A Glorious Return to Camp Gaea Retreat Center! (for one day)

And now a post about gratitude and joy.

What it’s all about is the end of Noah’s birthday weekend and how wonderful it was—for me if for no one else.
What Noah wanted for his birthday—because there really isn’t much that he wants and when there is, he gets it himself, T-shirts and such—was to be out in nature. And somehow, I was lucky enough to procure three of the 60 slots that allowed us to spend Sunday at Camp Gaea Retreat Center. For those not in the know, that is the camp where Midwest Men’s Festival is held each year. Camp Gaea is under a soft opening (finally) and what that means I you can’t be there during the week unless you are a volunteer doing specific pre-arranged work, and you can’t rent a cabin at all, and there are only 60 people allowed on property on Saturday and Sunday. Somehow there were exactly three cancellations for Sunday…and we got to go!

OMG! The minute the we parked the van I kicked off my right shoe so that when I stepped foot on The Land, it was skin against grass. I shivered. It was heavenly.

This was the first time we were able to be on that sacred land all year, since Labor Day last year. So beautiful. So special. The very air was silver. I could almost hear a voice that told me that kicking of my shoes was the thing to do, “for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

Oh it was glorious!

Remember—as if I haven’t said it enough—Midwest Men’s Festival was cancelled this year. And while yesterday wasn’t going to be ten days, it’s remarkable what simply one day can do for your body and soul.

Two things: First, from the Gospel of Thomas—a gospel the first Christians decided wasn’t good enough to go into the Bible—the following…paraphrased from different translations: “The Kingdom of God is inside/within you (and all about you), not in buildings/mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and I am there, lift a stone and you will find me.”

Second, from a song by Karen Drucker:

My religion is kindness
My church is nature
My god is a feeling
That lives deep inside
My job is to be conscious
My path is forgiveness
My religion is kindness
And I practice it everyday

I don’t practice it every day. I’ve…lost something. Due to life and covid-19 and Cheeto and shoulder surgery and a long recovery and my soul-sucking dream crushing job and writer’s block (the last probably due to all the previous). And on of the reasons that MMF is so important to me is that ten to twelve days out in the middle of the woods—away from technology, with only two or three places measuring about twelve feet by twelve feet where you can even get cellphone service—is what reboots me, rejuvenates me like no church revival ever did when I was growing up, the waters of the lake baptizing me like no church baptismal ever has or did. Church buildings have rarely made me feel close to “God” except, ironically, a Catholic church. Ironically because I was raised Baptist and we were told that Catholics were all graven idol worshippers. *eye roll* But at least those churches were gorgeous and trying to create some kind of sense of the Divine. Except for me, growing up, I felt that “Divinity” when my family and I went camping and I would step out of that tent in the morning and be surround by the sight and the feel and the scent of Nature. That is when I felt close to some kind of “God.” And then I found Gaea. Then I found Midwest Men’s Festival.

And I didn’t get that this year.

But I got one day! And I got it with two of the people I love most on the planet.

Yesterday we spent the day at Gaea. We same in its waters. We went to its holy places. We saw the statue of Kali that has recently been dedicated to camp.

And then…. We found three of our Faery brothers from Madison, Wisconsin, were there! We did one of the most sacred things we do at MMF.

We visited.

We sat in their camp and we talked and we caught up. We talked of our dreams and our lives and everything that has gone on and the state of the world and our country. It was a tiny taste of Midwest Men’s Festival.
And it was glorious.

Then we went back to the lake and swam one more time. I took our new Green Man chalice and I filled it with earth, then dipped it into the lake, then waved it over fire on the beach, and raised it into the air.
A perfect ending for a perfect day.

Whatever happens this week, I will face it.

And I am going to start dreaming again.

Namasté, Blessed Be, Peace…
…and Happy Birthday Noah!

PS!: A note on the Kali statue…. It is hand carved wooden statue depicting Tantric Kali comes from the Pashupatinat Hindu Temple, the largest temple complex in Nepal. The statue was one of many crafted specifically for the annual Kali festival, during which the statues are ceremonially burned. This statue, however, remained intact and made its way to the Aquarius metaphysical store in KC before being purchased by the Temple Scarlet organization and donated to The Gaea Retreat Center.

PPS!: Click on the pictures if you want to see them bigger!

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