Today we’re on our way back to the mountains for a cooler, kinder summer. Our car is filled with various essentials, (my clothes mostly!), and carries an equally stuffed “pod” on the roof. But this year the back seat is not occupied by Bear, my best golden retriever friend who snoozed there on our annual treks for many years, or by the hanging rod with my clothes. For the first time it will be filled by our two granddaughters.
This was their idea. When their mother asked them if they wanted to attend a camp this summer they said they wanted to go to Camp MaBoppa! In case you hadn’t guessed, their names for us are Ma and Boppa. They like “Camp MaBoppa” because it sounds Native American, which is fitting since our summer home is near Cherokee, NC. We know they used to hunt deer and bear on our land because my mother-in-law once found an arrowhead in Buck Creek. The mountain on which our cabin stands is called Deer Lick by the locals, but the deer are long gone. In fact, the creek was named for the last buck to be killed there. But there are still lots of bears.
As we return to the wilderness home of my soul I’m thinking about the choices that brought me to this moment. I could have made so many wrong turns on my journey. I went to college in the 60’s, a watershed decade for America. Some of the boys in my generation died in the Viet Nam war. Some of the girls became hippy drop-outs, rock band groupies, Playboy bunnies and swingers who, with the invention of the “pill” succumbed to the soul-numbing pleasures of free love or surrendered to the pain-escaping allure of the drug culture, never to recover their balance. How did I manage to keep mine?
Many women of my generation joined the early, angry years of the feminist movement when we were shedding the detritus of thousands of years of repression — the stereotypes, glass ceilings, condescending attitudes and religious prohibitions that had limited our options and buried our souls. Some sacrificed the pleasures of family and children for careers only to regret their choices in later years. Some, like me, struggled to combine both with varying degrees of success and satisfaction. Most managed to move past our rage to places of forgiveness and self-respect, but a few were sucked into whirlpools of heart-wrenching, relationship-destroying disappointment, bitterness and blame. How did I survive that shipwreck?
I’ve always assumed most of the credit belongs to the positive models of my mother and father, but I know of many loving people whose children seem hell-bent on self-destruction so I can’t stop there. There must be many factors, genetic inheritance among them, but I’ve come to believe that the single most important factor responsible for the blessings in my life today is that early on I somehow acquired a religious attitude. As I wrote in my Dec. 21, 2010 post, “Sophia’s Gift of Meaning,” by “religious” I do not mean believing in specific creeds that reflect personal or cultural biases. I mean having reverence for the unconscious, unknown otherness in the world and ourselves. How did I acquire my reverence for life? I honestly don’t know. But Carl Jung believed it is essential to a whole life well-lived and I’m inclined to agree with him.
At this time of the summer solstice, may we cultivate reverence for the miracle of new life bursting forth from every seed. Happy traveling to your soul’s favorite summer camp.
It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave