Saturday, December 3, 2011

# 30:  I am now parked in Dade City, Florida and plan to be here for a month or two before moving on again.  The journey from South Carolina to Jacksonville to Dade City was uneventful, which is fine with me while I am pulling my house on wheels.  After I was parked at Jacksonville and settled in, Betty Lou, President of the Urantia Association of Florida, traveled there by train and joined me.  The next day she presided over a meeting of UAF that went very well.  Then for a week and a half the two of us leisurely traveled down the east coast of Florida, parking at New Smyrna Beach and Fort Pierce meeting with students of The Urantia Book, finally parking in Lake Worth, just south of West Palm Beach where Betty Lou returned home.  After a jaunt to the Miami Book Fair I came here to Dade City so I could catch up on things and start planning the next excursion.

The world is filled with hungry souls who famish in the very presence of the bread of life; men die searching for the very God who lives within them. Men seek for the treasures of the kingdom with yearning hearts and weary feet when they are all within the immediate grasp of living faith.  Faith is to religion what sails are to a ship; it is an addition of power, not an added burden of life.”  The Urantia Book (1766.4) (159:3.8)

About twenty attended the UAF meeting in Jacksonville.  Unfortunately we did not get a group picture, so the above will have to do.  New members joined and all members sat through and participated in a rather long business meeting.  New associate member Cheri brought her son and his wife who are also readers and they brought youthful energy to the gathering.  It is encouraging to see young people interested in the revelation, more on this below.

After the meeting we had a recovery day before Betty Lou and I headed out on our southward excursion.  Once parked in New Smyrna Beach we drove to Palm Coast to meet Bob at Hooligan’s restaurant where we shared an enjoyable two-hour dinner and conversation.  

One of the highlights of this tour was a jaunt to Daytona Beach to meet with the artist Perego (Art of Perego).  As you can see, he dressed up especially for the occasion.  First was a tour of the area where his art works are displayed.  There are buildings with his art covering the outside walls or displayed on the inside.  One fascinating display was at the local Harley Davidson dealership (the largest in the world) that has his renditions of well-known people painted along the walls.  I understand they are planning a museum there.  When he was introduced to the lady behind the counter she positively beamed.  There is another building farther south, near I-95 going toward Miami, that looks as if it is covered with arches and doorways; the outside of this entire multistory building is another of his paintings.  Recently he is into high-energy performance art.  By the way, the gentleman depicted in this painting was seated nearby in the restaurant (Caffeine Bistro and Wine Bar in Ormond Beach) where this and other Perego paintings are located, his mustache is the same but his face and hands are no longer blue.
After dinner with Perego we hurried back to the campground for a meeting with Michael who has a web radio program and is involved in several other fascinating endeavors.  He even sold each of us a small thingy to put on our cell phone batteries that are supposed to eliminate harmful electronic radiation.  After installing hers, Betty Lou’s phone felt cool to the touch; she insisted it had previously always been quite warm.

While at Fort Pierce we picked up Vern and went to Lib and Hermann’s for a study group meeting, there were about eight in attendance.  Hermann even had handouts prepared for the meeting where we read Paper 63 “The First Human Family.”  At the conclusion of the meeting we conducted a memorial for Darrel who has graduated (on my stop in Columbus Ohio last spring, Scott’s group had a remembrance for Darrel, he had not yet passed on but was then getting weaker; Darrel had connections with both groups).  After the meeting five of us went out to dinner.

In this photograph, Betty Lou’s chaperone Ira, a very imposing frog, is resting happily between us.

After a couple of days for recuperation, Betty Lou, Katy and I went to Miami for the book fair.  We arrived Thursday afternoon to sign in and take boxes of books to the booth, which was supported by the Urantia Association of the US.  Friday the attendees were mostly school children while Saturday and Sunday there were more adults and families.  Betty Lou thought there were not as many people as previous years, but as the photograph shows, there was still a good many there.  We did not sell a lot of books and some books were damaged by rain, but it was an invigorating experience.  It was a pleasure to talk about the epochal revelation to those who stopped by.  The most important thing is to give them food for thought; when they are ready they will seek out more Truth.  Our booth was not flashy, but often we noted young children looking into the booth with interest; some stopped and looked at the posters, commentating on them to their parents.  It almost seemed as if they were spiritually drawn to the booth.  One boy who appeared to be about eleven stopped to read from one of the open books for several minutes.  We gave him a couple of pamphlets and he went on his way.  Later I went to a nearby exhibit building showing works from China.  He was also there and he was carefully holding our pamphlets (the only ones he carried) as if they meant a lot to him.  When he is ready he will have the information.  There are young people who are Seeking; it is up to us to find them, or so to live our lives that they find us.

