In nature, nothing hurries, yet everything is accomplished. – Lao Tzu
Meditation really isn’t “my thing.” My mind wanders hither and yon. I’ve tried focusing on a candle flame or a peaceful meadow. I’ve tried the “Ohm” routine, tried to clear my mind and think of nothing, but I can’t even get to the clearing part. Those that are successful at meditation tell me it provides a pathway to a universal center of calmness and inspired intuition. It could, perhaps, enhance my writing ability. But, honestly, I just can’t sit still that long.
However, I’m always up for an adventure. So when new acquaintances invited me to join them one Sunday at Whitewater Preserve for a meditation circle and potluck breakfast, I figured it would be an outing to a place I knew nothing about, and I’d get a meal to boot. I said, “Sure. Count me in!”
As I left the house around 7:00 am, it was already 90 degrees in Palm Desert. I traveled west on I-10 about 25 minutes, then took the Whitewater Preserve exit that wound me north up a narrow, two-lane road. In the silence of early morning, I was the only car on the road. Halfway to my destination, I glanced to my left to see the glint of rising sun shining off the rocky hillside, last night’s white moon still evident in a brilliant blue, cloudless sky. Oh, my! It was going to be a glorious day. I was glad that I remembered to take my camera.
The Whitewater Preserve is 2,826 acres surrounded by the Bureau of Land Management San Gorgonio Wilderness and includes the year-round Whitewater River. The canyon has a robust population of bighorn sheep, deer and bear, and is an important wildlife corridor between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains. It is a popular summer retreat area due to cooler temperatures of about 10 to 15 degrees. Their website is worth a visit. http://www.wildlandsconservancy.org/preserve_whitewater.html
Reaching my destination, I drove past the log cabin ranger station and parked Thelma under the shade of a cottonwood tree. Opening the door, I placed one sandaled foot on the asphalt, inhaled the fragrance of alder trees, and was immediately transported back in time to my childhood camping days. In an instant, I recalled singing around the campfires at Richardson’s Grove, water skiing at Shasta dam, horseback riding at Ruth Lake, and fried bacon alongside mom’s beer-batter pancakes. Yes, indeed. This was going to be a day to remember.
Meditation was held inside the log cabin rather than outside because the flies were too distracting. I gathered with the group, trying hard to “center and let go.” I gave it my best shot but I was itching to get outside and explore. After the meditation everyone was encouraged to share what they had experienced and/or how they felt during the meditation, what colors they saw, etc. For once, I was at a loss for words since my mind was busy elsewhere. By the way, there were no mind expanding drugs or funny cigarettes used. Simply communing with nature.
Over breakfast of Starbuck’s coffee, cheese, cherries, grapes, prosciutto, French bread, and Winchell’s donuts, we all got better acquainted. It is an eclectic group of very interesting people, from different walks of life. I am a firm believer that people come into our life for a reason. I enjoyed myself immensely.
Strolling through the grounds after breakfast, I was awestruck by the beauty of the mountains, trees, wild grasses, ponds, and the music of the red winged blackbird. It felt like a sanctuary to me. I had little idea of the magic that waited.
Turning a corner, I came across the first of three rocks that had the words of Lao Tzu, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau carved into them.
Turning another corner, I came upon a pond containing some of the largest trout I had ever seen. I was flabbergasted when, in my mind, I heard my friend, Paul Zarzyski, excitedly screaming in a little boy’s voice, “Dad! I caught one! Dad! Dad!” Those words are from his poem, “Words Growing Wild in the Woods.” It was appropriate that a poet friend would join me on this walk through Mother Nature’s church.
By the time I was ready to depart this beautiful and serene area, families were gathering at the picnic tables provided beneath a grove of sycamore trees. The smell of charcoal briquettes wafted in the air as moms unwrapped hamburger patties and hot dogs from their packages. Dads chased after children, toting the smallest of them on their shoulders. Dogs on leashes barked to run free to play with other dogs.
I explored Whitewater Preserve as best I could, but in sandals I could venture only so far. One needs hiking boots or sturdy shoes to trek the wilderness trails. I’ll return with my hiking boots when the weather cools, bringing along a picnic lunch to enjoy. Perhaps you will join me.