Saturday, March 27, 2010

#8: Ridgeville, SC. I have moved twice since the last posting when I was in DeFuniak Springs Florida. There was a reader’s group meeting in the Wyoming before I left the Florida Panhandle for Jacksonville. I stayed for a week at Jacksonville and I met more readers; then it was on to South Carolina where I expect to stay for a month or so. This swing through the south—Florida and Louisiana—has been a wonderful experience; never have I enjoyed so much meeting people and sharing stories as on this trip.

                                                DeFuniak Springs, March 16, 2010.
                               John Wilkerson, Bill Vasel, Carl Henderson, Wandering Urantian, Don Ware

Don Ware was interested in starting a Urantia Book study group someplace in the DeFuniak Springs area so I offered the Wyoming for a preliminary meeting. I had previously met John and Carl on my earlier stop in town and had attended Don’s meeting near the gulf. Carl convinced Bill who was not familiar with the Urantia Book to attend; Bill kept up a steady stream of questions, when he left I gave him a copy of the book. We did not read but simply talked about the revelation. They were unable to find a meeting place for the proposed group however.
This time the move was in the rain, at times along the way it rained rather hard but I managed to locate in the Flamingo Lake RV Resort which is just off I-295 near Jacksonville. The lake is not much more than a pond, but it does have a couple of water fountains and it must be nearly a mile around. The other day I did four quick laps and the time it took was about what I expect for four miles.

                                                     Jacksonville, March 18, 2010.
                                           Wandering Urantian, Pamela Burr, Jim Weatherly

The day after I parked in Jacksonville I drove to the other side of town and met Joe, who took me to his weekly meeting; usually there are two more, but the others could not attend that night. We read paper 123, “The Early Childhood of Jesus.” This is the paper following the one we read in Lakeland the last time I was there. I thought it touching how the paper described the playmates and games of Jesus as well as how torn Mary was between protecting her son of promise and allowing him space to grow in. During the meeting, a large green parrot in the other room would occasionally add his commentary. Near him there was a Rose Breasted Cockatiel showing off.

One day Jim took me to a used bookstore in Jacksonville where I found a book I had been looking for. Someday I will write a piece comparing and contrasting the writings of Gopi Krishna with the teachings of the Urantia Book; I find this comparison fascinating. The day before I was to leave Jacksonville I went to a tire store to have the tires on the monster checked, I thought one looked a bit low. Turns out one of the four rear tires was flat and had a nail in it! Apparently it had been that way for a while; I shudder to think what would have happened had I tried to pull the Wyoming that way! I don’t know if it is my Thought Adjuster or Guardian Angel, but often I have a feeling to check something and find that indeed it needs attention.

I arrived in South Carolina without anything exciting and left the Wyoming at Camping World for a few days to have routine maintenance done. In the meantime I will stay with Bev at his house in the country near Ridgeville.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

#7:  DeFuniak Springs Florida.  The Sunday before last I went to a study group meeting in Madisonville Louisiana. There were five of us and as usual the discussions were interesting. We read paper 34, “The Local Universe Mother Spirit.” It is remarkable that the last three groups have been reading in the same part of the book (Baton Rouge read paper 36 and Fort Walton Beach read paper 38); this is the same general area of the book I am reading on the Kindle. I am reading this version so I can store bookmarks for future reference.

During the meeting Ed mentioned the Null Hypothesis in relation to the Urantia Book which I found interesting since I have previously had similar thoughts. In Statistics, if you want to prove a theorem you state its inverse and determine the probability that the inverse, the Null Hypothesis, is true. (Not that I was ever very proficient in Statistics!) For the Urantia Book the Null Hypothesis would be that it had Earthly authors. Given its total internal consistency, rich complexity and variation in style between papers it is most unlikely that any Earthly authors could have penned it, but if they had put forth all the effort required to compose it then they would have wanted something in return, money or recognition perhaps. In this context, I have read that when William Sadler, Jr. was first told about the Urantia Papers his question was “Who is making money from it?” When he was told “Nobody,” he was interested. (I do not have the page number, but this is in “A History of The Urantia Papers” by Larry Mullins with Dr. Meredith Sprunger.) I believe that the Null Hypothesis is a powerful argument for the authenticity of the Urantia Book.

Last Wednesday I moved back to DeFuniak Springs; the weather report threatened heavy rain and wind but I saw little along the way. That night I saw on the weather report that the rain mostly stayed south of I-10 where I was.

