Been gone for a few days, and I didn’t have any blog posts queued up for delayed release. So, shame on me for all of that. I will have to do a better job of writing going into the future. But I have a good reason…I was away at the annual OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering (2nd one so far), near Mandeville, Louisiana.
Last year, when I attended, a few life changing moments happened in my life. During the camp, I received news that my father had passed away in his home in Hot Spring Village, Arkansas. It was a moment that I handled semi-well during camp, but I have not forgotten (and never will) the outpouring of compassion and love I received from people I had not met until that retreat. A short while later, I regained my center, and underwent initiation for the Bardic Grade with a fine group of others. Since that night, those fellow initiates (and a few others from the ECG camp later in the year) have become some of my closest family members. They’re not just friends…they are far more and far deeper than that in my heart. Seeing many of these same initiates in camp again this year, literally made my heart sing with joy. And we all picked up right where we left off last year – laughing, cracking jokes, hugging on one another, and generally being the unruly children that we are. (grins) There were a few that could not make it for one reason or another…which was heart-breaking, but understandable. Life does get in the way…but they were always in our thoughts, every single moment we were there. We shall see them soon enough.
Many times, I have been asked what OBOD camps are like. The only adjective I have is that the camps are just flat out awesome. And that’s a weak description, because the camps are so much more than that. The panel discussions, the rituals, meals, campfires, walks in the woods, one-on-one conversations into the later hours of the night…all of that rolls together into something that cannot be described – only experienced. The contact high that I have from leaving camp and coming back to my daily routine at home is something I will carry with my in my heart through to the next year.
And there is so much to thank our hosts – Highland Oak Nemeton – for. They made our time there fun, informative, and it seemed as if nothing went awry. I have worked a few conventions in my time, and I know that it is never the case that everything goes flawlessly…but its a true testament to their dedication when stuff that does not go as planned is hardly noticed. I, for one, was truly impressed by the manner in which everything proceeded, and that those helping to host the event still had plenty of time to connect, talk, discuss, and enjoy our company as well.
Yes, for those asking, it did rain. A few times. But nothing that could extinguish the warmth of our time together there. I spent a lot of my time reconnecting my group of Bardic initiates from last year, and getting to know the equally fun and impressive group of Bardic initiates for this year’s camp. I see and feel a completely warm, and ever-growing family in the eyes and faces that I encountered in camp. And that warmth and love will remain with me until next year, when I make it back to the Gulf Coast Gathering.
So, again, I apologize for not putting out posts on a time-delayed fuse while I was gone. I have not gotten good enough in my writing to manage that just yet. But I am working towards it. I came away from camp with a lot of topics sloshing around in my usually empty head. And I am already in the process of outlining some of those into blog posts, which I am looking forward to sharing. In the meantime, you get my stream of consciousness post here. 🙂