Truth cannot be defined with words, only by living. Truth is always more than knowledge…  Knowledge originates in science; wisdom, in true philosophy; truth, in the religious experience of spiritual living. Knowledge deals with facts; wisdom, with relationships; truth, with reality values.”  The Urantia Book (1459.2) (132:3.2)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

# 29:  I have made it safely to the KOA in Ladson, South Carolina, which is not far from Charleston.  The journey southward went smoothly, even though I took a short cut and went through Pennsylvania diagonally, not the best route while pulling my ‘house’ (36 foot fifth wheel).  I started out by going through Warren PA, but just before I got to the bridge over the Allegheny River toward US-6 there was a roadblock.  The bridge was being paved and I had to make a U-turn and go back through downtown Warren to another bridge.  What fun!  Once safely on the highway, the roads were mostly good and the scenery was enjoyable, but there were no rest areas and no parking spaces big enough for the rig.  Finally I parked in a potholed lot next to some run-down buildings so I could use my own facilities.  Next time I will go the long way around and stick to the interstates where I can park with the Big trucks.

There were only two stopovers on the way south (not counting a one nighter in Bedford PA).  The first was near Natural Bridge VA; Dick and Janice Bain were kind enough to travel over the mountains to visit and see my pictures of Alaska.  Janice even brought homemade cookies!  The reason I went down I-81 instead of a more westerly route was to visit with them.  While there at the Yogi Bear Jellystone Park I found some excellent hiking trails in the woods that I want to explore some more during my next trip.  The other stop was in upstate South Carolina to visit Lamar’s relatives.  While there I looked on Google Maps and found an interesting road nearby, which was just a narrow forest road but it made a lovely walk through the woods.  (Every day or two I try to do a power walk of four miles or so.)

Jesus speaking: “Life in the Father’s eternal creation is not an endless rest of idleness and selfish ease but rather a ceaseless progression in grace, truth, and glory. Each of the many, many stations in my Father’s house is a stopping place, a life designed to prepare you for the next one ahead. And so will the children of light go on from glory to glory until they attain the divine estate wherein they are spiritually perfected even as the Father is perfect in all things.”  The Urantia Book (1953.4) (181:1.2)

The Sunday before going south (remember what Treebeard said in the second “Lord of the Rings” movie: “I like travelling south, somehow it feels like going downhill.”) my sister, my brother and his wife and I went to the Kinzua Bridge State Park, located in McKean County, PA.  For some reason I drove The Monster (Ford F350), not the best choice of wheels on this occasion!  Unbeknownst to us, they were having a dedication at the park that day and it was overcrowded with people.  The road going in was only a few miles long but not made for that kind of traffic.  It was a narrow two lane road and I had to drive the full length of it in and out while both lanes were clogged with traffic, both berms were parked solid with cars and throngs of people were walking along the road on both sides.  More than once the external mirrors on The Monster were sticking over and above the mirrors of cars going the other way.  My dual rear wheels were never more than a few inches from cars on both sides.  It was, however, worth the effort.

When the Kinzua Bridge was built in 1882 it was the highest railroad bridge in the world.  Built of iron it was 301 feet high and 2,053 feet long.  Imagine building it without the tall cranes we have today.  According to Wikipedia, it took a crew of 40 just 94 working days to build it, care to guess how they did it?  Go ahead and think about it, I will wait.  (Musical interlude)  OK, I’m back.  Give up?  They used a gin pole, apparently a long pole resting on a fulcrum, to build the first tower.  Since it was close to the bank it was not as tall as the others, then they laid tracks out to that tower and used a traveling crane on the railroad to build the rest, 20 towers in all.  In 1900 it was rebuilt with steel to make it sturdier, this more than doubled the weight of the bridge.  The bridge was used to haul freight until the middle of 1959.  Excursion trains used the bridge for several years starting in 1987.  While it was being restored again, in July 2003 an F1 tornado destroyed the center of the bridge.

The dedication ceremonies the weekend we were there were for the newly built observation deck, complete with a glass floor.  You no longer need to go to the Grand Canyon and pay good money to get on a glass floor; you can get on one in Pennsylvania for nothing!

There hasn’t been anything else of note since the last posting, but before signing off, I have some comments.  During my studies of The Urantia Book over the years I have noted certain changes in my inner life.  The most important of these deal with the elimination of spirit poisons.

“Impatience is a spirit poison; anger is like a stone hurled into a hornet’s nest.”
The Urantia Book (557.4) (48:7.20)

All of us have spirit poisons (or mental poisons) within us; they deplete our energy, waste our time and make it more difficult for our indwelling fragment of God, our Thought Adjuster, to communicate with us.

