Caroline Abels

A Peak Experience

By Caroline Abels, Nebraska

The chaos of leaving for Summit wrapped spiny cords around my heart. Most people who travel understand; leaving town for two weeks takes around that time to prep for. Bitter, tired and exasperated, I boarded my plane for Denver.

Walking in the doors of the hotel, probing thoughts of unfinished projects back at home plagued my mind. I barred myself off from making intimate connections with anyone. I believed that two weeks was too short to make any lasting, meaningful friendships, but too long to completely isolate myself. As a ‘victim’ of other week-long events such as these, I learned to push my emotions under my mind and tread lightly around conversation, delving deep only when appropriate. Going into sessions, however, my thinking was thrown for a loop.

Challenging concepts and insightful details were wrapped up in each lesson, tossed to us students in a mysterious, provoking package. Grappling the mass of information proved no great feat for me; I was taught how to process quickly. But the speaker’s topics probed around the relational aspects of Christianity on an intense level.

I was unprepared for this.

Mr. Alan Shlemon presented the Muslim worldview and mannerisms with such intriguing relevance, I was on the edge of my cultural outlook. The thought that some Muslims would sooner kill another Muslim than a Christian perplexed me. From prophets and wars to Jesus and Mohammed, Mr. Shlemon spoke on all aspects of Islam.

Day after day, more speakers shared personal and visceral experiences with the truth. Bit by bit, my barrier dissolved and cracked. My emotions do not often override my thought and mental bearings, but my mental firmness occasionally slides away. The sessions washed a new perspective over me; small groups enriched my experience.

Outings and group activities impressed the significance of the community to the forefront of my thoughts. Hiking, whitewater rafting, custard consumption, and shopping all hinted at a deep desire. I lived my life as if I was my core defense against the cold world around. In reality, God was still keeping watch over my soul.

I was a captive to my desires, slave to my work, and a prisoner of the cold world I feared.

Week one slid by with an aftertaste of intellectual fulfillment as week two crawled forward with a hint of doom. The information and emotional satisfaction I received in the classroom were marred by a gnawing call to intimacy. A wave of dull panic rose within me as my emotions swam up with my intellect. Fear of exposure and offending another harbored my urge to rush into a relationship. The dread of monopolizing my small group leader’s time detained me in my seat. He steered my shipwrecked life up the stairs and out to the hall where Grayce stood. I realized then just how deprived my soul was. I could not be a true follower of Christ without loving His followers faithfully. As hurt after thought poured out, I concluded that no matter how valuable my time was, spending quality time with godly people is always worth it;

Even if it takes two weeks to realize.