Days Riding: 142 Consecutive Days Blogging: 126
Today’s Mileage: 0 Total Trip Mileage: 996
Greetings everyone! I am writing today’s blog from atop Little Scaly Mountain near Highlands North Carolina. I am acting as a chaperone for a group of church teens who are attending a Youth Conference at the Mountain Retreat and Learning Center.
I had intended to blog on a Pilgrimage site in Daytona Beach yesterday, but sometimes life’s demands conspire against us. Meetings and preparation for this trip occupied my day and my chaperone duties occupied the entire evening. In addition, there is something about cold fresh mountain air that draws me into a state of deep sleep.
Mountain Dining Hall Banner: “To embrace the diversity of life, creating an environment to energize people to work for positive change.”
“The Mountain” as we Unitarian Universalists of the South Eastern US call our church affiliated retreat center is literally housed on the top of a mountain in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountain range. From the fire tower at night you can see lights from South Carolina and Georgia
Mountain Dining Hall Plaque: “We drink from wells we did not dig. We are warmed by fires we did not build.”
I just left the “morning gathering” where the 100+ High School aged teens sang songs and prepared for a series of workshops that will occupy much of their day. I retreated to the “library” where the energy and noise levels are more conducive to my writing today’s blog.
Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Energizing for Generations to come”
I am one of those people where the solitude and serenity of nature is a powerful influence on my spirituality. Nothing relaxes and inspires me like a walk through nature. The Mountain has been a special place of spiritual renewal for me since I first discovered it, on a church retreat, some sixteen years ago. I have acted as my church’s ambassador to the Mountain, given workshop and presentations for group retreats, accompanied church youth here for conferences, and most often just “dropped in” and stayed to hike, meditated, relax and create. The center is open to individual and groups of any faith or secular group. The mountain embraces diversity and promotes positive and just social change.
Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Living Simply and Sustainably”
The Mountain has been a place I have come to: let go of painful relationships, write poetry, find inspirational images for my artwork, sort out my life goals, relax while visiting various waterfalls, walking the surrounding mountains and the labyrinth and reconnecting with nature. One of my favorite stories was the time I visited during the winter. I arrived and the staff announced that they were all going away for three day. They left food in the Dining Hall fridge for me to eat. I spent two days and three nights alone on the mountain top. The serenity and sense of solitude, especially at night, as the wind blew and ice crystals danced in the noon light was profound. I ended up discovering that I was not entirely alone, as I found rabbit tracks in the fresh snow!
Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Embracing Diversity”
The Labyrinth at the base of the mountain contains an alter stone at its center where people leave offerings and mementos. Among the items are two stones, one bears a painted yin-yang symbol the other the sacred Hindu symbol “Om.” On the bottom of each stone is the name of my sons. I have carried them with me in my thoughts and prayers as I walked this sacred path. I left each stone there that they might draw strength and serenity from these sacred mountains.
Mountain Dining Hall Flag: “Being Just”
Before I leave today’s blog, it is nearing lunch time and I must rejoin my teens, I wanted to share with you a piece from the book: “Everyday Tao” by Deng Ming-Dao. He writes about the mountains by saying: “The ancient teachers took their students to the mountains, so that they could find inspiration in the high, sweeping vistas. Each of them could take pleasure in the fresh air scented with pine and herbs. None of them could fail to clear the mind of the toil and considerations of daily life. From ancient times to the present, the mountains have been the best places to learn about Tao. In the isolation of the mountains, with the voices of the throng stilled, the whispers of Tao could finally be heard. This is what the ancients called the mountain spirit.”
I am breathing in and relishing that mountain spirit. I feel its presence refreshing and recharging my own spirit. But it is now time that return to “the throng” with its infectious teen energy and youthful joy. It is all part of the yin-yang dance of life! Have a wonderful day! I will return to our virtual journey and Daytona Beach tomorrow.
If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail notification by going to the upper right corner of this page! For more information about the Mountain visit: http://www.mountaincenters.org