“All physical poisons greatly retard the efforts of the Adjuster to exalt the material mind, while the mental poisons of fear, anger, envy, jealousy, suspicion, and intolerance likewise tremendously interfere with the spiritual progress of the evolving soul.” The Urantia Book (1204.3) (110:1.5)

These spirit poisons can be devastating and tear up our lives just as the tornado tore up the Kinzua Bridge. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

#28: I have no intention of becoming a political or economic commentator (shudder at the thought!) but an interview was recently published in which Dr. George Friedman discussed the recent financial turmoil and he said something in this interview that is consistent with concepts in The Urantia Book. 

So this posting will be somewhat different, hopefully not too many of you will be antagonized.  There will be photographs, but there have not been any exciting new places and or study groups since Salt Lake City and there may not be any before going south next month.  If anybody has suggestions for stopping places along the way, please let me know.  There will be stops in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida.  Before parking in Dade City in late November, there will be a tour along the east coast of Florida with members of UA Florida, meeting with study groups in that region, stay tuned for details.  There may also be a visit to the Miami Book Fair in November.

First a photograph, there was a quick trip to Cook’s Forrest to visit my vacationing sister and about ten members of her family.  While hiking along a trail into the woods I found this tree growing around a rock.  There is certainly a commentary here about the persistence of life when faced with an immovable object.

The interview mentioned above was issued by Stratfor, whose main focus is Geopolitics, the idea that the politics of a given country or group is strongly influenced by its geography, see for further information.  In the interview Dr. Friedman is discussing the recent turmoil in the global financial markets and concludes with the following.

“Well, the failure of the financial regulatory system and its failure to clear it up is not the cause, it’s the symptom. No regulatory system works if it is not enforced…. The crisis is not that new regulation is not emerging, it’s that they won’t be enforced anyway. I’ll put it this way: this is a crisis in virtue — in the virtue of the political leadership, in the virtue of the financial leaders. There’s expected to be a certain degree of self-restraint and moral probity. You can’t substitute regulations for that, and you can’t worry about whether or not they’re going to be enforced in the future. The heart of the matter is that the integrity, the intelligence, the morality of these elites, have now been called into question….  So we have a crisis I think, not in corruption, but of sheer incompetence and indifference to incompetence, and that is something that is not necessarily unmanageable, but it’s certainly not a question of getting better regulations.”  Dr. George Friedman,  (Emphasis added)

This failure, this “indifference to incompetence,” is a symptom of society as a whole, for after all these leaders, these politicians and financial regulators are a product of our society.  They have been elected and chosen by our society.  In the interview Dr. Friedman made it clear that this is a global phenomenon, these observations apply equally to the United States, China and England, the driving engines of our global economy; this is a symptom of our entire social system, which brings us to the following quote.

"A lasting social system without a morality predicated on spiritual realities can no more be maintained than could the solar system without gravity."  The Urantia Book (2075.12) (195:5.9)

Our social system appears to be without any morality, this is obvious wherever we look; there are few areas where spiritual realities are even considered.  Therefore, this quote states that our social system must collapse, just as would the solar system without gravity, unless this society recognizes spiritual realities and becomes motivated by them and bases its values upon them.  This recognition will not come easy and will not be quick.

The great danger to any civilization — at any one moment — is the threat of breakdown during the time of transition from the established methods of the past to those new and better, but untried, procedures of the future.”  The Urantia Book (911.6) (81:6.41)

Time for another photograph, this from gardens at the University of Utah.  Each of the scars of life can have a certain appeal, even beauty when observed from the proper perspective.

Throughout history each time a nation has risen to found a new civilization, be it China, Greece, Rome or England, in time that society has been brought low and replaced by another powerful nation.  The above quote from The Urantia Book means that these civilizations failed because they were not built on “spiritual realities” and therefore their collapse was merely the inevitable result of spiritual gravity taking over.  This is the danger our civilization faces today.

While the founders of these civilizations may have been individually virtuous, the basis of their civilizations quickly became materialistic and nationalistic, sometimes even imperialistic.  As long as we as individuals, and as a society, remain focused on material things, meanings and goals, our legacy will be transitory and can evaporate in an instant.  It is only when we concentrate on, and base our lives on, eternal goals, true meanings, and spiritual values that we can form a more lasting society.

One final photograph from Salt Lake City.  We are as children scampering about on this planet without a care, blithely oblivious to the spiritual realities that surround us and give our existence meaning, even eternal meaning.

“Institutional religion cannot afford inspiration and provide leadership in this impending world-wide social reconstruction and economic reorganization because it has unfortunately become more or less of an organic part of the social order and the economic system which is destined to undergo reconstruction. Only the real religion of personal spiritual experience can function helpfully and creatively in the present crisis of civilization.”  The Urantia Book (1087.4) (99:2.1) (Emphasis added)

Friday, August 5, 2011

# 27: The Urantia Book Fellowship’s 2011 International conference in Salt Lake City was an uplifting spiritual experience; the outpouring of energy at the end of the Saturday morning session was, well, just wait till I get to that part!  The theme of the conference was “The Revelation in Action, Act Globally / Grow Cosmically.”  The people were friendly and interesting, which I have found to be generally the case at Urantia Book meetings.  I received more warm hugs at that one conference than I get in many a year. The major negative was the last leg of the flight back, from Detroit to Erie PA, which left me saying unkind things about Delta (sorry Tom).

