SSN to a bank number even on the back of the card.  That sounds so hacked. But congrats on staying free of cell phones!
  Adding insult - "politico posturing while people perish" reminds me very much of a political cartoon in the Greenville NC newspaper when I was a college student - it was of poppy fields on the left (id'd "Turkey") and emaciated people with their hands out on the right. The caption was "They grow opium while people are starving." The hypocrisy of running that in the heart of tobacco country really got to me.
  I looked at that Hall of Claims site - what a hoot.  And yeah, I love JK and yeah, that sounds like a serious script misstep.
  Malcolm Gladwell did a chapter in one of his books (maybe Blink or Outliers) on ketchup. There's a lot of good reasons that the top two ketchup brands are the top two. But - yeah, the ad sounds stupid.
  Reading Mya's bit every month because I find her so likeable. Sorry about that with the design .... but really feel sorry for me as a reader because I wanted to see a photo of her design and of the one they went with so that I could see what she was talking about - and see if I agree.
  Life is challenging here. Your stuff makes me smile and takes me on a mini-vacation. Thanks!
  Lucki responds to Kim B.:
Hi yourself, faithful reader,
  Glad you had time for it all. Kim.
  Yes, I hadn't really heard Marielle's declaration story quite like that. Her perspective was interesting.
  I had a cell phone account once. Rey got it for me. Drove me crazy … hated having so many people think they had a right to my IMMEDIATE response to their calls. I finally dumped it. The convenience in an occasional emergency wasn't worth the 24/7 hassle.
  Yeah. If you remember, I opted for the Moderna vaccine, even though I had to wait for months, partly because of their being the only company of the three that was never complicit in the opioid epidemic (which, of course, is still raging, too). And of course, quitting smoking, like, 40 years ago was one of the best things I and God ever did for myself.
  As far as I can tell, they're going to keep adding stuff to that Hall of Claims site. Worth checking back every year or so.
  Doesn't it, though. What was Dad thinking?!
  You will. She has it all planned out to crescendo over the next 3 months. Stick with it and you'll get that chance to agree (or not).
  Smiles and mini-vacays do help with challenges, don't they? That and provoking thought means we're doing our bloggy jobs.
So stay safe and smiling,

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"I always say we're chasing perfection in an imperfect game." -- Nick Nurse

Last month, I was targeted by a vishing scheme. For obvious reasons, I didn't answer it or do what it said. Instead, I decided to contact my credit card company to confirm that I did not, in fact, have some unrecognized big charge on my card.

The best-laid plans....

I started by using the phone number on the back of the card. When asked, I entered my card number. It wasn't recognized. I tried repeatedly. Sometimes the card number still wasn't recognized. Other times, the card number was accepted but then it asked for my SS# and that was unrecognized. No matter what I did, I couldn't get past that. And I never could figure out how to get to a live human for more help. (Poor user-experience design, that.)

I eventually gave up and tried the company's website, and ran into exactly the same issue. My card wasn't recognized. Still no way to get to a live human for help. Instead, the site kept telling me to call Customer Service by a different number than the one on the card. The results were exactly the same, though, as it didn't see me as a customer. I wasted more than an hour.

Credit card in woman's handI finally phoned my local bank branch. They tried to access my information, but were also unable, saying the information didn't exist and was I sure my account existed. I replied that I'd had it since the '80s, I'd activated my most recent card, and it doesn't expire until '23. They suggested I come to the branch with my card and a picture ID.

The next week, I did so. I told them (the teller, and the "expert" he called over to help) everything I had done and that when I called the branch, I was told to come in person.

Well, apparently assuming I was too stupid to have actually done what I said I did, they tried repeatedly to do the same thing. And got the same results. I asked if it was possible the bank had gotten hacked and lost some customer info, and they acted like I'd just insulted their mother. They asked was I sure I didn't cancel the card? I was.

Oh, well, then the expert happily thought of the solution. He suggested I use my mobile app. I told him that I didn't have a mobile app because I didn't have a mobile phone. After trying some more, they again suggested I try calling Customer Service on my cell phone while they were standing there to help me navigate. I replied once again that I didn't have a cell. And then I wondered what kind of people this big bank is hiring. Because - would you believe it? - the expert asked me...

"You don't have a cell? Then how did you call us?"

Khoda hafez,
P.S. And what finally happened? After I said "On my landline" and didn't add "you idiot"? Well, finally the expert grudgingly took me over to one of their desk phones and called, it looked like, one of the same Customer Service numbers. [SNARK: "He didn't use a cell? Then how did he call them?"] And that's when I found out for the first time that to get to a human, I had to read the programmers' minds and wait silently and motionlessly through more than one series of repeated automated demands before the system finally deigned to connect me to a human being. The man left me there when a lady answered. Who still couldn't find my account info. Was I sure it was a credit, not a debit, card? I was. After all, I've had the card for decades, but no cash accounts there. She suggested my only recourse was to write to the address she gave me. Which I did. "Suggesting" they track down my account now and also asking them to let me know as soon as they got my letter. Haven't heard back from them yet. Not about the account. Not even a "Got your letter." Customer Service my butt!

Fri, Sep 03, 2021 at 4:18 PM, David N. wrote:
  1. Not sure my 20 year old kids know what a land line even is.
  2. It took me a few minutes to figure out what OTOH stood for but I did it without using google.
Enjoy the weekend.


Lucki responds to David N.:
  I see that, as a new visitor to our site, you're going back to some old blog entries. You've got up to 10 years in some of them. Enjoy!
  2. Got it from context, huh? Good for you; that's using the ol' noggin. I'm not up on the latest text-speak either, but that's a golden oldie.
  1. Many years ago, when touch-tone was newly established, a neighbor split off a line to his basement workshop & used one of his old rotary-dial phones down there. One day some years later, while working on something, he asked his son, then about eight or ten, to dial his Grandma's number for a quick consult . The boy walked over to the phone, stared at it for several long seconds, and than asked, "How do I do that? There's no buttons?" Funny how we kept the word "dial" for so long even after the dials went away. In fact, we still use "dial up" to describe the old, slow way to access the Net.



Wed, Sep 08, 2021 at 10:53 AM, David N. wrote:
Haha, yup!
Be well :)

      Lucki responds to David N:
  Thanx, Doc. You too.
Wed, Sep 01, 2021 at 5:10 PM, Kim B. wrote:
  I had a bit of time and looked through everything.
  LOVED the declaration story - and LOVED the photo of Mead (I finally see his face!) and Marielle and Shoghi - what a beautiful family. And really loved what her father said and how that all played out.
  Customer service????  I would worry about inputting the SSN to a bank number even on the back of the card.  That sounds so hacked. But congrats on staying free of cell phones!
  Adding insult - "politico posturing while people perish" reminds me very much of a political cartoon in the Greenville NC newspaper when I was a college student - it was of poppy fields on the left (id'd "Turkey") and emaciated people with their hands out on the right. The caption was "They grow opium while people are starving." The hypocrisy of running that in the heart of tobacco country really got to me.
  I looked at that Hall of Claims site - what a hoot.  And yeah, I love JK and yeah, that sounds like a serious script misstep.
  Malcolm Gladwell did a chapter in one of his books (maybe Blink or Outliers) on ketchup. There's a lot of good reasons that the top two ketchup brands are the top two. But - yeah, the ad sounds stupid.
  Reading Mya's bit every month because I find her so likeable. Sorry about that with the design .... but really feel sorry for me as a reader because I wanted to see a photo of her design and of the one they went with so that I could see what she was talking about - and see if I agree.
  Life is challenging here. Your stuff makes me smile and takes me on a mini-vacation. Thanks!
  Lucki responds to Kim B.:
Hi yourself, faithful reader,
  Glad you had time for it all. Kim.
  Yes, I hadn't really heard Marielle's declaration story quite like that. Her perspective was interesting.
  I had a cell phone account once. Rey got it for me. Drove me crazy … hated having so many people think they had a right to my IMMEDIATE response to their calls. I finally dumped it. The convenience in an occasional emergency wasn't worth the 24/7 hassle.
  Yeah. If you remember, I opted for the Moderna vaccine, even though I had to wait for months, partly because of their being the only company of the three that was never complicit in the opioid epidemic (which, of course, is still raging, too). And of course, quitting smoking, like, 40 years ago was one of the best things I and God ever did for myself.
  As far as I can tell, they're going to keep adding stuff to that Hall of Claims site. Worth checking back every year or so.
  Doesn't it, though. What was Dad thinking?!
  You will. She has it all planned out to crescendo over the next 3 months. Stick with it and you'll get that chance to agree (or not).
  Smiles and mini-vacays do help with challenges, don't they? That and provoking thought means we're doing our bloggy jobs.
So stay safe and smiling,

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V A L E R I E   S.

"Whatever these people have, I want to be a part of it."

And here we go with another declaration story. I went all the way back to the state I was born in to find this month's guest blogger. Although granted, she used to live within walking distance of me here in Chicago. Anyway, meet long-time friend Valerie Smith. The floor is now yours, Valerie.

I was born in Evanston, IL, the collar suburb on Chicago's north border. (Evanston is also the city where the U.S. National Bahá'í Center is located, which feels like a full-circle kind of thing.) Except for four years spent in Atikokan, Ontario, Canada when my father was transferred there while working in the steel industry, I spent my whole childhood in Chicago's northern suburbs. I was baptized in the Episcopal Church, a denomination of the Protestant branch of Christianity, and attended it as a child. I recall going to Sunday school, and especially remember drawing pictures of Jesus.

I don't remember much beyond that. My parents stopped going to church at some point; and therefore, of course, so did I. After that, religion didn't have much impact. Maybe God was sort of there (or maybe not), but certainly not involved in everyday life. I do remember going to the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette one time with my dad, when I was in grade school and we lived on Linden exactly a mile west of the Temple, but we were just visiting it in a touristy way.

I attended New Trier High School from 1966 to 1970. In high school I dated Dan Tinen, who was a Bahá'í, but we never talked about his religion. Later, when I chided him, asking why didn't he tell me about the Bahá'í Faith, he answered, "You weren't ready yet." I suspect he was right.
Valerie Smith
So when did I learn about the Faith, and what motivated me to learn more? Well, I started going to Gates House, which was a youth drop-in center in Wilmette at that time. That's where I ran into another Bahá'í named Mark Somers, and I started hanging out with him. I guess I was a little readier by then, so he took me to musical firesides and potlucks. Still, since I considered myself an atheist (or maybe agnostic) at that time, I was mainly in it for the food and the company and the music. This was the era of "Godspell" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" and the early Bahá'í musical scene. That's when I happily discovered Red Grammer and the late Donna and Warren Kime.

I consider Mark, his friend David Bragman, and Roberta Barrar the ones who brought me into the Faith. I met Roberta at the House of Worship when, if I remember correctly, she was working there. She gave me my very first prayer book, which I thought was a novel gift for an atheist. I know that I kept going to events and having discussions. You know: "What about this?" "What about that?"

Understand, I had nothing against Bahá'u'lláh, or Jesus, or anyone – it was just "The Big Guy"[God] I had trouble with – but I mostly remember feeling very welcomed by the Bahá'ís. That meant more to me than their scriptures did. It was only later, after I declared, that I began to really double down on the tenets of the Faith, on learning about them. I remember having a discussion with a coworker about relationships and marriage. She was talking about dating someone and thinking about marriage, and I commented about "investigating character"* and later, thinking back about what I'd said, I was like, "Wow, where did that come from?!"

I do remember checking out all the Bahá'í books I could find in the library. I don't think I really tested the validity of the Faith. I just knew something fit, and I said, "Whatever these people have, I want to be a part of it." And then, one day, I had an "aha" moment.