The next day I went into the town and found the springs; there was a small lake which had more water than usual. As I walked around it, more than once I saw the top of a park bench sticking above the water six feet or so out from the shore. The pear trees were in blossom and it was a beautiful day for a walk. The building in the picture is the Chamber of Commerce; next to it is a plaque commemorating the Chautauqua meeting house which had been located there.


                                         A child picks a leaf, stares at it
                                         Hours on end, studying its veins
                                         Its edges, the pattern on the back,
                                         Studies and studies, then throws it away.

                                         A child studying a leaf, it has happened
                                         Over and over a million or perhaps
                                         A billion times before, a simple
                                         Moment of discovery in a growing mind.

                                        This leaf is a metaphor, its knowledge
                                        Is nothing new, it contains no secret
                                        Ingredients which will enlighten
                                        Mankind, thus ending our sorrows.

                                        But this child with mottled sunlight
                                        On its busy face and dirt between barefoot
                                        Toes has gained a process, has seen
                                        The wonder of life in a pale green leaf.

                                        And this process, this crystal moment
                                        Of discovery, if nurtured and given other
                                        Leaves of life to feed this growing mind,
                                        Could light our way in the darkest night.

                                        So look past the dirty feet, the wind
                                        Swept hair into the clear eyes which,
                                        Without knowing, seek to find the universe
                                        In a solitary leaf of the sycamore tree.

(Written May 2, 1992)

Monday, March 8, 2010

#6: Hammond Loiusiana.  I now have an email address to match this blog: future blog notices will come from that address. If you have questions you may send them to either address. With everything going on here in southern Louisiana it is difficult keeping this blog up to date. In the last week I participated in a web cast, had a tour of New Orleans and took a trip to the Louisiana Bayou. As I start writing this it is nearly time to get ready for a reader’s group meeting in Madisonville, which is east of Hammond.

Last Wednesday I went to Virginia’s for the web cast of their meeting. Since Peter could not make it, there was only Virginia, Charles and myself. When I arrived for supper, the piano tuner was at work with occasional comments from their dog; it seemed only certain notes made the dog unhappy. The piano tuner finished at exactly the time the web cast was to start; on it we read Paper 36, The Life Carriers. If anybody watched, please let me know how it looked.

The next day Peter took me on a native’s tour of New Orleans with the first stop at an old cemetery where he told me its history. Somehow it reminded me of the scene in the “Phantom of the Opera” where Christine visits her father’s grave, except there was thankfully no snow on the ground even though it was cold and windy.

The next stop was along the canal which had failed during Katrina. The wall along the canal appears about ten feet or so high and sits on a bank which is at least that or higher. Even now the water is nearly at the top of the restraining wall, far above ground level where the houses rest. Most of the houses have been restored; the one pictured above is about three houses in from the canal. It is difficult to see in the photograph, but the arrow near the right edge points to the high water line from the flooding.

We then parked the Monster and took a streetcar named St Charles downtown; we looked for the one named Desire which had been on display, but apparently it did not survive Katrina. By the time we neared downtown the streetcar was filled with both tourists and locals. Along the way Peter explained that wide green areas are called “Neutral Ground” here, a legacy from previous times when they separated French and Spanish areas from the Americans. We walked the Quarter and sampled tasty pastries covered with powdered sugar; I will not dare to attempt spelling their French names. While riding the St Charles back to the Monster I got two phone calls, one was from Anthony inviting me to Morgan City.
Morgan City is in the Louisiana Bayou, about a two hour drive south from Hammond so I got up early and was in Morgan City before ten. Anthony said his office is on the fourth floor of a bank building and I had the address but I could not locate it. Fortunately there are only two buildings that tall in Morgan City and the other one is the Hospital so it was just a matter of driving around to find how to approach the bank building.
Anthony is truly filled with the spirit and bubbling over with words. We had long talks about the Urantia Book and just things in general. Lunch was shrimp Po’ Boy’s (fried shrimp on French bread). His main job is AB Marine Consulting which inspects boats for insurance companies and owners.  He also rents out houseboats under the name Cajun Houseboats, allowing people from all over to have a few days on the Bayou. In the afternoon a movie producer from the Sci-Fi channel came enquiring about houseboats as he is planning to film a movie in the area. During the meeting I just sat there, not participating; later the director’s assistant left the room and Anthony went to get something so I was left alone with the producer. When he asked about me I launched into a discussion of my travels and the Urantia Book, I also gave him a flier about Sheila’s book and the address of this blog. He seemed to be personally interested, not professionally interested. We then went to look at houseboats and to see the Bayou. The egret was perched alongside the road; Anthony stopped his van in the middle of the road so I could take the picture. We also saw three Great Blue Herons and a Bald Eagle within a couple of miles. The last stop was to see a houseboat at a Bed and Breakfast run by a Cajun couple who have a broad Cajun accent. I took a couple of pictures of Jeff, his grandson and the Australian Shepherd dog which had been trying to herd the boy, but this is long enough already. After my first meal of Crawfish and a couple of hours of conversation it was time to head out; it was nearly midnight when I got back to Hammond.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

