When I first heard of Summit Semester I was at a two week long summer conference hosted in Dayton, Tennessee. I remember thinking how amazing it would be to attend something like this. I imagined all the people I would meet, lessons I would learn, and areas in which I would grow. It seemed very far off and almost unachievable, but I hoped for it anyway. It took almost three years and a long process of waiting, praying, and trying not to stress out. But eventually, and with a lot of support, I was able to attend.
Since I’ve been here, I have learned and come to understand so much. I was looking forward to this aspect of Semester, especially because I had a lot of questions and not so many answers. Not that I have any more answers after being here for two months — I definitely have more questions now then before. But I think that’s the point. We learn how to think well which means asking better questions and seeking well thought out answers. This is something I think our culture desperately lacks, the ability to ask good questions and to seek out truth. We settle too often for half-baked responses to important questions, never pushing ourselves to discover more. Here at Semester, one of the themes we’ve had on our minds since the beginning is a principal that Socrates often stated: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” So we examine it in depth in an effort to discover more about ourselves, about God, and about the world around us.
There is another aspect about Semester, which I absolutely love. And that is the people. I didn’t know the day I arrived just how close I would grow to every single one of them. God designed us to need each other and to be a part of a family unit, where we love people in the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of way, unconditionally and without abandon. While we aren’t perfect at it, we’ve been put in an environment where it is natural for us to live in this way, and it has served us well.
One of my favorite things that we’ve done a few times here is camping. A small group of us go up the hill behind the lodge a little ways with sleeping bags, pillows, s’mores, and all the layers we can find. We start a fire and turn on some music. Then we just talk about life together. We snuggle when it gets too cold and laugh about ridiculous things. We’ve tried to always go camping on clear nights when the stars are plentiful. That’s one of the best parts.
It reminds me of a scene from one of my favourite books in which a character named Sam Gamgee is reminded of hope by one bright star in the night sky: “There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small a passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
This place has been a safe haven in many ways, a place to reboot and renew our faith in each other and the world. Our Semester here is beginning to wind down, we’ve only got a few more days left here together. Looking back over the last three months, I can honestly say that I have grown, changed, and learned so much more than I ever expected. I’m looking forward to taking these things back home and applying them. And I’m incredibly grateful for the lifelong friends I’ve made here.
Chelsey Wright comes to Summit Semester from the great state of Alabama. Currently, Chelsey is planning to attend Bryan College, where she will be pursuing New Testament studies. She looks forward to teaching others and helping them to better understand God’s love for them. While here at Summit Semester, Chelsey is looking forward to the opportunity for intentionally evaluating her life routines and developing relationships with her fellow students. In her free time, Chelsey enjoys music, getting outdoors, and good stories.