One night, Mark and I were hanging out in David's rec room, they were talking together, and something just clicked inside of me. I asked Mark to get my raincoat (in the pocket of which was a declaration card someone had given me). Mark wondered why I didn't go get my raincoat myself, but I didn't want to break the moment. So he got my coat and I took out the card. I read it very carefully, and then I signed it there on May 3, 1972. Roberta was immediately one of the first people we called to share my declaration with. We called a bunch of other people, too.

In the aftermath of my declaration, I went home to bed and went "Oh my God, I just joined a religion." Then I thought, "Well, if I change my mind, I can just tear up the card in the morning." But I never did. I used it to register with the local and national community. Understand, I've had some challenging moments and some doubting moments. But every time I was uncertain about things or had a question, something always seemed to serve to draw me back in. There was even one point, when I was having a major challenge, that I tried to divest myself of everything Bahá'í for a while. It's amazing, though, how empty my apartment got and my life. I finally went to the Spiritual Assembly, as a child would to its parents, and they kindly referred me to a couple who helped me through that crisis.
Valerie Smith with her mother
I ended up living in Chicago for 23 years. There were so many opportunities to be involved in the Chicago Bahá'í Community; for example, I remember hosting one or two sector Feasts. Since I lived only about a 20-minute drive from the House of Worship, I was able to be of service there, too. I joined the choir, volunteered in the office, guided visitors, did Garden Teaching on weekends from 10 PM to midnight I did just about everything at the House of Worship but sleep overnight. I even joined the Choral Fest from its inception in 2007 through 2016. During Thanksgiving week of 2007, I moved from Chicago to care for my mother (<<--) in Connecticut, and have made it a point to take part in interfaith events since then.

Whatever these people had, I wanted to be a part of it and I still do.

* This common phrase in Bahá'í culture derives from a quotation by Άbdu'l-Bahá: "Baha'i marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever." Here is one Bahá'í's rumination on the concept, inspired by a romance graphic novel.

Thank you, Valerie. It was great to visit with you again, if only at a distance. But if I hit New York or New England again in future, which is always a possibility, I'll definitely plan to see you in person.

Khoda hafez,

Sat, Aug 14, 2021 at 9:20 AM, Bri wrote:
  Is that your mom in the bottom picture? You don't say.
  Lucki responds to Bri:
  That was my fault, Bri. I know that people's names and pix are important to you. Guests bloggers don't necessarily know which of the pix they sent me I'll end up using. When it's my choice, it's also my responsibility to make sure I put in the descriptive arrows; and I just plain missed that here. I've added it now. My apologies to Valerie, her mom, and you.

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"Feelings are much like waves, we can't stop them from coming
but we can choose which one to surf." -- Jonatan Martensson

Had an odd experience last month. Took me a while to process. 'Cuz of the mixed feelings. Sad and happy emotions.  Surprise stressors. Negative and positive. And I had to decide where to land. Which one to surf. Or whether I could surf both and still reach the beach. Safely. Sanely.

I was sitting at my desk. Because it was a hot sunny morning, I had the blinds closed on the east-facing window. So I didn't see what happened to cause the sudden resounding thump against it.

Needless to say, it startled me. The last time I'd heard something hit that window like that was when the idiot substitute supervisor of our roofers had the crew winching equipment up to the roof without a guide rope to keep it from swaying. Fortunately, it only broke the outer pane and didn't swing all the way through into the office where I was sitting, so I didn't get shattered glass in my eyes or a ton of tar kettle slamming into my computer and skull. And yeah, they darn well paid to fix the frame and replace the glass. I also had some satisfaction as I roundly berated the jerk for not using a guide rope, and countering his argument that they didn't have time to find or wait to get a rope now by asking him if they were, for the sake of speed, going to do equally shoddy work on the roof itself. The satisfaction - while the dismissive ('cuz what do women know about construction, right?) dingbat wasted his time trying to argue and justify - the satisfaction of seeing the crew foreman pointedly ignore the supervisor and instead quietly muster his crew to find a 50' rope in one of the trucks, redo the winch procedure properly, and continue the job without "supervision".

I've written before about the mourning doves that visit my bird feeder. Even provided a few pix at the bottom of one of Tom Ligon's guest articles. Some of the doves spend the winter here. Others just show up during the warmer weather. Lately, though, I've seen one of the feeder-frequenting doves also occasionally sunning on that east window. A hen (female) I think, from the slender size and short tail. Or a juvenile. I'm not really qualified to tell.

Anyway - despite the greater probability that something had been intentionally or accidentally thrown against the window by a person, or a vehicle tire, or the wind - memory of that neighborly dove made my mind scurry to the thought that some poor bird had been confused by, say, cloud or tree reflections, flown into my window, and knocked itself silly. So I opened the blinds and looked down on the ground to see if whatever-it-was was okay. There wasn't anything on the sidewalk. But there was something on the parkway grass. The something was (in all likelihood) that dove that sunned on the window.

But it wasn't alone. And it wasn't okay.

The dove was pretty much motionless. Caught in the talons of a peregrine falcon. A tercel (male) or a juvenile, I figured, based on the raptor's small size; again, I'm not really qualified to tell. The first peregrine I've ever seen in person. I was surprised that this peregrine was so far north of the Loop, but maybe more members of the species have been attracted northward by all the highrise buildings going up in Evanston. I was sure, though, that it was too fully fledged and accomplished to be one of the chicks from the Evanston Library's mid-May hatchlings.

This time, after watching for a while, I did try to reach for my camera. No luck. Once the peregrine was sure the dove was no longer moving, it took off, prey in paw (so to speak). Perhaps to partake of a plump solo lunch. Or maybe to serve sustenance to its offspring. Either way, the winner in this particular arc of the circle of life.

Thinking back, I'm surprised that the peregrine didn't actually do any damage to my window. It could've been perched on the highrise across the street, which wouldn't have given it time to reach full speed in its dive. Or it could've spotted the dove from the one small aerial window between the highrise, my building, and the tall trees to the east, and had to weave into position at the last minute. Or it actually did hit its prey at its full 200-mph stoop speed, and the flexibility of the dove's body amazingly cushioned the collision. In which final case, the time the peregrine stayed on the parkway may have been less about the prey moving and more about the predator being a bit stunned itself.
Peregrine falcon, wings tucked back, stooping at top speed
BTW, did you know that, when stooping (===>>>), the peregrine falcon is not only the fastest bird in the air, it's the fastest animal on the whole planet, period?

I never, in the week that followed, saw that slender dove I was familiar with, either on the east windowsill or at the feeder. So I'm sure that was the one captured. I miss it. I was glad of two things, though: That it wasn't caught at the feeder itself. And more importantly, that I'd had the opportunity to see a peregrine. I decided to spend less energy mourning the mourning dove and more time being awed by that circle-of-life raptor. Bon appetit.

And in one of those seemingly rare occasions when nature - like Sour Patch Kids - starts off biting and then gets gentle - exactly one week after the peregrine attack, not one, not two, but three - count 'em, THREE - mourning doves landed on my feeder simultaneously. And chowed down. And never saw hide nor hair nor feather of attacking predator.

Well, except for curious Angel. But she was on the opposite side of the window from them. One of them, the largest male with long, unmolted, breeding tail feathers, was so used to her that he didn't even leave the feeder. But he did keep a close eye on her. The other two winged away, more wary. But when she left, they came back. I wondered if they were the male's offspring. Possibly even also offspring of the captured one. But their being fully fledged before it was killed, they were able to survive with one parent and were almost ready to declare their independence.

When the circle of life operates naturally, things even out. We're better off when we remember that. Or at least less self-stressed in the long run

Khoda hafez,

Fri, Jul 02, 2021 at 8:57 PM, Kim B. wrote:
  Poor falcon. (Geeez Louise on the earlier shattering!!!!)
  Lucki responds to Kim B.:
  Ya know, you  may be right about not just poor mourning dove but also poor falcon. 'Cuz, as I noted, maybe it was sitting there on the parkway not just waiting for the dove to stop moving but also, or instead, because it was stunned itself and trying to recover. In which case, it too deserves your sympathy. (And yeah, sheesh is right!)

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M I L T O N   L.

"This seemed very practical."

It's time, of course, for another declaration story. And I figured it was about time you heard a story from someone you're already acquainted with from Abiding Blog articles of yore: Milton Lucy, the friend who drove me to North Carolina and back so I could visit my spiritual mother (for the final time). And who was also the last person to drive me anywhere (it was to an event at the House of Worship, followed by Chinese food) just before the pandemic lockdown happened. You also met him in the May 2018 Aphorisms & Memes "Reflections" poster. So, the floor is yours, Milton.

My religious background from childhood, in Chicago's West Woodlawn neighborhood, consisted not of any faith but only of cultural things:

   = Decorated eggs and Easter baskets. Chocolate bunny ... Yum!
   = Santa Claus at Christmas. New toy ... Yeah!
   = Popular movies like Ben Hur, Noah's Ark, Exodus. I admit to falling asleep on the movies.
   = Recitation of "Our Father" at Boy Scout meetings. But I didn't know the words, or even what it was about, because I had never been exposed to it. I didn't find out it was a Christian scriptural prayer called "The Lord's Prayer" until later.

In fact, my only childhood exposure to any house of worship was one time when a friend took me to a Holy Cross church in Woodlawn, just because he wanted to show it to me. But when we went in, it wasn't during a service, and no one else was there.

As I entered adulthood, religion got a little more serious. By that, I mean I got curious about it. My first mother-in-law was a Jehovah's Witness and had some interesting books that I read. She also took me to a congregational meeting, which I couldn't make heads or tails about, except that it was obviously a big event with a lot of enthusiastic people. But nothing came of it, and she never took me to her church meetings or out witnessing.

I went into the Air Force at age 20. During my time in the service, me and a buddy went to a church once. But they passed the basket around so many times that we decided not to go back, as we had little money.

After I got back from the service, during the 3-month unemployment hiatus that returning servicemen received, I worked part-time with my sister in a black publishing house, which published the writings of black people. As a result, I was exposed to and developed a vague interest in the Black Muslims (Nation of Islam). So I investigated. The newspaper Muhammad Speaks was everywhere, but it didn't really make sense to me. Still, they were always advertising the book Message to the Blackman in America by Elijah Muhammad, so I read it. But it didn't make sense to me either. I mean, his idea about white people. I could understand why he felt that way. But the underlying story of Wallace Fard, the myth of the eugenic creation of white people, and their being the Devil, that all just seemed too far out there. I didn't realize at the time that those teachings were very different from Shí'a and Sunni Islam.

After the hiatus, I went to work at the US Postal Service as a Mail Handler in that huge Old Main Post Office that the Congress Expressway goes through. It was there that I met William (Bill) Wilson, a Bahá'í (not to be confused with the Bill Wilson who cofounded Alcoholics Anonymous). Loading and unloading the big trailers entailed little need for thinking; so if the sacks and boxes weren't too heavy or numerous, we often spent the time talking,

By that time, having been exposed to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,* albeit not in depth, I had developed a decent respect for God. It made sense that there was one. I also had a vague understanding of a continuum of Prophets and Messengers of God, at least as depicted in those books and movies. But I was surprised when Bill told me about another Messenger of God that I had never heard about: Bahá'u'lláh. I was intrigued!

Bill began giving me books to read about this Faith, starting with Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. It was amazing! The Writings of Bahá'u'lláh were just magnificent. Most important to me, they tied all the other religions together into one continuous religion that God constantly updates over time. This seemed very practical. Why have different religions with different gods, when one God would suffice and the religions were on a continuum? It simply made sense to me.

So, in March of 1976, one day when Bill and I went to the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette, that's where I declared to Bill and became a Bahá'í. Still, because we both worked nights and couldn't get to many things, it was many years until I got really involved in the community, though I did serve as Feast chairman for the South Side at one point. Then I started hanging out with Eric Bruns and Derrick Polk and Lucki Wilder and Harold Williams, doing devotionals at the Chicago Bahá'í Center in quarters like the Fine Arts Building and the Monadnock.

Basically, I dipped my toes into the Bahá'í waters; but then I backed off again for a while because of working nights and also going to school. It was sort of in and out and in and out. But after I retired, I was lovingly encouraged and got reinvolved in the community on a much deeper level, which continues to this day.

I not only take part in activities in Chicago, my jazz band has even played a special Bahá'í event. And since I love biking (<<--) and backpacking and road-tripping, I sometimes look up Bahá'ís in places I go, like Norman, Oklahoma and High Point, North Carolina. Of course, I also met a lot of Bahá'ís from all over the world when I visited Haifa, Israel (-->>), which is where Bahá'ís go on pilgrimage.

And this Faith still seems very practical and simply makes sense to me.

These are  three of the four Abrahamic Faiths (the Baha'i Faith being the fourth), making it easier to reccognize their interconnectedness.

Thanx, Milton. I've enjoyed our journeys together, as well as watching your journey in the Faith.

Khoda hafez,

Fri, Jun 11, 2021 at 11:17 PM, Nancy B. wrote:
  I was looking forward to this story. I really enjoyed it. I didn't know most of it. Live and learn.
  Lucki responds to Nancy B.:
  I know you were. I'm glad you did. I didn't know some of it either. And no matter how long we've been friends with someone, it's obvious there's always more to learn.
Fri, Jul 02, 2021 at 8:57 PM, Kim B. wrote:
  Have close to zero time - but hopped in to take a look.   Man, I just LOVE Milt's story!
Yours in haste.
  Lucki responds to Kim B.:
   Yes, this one was so very Milton. There's just something special about declaration stories, isn't there? So personal, so unique.

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"Sometimes It's Not [all] about the Science" – Scott A. Mandia

It took me a while to get all the pieces (assuming I actually have), but it's one of the most intricate, multiplex puns I ever met. (And I've seen some doozies.) And I dote on wordplay. Which English, with all its nuances, is so fantastic at. So kudos to whatever team thought up this company name.

Moderna company logo

You've been seeing that logo a lot lately. Developers of the second vaccine approved in the U.S. for preventing massive COVID-19 infections.

President Joe Biden meets Dr. Kizzy Corbett at her lab[ASIDE] You've also been seeing a young, dynamic, leading NIH developer a lot lately. Dr. Kizzy Corbett. Boy howdy, as soon as I heard that name of hers, I naturally flashed on Roots. Socially good reason to favor the vaccine, that: her involvement and outreach. And actually, the scientific/medical pros and cons of all three U.S. vaccines seem to sort of even out. Plus, the real good reason to favor Moderna (which is what my family and I got) is preferring to have all that rescue-package/drug-insurance money going to (of the three) the one company that was NEVER complicit in the opioid epidemic. But that's just my personal ethic speaking. I'm confident that you have your own good reasons for whichever vaccination you've chosen. And that in fact you have gotten it. Or soon will. [/ASIDE]

But in the interest of making my list of the brilliant wordplay a little more visually obvious, I'm going to use my own variation of that logo.

My variation on the Moderna company logo, in order to tease out the components of the pun

These are the components I see, listed in alphabetic order (though that's not the order I recognized them in). Whoever came up with the name likely had the first four in mind. The fifth is just my little twist, given that I'm a writer. Remember, however, that I'm not a trained medical researcher or practitioner of any ilk, and may misunderstand or poorly describe the first four:

Moderna vaccine manufacture uses a fast, cutting-edge manufacturing modification instead of the traditional viral-vector type.

Moderna's mode of training the immune system is not exposure to a virus but instructions for producing a trigger-protein flood (see explanation in layman's terms; you don't have to hit Accept to scroll down).

Moderna's approach to vaccine development is certainly modern, revels in that fact, and promises to stay on the cutting edge.

Best pun at the party, Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA, or mRNA, tech (RNA being the carrier of protein-creation instructions in all living cells).

So much complex info is so densely packed into one word that, for all its being so sciency, it feels like a poetic ode on med-tech.

Khoda hafez,
P.S. If you felt/feel sickish behind your vaccination, don't complain about it. Brag about it. It may mean you have an immune system that, rather than being lazy and path-of-least-resistancey, fired up like blazin' gangbusters. Good for you.

Sun, Jun 06, 2021 at 9:44 PM, Kim B wrote:
Hi Lucki,
  Finally had time to give your blog[s] a look this month.  So much stuff.
  LOVED the declaration story from your spiritual daughter - the hungry one.
  Was interested in the Moderna pun, but didn't get your title.  ("Modernaty" - what??)
  Was suitably saddened, grossed-out and all by the recycle rant - I feel the same way, but can live lower on the food chain here [Fiji].
  Star of the month was Mya's post.  I don't always go for Mya's stuff because I'm not into comic con and the like, but decided I had the time to take a look.  WOWSERS!  Tell her I said congrats!
  Read the adding insult posts - and just felt sad.  I don't get tv.  I don't see the ads - so for the most part this is just a misery.  But then the one about the HONEST ad - that was so funny.  Oy lei.
  Thanks for keeping up with it all.  See you in July  :)
  Lucki responds to Kim B:
  Yeah, Kim, it was a very prolific and meaty month. So's your comment!
  Helena's story is a good one, isn't it? It amazes me, sometimes, the paths people took to arrive at their chosen faith. As your own can attest.
  Just another pun ... on modernity.
  What can I say? I just hope my rant inspires someone(s) else to also start contacting companies about lowering their plastic-packaging profile.
  Glad you found the time, especially as this year's AniME is all one true-life story that has nothing to do with cosplay or cons. I'll be sure to let Mya know what you said. And hang in there, 'cuz her story ain't over yet. Not by a long shot.
  I'm glad you were able, sans TV, to appreciate the "honest ad" article. I do get notes from people just saying they recognized which ad a rant was about. Sometimes proving their point by IDing the product or company. It's rarer that someone can appreciate a rant when they've never seen the commercial it's about, just from my description. Must be writing something right.
  My plesaure. Out of curiosity, did you not have time to look at May's Aphorisms & Memes? Or don't you ever? Or did you forget to mention them? Or was there just not any you liked? Inquiring authors want to know. ;-)
Mon, Sep 06, 3:02 PM, Linda wrote:
  I had time to catch up on some of your articles that I missed. I was interested in what you said about using ethics to decide on getting the Moderna shot, because they weren't involved in addicting drugs. But didn't they refuse to share their Covid work with other countries? That would confuse me about a decision.
  Lucki responds to Linda:
   You're correct that Moderna hasn't joined a World Health Organization COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub yet, and that does give me pause.
  OTOH, they're only about a decade old; whereas their two current COVID-vaccinme competitors here are more like a century and a half old. Pfizer and J&J have other multi-billion-dollar income streeams unrelated to mRNA tech (which is all Moderna does, marketing only the one product so far). They also enjoy pharma revenue around four times (and, in one case, group revenue over six times) that of Moderna. In fact, last year they were both in the top 10 pharma companies, while Moderna wasn't even in the top 50.
  Moderna may be young enough to need more time to make so momentous a decision, or perhaps just can't afford to "give away" its technology at this point. Or the company may just be less ethical than I hope. (Or maybe I don't really understand what's going on.) Time will tell.

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K I M   B.

"So much to gain."

Yet another declaration story. This one had quite a ways to come. Like, about 7,250 miles. That's a long swim, there, from the island of Fiji. Join me in welcoming Kim Bowden-Kerby, who's been a faithful reader for the past nine years.

I was a churchy kid. Liked going to Sunday School and putting my quarter in the collection plate. Liked the stories and the hymns. And especially liked reading the red letters (marking the actual words of Jesus, not just things other people said about Him) in my own copy of the New Testament.

When I was a pre-teen, I went through confirmation classes in the Protestant branch of Christianity, held by our pastor, with some six other kids. We needed to do that before getting confirmed in front of the church. This was the Big Choice moment, since baptism had been performed on us as mere infants. In Rev. Maxwell's classes, suddenly faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was not just something pleasant and nice to do. It was a totally serious matter. Rev. Maxwell was young and full of charisma; and I took the confirmation classes seriously, finding serious faith in the Lord. A month or two later, I was standing in a white dress in front of the church and became a confirmed member of the Presbyterian Church.

It was months later, maybe a year, that Rev. Maxwell caused an earthquake in our North Carolina church one Sunday morning. He walked in with three nicely dressed Black ladies and escorted them to the front row of the church. While he preached, everyone whispered. As we drove home from church, my dad said, "That's too bad. He was a nice man." I really picked up on that past tense - "he WAS" - more like he was dead than that he just wasn't nice any more.

The next Sunday, Rev. Maxwell did the same thing again. This time people were talking out loud during his sermon. The third Sunday Rev. Maxwell was gone, never to be seen again. He was  replaced by an old fellow who whistled with every S.

Needless to say, my parents were relieved at the replacement. Needless to point out, I had independence of thought even back then.

I felt so betrayed! I felt so angry!

What kind of crap was this "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight" all the worshipers kept singing? They are precious, but they had better not come in the same building? Better not try to worship together? How hypocritical can you get?

I kept going to church with my parents on Sunday. My body was there, but my spirit was anywhere else.

Kim Bowden-Kerby witting with a group of Baha'i friendsAt age sixteen, I heard the word "Bahá'í" for the first time. My French teacher, Mme. Fafar Guillebeaux, had been invited by a student to talk a bit about interracial marriage. I liked the idea of interracial marriage, so that was a plus. She said she and her husband had met because they were both Bahá'ís; and she ended up talking some about that a little. It sounded really good

I liked the interracial acceptance. I liked the work for unity. (Like, when couples decided to marry, they had to get their parents' consent. And if the parents were skeptical, the couple had to be examples of patience, obedience to their parents, and continued devotion to each other despite the obstacle). I liked "no proselytizing" (a word I'd never heard before). And what really attracted me was the tenet of independent investigation of Truth.

But then someone asked if Bahá'ís had a Bible. Mme. Guillebeaux replied that Bahá'u'lláh had written "many beautiful Scriptures, over a hundred volumes." Well, I couldn't even read the whole Bible. There was no way I was going to read many beautiful Scriptures, so I promptly wrote The Bahá'í Faith off. Thought I did anyway, ha ha.

So I tried sex, drugs, rock and roll … and finally politics. Let me just say that it all was a disappointment, but politics in 1972 in North Carolina was under the bottom of the barrel. The day after the elections, while my lab partner ran the assigned experiment,a fellow student and I were bitterly complaining about the election results. After 45 minutes or so of carping and complaining, we finally ran out of things to say. A few minutes later, my lab partner, Anne Jalali, said her first words of the day:

"Kim, don't you know politics is not the solution to the world's problems?"

I replied, "That's really obvious, Anne. Do you have the solution?"

And she responded with the magic words: "Have you ever heard of the Bahá'í Faith?"

Well, yeah, I had. And here it was again, just when I needed it. Many beautiful scriptures and all. Thus followed a lot of my questions, her good answers, an invitation to a "fireside" gathering I was too shy to attend, a re-invitation with a ride, meeting others in the community. Wow – that first fireside! There were only a dozen or so people. But they were Black, White, and Persians of a range of ages. And the quality of their interaction was just that of a relaxed family. It was incredible. I hardly noticed the film strip they showed, and do not remember a word of the discussion. But I remember the feeling.

They sent me home with a copy of The Bahá'í Faith: An Introduction  by Gloria Faizi. I ended up hanging with Anne and her husband. Then there was an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner at another Bahá'í's  house, fifteen days after Anne first mentioned the Faith to me.

At the Thanksgiving dinner, there must have been some chitchat in the kitchen. I say this because Carole, a woman I had just met, came out and asked me, "Kim, would you like to become a Bahá'í?"

Gee whiz. My spiritual mother Anne had already missed a couple of better opportunities to invite me to join, especially when I tried to give some money to the Bahá'í Fund and she told me that only Bahá'ís can give to the Fund.

By now, in this group of mostly strangers, I felt shy again. I told Carole I didn't think I knew enough. She asked what I knew and, when I told her, responded that it was already a lot. I asked if I could get out if I didn't believe it any more. Tom, another new person, responded, "If you don't believe it, we wouldn't want you to stay." I loved that. But I still teetered on the fence. Finally, a young woman sitting beside me stuck her elbow in my ribs and asked, "What have you got to lose?" And that did it. I had nothing to lose by giving Bahá'í a try. Nothing to lose! So much to gain!

I signed a declaration card. They all sang "Welcome, Sister, Welcome" to me. This is probably the most detailed and memorable two hours of my whole life. Wow.

1972. Talk about having a Thanksgiving to give thanks for. It was lovely. It has been lovely. It still is lovely.

Anne gave me a prayer book, and showed me the short obligatory prayer and one other one she thought I'd like. The girl with the elbow moved in with me for a while, became my best friend and later "aunty" to all my kids. God gave me the best husband ever, a life of adventure,* and a way to serve the world. None of this could have happened if I had not turned wholeheartedly in surrender to God and His laws. Bahá'u'lláh's Faith did it for me.

Kim Bowden-Kerby holding a little "friend" (snake) on lush Fiji*For the curious, a crazy recap of adventures:
    = Local travel-teaching as a know-nothing youth. Which taught me patience for my old age.
    = Homefront pioneering in eastern North Carolina.
    = Travel teaching to the Aleutian Islands. Slightly less clueless by then because of Jenabe Caldwell's institute-like program (this was before Ruhi Institute study circles).
    = Travel teaching to Ecuador, Bolivia, and Uruguay. Still didn't know as much as I wished I did.
    = Marriage and pioneering to Guam.
    = Children and pioneering to Chuuk, Palau, and Pohnpei. And I knew even less; Micronesia is a whole 'nother set of worlds.
    = Pioneering to Puerto Rico. Still knew little, and less Spanish, but felt really at home anyway.
    = Pioneering to Fiji. Still know too little in two cultures, Fijian and Indian. The Ruhi Institute material works anyway.
If I could go back and change just one thing, I would absolutely have made myself learn the local (Fijian and Hindi) languages when I arrived here 22 years ago, like Άbdu'l-Bahá told us to do.

Thank yo so much, Kim. You certainly have had a lot of adventures. Nothing boring about being Bahá'í.

Khoda hafez,

Sat, May 15, 2021 at 11:17 PM, Bri wrote:
  I got a question. What are the names of your husband and of the girl with the elbow? [They're] important, too.
  Kim responds to Bri:
  OH. My husband is Austin Bowden (Bowden-Kerby). [In the top] photo - NC Bahai summer school a few years after I declared. I am dead center in white, talking to the bearded guy. That guy was my friend Austin, who was sweet on the African American girl beside him - she was not sweet on him. He finally gave up and became sweet on me, and we've been married for 41 years now.
  That girl [with the elbow] was Cherie Cormier. Best friend until she died a decade ago - now best friend on the Other Side.

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R E D U C E !

"It cannot be right to manufacture billions of objects that are used for a matter of minutes,
and then are with us for centuries." – Roz Savage

This isn't the first time I've broached this topic. It probably won't be the last. Some things are worth repeating and expanding.

Maybe you remember back ten years ago when I wrote about how the recycling mantra isn't "Recycle Recycle Recycle", it's "Reduce Reuse Recycle". I then enhanced the mantra to read"Recycle everything you can. Reuse twice as much as you recycle. Reduce twice as much as you reuse."

[ASIDE[] Note that "reuse" encompasses both reusing something for its original purpose (like using recycled floorboards for new flooring) but also repurposing (like using an old door as the top of a handcrafted table).

I still stick by that. I try to do my part. I recycle as much as I can. I also reuse and especially repurpose a lot of stuff. And I reduce where I can. But it's discouraging. Why?

  = Because a lot of forms of paper, wood, glass, metal. and especially plastic aren't really considered recyclable. A lot of stuff we put into our recyclable bins ends up in the landfills or incinerators anyway. Putting it in the recycle bin just kicks the can down the road to the waste management facility. Examples include glitter-infused wrapping paper, pesticide-treated wood, glass mirrors, print-laminated aluminum and, worst of all, all those plastic containers that have the wrong code stamped into them. Just 'cuz the three arrows and a number are there, it does NOT necessarily mean it's recyclable. Perhaps the worst culprits are #6-styrofoam (take-out boxes, packing peanuts, etc.) and plastic bags (drycleaning, grocery, sandwich, chip, etc.), too much of which can cause a whole big load of recyclables to be rejected & sent off to the landfill.

  = Because only about 10% of what does go into recycle stream actually gets recycled back to its original use, a good example being certain plastic soda bottles. And that doesn't even count all such items that could be recycled back to their original use if only everyone would recycle them in the first place. But no, too many folks are too lazy or harried to do so, meaning that new ones have to be manufactured from scratch.

  = Because reusing/repurposing also serves a worthwhile purpose, but when it comes to all of them, especially plastics, that again is just kicking the can down the road. When I reuse non-recyclable paper as a base under my kitty litter, it still eventually ends up in the landfill. If I completely seal boards of treated wood to build a bookshelf, it's still eventually gonna break and all that wood plus the pesticide plus the sealer ends up in the landfill. Etc.

Great Lakes as seen from spaceWooden pallet containing a bale of recycled plasic bottlesPlastic is the worst culprit, though. 'Cuz 99% of it doesn't degrade in centuries. It disintegrates into smaller and smaller pieces - microplastics - but never stops being plastic. And it ends up in our food chain and even treated drinking water. The Great Lakes is the largest freshwater system in the world. And every year, 22,000,000 pounds of plastic get dumped or washed into it. Twenty-two MILLION pounds a year! And it's only getting worse. 'Cuz minus a few paltry pounds left in space plus a small amount that's been incinerated into noxious gasses plus the 1% that are biodegradable (in a few years or even months), every molecule of plastic ever produced still exists somewhere on this planet. 12% of Great Lakes fish have microplastics in their bodies. (And our fish are better off than English Channel fish, well over a third of which have plastic. And birds eat those fish (seed eaters may also eat microplastics directly, thinking them seeds). Mammals eat those fish. WE eat those fish. YUM.

But here's the thing. My being driven to not use plastics I can't truly recycle is stymied by the fact that it's harder than hell to find things I need that aren't packaged in plastic. And I mean everything! Which means I can recycle. And I can reuse. And I can repurpose. But I have the devil's own time trying to reduce. I definitely can't reduce twice as much as I...well, you catch my drift.

What angers me is that the manufacturers who produce all this plastic and the buyers who buy all this plastic and the packagers who package with all this plastic are actually spending big bucks in advertising - no, I'm not going to move this article over to Adding Insult - spend mucho moolah trying to convince me that it's MY issue to fix. When it's really THEIR issue to fix. If they stopped producing and using the stuff for every damn thing, then my efforts might actually  make a dent in what's left. But NO-O-O. That wouldn't be cost effective (as if money is the only thing all that plastic is costing us). That wouldn't be profitable. That wouldn't be convenient.

I'd like to quote something sorta related that Number Two Son Mead wrote in Twigs of a Family Tree (bolding mine):

Can you imagine a world in which people are totally aware of the effects of their actions? A world in which people understand what is behind political policies and corporate schemes and societal hate-mongering? As I become more aware of the world around me, including other people and their motivations, I can make more informed decisions and effect far more change than I ever dreamed of. My favorite example is dolphin-safe tuna. Through a simple campaign of awareness, back when I was young, I and a lot of other people decided to stop purchasing canned tuna because we did not like the thought of accidentally killing dolphins. The result? The industry changed. It found better ways to catch tuna that allow the dolphins to escape unharmed.

Maybe that's what needs to happen with ubiquitous plastic where it's not vitally necessary. Stop buying. Start raising cain, at least (at first) about single-use plastics. Start writing to corporations, telling them the first one that resolves this issue for any given product is the one you'll start buying that product from. Start demanding they find better ways. Start even being willing to spend a few cents or minutes more to accommodate changes for the better.

ME doing that would be less than a drop in the bucket. YOU doing that would be less than a drop in the bucket. (That's why the epigram above targets manufacturing, not recycling.) But you and me, your family and my family, your friends and my friends, your neighbors and my neighbors, your coworkers and my coworkers, folks whom you persuade and whom I persuade...WE CAN MAKE THEM CHANGE. And that can change the world.

Khoda hafez,

Sun, Jun 06, 2021 at 9:44 PM, Kim B wrote:
Hi Lucki,
  Finally had time to give your blog[s] a look this month.  So much stuff.
  LOVED the declaration story from your spiritual daughter - the hungry one.
  Was interested in the Moderna pun, but didn't get your title.  ("Modernaty" - what??)
  Was suitably saddened, grossed-out and all by the recycle rant - I feel the same way, but can live lower on the food chain here [Fiji].
  Star of the month was Mya's post.  I don't always go for Mya's stuff because I'm not into comic con and the like, but decided I had the time to take a look.  WOWSERS!  Tell her I said congrats!
  Read the adding insult posts - and just felt sad.  I don't get tv.  I don't see the ads - so for the most part this is just a misery.  But then the one about the HONEST ad - that was so funny.  Oy lei.
  Thanks for keeping up with it all.  See you in July  :)
  Lucki responds to Kim B:
  Yeah, Kim, it was a very prolific and meaty month. So's your comment!
  Helena's story is a good one, isn't it? It amazes me, sometimes, the paths people took to arrive at their chosen faith. As your own can attest.
  Just another pun ... on modernity.
  What can I say? I just hope my rant inspires someone(s) else to also start contacting companies about lowering their plastic-packaging profile.
  Glad you found the time, especially as this year's AniME is all one true-life story that has nothing to do with cosplay or cons. I'll be sure to let Mya know what you said. And hang in there, 'cuz her story ain't over yet. Not by a long shot.
  I'm glad you were able, sans TV, to appreciate the "honest ad" article. I do get notes from people just saying they recognized which ad a rant was about. Sometimes proving their point by IDing the product or company. It's rarer that someone can appreciate a rant when they've never seen the commercial it's about, just from my description. Must be writing something right.
  My plesaure. Out of curiosity, did you not have time to look at May's Aphorisms & Memes? Or don't you ever? Or did you forget to mention them? Or was there just not any you liked? Inquiring authors want to know. ;-)

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H E L E N A   C.

"I was hungry."

Another month, another declaration story. This time from one of my spiritual children: Helena Carnes-Jeffries. The floor is yours, Helena.

I came to the Bahá'í Faith because I was hungry.

Helena Carnes and Malvin Jeffries in colorful COVID masksI wasn't hungry spiritually, or at least I didn't think I was. I had always believed in God, from when I was a toddler. When some Baptist Christians told me about God, I recognized there was indeed something there, although my perception of God was of course initially very simplistic. Eventually, though, I began to understand about God's abstract nature. I took my First Communion in a Catholic Christian church when I was 15. In my later teens and early adulthood, I also became interested in Pagan practices and then in the Hare Krishna movement. Still, the latter seemed somehow incomplete and the former seemed way too unstructured, with no boundaries, just anything goes.

But one day, I was physically hungry.

At the time, I was 23 years old and living in Rogers Park. I was going to a neighborhood soup kitchen to eat dinner each evening because my income was so small. My income each month was only $500. My rent for my tiny studio apartment was $415. If you did the math, you could easily see that I was always broke. I usually ate one hot meal a day and had bagels and bread to eat the rest of the time.