“The great God makes direct contact with mortal man and gives a part of his infinite and eternal and incomprehensible self to live and dwell within him. God has embarked upon the eternal adventure with man. If you yield to the leadings of the spiritual forces in you and around you, you cannot fail to attain the high destiny established by a loving God as the universe goal of his ascendant creatures from the evolutionary worlds of space.”  (Emphasis added)  The Urantia Book (64.3) (5:1.12)

I arrived at the conference early Tuesday afternoon and registered for my room.  Immediately I met Linda from the Bellevue, Washington study group and four of us went exploring downtown, with Linda’s navigational skills we only got lost once (if I had been navigating it would have been worse than that).  The parking garage is underneath a ten-story building that has an observation deck where I took the above photograph.  The Tabernacle is just behind the temple to the left.

We went to the visitor’s center and from there two guides took us through the Tabernacle and grounds.  One building had a series of artworks; the one above shows Jesus at the Temple when he was not quite thirteen.  Everything was beautiful and well ordered.  On Thursday evening we went to the Tabernacle Choir rehearsal in a nearby auditorium.

I attended conference meetings Wednesday through Saturday, there were also meetings on Sunday but I could not make flight arrangements that would allow me to attend those.  Every morning except Friday there was a Plenary Session, which lasted from 8:30 to 11:00.  Each of these started with music and a moment of prayer followed by various presentations.  With the exception of Friday, which was a light day, each afternoon there were about eight different presentations in the first afternoon session and another seven or so in the second afternoon session, plus sessions in the evenings; only a few were repeats.  Frequently it was difficult to choose which to attend.  There were perhaps 20 – 30 attendees at each session I went to.  I understand there were about four hundred at the conference.

Some of the presentations I attended were “Exploring the Context of Michael’s Bestowal” by David Kantor; “The Study Group as Sacred Space: Integrating Mind and Spirit in Social Service” by James Woodward; and “The Hunt for Eden and Atlantis” by Robert Sarmast.  There was an encouraging presentation by Buck and Arlene Weimer, “The Revelation Around the World,” where they told about their travels to many countries giving out books and meeting readers; it is interesting that the revelation seems to be doing better in Catholic countries such as Latin America and Poland.  There was a touching presentation by Earlene Green, “Progress in Black and White.”  She movingly told about growing up in a black family where she was darker skinned than the others and the discrimination she experienced within her family as she grew up.  There was also a presentation by Calvin Len McKee suggesting that The Urantia Book may be the greater revelation promised in the Book of Mormon.

Were there any negatives?  Certainly, some presentations could have been a bit more focused instead of rambling on and some attendees were not happy with the food, but the positives vastly outweighed any negatives.

One promising observation was the large number of energetic young people at the conference; I understand there were about sixty in the youth program.
Friday morning as I was eating breakfast I looked out the windows at the mountains just behind the campus (the conference was held at the University of Utah) and I could hear the mountains calling me, so I took a hike to go exploring.  I found a perch to sit on and view the valley below, trying to imagine what it looked like when the Mormons came over the pass, saw the flat land surrounded by mountains and said “Here we build.”  And build they did!
Saturday morning’s Plenary Session was something special.  The final presentation was about the Creed Project, which is a high school program that teaches facts, how to use those facts in real situations and also teaches values.  At the end of the program each student must develop a personal creed to live by.  Heartening testimonials by former students were read, giving a glimpse of what education could do for our young people.  In the upper balcony above the stage is a full sized pipe organ; after the Creed Project presentation an organist sat at the organ console and started playing a medley of pieces including the organ run in “Phantom of the Opera,” which was politely recognized by the audience.  The organist had previously played a classical piece on the grand piano.  Next he played “Amazing Grace” and a trumpeter at the rear of the auditorium answered; the two instruments talked back and forth until we all got goose bumps.  Next they played “How Great Thou Art,” again with the interplay between trumpet and organ.  This music was so powerful that at the end of it we were all on our feet with our arms in the air, shouting so much that the last few organ notes could not be heard.  There were very few dry eyes in the house; certainly mine weren’t dry and some of us were wiping away tears for several minutes.  Wow!

