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As I stood curbside at 5:50 a.m. with shrugged shoulders, my hands and arms stiff against the cold, I could not think of anything but boarding the bus and sitting perfectly still in a bundle, to all-too-slowly defrost. My mind and usual uninhibited imagination were bound and wound up tightly, as I placed all me energy into fighting off the discomfort of the wintry elements this windy and cold morning.
Every tow truck, delivery van and monster vehicle with its marquis of small yellow lights lined up above the windshield instilled a flash of false hope, duping me for a moment into believing that it was my bus approaching in the distance.
After being far and away from this foul weather for a full two weeks, out West and way down south, I was woefully spoiled and yearned to return to the invigorating morning chill of Northern California and the outskirts of Atlanta.
The climate was so charming out West that the very first morning of my vacation I awoke at four a.m. and walked comfortably in all but a hooded sweatshirt and khakis for a slow circular mile. On my promenade I came upon the grounds of the Rosicrucian Order, offering a hidden paradise, a lost suburban garden of Babylon smack in the middle of the world’s foremost center for information technology, Silicon Valley.
Along with the Peace Garden which is replete with statues of sphinxes, an outdoor temple, an obelisk, palm trees and other imported flora from the Nile and the Euphrates, Rosicrucian Park is the administrative seat for the English Grand Lodge of the Americas and the Caribbean and sprawls across an entire city block. In plain view from Park Avenue, the Park hosts several Egyptian styled buildings. The primary attraction for the public is the Egyptian museum displaying real mummies, hundreds of excavated artifacts and a full size replica of an underground tomb you can walk through. It is the only Egyptian-style building in the world to house Egyptian artifacts including the largest collection of Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian artifacts on exhibit in western North America.
There is also the Rosicrucian Planetarium inside a building of Moorish design, which honors the Arabic astronomers who preserved ancient Greek astronomy in Middle Ages. The Grand Temple, dedicated as the Supreme Temple of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, in San Jose, California, on July 17, 1949, is a reproduction of two ancient Egyptian temples. And the Research Library in Rosicrucian Park houses a number of rare and hard-to-find books that relate to the Rosicrucian studies.
Established in the 1920s, the society is but a few blocks away from the house where I spent most of my childhood and early adolescence. And although I had spent the better part of 24 years residing, playing, going to school and essentially growing up practically across the street, I had only visited the museum few times, but never gone beyond this columned edifice. I had long felt that there was something prohibitive about the place, something spooky and mysterious, and I imagined that it was the headquarters of a secret society which one did not want to mess with.
Hence, my whimsical tour of the grounds under the dark blue starlit sky at 5 AM proved wonderful, enlightening and fascinated me more than ever. I later visited the museum during my vacation and discovered that the society actually offers an opportunity to pursue some of my greatest interests, which include self-improvement, engendering world peace and mysticism.
Their website ( www.rosicrucian.org ) gives the following introduction:
Within every human being lies the ultimate source of wisdom, compassion, strength and peace.
All too often these treasures remain undiscovered. Hidden by the turmoil and distractions of our worldly existence.
The Rosicrucian order teaches time-honored practical techniques for unveiling the spiritual riches within.
By tapping into the vast resources students are empowered to serve their communities and humanity as a whole by incorporating spiritual values into all aspects of daily life.
The Rosicrucian order is committed to preserving and perpetuating its centuries old body of knowledge for the betterment of all beings and our planet.
So a mere eight hours after landing in San Jose, this was my reintroduction to the earthly paradise I left twelve years ago. An oasis that I thought—as I stood out in the cold waiting for the bus to go to work today—was once again three thousand miles away.
Thus, for a lonely moment, I half-lamented my cold transition back into my routine. Contradictorily, I actually had been looking forward to the reemploying the discipline required of my straight and narrow life over the 14 days of my vacation. For everyday I was a glutton—I ate well and immediately became quite lax about exercise.
A few pounds heavier now, I feel the pinch at my waistline and I am recommitted to feeling and being fit and lean. And although vacation gave me the opportunity to temporarily shed responsibility and a drab routine, I’ve learned once again that there is a heavy price to pay for our shameless indulgences once the holiday is over.
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