Archives for category: Pilgrimage

from You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Lulu.com/Amazon, the author’s garage….. ISBN 978-0-557-20933-0-essays, poetry, observations from a twin’s dying to cubicle despair in a corporate world with voices of buoyant pathos, mystical reverence – you catch my drift

Why do I write?  Like now, when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because I, the washer, am typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe.  I carried that hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid.  I write to a lady in prison, who said “I liked a phrase you wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a wedding cake, and I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too.  Maybe we all love too much, and I write because maybe none of us love too much, for we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour.  But then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift-writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room.  I write of hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham,  ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is  a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness,  and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day.  These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

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CXXX: Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in …

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Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.

The best writing teacher you'll ever want to meet

Jack Grapes -fantastic writer, teacher of poetic souls, and lovely man

Help, I lost a few days. Last I knew it was the 11th and then this morning, I called out to Bill, “What day is it”? He replied, “the 13th.” I read from the most incredible daily reader of the Baha’is Writings, published in London and out of print, and it is heavenly and unique and the fragrances of same float around my heart. Baha’is are encouraged to read from the Writings in the morning and the evening, and of course, we say what prayers resonate with us. There is a requirement of an Obligatory Prayer, and there are 3 choices. The following is the noonday prayer:

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.

There is none other God but Thee, the help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
Baha’u’llah

I wake up in the morning, and the first thing that flies to my mind is “I have wakened in Thy shelter, O my God, and it becometh him that seeketh that shelter to abide within the Sanctuary of Thy protection and the Stronghold of Thy defense. Illumine my inner being, O my Lord, with the splendors of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, even as Thou didst illumine my outer being with the morning light of thy favor.”. Baha’u’llah

You know this blog started out about losing a few days; all of which have been action packed, insightful, wonderful connection with people, but here I sit, it is 1.25, and I should walk. I haven’t even taken my morning meds. I may take a nap instead. Hard to be wise with my body.

Last night in Pasadena, at the Judges Nelson’s home, Navid Dheghani spoke. He’s a scientist and one of the people who work on the Mars is it Rover? the machine that lands on Mars, and all. Last night he gave a wonderful presentation of an overall view of the Baha’i Faith, and then in the question and answer times, talked about science a bit. A funny, modest, humble, and knowledgeable man. It was great.

I have several books to read: Mudbound. Read it once; it’s terrific and it’s Pasadena’s One City, One Book read; a friend wants me to participate in my favorite library, La Pintoresca, so I will re-read it, and our book club which has been meeting for at least five years is reading it for February. Then, we are reading The Long Walk, now made into a film; the author’s name is a Polish one, and I lent my copy of the book out.

Years ago, late 1960s I discovered this book, and it made such an impact upon me. I notice it’s been republished, and one of the blurbs on the front cover describe it aptly as “Homeric,” and I would say yes. The story of this man; his survival; the group he is with, their connection and unity with each other, remains nested within my memory bank; hopefully forever; and surely along with An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum and her Letters from Westerbork.

Why is it I am so drawn to memoir? I think I have always been fascinated with man’s inhumanity to man, and man’s humanity to man. My first pilgrimage, trip to Israel, visiting Christian and Jewish holy places and then to Haifa, to the Baha’i Shrines, I felt the themes of this ribboning through the country as I witnessed the Holocaust memorial.

The Baha’is believe in all the religions and consider religious truth to be like an unfolding scroll, relative to the day and age, but God, an unknowable Essence, is absolute. Spiritual truth is spiritual truth and is not obsolete. It is revealed with each Messenger in a different manner, much like if you looked around you and saw lights or lamps of different kinds, you would see the light source is the same, but the vehicle holding the light is different, and then the social teachings are changed to meet the needs of the day. All of the Messengers of God, Prophets, or what we in the Baha’i Faith call Manifestations occupy the same high, mystical, incredible level, an abstract level of unity really which we as puny souls can hardly imagine. We need these Divine Luminaries, these Educators of Mankind, these Divine Physicians of the Age.

At any rate i read voraciously and read a lot of books by Buddhists, Jewish, Islamic writers. And of course all memoir. I think we are in such an age of transition that people must speak out and record their truths. I often think of a kaleidescope as an image; are we not all chips of different colors – moving, shaping, but connected? I would like to think so.

Wow I can’t believe i’m going on like this, but so be it.

I had a writing workshop Monday evening, at Ten Thousand Villages, which is an awesome and aesthetically pleasing experience. They feature artifax, jewely, vases, cloth, you name it, from around the world, made by villagers who support themselves by their creations. I am st up in the basement, and it is a long white walled room, and somehow we did it: 2 tables, some folding chairs around, and I set up a whiteboard talking about showing versus telling in writing. I spoke about Oakley Hall and Jack Grapes, two of my writing heroes and teachers, and 17 people of all manner came, and we had a blast. We cooked as I like to say. then the next day i taught my usual writing workshop at the Women’s Room, a haven for homeless women, and women in transition, and they (the clients) and the volunteers can participate in writing. They have done soooo well, and we are family. What a group.

