Houston, Texas | 15 years old
Summit is a starry Tennessee evening that captivates my soul at first glance. It is a mountain range hidden by a soft cloak of mist that echoes an enigma.
It is something bigger than myself — something that sings of depth, of delight, and of discovery. Like the heavens above, this profound beauty gently calls my gaze higher, and as lofty peaks in the distance, it serves as a reminder to reach out. Summit is a sonnet that kindly slows my racing heart, teaching me to listen.
I came here to learn new things from new people, but perhaps the greatest lesson thus far is simply how much I have yet to learn. The world is a big place, a complicated place, and a painful place. There is so much we just do not understand. Trying to comprehend all things is often as successful as seeking to count the stars. It is a lovely endeavor, but forever incomplete.
So what are we to do? If we could see ourselves through Shakespeare’s renowned terminology, as “mere players” upon a stage, perhaps we could begin to grasp the complex simplicity of it all. For, in a way, we are just characters in a story, acting in the grand theater of this world. We are each aspects of something larger than ourselves. But what anecdote is it that we find ourselves in the midst of? Is life merely a monument of mist, or could it be a shadow of reality’s truest substance?
These are the questions I have learned to ask at Summit and the ones I am beginning to answer. It is this sweet pondering that makes Summit a sort of “sanctuary for seeking.” It is a safe place to stop and simply wonder. The clamor and haunting distractions of “normal” life are eased away for two weeks, allowing students to perceive the profound lyrics of silence. It is in the quiet that my soul has heard bits of heaven’s humming, and in the stillness that I have seen the theme of “metanarrative” runs throughout the Summit conference.
This idea is that the Bible forms a coherent and whole outline of God’s ultimate plan for creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. It simply says that God created all things good and mankind with free will, that sin caused corruption within good things, that through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice redemption can seep into society today, and that one day there will be final and complete restoration.
This literary pattern is not confined to the Bible alone, for it reaches right to the core of our own lives. It forms what Nancy Pearcey calls a “blueprint for living,” a structure for the way we analyze the world around us and the one within. Perhaps the greatest element of this method of thought is that it deeply extends the borders of our lives. We come to realize in a new way that reality does not revolve around “self,” but rather individuals revolve together within a dynamic story. We are not each our own plot, but rather unique characters that enhance and contribute to the magnificent tale God continues to compose. This artistic perspective grants a whole new level of value and creative beauty to the individual. It says that we are integral aspects of a larger narrative. We are not the end.
So what if our profound musings are being recorded in an eternal script? What if God watches his little children count the stars one by one and smiles? What if He is using us to create something beyond our loveliest dreams? I believe He is.
From the foundations of the earth, no good story has gone astray from this paramount anecdote of an Ageless Author. Every tale tells of a love, a loss, and a true life- some final reflection of hope. As Shakespeare brilliantly penned, life is a “passing shadow,” but perhaps that is alright. If this life is not the end, then maybe its fleeting nature needs not be so unsettling.
What if life is just a long night and we can choose to sleep through it or to behold the carpet of dust-like, coruscating creatures? What if the most lovely thing we can do is chase an apprehension of those seemingly limitless stars, pursuing something we will never catch? What if we are called to look up, but also around at our fellow stargazers, together basking in the marvelous adventure of life. Then finally dawn will arrive, and the glittering dust we were numbering will melt away into a canopy of light. Suddenly everything will become clear, for we will see the Son as He is, and we will be made like Him.
Just one week at Summit student conference has already given me the breathing room and learning experiences to process these thoughts and gain a more Christ-centered perspective. I have been deeply strengthened by the lectures, but also by the tremendously sweet, one-on- one relationships. The combination of rigorous academics and significant heart connection has been a breath of fresh air for my soul. I look ahead to this next week with great excitement for the beautiful things I know Jesus will continue to unfold.