For a few months, I had happened to notice a series of flyers [sample] on poles around Rogers Park. In English and Spanish, they advertised a monthly "Open House/Open Mind" free dinner and discussion. Since the atmosphere of the soup kitchen was rowdy and sometimes wild, I thought it would be nice to eat somewhere else, in a quieter spiritual setting. So I took one of the tear-off tags at the bottom. But I lacked the courage to go by myself; I was plagued by bouts of shyness. I managed to convince a friend to come with me one month so that I wouldn't be in a roomful of strangers all by myself.

It was March 6, 1999. I came into the apartment with my friend, and they welcomed us. They were members of the Bahá'í Faith. We noticed a few people sitting on the couch looking at their watches. There was food on the table, which they offered us, but they themselves were not eating. One of the friends said that they were fasting and waiting for the sun to set so they could eat.

"Wow," I said to myself, "I can't be a part of this religion. I can't fast like that!" But everything else about the dinner and discussion intrigued me. The topic that night was "How To Soar Like an Eagle" about the equality of women and men, often referred to in Bahá'í Writings as the two wings of one bird.

I realized I was hungry for more. I needed some kind of direction in my life. I was a member of the twelve-step community; but I needed something further: a greater connection with the God of my understanding.

I also believed that a great change was upon us. I felt that the world as we currently knew it would not be the same. I had no idea that there was a new manifestation of God for this day, who spoke of a "Spiritual Springtime" and that humanity was on the cusp of something truly divine. We were at our adolescent stage, just now learning how peace was possible.

I never understood the faith of my childhood. How could some preachers preach that if you did not know who Jesus Christ was, you did not have the bounty of being accepted into Heaven. How could God reject those who still believed but in a different way? I just didn't get it. I always believed somewhere in my heart that every person carried a piece of the truth in their hearts, that all religions were different paths converging in the center, and they all led to an all-loving all-encompassing God.

Some of the Bahá'ís that were there that night took me under their wings, especially Lucki,, who became one of my spiritual mothers. I was invited to a unity dinner a couple of weeks later. After that, Lucki invited me to a major Holy Day at the Bahá'í Temple. It was Naw-Rúz, the Bahá'í and Persian New Year. I felt myself leaning heavily towards declaring my faith in Bahá'u'lláh, the prophet founder of the Bahá'í Faith. I went into the book store at the temple and almost purchased a piece of jewelry depicting the Ringstone symbol. Instead, I bought a prayer book and delved right in. Sitting in Foundation Hall waiting for the Naw-Rúz program to start, I read the Fire Tablet and was completely moved. "In the Name of God, the Most Ancient, the Most Great...."*

Some of the friends loaned me Bahá'í books, which I studied for the next five weeks. Upon reading the literature, I began to realize that The Báb (the herald of Bahá'u'lláh) and Bahá'u'lláh were just like Jesus Christ. Both had sacrificed so much to bring a precious message to humanity. I was especially moved by The Hidden Words, a small book of meditations written by Bahá'u'lláh. They laid down many of the important principles of the Bahá'í Faith in poetic ways.

Five weeks later on April 21, 1999, I declared my faith in and love for Baha'u'llah. It was the first day of Ridván, celebrating the day that Bahá'u'lláh declared his message to the world. I was at the temple with my friends Faith and Kate, so I told them first. When I told Lucki, too, she told me that it wasn't the end of the journey but the very beginning. I look back almost 22 years later and realize in my heart of hearts that she was absolutely right.

I look back at all the things I've been doing with the Bahá'í community - especially opportunities to use my talents as a singer, a writer, and an artist -  and I'm amazed:

Collage of Helena Carnes-Jeffries doing service as Feast recorder, poet, virtual choir member, &  devotional reader= Singing in the choir and at the annual choral fest in the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinous, and even in the virtual choral fest held during the pandemic by the House of Worship in Sidney, Australia
= Reading the Sacred Writings at events like the commemoration of the Martyrdom of The Báb; and being asked to write and present an original poem at a Naw-Rúz celebration
= Marching in the Bud Billiken Parade, and doing children's Virtues Facepainting at the Picnic
= Taking part in Rogers Park's annual "Artists Of (and, during the pandemic, "Artists Off) The Wall"; and offering my art at special gatherings and fundraisers
= Joining in devotional gatherings and study circles; and attending the twice-monthly Prayer Breakfast, again both in person and virtually
= Serving as the recording secretary, for the Spiritual Assembly and our newsletter, at 19-Day Feasts
= Participating in the Community of Practice: Race in America
= Even going on Bahá'í Pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel in 2009

I came because I was physically hungry, and I found some real spiritual food.

P.S. In a strange coincidence, I also found a special love and family because, unbeknownst to me or Lucki, her twelve-step grandsponsor then (now her sponsor), who's also a Bahá'í, encouraged his friend and my husband-to-be, Malvin (top photo, with me), to declare his love for me. I'm so glad that Malvin went to him for good advice and support...and got them. He'd also encouraged me to ask Lucki to be my sponsor, so now I have the bounty not just of a spiritual mother but also a sponsor (and a grandsponsor) who's Bahá'í, too.

Thank you for doing this, daughter dear. I well remember that Holy Day dinner celebration where I brought my food to an empty table and then you came with your plate and asked to sit with me...and the next thing I knew, I was sitting there breaking bread with FIVE of my spiritual children. Talk about an amazing, joyous celebration.

Khoda hafez,

*Baha'u'llah's Fire Tablet is a poetic revelation of a "conversation" between Baha'u'llah and God. Baha'u'llah describes the state of the world and His place in it and asks how God's presence is manifested therein. God responds with rhetorical questions about what is needed for mankind to pay heed and then offers encouragement.

Mon, Apr 17, 2021 at 11:17 PM, Nancy B wrote:
  I enjoy Helena's story. I like the way she wrote it. She is very talented with her writing and singing and painting. She gives a lot of service.
  Lucki responds to Nancy B:
  I concur with you 100%. Helena has eclectic talens. Every year, I go to the Choral Fest she's in. I have a couple of items of her art front and center in my collection. And this year, she was again asked to write and present a piece at Chicago's Ridvan celebration. Talk about an all-around artist.
Sun, Jun 06, 2021 at 9:44 PM, Kim B wrote:
Hi Lucki,
  Finally had time to give your blog[s] a look this month.  So much stuff.
  LOVED the declaration story from your spiritual daughter - the hungry one.
  Was interested in the Moderna pun, but didn't get your title.  ("Modernaty" - what??)
  Was suitably saddened, grossed-out and all by the recycle rant - I feel the same way, but can live lower on the food chain here [Fiji].
  Star of the month was Mya's post.  I don't always go for Mya's stuff because I'm not into comic con and the like, but decided I had the time to take a look.  WOWSERS!  Tell her I said congrats!
  Read the adding insult posts - and just felt sad.  I don't get tv.  I don't see the ads - so for the most part this is just a misery.  But then the one about the HONEST ad - that was so funny.  Oy lei.
  Thanks for keeping up with it all.  See you in July  :)
  Lucki responds to Kim B:
  Yeah, Kim, it was a very prolific and meaty month. So's your comment!
  Helena's story is a good one, isn't it? It amazes me, sometimes, the paths people took to arrive at their chosen faith. As your own can attest.
  Just another pun ... on modernity.
  What can I say? I just hope my rant inspires someone(s) else to also start contacting companies about lowering their plastic-packaging profile.
  Glad you found the time, especially as this year's AniME is all one true-life story that has nothing to do with cosplay or cons. I'll be sure to let Mya know what you said. And hang in there, 'cuz her story ain't over yet. Not by a long shot.
  I'm glad you were able, sans TV, to appreciate the "honest ad" article. I do get notes from people just saying they recognized which ad a rant was about. Sometimes proving their point by IDing the product or company. It's rarer that someone can appreciate a rant when they've never seen the commercial it's about, just from my description. Must be writing something right.
  My plesaure. Out of curiosity, did you not have time to look at May's Aphorisms & Memes? Or don't you ever? Or did you forget to mention them? Or was there just not any you liked? Inquiring authors want to know. ;-)

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"Spoiler Alert"  - Lucifer, Season 5, Episode 8 title

Take that epigram above seriously, dear reader. If you (a) didn't see the whole 75th episode of Lucifer yet, (b) plan/hope to, and (c) don't want any spoilers, don't read this article now. You can always come back later; I'll still be here.

Finally caught up with myself long enough to binge watch me some Lucifer. Season 5A. Glad I did.

As you know, I'm a sucker for exceptional stunt casting. Not the run-of-the-mill, big-whoop, who-cares kind. The OMG-brilliant give-whoever-thunk-that-one-up-a-raise kind. You know because you saw it happen here. You remember, when I noticed the stuntish casting of Arthur Darvill in the Legends of Tomorrow pilot, but really got hooked (it turned out) on the absolutely spot-on casting of the dynamic #Wentnic duo made famous in Prison Break years earlier. (For an alternate POV, here's what that trigger looked like to my #grandMya.)

Well, the stunt casting in ep 75 of Lucifer sure comes close. It's too priceless not to share a chortle over. Maybe even an exclam! Despite the fact that it lasts mere seconds.

(Just so you know, in case you don't: Amenadiel is heaven's eldest angel, portrayed by DB Woodside. Lucifer is the lord of hell, portrayed by Tom Ellis. Michael is Lucifer's heaven-homed but scarred twin brother, also portrayed by Tom Ellis. All three are sibling archangels. Mazikeen is the chief torturer among hell's demons, portrayed by Lesley-Ann Brandt.)

(from left) Michael, Lucifer, & Amenadiel hear God's voiceSee, the ep crescendoes in this no-holds-barred battle royal raging at the police precinct between Amenadiel and Lucifer on the one side and Michael and Mazikeen on the other. And I mean, this fight is one for the books. Fists swing, blades fly, immortal bodies are thrown, time-frozen innocent bystanders are protected, havoc is wreaked. Makes wrestle-mania tag matches look like a Sunday picnic with lavender tea (pinkies extended, of course) and strawberry scones.

And it all comes to a grinding, breath-jarring halt when a strong voice calmly says "Children, you know I hate it when you fight." Michael, Lucifer, and Amenadiel (---> from left) slowly turn in stunned awe. We see God backlit. We can't see his face. But don't we know that voice? That calm, caring, trustable-in-times-of-trouble voice?

I expected a fade to black or some such there at the end of the ep. But no. The show didn't play that particular game. It played a more fun one.

The light shifts. We see the face of God...

...portrayed by Dennis Haysbert. Talk about spot-on stunt casting. This is not God Johnson (Timothy Omundson). Nor is it God as Narrator (Neil Gaiman). This is God God. God their Dad! Who else could so quickly and yet so mild-manneredly awe three raging archangels? And a demon?

And it's not merely because we do tend to feel calmed, cared for, trusting of that voice in all those handy insurance commercials. (Or at least the ad agency hopes so.) No, it's way more than that.

Remember Kiefer Sutherland's 24? I remember it well. And I've sometimes wondered if Dennis Haysbert's playing President David Palmer in that particular show a few years earlier had a bit of a beneficial effect on Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign/election. I also clearly remember DB Woodside's portrayal as Palmer's younger brother Wayne, who started off as his White House chief of staff and ended up becoming President himself.

Dennis Haysbert and DB Woodside. Senior and junior kinfolk. Again. If not a #Wentnic level dynamic duo, nevertheless a noteworthy piece of stunt casting to top off the mid-season finale. Hence this note. Looking forward to seeing how it all starts to play out (May 28) throughout Season 5B.

Khoda hafez,

Thu, Apr 1, 2021 at 2:37 PM, Melissa wrote:
  Can't wait to see this! Lol!
  Hope you are wonderful!
  Lucki responds to Melissa:
  I'm hangin' in there. Glad you're excited. You always get such fun out of things. Of course, I have no way of knowing which link(s) you're referring to. What's the this you can't wait to see?
  If you meant "can't wait to see Lucifer", I'm with you. Generally, though, that might be a good call-in question to ask your listeners [or at least Jim] one morning: "What TV show can't you wait to see the next season of?" Bet you'd get some interesting (and some weird) answers, and you'd tease out of them WHY they can't wait. You're wonderful at doing that, 'cuz you're always so upbeat about it.