Science lives by the mathematics of the mind; music expresses the tempo of the emotions. Religion is the spiritual rhythm of the soul in time-space harmony with the higher and eternal melody measurements of Infinity. Religious experience is something in human life which is truly supermathematical.”  The Urantia Book (2080.5) (195:7.20)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

# 26:  Next week I fly to Salt Lake City for the Fellowship’s International Conference.  I met readers in Florida, Texas and Washington State who suggested I go, so how could I decline?  I am looking forward to meeting readers from around the world.  I guess that means I need to finish Alaska before I get too far behind, so I must hurry through the rest of the journey.  I have not been to any study group meetings recently; hopefully I will make up for that in the posting after the conference.

“You cannot reveal God to those who do not seek for him; you cannot lead unwilling souls into the joys of salvation. Man must become hungry for truth as a result of the experiences of living, or he must desire to know God as the result of contact with the lives of those who are acquainted with the divine Father…. If we know God, our real business on earth is so to live as to permit the Father to reveal himself in our lives, and thus will all God-seeking persons see the Father and ask for our help in finding out more about the God who in this manner finds expression in our lives.”  Jesus speaking to Ganid.  The Urantia Book (1466.2) (132:7.2)

Now back to the Alaska tour, which we left last time in the Kenai Peninsula.  The next major event was a cruise from Seward (pronounced Souward), the full length of Resurrection Bay, into Aialik Bay and up to the Aialik Glacier, shown above.  Along the way were beautiful sights of the snow-capped mountains, small islands and wildlife.  I photographed a Sea Otter taking a nap while floating on his back, a Humpbacked whale, a pair of Orcas (killer whales), a Puffin, a rock wall covered with Artic Terns, and Sea Lions where the large male was bellowing out orders.  While the ship stood just off the glacier there were many loud noises but we saw no icebergs falling off.  On the way back to port the ship had a special on Margaritas made with glacier ice.

The next day was a free day at Denali, which worked out well because everyone could choose what they wanted to do.  I had signed up for a guided hike in the morning and wondered about the weather, this was the only rain we had the entire trip but the rain was light enough not to interfere with the hike.  The walk was enjoyable through the wet woods and the highlight of the hike was a close encounter of the Moose kind.  We stopped at the end of a lake and spotted a female Moose at the far end of the lake.  I took my time getting out my telephoto lens and got a good picture of her.  Shortly after that we were walking along the lake, on a trail that was uphill and perhaps fifty feet or so from the shore when we saw the Moose taking a swim.  She then got out of the water and began charging up the hill toward us.  I took one photo that shows her large body behind a nearby bush, too close for the long lens.  She got to within about thirty feet of us before the tour guides waved their arms, shouted and shooed her away.

That afternoon the weather cleared up and I was able to take a helicopter ride up to a glacier.  This flight over the Alaska wilderness was truly memorable.  We were seated in the helicopter according to weight and I was given the back window seat.  Along the way we saw Dall’s Sheep and Caribou but both were a bit too far away to photograph well.  The scenery was stunning; the above photo only gives a small taste of the sights.  As we landed on the glacier the music in our headphones was Satchmo singing “It’s a Wonderful World,” probably planned that way but a nice touch anyway.  We were able to get out, walk around and take pictures from the top of the glacier.  

From Denali we went south to Talkeetna where we stayed two nights.  While there we went on a jet boat ride.  The boat was large enough for all 47 in the tour group; after a leisurely ride upriver the boat pilot stopped and asked us all to buckle our seatbelts.  We then went over Class IV rapids and stopped just short of Class VI rapids that had exposed rocks.  This area is called Devil’s Canyon, naturally.  He held the boat in place for fifteen minutes so we could all take plenty of pictures.  The last evening in Talkeetna the clouds lifted and the mountain came into full view.

Alaska, the great land indeed!

"On the seven mansion worlds [where we go after physical death] ascending mortals are afforded ample opportunities for compensating any and all experiential deprivations suffered on their worlds of origin, whether due to inheritance, environment, or unfortunate premature termination of the career in the flesh." The Urantia Book (516.1) (45:6.3)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

#25: In a word, Alaska was fantastic, spectacular and wondrous!  I took about 1500 pictures on the trip, but I may spare you some of them.  After returning I was asked if there were any parts of the trip that I did not enjoy; I had to answer no because every moment was better than expected.  After thoroughly enjoying the Great State of Alaska I visited an energetic study group in the Seattle - Bellevue area.  I will break the Alaska trip into more than one blog so I can also include study group meetings.

But before starting on the trip I have an update on a previous blog (#23) where I described the Falls Park on the Reedy River in Greeneville South Carolina.  On the flight from Philadelphia to Anchorage, which was seven hours forty minutes long, I was flipping through the airline magazine when I saw an article listing the best city parks in the country.  Most were in big cities like Atlanta or New York City, but the park in Greeneville was listed as one of the fifteen best.  Told you.

