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November 09, 2011

Learning and Nature

Learning and Nature

Have you ever witnessed an exhibition of natural splendor so powerful it caused you to sink in genuflection? Has the melody of the wind ever prodded you as if it grasped at your very soul?

My time here has afforded me opportunity for contemplation, expatiation, and education in my own ignorance. This is education; thirty-one students, one primary professor, and a campus in paradise. Dr. Michael Bauman is one of the most intelligent men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He knows all sides of every issue he teaches and guides us to be thoughtful and logical in our analysis of each topic. In the classroom he is an owl among poultry, an intellectual razor blade without parallel. Even on our best days we still confound him with our stupidity. All our responses are dissected and we are left to sew up the remains. He ridicules us with frequency (in Christian love of course), compelling us to elevate ourselves mentally and studiously. Class during a typical week (if there is such thing) consists of about 4 ½ hours of lecture and discussion per day. The reading schedule is intensive but not insufferable.

Summit Semester is not a solely academic program. Not only is it cerebrally stimulating, it is physically demanding. During our daily free time and on weekends I take to the trails. The lodge is situated in small valley and bordered on three sides by the mountains of the national forest. The region is ideal for hiking and offers many magnificent panoramas. A forty-five minute hike will take you to a stunning outlook over untouched wilderness, incomprehensible in size and indescribable in splendor. Such eminence shows God amid his creation. The advent of a sunrise over such a spectacle is a sight that will remain with me always.

Our hikes are not limited to daylight hours; we often venture out beneath the brilliant array of heavenly lights to stargaze and give our ears to the groaning of the night. When the moon is full we climb in the silence and allow its soft radiance to guide our way. I have learned the sound and smell of an elk herd, and I have helped butcher and pack out the meat of a fresh kill, miles into the wilderness and hours after midnight. I have seen golden groves of aspen dusted with fresh snow, and I have experienced the fury of an overprotective chipmunk.

I have appraised the cosmic jewels from the luxury of a frost-covered sleeping bag. I have surveyed both sunrise and sunset from frozen mountaintop. I have climbed until my muscles gave out, run until my lungs burst into flame and mounted assaults in the snow against the hordes of the adversary commonly known to man as womankind. As the flakes fall, the snowballs inevitably take to flight. After our discussion on Just War Theory I feel well able to defend my actions. 

I grow every day. Whether it be in prayer and reflection in the silence of solitude or in the pressure cooker of the classroom, I see changes in my approach to thought and application. I am no longer the reference point for thought. When considering a particular issue I have learned to start with an established truth and work towards a position on the issue that is concurrent with that established truth. My feelings on a position have no bearing on its validity.

 Living in community with over thirty of the fallen is helping me grow in social grace, sharpening my wit and giving me ample opportunity to practice the fourth fruit of the spirit. The relationships we have developed as a community will continue strong long after November ends. It is a blessing to be a part of such a gifted and thoughtful group of young adults.  Summit Semester has been the best experience of my life. I fear these words fail to do it justice.

Peter is captivated by the majesty of God’s creation and enjoys almost any kind of outdoor work. He also finds great beauty in the written word. He received the Citation Award from the AWANA Clubs for his work in memorizing over 600 Bible verses. He has attended a local junior college with an emphasis in Spanish. Whether by stewarding God’s creation as a game warden, or working in apologetics, he longs to leave the next generation better off than his own, “helping them to look to the Author of beauty for salvation, and to abhor apathy toward life’s important issues.”


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