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R H E T A   P.

"I recognized the difference."

Once again, we have new guest blog about finding faith. Mead wrote about this person's story in his Twigs of a Family Tree chapter. But she not only agreed to its use here, too, she also reset it as a first-person narrative, made a few changes and updates and, of course, provided some favorite photos. Introducing Rheta Posey.

Rheta & Richard PoseyOne of the true stalwarts of the Chicago Bahá'í community (and in other communities around the globe) was my late sister-in-law, Gwili Posey. When she became a Bahá'í as a young woman, her brother Richard (<<-- with me) decided to check out what his sister was newly involved in. He liked what he saw and eventually became a Bahá'í, too.

Although Christian, I often joined my family and other Bahá'ís in activities. One of the events I most enjoyed being part of and even offering service at for many years was the twice-monthly Prayer Breakfast at the Chicago Bahá'í Center on the near South Side. I felt that, as far as everyone else there was concerned, I was "family" too. That's how they treated me. And I learned a lot about the Bahá'í Faith in the process there (and elsewhere). They never pressured me about becoming Bahá'í, though. So I think they were very surprised when one day, out of the blue as far as they could tell, I declared my belief in what they believed in and asked to formally register as a member. It didn't change how welcome I felt being there, though, because I had always felt warmly welcomed. The only difference, really, was that now I would more often say we instead of you. "What do we do if we become ill during the Fast?" "How are we going to celebrate our upcoming Holy Day?" "I suggest we seniors reach out to the youth more."

A few months later, Richard and I were interviewed at the devotional breakfast by a journalist who asked how we became Bahá'ís. After Richard told his story from when he was younger, the journalist asked me if I had joined at the same time. He seemed quite surprised when I said, "No, not for years, only three months ago." So I told my declaration story, which even the other breakfast attendees hadn't heard or realized was important to me.

I told him about another seeker who had been invited to join in the breakfasts. This seeker turned out to be very abrasive and testy. She started arriving late and still expecting breakfast. The others welcomed her into the kitchen and invited her to prepare whatever she liked. When she read Bahá'í scriptural prayers, she pointedly feminized all the gendered nouns and pronouns. No one corrected her. She'd promise to come to the next breakfast and then not show up. The cooks never complained about cooking and possibly wasting too much food. When she didn't show up, attendees would express concern and be sure to include her in their prayers.

This went on for months. When she finally manufactured a reason to feel insulted and stop coming altogether, the attendees consulted on how to try to reach out to her again. Most of them volunteered to call her at least once or twice. They finally had to give up, though, and turn her over to the care of God

Rheta Posey head shotBut I had to admit I was most impressed by what happened—and didn't happen—when the seeker wasn't there. There was no complaining, no backbiting, no wishing she'd stop coming. Instead, they expressed concern, prayed for her, repeatedly tried to reach out to her. I saw loving attention detached from any insistence that the lady reciprocate by joining the Faith. I compared it to the behind-your-back behavior I too often see in the world, and I recognized the difference. That was the exclamation point in making my decision to become Bahá'í.

I'm very happy I became a Bahá'í; AND I still attend the Prayer Breakfasts, although we're on Zoom now. I stay involved in other areas, too, like Holy Day celebrations, studying the Writings, consultation at Feasts, and so on. Although my husband and sister-in-law have both transitioned to the Kingdom, when I'm with my fellow Bahá'ís I'm still with family.

Thank you for your work on this, Rheta.

Khoda hafez,

Thu, Apr 1, 2021 at 4:44 PM, Kim wrote:
  Especially enjoy the "how I became a Baha'i stories" and hope they sit well with your wider-community readership. And of the "how I became a Baha'i stories"' the one snippet that, Man oh Man, brings me to account is the story of the difficult attendee who ended up ghosting everybody and the detached response of the Baha'is throughout that. That could have gone so different in a different community. What a blessing that those Baha'is were living the life well ... (such a subtle test! ... maybe having a seeker present inspired them to their best behavior?
  Lucki responds to Kim:
   Hi, Kim. Glad you're enjoying the declaration stories. And yeah, I also include another Abiding Blog article every month for people (whether Baha'i or not) to still enjoy if declaration stories aren't their thing. And ya know, I didn't even think of what Rheta saw as being a test, subtle or otherwise. Thanx for that insight.
  When you say "having a seeker present behavior", I'm not sure whom you're referring to. If you mean the "difficult attendee", well, people acted the same way whether she was there or not. If you mean Rheta, I don't think we ever really thought of her as a seeker. She was family; so we weren't on any best behavior, we were just comfortable.

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W O O F ?

Cat 1: Meow.
Cat 2: Woof!
Cat 1: Woof? Whadda ya mean "Woof"?
Cat 2: I'm learning a foreign language.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Xenoglossia is the ability to speak a language without having learned it.
This sounds like a really neat trick if you can manage it."  - World Wide Words

It's been over a year since we've discussed the psychic powers of cats. That just won't do. So without further ado, let me offer you...

Data point 7: Xenoglossia
Let's clarify terminology, because cats seem not so much creatures of faith as of absolute certainty (that they are the center of the universe). After noting that xenoglossia"is regarded as a psychic phenomenon", World Wide Words goes on to inform us that "It sounds as if it's related to speaking in tongues, which is found in many religions and has been recorded from the earliest historical times; [but] the formal term for that is glossolalia." It stresses, though that "from a language point of view the difference is profound." And it clearly describes that difference.  Glossolalia, it tells us "is a succession of meaningless syllables interpretable only through faith." In xenoglossia, however, "the implication is that a real language is being spoken that is intelligible to native speakers and in which the person can converse."

So let me start with Seraphin, whom you met as he teleported in my friend's living room. His ability to also speak English loudly and clearly once got me in trouble with my neighbors. BIG trouble.

I was living in a building where there were six apartments connected to the front stairwell, mine being on the raised 1st floor, west side. One day, I needed to take Seraphin to the vet. So I did what I usually did when I wanted to take him outside. I slipped him into his figure-8 harness, picked him up, and off we went.

Seraphin didn't protest. He must've known that if he started making a fuss in the apartment, I'd ignore him. No, he very intelligently waited for the moment when his shocking protest would do the most good. When we were in the stairwell. And his voice would echo to kingdom come.

"No!" he then cried at the top of his lungs. "NO-o-o-o!! NOOO!"

Next thing I knew, most of the other apartment doors had been flung open and people were on the landings trying to ascertain if a child was being abducted or abused in the hallway. "Just my cat," I assured them. But there were nevertheless some suspicious mumbles (and several laughs) as they returned to their homes.

Still, Seraphin had learned that his special English word did get quite a reaction. So he continued to use it every time I started to take him somewhere he didn't want to go. (And come to think of it, how did he know we were headed for the vet instead of, say, merely going out for a walk? Have we just proved another feline psychic ability? Mental telepathy? Or was it more mine than his? Inquiring minds want to know!)

Nancy's cat Max perched on a card tableApparently, Seraphin isn't the only feline master of a bit of xenoglossia. My friend Far Southside Nancy (I know too many Nancys), who shared a guest entry with us last month, recently told me something about her cat Max ---->, roommate of feline Hansel and canine Lucy that you saw last year. It seems Max also has a special English word and knows when and how to use it. Not the same word as Seraphin, though. During summer, Nancy sometimes leaves her back door open so her cats can go out to the locked porch, survey their backyardly domain, and have converse with any other cats wandering by.

Sometimes, when she doesn't leave the back door open, the cats still want to go out there. Hansel just nudges the door, trying to get it to open. Max, however, goes farther. He knows that if you can unlatch the lock and then turn the doorknob, the door will open. He tries; he really does. He stretches up and gets his paws into position. He's even strong enough to get the knob to turn sometimes. But he can't undo the lock. At which point, he voices a sharp demand. "OUT!" He's very clear about it. He's not saying "me-owt" or "ow"; he's saying "Out! OUT!" And he's learned that it gets his person's attention every time. So now he also uses it when he wants to go out the front door. Or when he's in the window and sees another cat. Or even when he's hanging out on the kitchen card table and he wants his person to get her head outa whatever she's doing and get into playing with him.

I'm not finished, though. 'Cuz anything worth proving about cats is worth overproving. And 'cuz I thought that maybe every cat had one special word they knew in English. I didn't realize that some of them might know more than one word and can hold a whole conversation.

Angel asleep in her office cot while this artcle is being writtenWhich leads us to Mya's Angel), whom you first saw hanging out with my Silver. (<---- She's here sleeping beside me as I'm writing this article.) I'll share only a trio of examples, but they're not the only ones I've heard from her (Angel, not Mya).

One day I was sitting reading a book. Angel came into the room and jumped onto a soft surface an arm's length from me at eye level. I didn't pay any attention, as I was very absorbed in what I was reading. That was OK with her. She just wanted to share space with me. Space she simply stared into. Cogitating on catly concepts. Or maybe meditating. Practicing inward and outward stillness. After 10 or 15 minutes, I looked up and focused on her. She saw the movement and looked at me. "Hi," I said. And she replied "Hi." (Honest. She did. Where is my digital recorder when I need it? And my TARDIS?)

Lest you think that was merely echolalia, her repeating what I said, consider this. Another time, I heard a thump as I turned through the hallway door into the living room. "What made that noise?" I wondered aloud. "Me," she admitted, apparently having just jumped down from her cat condo.

A third time, she did something that I thought was pretty cool. I complimented her: "Who's a good girl?" And she clearly responded. Not with a word, but with a sentence: "I am."

To the best of my knowledge, cats aren't sneaking off to the Sorbonne or running Rosetta Stone behind our backs. But don't tell me they can't speak our very foreign language when they want to.

Khoda hafez,
P.S. To make sure I had Max's info correct, I asked Nancy to preview this article last night. She said I had Max down to a tee, but she had some more-recent episodes to add. This past February, when the snow was deep, Max went to the front door one day and begged "Out!" Nancy looked up from her computer and replied, "Max, you can't go out. No. There's too much snow!" And Max queried, with the proper rising inflection, "No-o-O?" Of course it's possible, Nancy opined, that Max was simply echoing her NO sounds. But maybe he actually learned about NO from Seraphin's story, again via mental telepathy. Either way, it wasn't quite so impressive. But this month, he morphed that syllable into something new. When he could see out the window that the snow was gone, he returned to the front door and demanded, "Out. Out NOW!"

P.P.S. Well, not to be outdone (I swear Nancy's cats and mine are using mental telepathy to teach each other stuff and issue challenges), Angel came up with a new one yesterday. While I was houseworking, she pulled something a bit unwonted. And unwanted. I protested, "Hey, cat, stop; that was weird." Looking at me suspiciously, she asked, "What?" I started to tell her, "You need to..." but got distracted and, looking away, hesitated for several seconds. With a petulant glare and tone, she called me back to the important business: HER. "What?!" she demanded again.

Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 9:56 AM, Greg wrote:
  I enjoy your psychic cat stories. My cat Cordie says a special word, too, lots of times, "Wow!"
  Lucki responds to Greg:
  So apparently Cordie is into learning new things, and is blown away by the neverending wonders of the universe. It just goes to show that while unsatisfied curiosity may indeed kill the cat, satisfaction/answers definitely revives it again. (I purely hate how people chop off the back end of that saying just so they can use it to discourage curiosity, instead of encouraging it like the saying was originally meant to do.)

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N A N C Y   B.

"I was home."

Another declaration story. Another guest blogger, this time via interview. 'Nuff said. Without further ado, let me introduce Nancy Bagley. Tell us your story, Nancy.