“My son, everything must await the coming of its time. You are born into the world, but no amount of anxiety and no manifestation of impatience will help you to grow up. You must, in all such matters, wait upon time. Time alone will ripen the green fruit upon the tree. Season follows season and sundown follows sunrise only with the passing of time....  My tomorrow is wholly in the hands of my Father in heaven.” (Jesus talking to Ganid) The Urantia Book (1436.4) (130:5.3)

The first stop was Potter Marsh, south of Anchorage; the above photograph gives some idea of what it looked like.  After I took the above photo I was told there was a Sandhill Crane in the marsh.  I put the telephoto lens on but could not see the bird.  I took a couple of pictures anyway and when I examined them later I could indeed see the Crane.  There were also ducks and plenty of Tree Swallows were flying about catching snacks.  The Swallows were too swift for me to photograph on the wing, but a pair kindly perched on a nearby tree and posed for me.  The following picture is titled “My nest is your nest.”

In time I hope to set up a web page with more pictures, until then you will have to wait until we meet.

On the way back to the bus we saw a female Moose and her calf, but I have a better Moose story and picture later.  Our next stop was at Portage Glacier, shown below in the distance.  There was a nature center showing a film about the area; the time difference (four hours) was starting to catch up with me, but I did not sleep through the entire film.
The next day I called my brother at the campground in New York State, the first thing he asked about the earthquake.  I had read in the morning paper that there was a 5.2 magnitude earthquake centered near where we had been the day before, however we did not feel it on the rocking bus.  He probably heard about it before we did.

The highlight of that day was a float trip on the Kenai River starting at Cooper Landing.  Before starting out on the rubber rafts we were fitted with rubber boots and full water gear, but no hats thank you.  Each raft held twelve people; at the beginning the river water came from a glacier and was cloudy but later spring-fed streams entered the river.  We saw a bald eagle perched in a tree; downstream there were many fishermen along the bank angling for salmon, in places they were only two or three feet apart.  Not far beyond them was a bear, but he was not fishing, just hanging out and trying to figure out what those funny things in the river were.
The next day we went to Exit Glacier; before beginning our climb to the glacier we saw two bear cubs up the same tree and I got a photo.  I guess it is time to visit the study group and close, more on Alaska next time.

I had met some of the Bellevue – Seattle study group at the Boulder conference last year; in fact Tom took the photo of me giving my presentation (blog #13).  Linda was kind enough to invite me on an excursion with her daughter and two grandsons to the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.  After finishing Alaska I might tell more about that visit, it was a beautiful area.  Christine was a gracious host and we had interesting conversations before the study group meeting.  During the meeting we read Paper 160 “Rodan of Alexandria.”  This study group has a meaningful practice; at the close of each meeting they read one of the prayers from other planets found on page 1622-3.

"The world needs more firsthand religion. Even Christianity - the best of the religions of the twentieth century - is not only a religion about Jesus, but it is so largely one which men experience secondhand." The Urantia Book (2083.4) (195:9.8) 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

# 24:  One more posting before I head north to Alaska!  I have not been to any Urantia study groups recently but I understand there is one in New Castle, PA and one near Pittsburgh, both of which are over 100 miles away.  I will check them out when I get back late this month.  I took the following photograph while sitting on my deck, the leaves have filled in more but it is just a lovely spot.  I can sit at my table and watch the birds at the feeders or just enjoy the surroundings.  Come on up and visit, but not all at once please! 

I heard from Anthony in the bayou at Morgan City, LA.  Even though there has been devastation farther north, he had very little trouble from the floods.  However, I understand the snow in the mountains is at record levels and has yet to melt.  There is always something to worry about if you are so inclined.

“Modern men and women of intelligence evade the religion of Jesus because of their fears of what it will do to them — and with them. And all such fears are well founded. The religion of Jesus does, indeed, dominate and transform its believers, demanding that men dedicate their lives to seeking for a knowledge of the will of the Father in heaven and requiring that the energies of living be consecrated to the unselfish service of the brotherhood of man.” The Urantia Book (2083.2) (195:9.6)

One day I took a ride with my sister and three nieces.  At one place my sister said that her husband had run out of gas near that spot about fifty years ago.  He went to a house nearby for gas and met a couple of limited means; the lady said she had a vision that someday there would be a religious camp there.  Somehow she made it happen and the day we were there that camp, Miracle Mountain Ranch Missions, was having an open house.  There were riding and shooting exhibitions and tours; there was one corral where a mare was running around with her colt, they seemed to be enjoying themselves.  There were no trainers there; they just felt like running.

On the way back we were riding along a country road when I suddenly asked my niece to stop the car, the Buttercups were in full bloom and I couldn’t resist taking a picture.  It was a beautiful day to ride and enjoy the countryside.  I have seen many lovely parts of this great land of ours, but somehow this area where I grew up seems best of all, like a comfortable old pair of shoes that fit just right.  In the late summer there are Golden Rods in the fields and later still are the fall colors in the woods.

