Tuesday, April 17, 2012

#34:  This is the third and final episode describing our Urantian Odyssey from Dade City, Florida to Jacksonville, Florida that only took about six weeks, since we went by the way of Louisiana and Texas!  In this installment we revisit Vianne’s Tea House, move back to the Florida panhandle, stop by the Panama City group again, move to Jacksonville, visit the Zoo and attend a lively study group at Pam’s house.  Along the way Betty Lou drove the Monster and also pulled my house on wheels while driving.  This was a fabulous experience and we enjoyed every moment of it, well perhaps we did not so much appreciate the ferocious storm in Texas described in the last installment, but overall it was an invigorating, almost magical time.  At last our journey was over and Betty Lou had to fly back to Lake Worth and I turned northward.

“Jesus does not hesitate to assert that he and the Father are one; and on the basis of the fact and truth of that supreme and supernal experience, he admonishes every kingdom believer to become one with him even as he and his Father are one. The living experience in the religion of Jesus thus becomes the sure and certain technique whereby the spiritually isolated and cosmically lonely mortals of earth are enabled to escape personality isolation, with all its consequences of fear and associated feelings of helplessness.”  The Urantia Book (1985.1) (184:4.6)
Vianne’s Tea House

On the way to the next study group meeting we again had dinner at Mandina’s in Mandeville for authentic New Orleans cooking.  Good food, good company, what could be better?  This time I got a decent picture of Vianne’s Tea House.  My first trip to Louisiana a couple of years ago the study group met at Vainne’s house, but she has since passed on to the mansion worlds so her daughter now allows the group to use the Tea House for meetings.  One advantage of this is that we get to choose from a literal wall of teas.  We read from Paper 72, “Government on a Neighboring Planet,” sections 8 and 9, which deal with special colleges and the plan for universal suffrage; because of our discussions, that is as far as we got.

By now Betty Lou was comfortable with driving the Monster (Ford F350) and, after I pulled out of the campground and drove to a rest area, she drove the full rig, including the Wyoming, my house on wheels, a 36 foot fifth wheel, partway to the next stop in the Florida panhandle.  I must admit to a bit of nervousness, but after chewing my fingernails down to nothing… well, actually, she is an excellent driver and I soon quieted down and enjoyed the luxury of being able to see the countryside while moving my house along the highway.

Panama City Group

As shown in the photograph, the second Panama City group was even larger than the first.  After a lively discussion, we read from Paper 38, “Ministering Angels of the Local Universe,” through section 2, “Angelic Natures.”  Again Meda took pains to explain unfamiliar concepts, it was an uplifting experience.  I hope they continue their good work and I look forward to visiting them again next year.

For the move from the Florida Panhandle to Jacksonville, I drove from the campground to the first rest area, and from the last rest area to the Jacksonville campground, but Betty Lou drove the rest of the way, well over 200 miles, and I could again stretch my legs and enjoy the ride, what fun.  Backing into the campsite was a bit problematic, but it was an excellent spot once we got settled in since we had a view of Flamingo Lake out our back window.  There were no flamingos but several times we saw a flock of over twenty American Coots, and other birds as well.

For a side excursion we visited the Jacksonville Zoo, which was a few miles from the campground.  The last time I had been to a Zoo was well into the previous millennium, but the one at Jacksonville is one of the best.  Inside the bird pavilion a bird the size of a large vulture landed on a lady’s outstretched arm and she posed for pictures, she was a visitor but the bird apparently liked her.  The giraffe picture was not taken with a telephoto lens, the viewing area was an elevated platform and this lovely specimen wandered up close to where we were standing.  For a couple of dollars you could buy some leafy branches and feed them.  There was also a butterfly exhibition where you could walk amongst plants and get up close to the multicolored wonders flying about.  The weather was fine but we felt the air change and so we started to leave, there were a few raindrops before we got back to the Monster and just after we got back to the campground it rained harder.  A fun day at the Zoo.

Pam’s house is located on a cul-de-sac, which was totally filled by the time I got the Monster parked.  Frequently when I have been to her group in previous visits there has been only three of us, this was much better.  It is always interesting to meet other students of The Urantia Book and discuss the epochal revelation.  We read Paper 177, “Wednesday, the Rest Day.”  This paper contains one of my favorite stories in the entire book, the lad John Mark offered to carry the lunch basket when Jesus wanted to go off by himself to worship, he even hung on to the basket as the Master attempted to take it from him.  He was rewarded with day alone in the hills with the creator of a universe!

At last it was time for Betty Lou to fly back to south Florida and for me to head further north.  This was an excellent adventure, and we both enjoyed the experiences.  Don’t tell anybody, but I think she will want another journey, who knows!