As a young child, though my family didn't really go to church, I did. I remember getting baptized at the Baptist church when I was nine, old enough to convince them that I knew what I wanted and why. As I was growing up, my family moved a lot; and during those times, I went to many different Protestant churches. At 17, I met the love of my life. He was Lutheran, born and raised in the Lutheran church. And so, because I had no particular denomination and believed we were all worshipping the same God, it was very easy for me to start going to his church with him. We got married in the Lutheran church.

But you know, during the years, I just didn't understand why they had so many man-made laws. I didn't understand why if you (or even a baby) weren't baptized, you would go to hell because you died "unsaved". Or why if a person was going to a synagogue or a mosque, or even a different kind of Christian church, then they were considered a heathen even though they also believed in the one God.

As I continued in my life, I stayed Lutheran as I wanted to keep our family together; but I didn't agree with several things the Lutherans were committed to. After many years, though, I had a tragedy happen that led to divorce. Still, that gave me the opportunity to search for something that I could completely believe in.

I was in Virginia Beach, VA when I just realized that I didn't have to remain in the Lutheran church or even in any Christian church. Even though I truly loved Jesus, I needed to search for something more I could truly believe in. They had the Edgar Cayce Foundation there, and I decided to go investigate it. I was very much into dreams at that time, and what they bring to us from God, so I went to some of their lectures on dreams and started reading some books. But when I got into depth with it, I realized it wasn't what I wanted. So then I tried the New Age movement that was getting popular at that time. I loved the idea that we were all connected in a circle of life. But I still believed in Christ, and I realized I needed to find something where the people believed in Christ and that we all came from the one God and are all connected.

Nancy Bagley with her spiritual mother Jean GhofraniI had been going to college to get my social work degree; and just before graduation I had a family class. They wanted each of us to do a paper on married couples who had two different backgrounds. Now, while doing my field placement for social work, I worked in a nursing home. There was a very wonderful social worker there named Jean (<<-- left, with me). We were instant friends, so it's no wonder she became a spiritual mother to me. She had just gotten married soon after we met. She and her husband were Bahá'í and had a Bahá'í wedding. Unfortunately, when she invited me and told me about the ceremony, it sounded very strange; so I decided not to go (which I deeply regret to this day).

Jean and Mehran Ghofrani being my close friends (even, still, to this day). I asked them to let me interview them for my class paper, because she's Brazilian and he's Iranian. And I thought their having this Bahá'í Faith in common would make for a wonderful paper. When I interviewed them, they gave me plenty of Bahá'í pamphlets to use, but at the time I was just interested in the paper, not in their Faith itself.

Still, after I'd looked at all the Edgar Cayce and New Age stuff and decided they both were not for me, in about six months I started to read the Bahá'í literature again. After all, I had it there conveniently; and I spent a lot of time with Jean and Mehran, including going to Bahá'í picnics and celebrations with them. I asked Jean if they were still having those firesides she'd been talking about before, and she said yes. I sought her assurance that "They won't put me in the center of attention, would they? I just want to be there and listen." She said that, no, they won't do that.

But she was wrong. When I got to the first fireside, I was the only seeker there. So of course they paid me a lot of attention. After all, firesides are places where people who don't know a lot about the Bahá'í Faith can learn in a homey atmosphere. Somehow, they made me feel very comfortable, so it wasn't so bad.

After that meeting, I starting reading a lot of Bahá'í Scriptures and a few explanatory books like Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era. I continued to go to firesides. I loved the principles; to my way of thinking, they felt right. But my main problem was that I needed to feel convinced Bahá'u'lláh could be the return of Christ, because Christ told us He would come to us again. So one of the members asked me if I'd like to read Thief in the Night: The Case of the Missing Millennium by William Sears. I did. The book had a lot of references to the Holy Bible; and as I read it, I looked up every biblical reference in my Bible itself. By halfway through the book, I stopped looking the references up because every one so far had been accurate. And in my mind I said that, yes, I can believe Bahá'u'lláh is the promised return of Christ.

I went with Jean and Mehran to a going-away party for a couple who were moving to Chicago, Art and Chris Stanwood. As I was talking to Hal Theriault there, I said "I think I do believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the return of Christ." Hal asked, "Do you want to become a Bahá'í?" I responded, "I think i just want to wait and think about it a little more." He told me, "You know, Nancy, if you believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the return of Christ, then there's nothing else you have to wait for because that's the most important thing to you." Right that second I said, "You know, YES, I think you're right. I want to be a Bahá'í." Being my first and closest teacher, Jean brought me a declaration card so my Bahá'í community would know I had declared I was a Bahá'í, and would have the information to reach out to me.

But there was one more little test. They brought me a pen. It didn't work. I thought: Hmmmm. They brought me another pen. It didn't work. I wondered if I was making a mistake. But they didn't give up and neither did I. They brought me a third pen, it worked, and I signed the card on July 27, 1990. I wasn't just a Bahá'í; I was a Bahá'í who belonged to a community of 75 Bahá'ís, and to the worldwide Bahá'í community. And they gave me a prayer book with the signatures of everyone in the room, which I still have.Nancy Bagley volunteering at a Baha'i celebration

(Interestingly, when I was moving to Chicago in 1993 to work at the Bahá'í Home for the elderly (where I served as Assistant Administrator, Social Worker, and Activity Director), Art and Chris were also the people who learned their downstairs neighbor had just moved out of his apartment, and asked their landlord to hold it for me, which he did, That was one demonstration that not just my own local Bahá'í community but the whole world community, wherever they were and wherever I went, had my back.)

From that day, I deepened in all the books I could get my hands on, and got very involved in the Bahá'í community, including being elected to the Spiritual Assembly of Virginia Beach six months later. Jean jokingly warned me not to do too much; "Moderation in all things!" she reminded me. But I was so enthusiastic. (It's been 30 years, and I still am. I love volunteering. (-->>) I'd found my place. I was home.

Beautiful. Thank you, Nancy.

Khoda hafez,

Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 9:17 PM, Marianne wrote:
  Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your search for something you could completely believe in, and how your first, hesitant steps into the Baha'i Faith turned into strides of service. Wonderful!
-Marianne S. Geula
  Nancy responds to Marianne:
  Thank you, Marianne. I feel that this is my destiny, this is where I'm supposed to be; and it's wonderful that you can see that, too.

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"As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the mind, soul, heart, and body
of our patients, their families, and ourselves. They may forget your name,
but they will never forget how you made them feel."  - Maya Angelou
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Constant attention by a good nurse may be just as important
as a major operation by a surgeon."  - Dag Hammarskjöld

I started to feature and make light of this in Adding Insult, but (a) it's a print ad, not a TV commercial, and (b) it's anything but light ... in both senses of the word. It's trying to be lighthearted, but the end result for too many readers will (and/or should) mean nursing at least a twinge of pain. And it's trying to shine a light on important people, but it's so oblivious to both reality and perception that it does anything but enlighten.

The "cute" product being advertised is a series of collectible mini-dolls honoring nurses. That seems appropriate, in a way, given the amazing service being rendered by nurses and other frontline medical workers during the pandemic. And by "medical workers" I also mean everyone from nurse practitioners to nursing aides to phlebotomists to orderlies to housekeeping staff ... every single unsung frontline person risking so much to serve us in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, ambos, etc. It even seems appropriate that they're humorous dolls, because heaven knows we need to find ways to chuckle in the midst of turmoil.

And so, one company is offering a line of dolls entitled "Nurses: Frontline Heroes". Cool. Its print ad clearly shows us the first doll in the series: "I'm a Nurse! What's Your Superpower?" Complete with scrubs, super-stance, S-shield, cape, and cap."Superpower" Nurse dollBack of "Superpower" Nurse doll

OK, sorta fun. I'm not into collectibles like that, though. Besides which, although the company says it "supports" the American Nurses Foundation, nowhere does the ad promise that any of the money I'd spend on these dolls is actually going to the Foundation. So never mind.

But that wasn't the part that earned this advert a pan at all, never mind in Abiding Blog rather than Adding Insult. No, what really bugged me was seeing what was added to encourage folks who have money to burn on this kind of thing, which also isn't me, to collect the whole series.

It showed me the company's upcoming series of 4. "I'm a Nurse! What's Your Superpower?" and three coworkers. Starting with "Spread Kindness, Not Germs". Which doll is the only one offering even a nod to the pandemic and the need for frontline medical people to wear uncomfortable PPE at all times.

Speaking of which. I want you to think back to all the newscasts, and even scripted shows, you've seen this past year where frontline medical workers are interviewed, or followed on the job, or shown walking out of their workplace to the cheers of friends and strangers who appreciate their to-often-dismissed service. Because one thing you'll probably notice is that when you compare the percentages in, say, the nursing and housekeeping staffs to the doctors and execs, the former comprise way more minorities than the latter do. Which is one - just ONE - of the factors that makes this pandemic more pernicious and fatal in minority communities.

Do you see that reflected in the pictured series? 'Cuz I don't!Collection of 4 nurse dolls...all female, all white
All white. And all female.

"Oh, what's the harm?" someone is sure to say. The harm is the obliviousness. The harm is the skewed portrait of reality. The harm is the default assumptions this ad is endorsing. The harm to me and mine is every little boy and every little Black girl who, soon after leaving or possibly while still in the nursery, would dream of frontline medical service if only they could see themselves there. If only society fed them images of their potential inclusion with their mother's milk.

Here would be one great opportunity to do so. To let children see that inclusiveness. Kids whose parents or grands or other adults in their environment might buy these dolls. Even more so, kids whose parents, etc., don't have that money to burn but might buy the periodicals these ads run in. Maybe even kids whose school teachers or faith-community teachers or babysitters or whatever might cut out these pix to use in projects with the kids.

But no-o-o-o.

Maybe this bias is out of sheer tunnel vision. Wearing blinders. (Lord knows I've come a cropper of that myself sometimes.) OTOH, maybe it's out of baldfaced intention. Because the company or its ad agency assumes only wealthy white people buy this stuff and it doesn't want to do anything to even marginally offend that audience. So it panders to their privileged perceptions. Which sure cuts out me and my dreadlocks even if I were a nurse. Ignores my Number One Son's EMT service. Tries to tell my aspiring
#grandMya she actually has no place in the front lines of any health field. (Luckily, she's tellin' 'em were they can stick that idea!)

'Scuse me, but that ain't right. Good job dissing every minority in sight. Including many dedicated male nurses ... none of whom wear caps. Waydago there, collectible company. Count this black Mom/Grams out even if I did have the disposable dough to waste on your little dolls.

Khoda hafez,

Sun, Mar 14, 2021 at 11:08 PM, Nancy B wrote:
  You were right. When I scrolled up through this article to start reading at the top, I saw the picture of the nurses for a second, but didn't read the words. I thought "Oh, that's really nice, all those nurses." It didn't even occur to me that they were all white and all women, and it should have. Thank you for bringing these things up and making people think about them.
  Lucki responds to Nancy B:
  You're quite welcome. I can't tell you how many times I've tripped over the same issue. Not seeing what I'm not seeing. When I notice, I can write about it. When I don't notice, when I'm oblivious to the obvious, when I'm conned into default thinking, when I don't notice I'm drinking the kool-aid, then obviously I can't write about it. I'm sure that happens all too often. It's freakin' insidious.
Thu, Apr 1, 2021 at 4:44 PM, Kim wrote:
  Quite enjoyed the April showers of gifts from March ... And of your other postings that I read, the one that hit home were those stinking nurse dolls. Sheesh! Such a sweet and timely idea. Such a lost opportunity
Kim, RN
  Lucki responds to Kim:
  Nurse dolls, yes. Forgot you were an RN, so it's no wonder that resonated with you. And you put it so well. Timely idea/lost opportunity is spot on!

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H A R O L D   W.

"Hallelujah praise the Lord!"