#5: Hammond Louisiana. The journey from Santa Rosa Beach to Hammond Louisiana was without incident. There was one surprise, somewhere along the way I saw a Wyoming fifth wheel going east, the first I have seen other than mine but I didn’t notice it in time to wave at them. Beginning in Mississippi, there were many areas along the interstate where bare tree trunks rose above new undergrowth, probably damage from Hurricane Katrina. Tomorrow I hope to get a tour of New Orleans with a resident who is also a reader of the Urantia Book. By the way, Hammond is east of Baton Rouge and north of New Orleans.

When I got situated in the campground I was pleased to find a good seafood restaurant right next door, Catfish Charley’s. It is situated on the shore of a large pond and my table was next to the window so while I was eating my catfish I could watch the Ring Necked Ducks begging just outside.

One evening I had an interesting thought. By supper time I pull down the shades so that as I am reading in the evening I have the same familiar surroundings and pictures on the wall, this is my house. But in the morning when I open the shades and look outside, the view frequently changes; I may see New York State, South Carolina, Florida, or now Louisiana. It is as if some celestial being has transported me new into a new region with new things to view and explore.

Baton Rouge February 26, 2010
Charles Yarbrough, Peter Callac, Virginia Yarbrough, Wandering Urantian
Last Friday I was invited to Baton Rouge for the evening. Virginia and Charles have a beautiful suburban house surrounded by trees; their circular driveway was a bit challenging to navigate in the Monster (Ford F350). After dinner I read the preface and introduction to “Heaven is Not the Last Stop” to the group and we discussed it and the Urantia Book. During the evening someone made the comment, “Where is George?”

The next day I went to Tickfaw State Park to get some serious walking in; on the way back I got a phone call so I had to unbuckle my seat belt and get the cell phone out of my pants pocket. As I talked, the seat belt alarm was going off. The call was from George inviting me to the Baton Rouge Unitarian Church Sunday morning; they were having what he called a Blues service.

On the way to Baton Rouge Sunday morning I worried (something I am frequently doing) how I would recognize George since I had never met him; I had visions of standing in the parking lot calling him on the cell phone. Silly me! I should have realized that not many people try to park anything like the Monster in the Unitarian Church parking lot! As I was surveying the situation he came up and introduced himself saying he thought I would need something significant to pull the fifth wheel.

The service was inspiring; there was a six piece band (drums, bass, piano, two electric guitars and a singer with a box of harmonicas) playing real Louisiana Blues. The most memorable song, Angel Eyes, was sung by a high school senior; her rendition was quite moving.

Pardon me, but I gotta run
  The fact's uncommonly clear
            I gotta find who's now number one
            And why my Angel Eyes ain't here.

                                    Lyrics by Matt Dennis

The homily by the Reverend Steve Crump was about the crucifixion when Christ said “Oh God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Fitting topic for Blues Sunday! His conclusion was this was an affirmation of faith and that Christ was reciting the Twenty Second Psalm which is in agreement with the description in the Urantia Book.

  They drew a circle and shut me out,
A heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win,
 We drew a circle and took them in.

This poem by Edwin Markham inspired the circular window.

The service was well attended by a diverse congregation. Frequently I was struck by the view out the twelve foot diameter window in the front of the sanctuary. The sky was a crisp deep blue and the tree had knots and crooked branches. The view was again in harmony with the Blues theme but if you looked carefully there were buds at the end of the branches, spring will be coming.  After the service we had dinner at a nearby restaurant which had excellent barbeque chicken, there were nine of us at the table.