Past Posts

August 29, 2009

Our trip to the Center.

(click to watch slideshow, or page down below to see same photos with notes)

We've been busy since we returned from our extended stay at the Meher Baba Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, SC. Ben grew up going to this beautiful place and I had been there once before. It's a swath of virgin forest, a fresh water lake and ocean beach and because it's a spiritual retreat for Baba Lovers (Baba was the one who, among other things, coined the phrase "Don't Worry, Be happy.") There is a peaceful and loving vibe running through the place.

The center brought out a certain peace and closeness in our family that we're trying to keep with us here at home. The pace of life there, the natural beauty.

It was great seeing my family all together, and nice for me to share the center with Art and Lew for their first time. They made many friends (young and old) and you could tell just by watching them how safe and loved the felt by just about everyone.

For those who don't know, Baba was an Indian spiritual master who died in 1969. Rather than describe Baba's life and what he means to my family, best to refer you to Wikipedia or to this long-ish documentary about his life. Here are a couple nice things he said:

-"To lo
ve God in the most practical way is to love our fellow beings. If we feel for others in the same way as we feel for our own dear ones, we love God."
-"Real happiness lies in making others happy
-"Follow any religion you like, but follow its innerrmost nucleus."

My father Tim has been a 'Baba lover' for years and it's something my brother Josh and I have grown up with. My father as been to India many times and took my brother and I (and my stepmother and stepsister) as teenagers.

Jess: This is one of my favorite moments in the .7 miles from our cabin to the beach - a curvy path over the grassy sand dunes. Every time we walked through that path we could hear the ocean roaring and it felt like a great discovery when we finally broke through and saw it.

Art's first swim in the ocean since Florida. Ben said the first thing he did was get down on his hands and knees and lick the salty water.

Yeah, sure the boys were still having territorial battles, but they also had some really good snugglin'. And Art took on a deeper role of Lewis Protector/Family Law Enforcer! He would grab Lewis if he was trying to go outside alone and Lewis would try to bite him and Art would scream... oh, it could get ugly. But it was so often really nice...

This is the footbridge where we most often saw the alligators.

There goes Ben and Art on a boat ride in search of fierce reptiles!!!

They found one!

This is supposed to be a contemplative place, the boat house. We were contemplating joy at the moment...

I love this. The open spaces, the gentle rhythm our days and the simpleness of our amusements made for some nice creative moments. Here Art made a "computer" our of dominoes. We all checked our email on it.

This is the Center's caretaker Jeff giving the kids a ride in a golf cart. When I was teenager I volunteered a couple weeks and worked with Jeff cleaning cabins and helping fix stuff. He really is just about the nicest most loving person you could ever imagine.

Jess: One thing I really loved was the communal kitchen. This is Ira, Lewis' biggest fan. He and his wife were such a treat. I can totally see the Village to Raise a Child mentality. I would be busy preparing meals and random people would be poking around with the kids now and then, knowingly or unknowingly keeping them out of my hair so I could cook.

a tasty pillow.

Jess: One day I asked Art f he was going to be sad when he went home or happy. He said he would be sad because we wouldn't play all day. He really loved playing with his mom and dad, and a spare kid now and then. (Later in the trip he said he was happy to go home to see his friends, like Tsundi and Evva...)

Jess: It was super super hot and humid the first week there. Plus I didn't pack for 9 days, so I had to do laundry. Now, that was FUN! The cabin behind me in the picture has two big laundry sinks with a washboard in one and ringer clamped on the other. Art helped me squeeze the easy things like underwear and socks through the ringer. I was really impressed with the washboard. It got out Chef Boy R Dee!!!

I could spend all day looking at what rolls up on the shore.

Jess: It's too far for little kids to walk to the beach so we took the car. The boys loved to ride in the trunk! Calm down, Emily!!! It was a single-lane, dirt road used only by the Baba Lovers at the Center at under 10 mph!!!!

We saw a deer. That made Art really happy.

The first part of the trip was great fun while we spent time with Ben's dad, Granpa Tim (white beard) and step-sister, step-brother, their spouses, children, siblings and parents. Dinners together in the terrible humidity with lots of fun and laughter.

And cousin Mira.

This is Art in his room. He slept great.

And here's Lewis in his "room", a porch that overlooks Long Lake.

Cooking with the crowd. A favorite time of day for me.

Lewis always likes to be in the middle of the action.

The only air conditioned room at the center is the library, where Art and Jess are seen here reading a book.

Lew's best friend Ira, a recently retired Brooklyn math teacher.

This is our cabin, called "Lake Cabin". Eventually Art knew his way all over the grounds and was really proud to run to the kitchen by himself. I would trail behind shyly - he really was supposed to be with a grown-up at all times, but it's only about 200 yards to the kitchen.

Jess: A Golden Orb spider. They are an invasive species from central America. They've decimated the mosquito population making bug spray almost obsolete, which is good, but the spiders were all over. We started to really wonder how these big spiders were affecting the ecosystem.

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