I've often mentioned the Baha'i Faith, and/or some of its principles, in various blog entries. So you sort of know what it means to me. But you deserve to hear from others, too. To read, if nothing else, what brought some others to declare that they, too, are Baha'i. Of course, you can read my declaration story in Twigs of a Family Tree. Also Mead's, Rezvanieh's and Theresa's. But not everyone can get the book (here) right now. So I'm askinig some friends to share their stories. So without further ado, let me (gratefully) introduce Harold Williams.Harold Williams in business attire

Before last August, I'd never told on any social media my story of how I became a believer in the Baha'i faith. Then I posted it on Facebook for friends. And now is the first time I am ever presenting it in a totally public blog. It was a lifelong journey, but in the interest of holding your interest, I will abbreviate as much as possible.

I was born in 1948. That is 85 years after the emancipation of my enslaved African ancestors. I am almost certain that my great grandparents were born as enslaved people and that my grandparents were born soon afterwards. That is not so long ago. I am eternally grateful to my ancestors for all that they endured so that I may be here today. What they endured is also a testament to the power of God. Today, their descendants have been described as "the pupil of the eye" by God's Manifestation (or Voice) for this day: Bahá'u'lláh. 

His eldest son Άbdu'l-Bahá once said, a century or more ago, "Bahá'u'lláh once compared the coloured* people to the black pupil of the eye surrounded by the white. In this black pupil you see the reflection of that which is before it, and through it the light of the Spirit shines forth.".

The quote below is taken from the scriptural book The Hidden Words revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. It sums up what I felt and believed most of my life.

O Children of Men!  Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.

So, what happened? How did I find out about this new faith?

My exposure to God and religion happened as a child whose parents took him to church every Sunday. I grew up in the Church of God in Christ (a Christian faith, Protestant branch, Pentecostal denomination), in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. My Sunday school teacher would give us an assignment to find a certain scripture in the Bible for the following Sunday. As an incentive, he would give the one who found it 25¢. I earned a lot of quarters, and the ability to read the Bible for myself. At age 13, I was relocated to my birth town in Mississippi (a story within itself). During my one-year stay there, I was exposed to the southern Baptist style of worship. I returned to Chicago but no longer attended church. It wasn't any disbelief in God. It was simply because I was no longer made to go to church by anyone.
I graduated from high school in '66. The military draft was in full force due to the war in Vietnam. I was classified as 1A, which meant that I was draftable. I decided that, maybe, I should get baptized. So, I went to my old church, confessed my belief in Christ and got baptized. But something happened during the baptism that caused me to question and think more deeply about God, religion, people, and myself.

You see, there were two other young men being baptized that day. I was third in line. The pastor baptized us all in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The first person was submerged into the pool of water and, when he was raised up, he began to shout, "Hallelujah praise the Lord!". The second person was submerged and, when lifted out of the water, said the same thing. Now it was my turn. The pastor leaned me back into the water and baptized me in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When he lifted me out, I did not feel the Spirit run through me. I did not start shouting, or even thinking, "Hallelujah praise the Lord!" I just felt wet. I was perplexed, dazed, and confused. Had I done something wrong in God's eyes such that I did not deserve this baptism? I did not stop believing God, but I had some questions.

Soon after, I joined the United States Air Force at age 18. I travelled to several foreign countries during my service, and for the first time met people from different lands. I noticed that people were not that different from one another. We all worshipped a superior being in our own way. We all wanted the same things for our families, such as the ability to live in peace, to be able to provide food, clothing, and shelter for our loved ones. Even in Vietnam, the civilians that I met also wanted those things. I began to look at wars caused by people proclaiming that their religion is the right religion and everyone else is going to hell. Did not God create all of us?

When I turned 30, I started to seriously look for answers. After watching historical clips of Martin Luther King Jr. being stoned for attempting to go into an all-white church in Marquette Park in 1967, I felt really upset. Here was a man of God trying to go to a church to worship, and being stoned because of the color of his skin. Something was terribly wrong with that. I started investigating different religious groups in an attempt to find some answers, but to no avail. I was really beginning to be concerned that nearly 2,000 years had passed, and God had not spoken to us again. I felt that He had abandoned His creation and just left us all alone, and we were doing great harm to ourselves, even killing each other. I started telling someone about my investigation, my search for answers, and they mentioned the Bahá'í faith and the temple in Wilmette, Illinois. I was still eager to find answers, so I went up there to see for myself what this Bahá'í faith was all about.Harold Williams in casual attire

I sat in the temple's Foundation Hall and watched a film about the central figures of this faith and its beliefs. At the end of the film, a sense of peace come over me. I left that central room and began looking at displays hanging on the walls. There was one that illustrated progressive revelation, the revealing of divine truths to humankind over time as we progressed enough to need and to understand them. It showed that Voices of God like (but not limited to) Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb, and Bahá'u'lláh are one in spirit and reality. It showed that each Prophet fulfilled the promise of the One who came before; and likewise, each announced the One who would follow. This was the answer to my question about God leaving us to ourselves for nearly 2,000 years. God had never left us alone! We just failed to see the bigger picture.

This was my long-awaited moment to shout, "Hallelujah praise the Lord!"

That very day (August 25, 1978), I joined the Bahá'í Faith by declaring my belief to my "spiritual father" Kurt Hein, and I am still amazed by it after 42 years. If you have questions or comments, email me here with FOR HAROLD in the Subject line. I will even gladly set up a time to talk with you if you wish.

* Referring specifically to black people, not to people of color in general.

And that is, really, all it takes. For anyone. For Harold. For you, if you're interested. When you're ready, you simply tell another Baha'i that you are Baha'i. You don't need to have undertaken any formal study. You don't need to know all the Scriptures (as if anyone could). You don't need to pledge any tithe. You don't need to undergo any ritual. You don't have to immediately practice - or even be aware of - all the principles and Baha'i laws. You just have to be willing to learn. At your own speed. And to try to live up to your faith. To the best of your ability with what you have at the time. And it's your option, then, whether you wish to also be "registered" in the worldwide Baha'i community. Which you can accomplish (in the U.S.; other countires may have other methods) simply by filling out a registration card to be forwarded to the Local Spiritual Assembly of your municipality or, if there isn't one, to the National Baha'i Center so they know how to reach you and can put you in touch with nearby Baha'is.

Thank you, Harold.

Khoda hafez,

Sun, Jan 17, 2021 at 10:20 AM, Nancy B. wrote:
   This was good, Harold. It was very good. I like the way you told your story.


Harold responds to Nancy:
   There's a lot more of it, but I didn't want it to get too long.



Sun, Jan 17, 2021 at 10:24 AM, Nancy B. wrote:
   Yeah, ya could go on forever. But I thought you did very well.

Mon, Feb 2, 2021 at 2:20 PM, Barbara wrote:
Dear Lucki,
   I love the article by dear Harold. I just learned he and I graduated from high school the same year—but he found the Faith so much sooner than I did! Good for him!
   I can think of a couple people I'm going to share this with. Thanks Lucki!
Loving greetings,


Lucki responds to Barbara:
  Glad you enjoyed it. I have a couple more guests blogs in the works. Stay tuned.
  BTW, speaking of high school "encounters", would you believe that one of those guest bloggers and I recently found out we had attended the same distant high school at the same distant time.



Tue, Feb 2, 2021 at 2:24 PM, Barbara wrote:
  It must have been a big school or you were in different grades - or you might have known each other. A fullblown red rose

      Lucki responds to Barbara:
  You'll find out when it gets published. Of course, any or all of your scenarios could've been in play.
Sun, Febuary 28, 2021 at 7:33 PM, Marianne. wrote:
  Ah, yes- the guest blog featuring Harold W! That was wonderful! Thank you for featuring his story of finding the Faith!


Lucki responds to Marianne:
  Ah, glad you saw that, but Harold was last month. This month was Nancy. Gotta keep up, girlfriend. LOL
    Mon, March 1, 2021 at 8:13 AM, Marianne. wrote:
  Another day, another chance.....

email your feedback with ABIDING BLOG and the entry date as the subject



"Green is the prime color of the world,
and that from which its loveliness arises."  - Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Back near the end of December, I was phone-chatting with my #grandMya and I happened to mention the new plant growing in my office window. It's something I do almost every year, 'cuz in the drab of winter the eye  - the soul - craves living green. At her query, I explained to her what I had just started, how I was doing it, and the results so far.

Cabbage scrap in late December 2020Cabbage scrap in early January 2021Her response? "I'd love to see that."

So I promised to send her a pic. Which I did. Two pics, actually. Taken a week apart: <=== December 28 and January 4.===>

Her response? "Ooh so cute!"

Behind that, I sent her a detailed email. 'Cuz she likes cute. So I thought she might even be interested in doing her own plant. And I'm sharing it here 'cuz you, too, might be craving a touch of fresh, new green. And this kind of "gardening" is as simple as mud. You don't need a green thumb. You don't even need dirt. All you need is what's left over when you finish eating a cabbage, a recycled container, and water. The email said:

Thanx. Home-y hydroponics in action. All 3 disks came from 1 cabbage stalk. I have another head of cabbage I'm eating; so when that's done, I may plant a 2nd container full. Especially during winter, the eye craves bright, living  green.

Do you have a sunny-ish window in your dorm room? You could do the same thing. Any [recycled glass or plastic] container will do.

Put the inch-thick disks in & then add enough water to come 1/3 to 1/2 way up the disks. Add more water every few days as needed. I put paper towels behind the container as insulation from the cold window frame. I put them on the sill in the daytime, & back on my PC credenza, right under the heat vent, at night. (Of course, if you have a piece of furniture against the wall & the sun will come directly in, you don't need to keep it on the window sill at all, which means you don't have to move it away at night.)

Depending on conditions, especially sunniness v. cloudiness, the core disks may even start to grow rootlets. Which means you might be able to plant them outside in the spring. Or you might decide, as I've been known to do, to eat the leaves. Sooner is better than later, though, to keep them from growing bitter.

Regrowing from veggie scraps like this in nothing but water also works for lettuce and bok choi cores, celery bases, carrot tops, scallion bottoms, and bean and garlic-clove sprouts. Try it for free food. (In other words, it might save you some "cabbage".) Or just try it for free fun. Especially try it with any home-bored, wall-climbing kids in your vicinity.

If you let the resulting plants grow for long enough, and they get hot enough, they may even "bolt" and grow flowers. (I don't keep my home warm enough in winter for that to happen, but it has happened in summer sun.)

This is such an easy way to put a bright, green spin on winter. To uplift your spirits with warm hope. For as Percy Bysshe Shelley exulted, "O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?"

Khoda hafez,

Fri, Jan 8, 2021 at 7:01 PM, Mya wrote:
   Super cute blog post. I wonder if anyone will actually start doing the cabbages! If they do, I hope they share that with you.


Lucki responds to Mya:
   Well, for starters, do you think you might? Ya know, if you have some growing in your door room, you can always give them as a mental health gift to anyone on campus who you see is feeling depressed or suffering from S.A.D.



Fri, Jan 9, 2021 at 10:37 AM, Mya wrote:
   I might give it a thought!

      Lucki responds to Mya:
  OK. Lemme know when you get back to campus. I love you forever. Mwah. Bye bye.
        Fri, Jan 9, 2021 at 10:51 AM, Mya wrote:
   Love you forever too. Mwah! Bye bye or as you say TTFN.
Sun, Febuary 28, 2021 at 2:54 PM, Marianne. wrote:
  Love it! Thanks for sharing the songs!!!!! 3 pentads of hearts  Enjoying your "greening" tips. -MSG


Lucki responds to Marianne:
  Yeah, they seemed appropriate.  Greening tips?



Sun, Feb 28, 2021 at 7:33 PM, Marianne wrote:
  My comments to you were about your post re: growing greens from cuttings.

email your feedback with ABIDING BLOG and the entry date as the subject



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