This past weekend our Be Here Now Sangha went on an informal camping trip to Big Arm State Park on the Flathead Lake in Big Arm, Montana. On Friday night we had 7 people and by late afternoon on Saturday we were up to 12 folks in all. It was a nice time of being together as a community of friends while spending time outside on the lake.
I enjoyed the fact that in our small group we had two kids and folks in all of the decades of 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s – and even two dog friends. The intermingling of ages is something I really appreciate about Be Here Now. At our weekly sangha meetings it’s not uncommon to see the same spread of ages in our circles and I think that’s great.
On Friday night we had a little bit of weather roll in over the lake that brought some big wind gusts, flashing lightening, a beautiful mix of colors in the clouds, and just a slight sprinkle of rain. We arrived around 7:00pm on Friday with time to set up our tents and enjoy the lake a bit before the sun went down. And after the quick tempered winds passed by we were left with a very still and quiet night.
On Saturday morning I awoke early to find the sun rising over the lake. It had been a while since last I had seen a sun rise and I was in that moment bewildered by how wonderfully breathtaking life can be. The sun was both fierce and silent at the same time. And I was held captive by the power of nature for the thousandth time.
My good friend Rhonda and I planned on feeding everyone during the camping trip so for breakfast Saturday morning I made up some eggs from my backyard chickens and cut up some apples and bananas. Around noon our friend Bob arrived with three kayaks and the rest of the day was filled with swimming, kayaking, continued camp set-up and rearranging, water gun fights, a brief dramatic adventure involving my son and his friend squeezed together in a one-person kayak paddling to the far other side of the lake without permission, a delicious vegan stir-fry cooked on our great old Coleman camp stoves, and a sweet campfire equipped with extra huge marshmallows.
While some of us prepared and cooked dinner the rest went out on a firewood hunt. When we all had full bellies and clean dishes we set to packing up all the cookware and food into the car. Since we were camping in bear country that means anything that can give off an aroma of food needs to be properly and securely stored. Then we all circled around the fire next to an abundance of wood that had been collected from the woods nearby. It was a lovely fire and one that we gathered around until just after midnight. Sometime around 11:00pm my husband, step-son, and I took to the ink black lake in a canoe. I was a bit hesitant at first, never having been in a water craft at night, but with the still water, twinkling lights surrounding the water, and the glow of our fire on the shore we could navigate just fine. It was quite incredible to be on the lake so late into the night. There was such peace as our paddles sank gently into the water. The constellations above were clear and bright and in one instance I saw the swift streaking of a shooting star.
As I was waiting for folks to wake up Sunday morning to make breakfast I went out kayaking with my good friend Jennifer. I really enjoy the motion, ease, and experience of kayaking – it’s a whole lot of fun too! When we got back to shore folks were staring to mill about the camp so we made up a bunch of pancakes and eggs along with fruit and homemade granola.
After eating we started packing up camp and then headed to a lake beach in the state park before heading home. Some of us went swimming, some read books, some simply sat in the grass chatting. Then I gathered everyone for what I called awkward picture time before we started dispersing. We had a great weekend! And on our way home my husband, step-son, and I saw a black bear running full on right across the highway in front of us, which was quite unexpected :)
The day following our camping trip was a sangha night and in our closing circle I commented on how community is as important to overall well being as food and shelter and while it may seem like an outrageous statement to make I do believe in the awesome power of connection and community. We cannot exist by ourselves alone. Thank you Be Here Now for being here now.