To think that an academic and faith centered retreat in the mountains with the same fifty people, for three months, removed from direct and consistent contact with culture could be as rewarding, thought-altering and growing as it has been would be considered crazy by the rest of the “normal” world. According to this observation, you might say it’s a good thing I am just a little crazy and not quite normal.
At first glance, Semester living looks exceptionally structured, academically packed, experientially indulging, and to be direct, really stinkin’ busy. Without any context, this sounds like any other college experience; I beg to differ. Upon arrival here at Snow Wolf Lodge and Summit Semester, I immediately began to observe the faith-based intentionality of the program as a whole. From the order of daily dealings, to the activities and academics, everything had a purpose, a meaning, or at least had been thought through.
One of the first ways in which I was impacted by this intentionality was our meals. Right away, I was captured by the communal and personal aspects of prayer that structured our fellowship over the mealtime. Each morning as a spoken prayer was said together, a devotion was shared, and the Doxology was sung, I found a desire of community connection and personal focus on the Lord being met as I started my day. Every evening, as we came to a close with dinner and our day, and a time of silence in confession was taken, I began to find myself looking forward to this quiet moment of reflection in my every day. The community and conversation that was encouraged and embraced around the dinner table has brought about some of my fondest memories, from discussing deep thoughts and topics that had been brought up in class to laughing so hard and so good over a multitude of wonderful and quirky senses of humor until my sides ached.
Another area I observed this intentional mindset was through the diversity of the classroom and academics. From intellectual professors to thought-provoking topics that had a basis of wisdom and knowledge, a deep and partially hidden desire of understanding and growing was again rekindled in me. I found learning how to really think, exceeding typical expectations of modern day education of memorization and information compiling, to truly be enjoyable and edifying once more.
A challenge to reflect and consider how this intent thought affected both our work and play was encouraged as well. Through work crews of pulling thistles, digging ditches and bleaching kitchens from top to bottom, the discussion and application of our value of work began to influence my consideration of personal work to a more positive, qualitative and uplifting one. In the same way work was implemented, so our play in a variety of once in a lifetime experiences and events was also encouraged. Getting the opportunity to hike mountains, sand dunes, canyons, visit hot springs, artful towns and places as well as enjoying life together through guys and girls appreciation days, talent shows, movie nights, Farvest Hall, and dances showed to bring about a new gratitude for life’s wonders. Through this, I have found to admire and appreciate beauty in all its rawness- people, places and things- is truly a result of an intentional perspective.
As a product of such an uplifting environment, the opportunity to give and receive in such a community has shown itself to be tremendous and one of the most growing aspects. Whether it is giving a haircut, pursuing quality time through a walk, cooking, fireside story time, playing a board game or music, seeking out ways in which you can bless others and being sought out and blessed is humility and restoration for the soul. On the flipside of this outward perspective, being reminded of the value in taking a period of solitude to ponder inwardly personal growth of heart, mind and soul has been significant. Having a structure where a time of solitude is required has helped me in my practice of prayer, of rest, of listening, and of simply just being.
Lastly, one of the biggest aspects of this Semester I underestimated was the intentionality and intimacy of a variety in a community and its relationships. Despite my initial fear of building expectations for relationships here prior Summit Semester, I am humbled to have my few expectations largely exceeded and deeply grateful for such an opportunity to live life with other Truth-pursuing individuals. Being able to interact with people of all ages, personalities and backgrounds on such a personal level for a consistent amount of time has constructed in me a new appreciation for the uniqueness of an individual.
In retrospect, I would have to say Summit Semester living is a guide map to balanced living. Its intentionality has been an encouragement to good habits, positive time management and affirmative perspective, and its uplifting environment has been a help in beginning to develop personal ways of living out faith convictions with a wholesome approach. As I begin to see this chapter of Semester living come to a close, I can only echo a heart prayer that has surfaced itself multiple times throughout precious and treasured moments over the course of my last three months…
Thank you, Abba, for such faithfulness.
Olivia Robinson has spent the recent portion of her life traveling from state to state while her father worked in the ministry. Before Summit Semester she was living in Alabama. As the only certified cosmetologist at Snow Wolf Lodge, Olivia is already providing cosmetic assistance to the semester crew. During her time pursuing this certification, Olivia began to understand just how desperately the world needs the light of Christ, and hopes to be able to shine in that industry. In addition to cosmetology, Olivia loves fashion, dancing, singing, coffee, and travel. She is hopeful that Summit Semester will be a beneficial retreat for her away from the worries, cares, and noise of life so that she can get a better grasp of God’s direction for her life.