Yesterday we went to a birding conference at the nearby Roger Tory Peterson Institute.  Roger Tory Peterson was born and grew up in Jamestown; for those who do not know, he published the first field guide to birds that enabled casual naturalists to identify birds, bringing into existence the birding avocation.  There were lectures and exhibits, many of which were aimed at children, see below.  The lecture I was interested in was by the nature photographer Michael L. Smith; his photograph “Mad Bluebird” enabled him to quit his job and go into photography full time.  It is impressive how much work he did to set up his photos, which are impressive.  One series showed Ospreys catching fish, freezing them in the act.  The conference also had a bird banding session; it was a joy to see the children hold the birds and marvel at them.  After they were finished holding and looking they were allowed to release the birds.

In addition to the institute, which is about ten miles away, there is a National Audubon Sanctuary less than two miles away from where I am parked.  A few days ago I went there early in the morning; I did not get any great photographs, but the experience of being in the fog-shrouded wilderness watching the deer, the birds, and other wildlife was a real treasure.

See you after I return from Alaska!

It is the business and duty of society to provide the child of nature with a fair and peaceful opportunity to pursue self-maintenance, participate in self-perpetuation, while at the same time enjoying some measure of self-gratification, the sum of all three constituting human happiness.”  The Urantia Book (794.12) (70:9.17)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

#23:  After a few months of wandering I have at last arrived at Hidden Valley Campground and am settled in for the summer, more or less.  The journey northward from Florida to Louisiana, Texas, South Carolina, Ohio and finally southwestern New York State has been a pleasure.

I received an email yesterday from Anthony who lives in Morgan City in the Louisiana Bayou in response to my inquiry about the status of the waters in his area.  He said they have not been asked to evacuate yet but they have plans just in case.  It is terrible to think that the beautiful areas I just visited there might soon be inundated by floodwaters.

Before I begin describing the last leg of the northward journey, I recently received an email from George who has an excellent web site, Urantia Book Related Web Sites, which contains links to many interesting and informative sites, including this blog.  He asked for my mailing list; I am considering sending him such a list after removing those of you who are not Urantia Book readers.  If anybody has a problem with this please let me know.

Most of what a mortal would call providential is not; his judgment of such matters is very handicapped by lack of farsighted vision into the true meanings of the circumstances of life. Much of what a mortal would call good luck might really be bad luck; the smile of fortune that bestows unearned leisure and undeserved wealth may be the greatest of human afflictions; the apparent cruelty of a perverse fate that heaps tribulation upon some suffering mortal may in reality be the tempering fire that is transmuting the soft iron of immature personality into the tempered steel of real character.”  The Urantia Book (1305.4) (118:10.9)

In the last blog I mentioned that I would go to Greenville SC to explore; after posting it I received an email from Pamela of the Lakeland FL group saying she grew up in that part of the country.  The truly amazing thing about Greenville is that right in the center of the city is a beautiful park, Falls Park on the Reedy River.  Words and pictures cannot do justice to this lovely park in the center of a vibrant city.  It is based on two levels; the upper level has green lawns and a unique curved pedestrian bridge while on the lower level are rocks and the falls.  I was there on a sunny Saturday afternoon and it was a joy to see it being used by families with children, people with their dogs, wedding parties taking photographs, young girls rolling down the grassy banks, boys climbing rocks and teenagers wading across the river.  It was a pleasure to be there and observe the people enjoying this beautiful space.

The reason I go to that part of South Carolina is that Lamar grew up in Laurens and I stop by to visit with his cousin and aunt.  I also pause in remembrance at his marker.  While waiting for his relatives to arrive I took pictures of the quaint town square in Laurens (I think I have enough photos for this posting).  It is a neat, well-tended typical southern town square that has been left behind by larger stores on the outskirts of town, even the stately courthouse is no longer used as such.  And just around the corner is a self-proclaimed Redneck Museum.

From South Carolina I went north, stopping at Wytheville VA one night and then going on to Columbus Ohio.  The reason for stopping there was to visit Scott’s study group who happened to meet the night I arrived.  At Scott’s suggestion I had dinner at a Chinese restaurant, Ming Flower, and was well pleased with the meal.  The driveway to his house is narrow, long and lined with trees as his house is well off the road.  It turns out that Scott and his brother also attended Allegheny College; I feel that I met his brother there (long story).

This meeting was in memory of a vital member of their group, Daryl, who has recently been diagnosed with a serious form of cancer.  It was an inspiring meeting where we prayed for him and read passages in the Urantia Book dealing with healing and faith.  Even though I did not know Daryl, I felt privileged to attend.  Susie could not get there so she participated by Skype; her image is on the computer screen above.  There was more discussion than many groups have and I was told that they used to just read; sharing views is an important aspect of a dynamic study group.

I did not stay long in Columbus, but I did take time to explore Alum Creek State Park.  I had planned to stay in that park, but when I saw the sites I felt I would have problems getting into the spaces and they did not even have water hookups.  Fortunately there was an excellent place just down the road.  Near the park offices there are many trails where I explored the woods.  It was a fine early spring day to walk and explore.  As the photograph shows the water was slightly high.  The dogwoods were in blossom and the trees were just starting to put out leaves.  One snake paused on the path in front of me just long enough for me to take his photograph, but I feel that the above tree is much more picturesque.

Before I started north my brother asked me to bring the sun with me, well I did!  The above rainbow was observed not long after I arrived and we had a full week of sunshine; unfortunately that week is now over and they are forecasting a week of cold rain.  Oh well, that gives me time to get this blog out.

“You are destined to live a narrow and mean life if you learn to love only those who love you. Human love may indeed be reciprocal, but divine love is outgoing in all its satisfaction-seeking. The less of love in any creature’s nature, the greater the love need, and the more does divine love seek to satisfy such need.”  The Urantia Book (1739.6) (156:5.11)

Monday, May 2, 2011

#22:  First a bit of housekeeping:  I recently moved this mailing list into Outlook and noticed that for many email addresses I do not have a name or contact information.  If you wish, I would appreciate it if you would send me such information, as sometimes it is difficult to correlate a name with the email address.  If anybody is interested in this blog, please send me your email address so you can be notified of future postings.  Also, if you have any topics you would like discussed here, please let me know.

I have just moved from Ladson to Joanna, South Carolina, which is about fifty miles southeast of Greeneville, South Carolina.  I plan to visit friends in Laurens and possibly explore Greeneville, as I understand it has been revitalized and is an interesting city.  Next I will head northward, but instead of going directly to my summertime parking space in southwestern New York State I will stop in Columbus, Ohio to meet with a study group there.  I hope I am not going northward too early, my brother has been in the New York State campground for a couple of weeks and he says it has rained nearly every day and the temperature barely gets over 60 degrees.  But before going into all that I had better account for the five weeks spent in Coastal South Carolina.
Men all too often forget that God is the greatest experience in human existence. Other experiences are limited in their nature and content, but the experience of God has no limits save those of the creature’s comprehension capacity, and this very experience is in itself capacity enlarging. When men search for God, they are searching for everything. When they find God, they have found everything.”  The Urantia Book (1289.2) (117:6.9)

While I was parked in Ladson our group met nearly every Sunday evening.  We read Paper 130 “On the Way to Rome” and started the following paper on “The World’s Religions.”  The first of these is one of my favorites as it has much inspiring teaching as well as describing the way Jesus interacted with those around him.  Our group goes out to dinner before our meeting, once we went to a nearby seafood restaurant.  While we were waiting for our table we started talking with another customer who is a third generation Chinese American and was in town (Charleston, Fort Sumter, etc.) from the west coast for the Civil War anniversary events.  He appeared interested as we talked about the Urantia Book, hopefully he will seek more information about it.

Most of the time I was parked in Ladson I did little exploring, but I took one day to visit the “Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge.”  This is the third NWR I have visited on my northward journey this year. 

The offices for the NWR are located in a plantation house that was built in 1828 and is only one of three antebellum mansions in the area that survived the Civil War.  I did take photographs of the front but I thought the above view looked more mysterious.  I got a kick out of the old slave cabin, it appears they treated their slaves well; there is even a satellite dish right next to it!
The walk through the NWR was most enjoyable, I saw only a few birds but the air was filled with the sound of singing birds; at times it sounded as if I were deep in the jungle.  At one point the trail went along the top of a levee between old rice fields, when the trail ended at the river the levee continued along the river but the trail was not maintained any farther, making it truly a ‘road less traveled.’  The top of the levee was covered with dry cracked dirt and a few old dried weeds; there was no trace of previous travellers whatsoever.  Feeling somewhat adventurous I continued along the cracked levee.  There were ducks in the river, Fiddler Crabs in the tidal mud and alligators in the ditches along the old rice fields.  I had visions of stumbling over a root or tripping on a deep crack in the hard surface of the levee, then sliding downward into the waiting jaws of those alligators.  Cheery thought. 

On my way out I found this lily and couldn’t resist it.

"Let not the discussions of the humanity or the divinity of the Christ obscure the saving truth that Jesus of Nazareth was a religious man who, by faith, achieved the knowing and the doing of the will of God; he was the most truly religious man who has ever lived on Urantia."  The Urantia Book (2090.2) (196:1.1)