So now, I’m going to close after this unexpected tell it like it is, blog, and take a nap. Bill’s daughter, Tory, coming up for a vist. Did I mentioln, the day is utterly gorgeous, sun, breeze, temp of about 71 degrees by our little pool house.

One more thing; i liked President Obama’s talk; my heart twisted, particuarly gazing at the father’s face of the wonderful little 9 year old girl; I hope this even brings about more civility and unity. If we had children, would we let our kids squabble so divisively in a family?

High regards to all who read this.




Some pictures of Mt. Carmel and Acca from Pilgrimage!

I’ll put a couple of pictures on this blog; taken by Gary Badke, of British Columbia. he and his wife Joan were on pilgrimage with me. His website is www.badke.ca/windflowerflutes and he is a wonderful photographer.
i don’t know what pics i’ll put here, so i’ll be surprised too!

Halo Moon Meets HyperPhysics Over Falafel at the Mercaz
Esther Bradley-DeTally

I sit here at the top of Mercaz in Israel, in a small, dart-in, take-a-quick glance-to-the-left at a glass counter, a man stuffing a half pita with round crusty balls, and a cabinet filled with icy drinks, coke being my Falafel companion.

There’s no halo moon sitting inside besides me on my chair, my Pilgrimage badge tucked into a pocket, so maybe baby I won’t get overcharged as an innocent on her search for the proper Chickpeas – big round ones, resting on a bed of hummus, surrounded by lettuce and pickles and cabbage and onions and tomatoes like it’s the best Our Gang pita to hang out in.

Are you with me? How about these Hills of Haifa. Yeah, I’m a newly emerged mountain goat who just hoofed, cavorted her pilgrim heart right up to the Mercaz which is a shopping area in Haifa, to wolf down a falafel, remember the other day when Johnnie and I were here, and to find a few gifts to take home.

Pilgrimage is not always about whispering of the “Face of God,” which if you want to know, believe me, I’m not kidding, I found a phrase of that exact saying in a book I read today. Yesterday I said in my small writing, “There is no Face of God,” well if I’m lying, I’m dying; there in that book, small red-crimson cover, about the Blessed Beauty, it referred in small black ink that “Face of God,” is a title used for the Manifestations, Prophets, Messengers, Divine Educators of God, so I am not just whistling Dixie when I tell you, “Boy was I surprised.”

But hey back to the Falafel and me and relationships. Someone mentioned a halo moon, and I Googled it because I have empty spaces in that vat of a brain of mine that resemble someone who had half a head severed like logs going into big blades, and the part that was severed for me was math, science, biology, stuff with details, and makes me wonder, “Why did I only see my eyelashes in the microscope”?

Are you with me? So before I sit down and feel the hot crunch of chickpeas in the back of my throat, I am going to tell you this Google led me to click on Hyper Physics, and I thought that’s what I am as a poet; I am trying to connect all my words and images and feelings into a Hyper Physics mode where everything is interconnected.

So I say, I’m going to connect a Halo Moon because I feel pretty stuffed and fortified right now, cuz that coke and falafel hit the spot and make me feel round and as if I’m producing extra circular rays of satisfaction around my round spots, just like a Halo Moon. And I’m going to tell you this hoofer and hoper has been praying her brains out (well parts anyhow) and she’s praying for Peace, because as I said previously, it has been promised.

Now don’t give me any half hearted reply or responses that peace isn’t possible. Because if you do that, you’ve just been listening to all those boys at play on the planet who want parades and neon signs and national anthems, and bling, lots of bling so they won’t think of the real stuff that matters, like the soul and its journey either to falafels or hallowed White Spots, and do you think people, all of us on Planet Earth, can actually be stopped in our coming together, our hyperphysics dance of oneness, cuz aren’t we about creating an ever-advancing civilization. Are you with me?




Friday, off to Germany, Frankfurt House of Worship, see Vera, meet Dom her husband, go to Weimar, visit Bach’s House, listen to concert, then go to Haifa, and will try to put pictures of all on this post!


Martine is there now, John is working there. He bumped into her today at the Gardens, wrapped in a haze of beauty and peace! March 5th I will commence my 9 day Pilgrimage!

Leave February 23, 2007 for Frankfurt; arrive Feb 2, wait for Vera and Dom (be still my heart). Stay with them in Manheim? maybe see Lena and Fema from Berlin? That would be a wow. go to Frankfurt House of Worship; meet maybe horticulturalist there; she’s in my computer writing group. Go to Haifa March 4, maybe i can track down Helen’s nephew – start Pilgrimage March 5; leave Haifa 14th, stay one night hotel in Frankfurt, and fly next morning to LAX; wow; a biggy!