J-R (center) and friends play volleyball at MSIA's Lake Arrowhead property circa 1975.
I used to like volleyball. I was six foot two and my arms were long so when my ego took over I could ‘spike’ it. I don’t play volleyball now. I’m still six foot two (I think) and my arms are long. I’m 70 and that’s okay, (has to be right?) but nine years ago I was ‘fitted’ with titanium knees. The ‘fake’ knees have been wonderful, but I signed an invisible oath to myself that I would not jump up and down anymore 😊, even if I won the Masters!
But around 1975, Mary and I took our good knees and drove from Arizona to Lake Arrowhead to be a part of one of the amazing summertime work projects done at the property MSIA owned at that time. J-R was there physically and, I think I’m speaking for everyone else, we were like a bunch of kids, giddy with energy and a chance to get dirty making trails and such beneath the tall pines and blue sky under the watchful eye of the Traveler.
One particular Saturday, J-R (I think it was his idea) thought we should make a volleyball court. If you ever got to go to Arrowhead, you know the landscape is well…slanted. So, my first vision was one of a ‘slanted’ volleyball court where any out-of-bounds shot might just send the ball bouncing and rolling all the way to the lake a mile away. “Hey, Fred, isn’t that a volleyball headed our way?’ “Keep fishing Harvey, you’re seeing things.”
But then it was suggested we just carve out a hillside enough to provide a level surface big enough for a court. The shovels came out and the digging began. I don’t remember where we put the dirt 😊, but we dug and shoveled and laughed and presented our lungs with enough dust that when we coughed, we looked like an old engine struggling to start. And yeah, we laughed. It was at once absurd, wonderful, and definitely a chance to stay in the here and now, because the more we dug the more we realized how much we had to dig. I remember getting so hungry I wondered if we could call in the Light at lunchtime while we ate.
The afternoon kind of wore on, but we kept digging (I still wonder where we put all that dirt 😊). And then, sometime in mid afternoon a court began to appear. Someone measured the (sort of) flat rectangle we’d created and announced we were almost there. A couple poles and a net showed up and the next thing you know, we had a court. A real live volleyball court. It was now officially ‘camp Arrowhead’ and we were camper/workers, no longer homesick for TV cartoons and the 405 at rush hour. We all stood back and looked upon our work with great satisfaction and just a bit of fatigue.
Someone asked out loud, “Now what?” And the voice of the Traveler sitting nearby simply stated, “Play.” And play we did (I kind of actively watched😊).
Volleyball at MSIA's Lake Arrowhead property circa 1975.
And yeah, I think we stationed someone at the ‘lower’ end of the court with one job to do. Keep the ball from ending up in Fred’s fishing boat down at the lake. Man, it was fun. We might have kept score if our brains hadn’t been rendered obsolete from moving that dirt from the hillside to God knows where. The late afternoon sun sent wonderful rays of light streaming through the forest, lighting up our newly built playground like a Broadway play (I’ve never seen a Broadway play, but I’ve heard good things 😊).
That night, J-R gave a seminar in the building that was once was a garage, but now our converted sanctuary with real carpet and everything. Tired bodies sat and slumped and laid down as we settled in for the blessing of blessings. I think it was that night, as I recall, that at some point in the seminar J-R said something like (my words of course) ‘Now this is important,’ and as he finished his sentence a grand snore arose from the depths of tired blessed campers. I’m sure J-R or John have never heard THAT sound before. It was a wonderful day.