There is in the mind of God a plan which embraces every creature of all his vast domains, and this plan is an eternal purpose of boundless opportunity, unlimited progress, and endless life. And the infinite treasures of such a matchless career are yours for the striving!”  The Urantia Book (365.3) (32:5.7)

Monday, April 2, 2012

#33:  Our recent Urantian Odyssey has been successfully completed, Betty Lou has returned to South Florida and I am currently parked in a KOA outside Charleston South Carolina.  There were so many meetings and sights that I will not be able to finish telling the story of our travels in this posting so the next one, describing the final segment, will come along fairly soon, I trust.  In this installment we travel to Highlands Texas, just east of Houston, then to Livingston Texas and back to Livingston Louisiana.  There were joyous meetings, lively study groups and interesting sights, so let’s get started!

Never forget there is only one adventure which is more satisfying and thrilling than the attempt to discover the will of the living God, and that is the supreme experience of honestly trying to do that divine will. And fail not to remember that the will of God can be done in any earthly occupation. Some callings are not holy and others secular. All things are sacred in the lives of those who are spirit led; that is, subordinated to truth, ennobled by love, dominated by mercy, and restrained by fairness — justice.” The Urantia Book (1732.4) (155:6.11)

As soon as we got into Texas we stopped at the welcome center (mile marker 880!), they had a delightful boardwalk over the marsh where we saw an alligator, an egret and a couple of snakes.  The campground in Highlands was large, with about 300 sites and was at that time completely full.  After we parked and settled in for the night we celebrated our arrival in Texas by watching “Phantom of the Opera” on DVD.  I fear we were a bit over the top with the volume because the next day the large motorhome parked next to us unhooked, moved one space further away from us and hooked up again.  Perhaps they were not music lovers.

David, Alfonso, Cheri, Betty Lou, Betty Lou, Anita, Wandering Urantian in front

We met David and Cheri for dinner at Pappadeaux Seafood, where the food was excellent.  Betty Lou and David had worked together at the Leadership Symposium in Chicago last summer and she was looking forward to meeting him again.  The next day we had dinner at their home followed by their study group where we read Paper 37 “Personalities of the Local Universe,” this is the third group out of the first five that was reading the same paper; are our unseen friends trying to tell us something?  This seems to be more than a coincidence.

What seemed to be the easiest way to move to Livingston was west on I-10 and north on I-45, the trouble with this is that would take us through downtown Houston on a Tuesday morning.  Since this would be a short drive, we waited until the morning rush hour was over and made the journey without incident.  The roads were not the best, but they were better than I-10 in Louisiana.  As soon as we were parked in the next campground we called Matthew Fox, a Urantia Book student who lives not far from the campground; we met him and his wife Sandra for dinner at Bubba’s Bar and Grill, which was located near our campsite.  Matthew has written a moving book about his experience being wrongfully accused and sent to prison; his book is “First in the Mind & Heart” subtitle “A True Story About the Resilience of the Human Spirit.”  His is a captivating story and he tells it in a straightforward heartfelt manner; he has experienced the worst and still feels love for his brothers and sisters.  The next day we enjoyed visiting them at their house in the woods that he calls New Eden.
Wandering Urantian, Betty Lou, Linda, Ralph, Skip, Carol

We drove to Conroe to the home of Ralph and Linda for a study group meeting; I had visited them last year and this time I got a picture of their table.  Also, this year I was on time, last year I got lost and was about forty-five minutes late, nearly missing lunch.  We read Paper 176, “Tuesday Evening on Mount Olivet.”  I was looking forward to seeing Skip and Carol’s land in the country but she didn’t feel well and had to cancel, perhaps next year.  Several members of the group were having health issues.

One night there was ferocious thunderstorm with both wind and rain; since we were parked at the top of a hill, we felt the full force of it and our house on wheels was really rocking; fortunately there was no rolling!  The next day the Monster (Ford F-350) got stuck in the mud and needed to be towed out.

Our move from Livingston Texas was a pleasant drive through gentle hills; when pulling I generally stick to interstates but this drive was enjoyable and there were no cities on the way.  We arrived in our other Livingston, this one located in Louisiana, safe and sound.
Baton Rouge group

We had the pleasure of visiting Virginia and Charles again for a meal, Charles had prepared a brisket and there were all the trimmings.  The conversation was lively, rapidly crisscrossing the table.  We read from Paper 111, “The Adjuster and the Soul.”  Some of the group had travelled a considerable distance and their presence and contributions were appreciated.  Anthony was there, we wanted to visit him on the Bayou but he was too busy; I met Jack for the first time, he has a considerable knowledge of the Urantia Book.

Fontainebleau State Park

This posting is getting a bit long, but I need to include an outing we had into the Louisiana lowlands.  Betty Lou drove the Monster for the first time and we visited Fontainebleau State Park near Mandeville.  This photograph shows part of the ruins of a sugar mill that was built in 1829 by Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, founder of the nearby town.  It was a peaceful walk around the ruins, into the coastal woods and on a boardwalk over the marsh.  Later we explored portions of Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge that I had discovered last year.

The final quote is for this season, this posting was written on Palm Sunday.

“A warrior king always entered a city riding upon a horse; a king on a mission of peace and friendship always entered riding upon an ass. Jesus would not enter Jerusalem as a man on horseback, but he was willing to enter peacefully and with good will as the Son of Man on a donkey.” The Urantia Book (1881.3) (172:3.5)