Yesterday, we hiked up to the Big Tree, one of my favourite hikes. It can be rigorous, with a steep uphill climb, a stream crossing over slippery stones, and occasionally some muddy patches. The Big Tree is really not very big, but it looks it until you get quite close. The view from the tree is spectacular, It is a multidimensional sighting of a long streatch of Lake Arenal, the houses and roadway of the tiny town of Rio Piedros below us, the windmills on a nearby bluff, and miles and miles of gentle rolling hills, in all different shades of green. Calves, cows horses and trees dot the landscape, and I often feel here that I am living in a time far removed from the present.
Our group yesterday consisted of staff, volunteer, clients and 2 dogs. The 2 cats who live here stayed behind to supervise the on-going painting projects.at El Cielo. (They are good at their supervisory duties, but not so good at walking in a pack).
We walked in the morning, as the rainy season is starting to settle in, and that means often a sunny morning and lots of thunder and rain in the afternoon. We had beautiful weather for the walk. We started out in the sun, around 10:00am, and it got hotter and hotter as we walked. Once we had reached the Big Tree, and sat for awhile to enjoy the surrounding beauty, and each other's company, we headed back down and it began to cloud over. It was cool, and a lovely breeze kept us at perfect temperature all the way back.
After living here for 5 1/2 years, I am still amazed and moved by the beauty that surrounds us. El Cielo overlooks Lake Arenal. The weather patterns shift frequently here as we are located where patterns form both the Carribean and Pacific Coasts meet. As the clouds shift and change, the lake takes on different colors and moods.
At this time of the year there are countless birds flying by, in billliant colours: red, green, blue, soft brown, black, with an endless variety in their calls and cries to each other. The air of also often filled with the sounds of the howler monkeys, who travel through and live in the jungle surrounding El Cielo, and who increasingly are coming on to our property to visit and show off their talents and to taunt the dogs. I love the hooting sound they make, and am happy to see them coming closer every year.
Even more amazing, to me, is the fact that I have been living in close proximity to anywhere from 1 to 23 people, for the last 5 years, with people coming and going throughout the whole time. This would have been a description of my worst nightmare,in earlier times, as I have always enjoyed a quiet life away from my busy work day.
I have found so many challenges living down here, and rewards that are beyond what I can even begin to put into words. Everyone who comes down seems to be on a similar journey to the one that I am on: that of deepening and strengthening my commitment to living in peace, and to the vision of having my life being an ongoing extension of love. It was my dream for many many years to be able to live with love as the center of my thoughts and actions, but it seemed impossible to get there, and many of the paths I chose seemed to be taking me directly away from my quest. I see now though that all of it was taking me exactly where I wanted to go, although sometimes it didn't look like that way. It is a wonderful experience to be surrounded by companions who are on the same journey. There is joy in working togeather, playing togeather and healing togeather. We are all in the same boat, going in the same direction, though are journeys all may seem to look a little different on the outside.
Who knows, maybe one day I will look around, and see you over there, sitting on the other side of the boat as we glide down a beautifully flowing river. The boat has an endless capacity, and more are always welcome on this journey....
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