The journey goes onwards and forwards… but first let’s look back at the journey here behind us.
Transformational. Refining. Roller-coaster. Beginning. Journey. Obligatory perseverance.
These are a few of the words used to describe our time here. I cannot believe it has already been three months. I don’t know if I could even do our time here justice. I don’t know how to even begin to describe to you what has happened up here in the mountains, but I will try.
As I think back to the memories and the moments, I can think of one thing that is constant. It was said by one very wise man, Steven Garber, that “The truest truths are woven through the fabric of life.” I have seen this so portrayed in the friendships we have sought, the conversations we have had, the books we have read both inside and outside the class, and the mountains we have hiked, among other things. We are people who search for truth in everything; searching for the real and authentic. This is what we did here by asking hard questions of each other, testing our knowledge, our patience, and our perseverance. Seeking relationships with each other that gave us the ability to think through those questions that get to our hearts and minds.
The mountains and the Lodge have become our home. We have cried here, laughed here, loved here, died laughing here, worked here, and pushed ourselves to places we never thought possible. So much has happened at this place that we have come to call home. We gained another family; one we might have not wanted or expected. We all came here for different reasons with different things and in very different ways. One thing we all knew was that we had a chance to start over, but we could have never anticipated what truly happened while being here. We have seen beautiful national treasures from the Grand Canyon to the Rockies to the Sand Dunes and have been to different states. By doing this we can now make lists of all the places we want to go. We read great books from Augustine to Shakespeare, and now can make lists of all the good ones we want to read when we go home. We have talked about hard things like what it means to live life well, to love well, to die well, and everything that comes in between. Through the memories of our time here we will reflect on the good times as well as the bad and learn from them.
While being here we have learned many lessons — lessons that will last us the rest of our lives. We have had professors that did the same. We learned things we didn’t know while also learning that we truly didn’t know anything. We learned to give grace, show love, and try our best to be like Jesus while in hard times, while going through our own stuff. Our bodies were pushed as we did things we literally thought we couldn’t do, like climbing straight up a mountain or running a 5k. The time that we have spent here has been all too short, but through it all we have learned about ourselves, our relationship with God, and our relationship with others. Through that we learned how to make those relationships better along the way to get the most out of them.
It has been hard at times, I’m not going to lie. We have discovered a piece of ourselves we didn’t know could have existed. We have felt all the emotions imaginable, we have seen each other in ways we could not have thought imaginable — the worst and best of who we are all out on the table for all to see. Professors challenged us with hard questions that we did not always answer well, but we learned to face our fears, and over time our answers improved.
As we are heading home, our desire for an authentic life grows. We may still not have answers to all our questions or feel like we have gone far but it has been a long journey. One that we will never forget. Learning how to live, laugh, love, and have faith well while pursuing God and not always knowing what He wants of us are things that we all will leave with.
Now as we go out into the world, may we prove ourselves worthy of our time here. May we look back and say that we kept the changes that we made here and that what was started here was the beginning of something new. Lifelong. So now I guess I bid you all ado, my fellow travelers, but not for long – for one day we shall return. The people here, the friends here, and the life here will never leave us, but I thank you for teaching me how to pursue excellence, how to learn, to love, to live, and how to continue to pursue an excellent life. As we leave to go our separate ways may we be reminded to stay the course… to press in and press on… and as we say in our morning prayer: May He guide you through the wilderness… protect you through the storm… May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you… May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors…
Zoe Noel-Trapani journeyed all the way from Depew, New York. Zoe’s passion is for music, in all its aspects and dimensions, and its ability to encourage people and lead them in worshiping God. She especially enjoys singing, and was involved in both church and school choir. With insight into the powerful stories that music can tell, she hopes to combine this interest with her compassion for people in pain – particularly the homeless, drug addicts, orphans, behavioral children, and disabled people. After Semester, Zoe intends to pursue a career in Addiction Counseling and Therapy.