East-over at the Temple of Juniper

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I am spiritual,  not religious. I find myself saying that more and more often these days, as it really does best describe my position. It came out of my mouth out loud for the first time as my 4-year-old, always questioning, got upset the other day because he said he had “no religion” and was angry and crying about it. I guess it was being discussed at school with the upcoming holiday, and he has heard references in the past of his Daddy being “Jewish” (not practicing, only kind of sort of) and me being “Buddhist” (I take a lot from Buddhism but wouldn’t consider that a religion). I tried to explain it was something personal, that he would learn about all religions and philosophies in his life.  It is something he could decide later when he was older if he wished. He wasn’t happy with that answer. The explanation that worked for him, for now, was “In our family we are spiritual not religious. We are good people, we try to do the best we can, and we take care of each other, the people, the planet”. Which leads to our “holy” trip.
We had the chance to spend the Easter/Passover (= East-over) long weekend camping at Juniper Springs, FL, which is inside Ocala National Forest.  Being there in nature made me feel more connected to Source/Nature/God than any church, or temple, or any other building ever did. The luxury of having nowhere to be, surrounded by trees, nature, and the natural pure springs solidifies for me that life is too short. We are only on this Earth, in these bodies, for such a limited time. I want more time to spend with my family, enjoying nature. As much time as possible. I’m done with the hamster wheel of work work work, hurry hurry hurry, wash, rinse repeat. I want more nature and simplicity in my daily life.  Less alarm clocks,  less complications….more time paddling a kayak surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature, jumping off ledges into a pristine watering hole,  dancing around the fire pit with my family, sharing wine with new friends with kids just the perfect age to play with my son while we all got some “grown-up time”…just a plain, over-all slower life.
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Life certainly doesn’t have to be “painful” or “hard” or “fast-paced”, although sometimes it seems like that. Nope. Not my world. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect in any way. But we forget moment by moment that we have choices. Choices on how we perceive things, how we handle things. For example, the last day of our camping trip, right before evening and after supper, a big thunderstorm rained out our last campfire play date. We had to retreat into our tent and throw as much as possible back into the car to keep dry as quickly as possible. And we sat together in the tent and waited. And waited.  And read books. And played games. And dealt with the many, many leaks from the roof of our not-so-water-proof-it-seems tent (who knew you had to seal the seams?). It could have turned into a big, frustrating downer. But we chose not to let it. We made the best of it. Eventually, when the rain turned into a drizzle, we put on our rain gear and took a family night hike with our flashlights, exploring the wet forest which looks completely transformed by the rain. Washed clean. We jumped through puddles, searched for fireflies, attempted (and succeeded, yay, Daddy!) to make our final fire, our blaze of glory with the rest of the firewood.
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So I am grateful we got to spend this particular, significant weekend at our own spiritual place.  That in a sense, we were baptized by the clear waters of Juniper Springs. The possibility of our souls being reborn into a different reality of our choosing had begun.
Happiness.
Peace.
Love.
And although I felt a twinge of all too familiar heaviness as we returned driving back to the big city, I hope we can all maintain some of the clarity of the water to help us stay clear in our vision.
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