Driving up to the Omega Center I felt a tingle of excitement to be visiting a place I had heard so much about. For weeks I studied their catalogue and finally made my choice: a writing workshop on memoir. I was happy to watch the odometer click away the miles, taking me further north into hilly terrain and cooler climates. Once I got off the major roads, I meandered along smaller highways and two-lane roads, delving deeper into lush green hills. I paid my dollar toll and crossed over the Hudson, a gorgeous sight, as tiny sailboats littered the river and occasionally I could see a waterfront house peeking out from the forested coastline. The final roads that lead to the Rhinebeck campus were even windier, poorly marked and those closest to the Center were unpaved. A satisfying crunch echoed from my wheels as I slowly made my way over the last two miles. The only evidence of the campus was a small blue sign pinned to a tree, a sign most would miss if not looking for it: Omega.
It was still warm and the last bits of sun filled the green lawns as I made my way up the long hill to my dormitory, a tiny bungalow with a room just big enough to house a twin bed and a folding chair. No frills, but none were needed. The window above the bed was cranked wide open and sounds of cicada and the smell of sunshine and dust filled the space. I hastily left my bags and set out to explore the campus before it got too dark. I only had an hour before my first class.
Between long stretches of summer grass, wooden houses sat, some tucked quietly in amidst gardens, and in these unassuming structures people sleep and study while at Omega. Many  paths crisscross the campus, leading guests from one site to another, some offering small areas for private retreat tucked beneath a canopy of pines.  There are dozens of places to sink into a well-worn Adirondack chair and watch the world go by or sit cross-legged on a bed of pine needles and converse with a statue of the Buddha.  Dozens of clusters of people dotted the landscape, some in yoga attire, some in monk’s robes and some, like me, in a tee-shirt a shorts. The mood is one of relaxation, contemplation and a quiet but forceful energy seems to permeate the wooded acres.  This is a place where you can simply “be” or a place where you can strive to become. I made my way to the cafeteria, the largest communal area on campus and was met by a buffet of food, all ingredients provided by local farmers, all freshly prepared in the kitchen by seasonal chefs, and all completely organic and vegetarian. The spinach and red leaf lettuces were so densely green and crisp that they hurt my eyes.  I piled my plate up with vegetables, whole grains and brown rice…To drink, freshly brewed mint tea. I felt comfortable and peaceful eating my meal, slowly chewing and enjoying the array of tastes and textures. I eavesdropped on conversations drifting by me, listened to a couple at a table near me talk about spiritual health and food. No one seemed to be in a hurry; and one of the best parts was that no one was talking on a phone or texting. Those who shared that intimate space were present in every sense of the word. I tried to remember what it had been like to go to sleep-away camp, for this is what the Omega Centered felt like to me….A happy, carefree and mindful place for grown-ups to escape their worlds, to reconnect with nature, themselves and a wider community. Omega boasts a camp-like atmosphere, with simple and rustic lodging, communal eating (and you have to bus your own table), indoor and outdoor activities and lots of opportunity for physical and intellectual play. Sadly, my first meal was over and I had five minutes to locate the cabin called Juniper, where my workshop would meet for the next three days, and to begin my short journey at this strange and beautiful spot called Omega, the beginning.


About waggingmytale

I am an English teacher, writer, animal lover, and aspiring athlete. If you stop by and read or "stumble" upon my blog, please leave a comment and say hello. It's nice to know who visits :-) Namaste!
This entry was posted in Thinking Outloud and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s