Yosemite National Park, CA, 2011
How did you grow this summer? How were your beliefs challenged?
I learned a lot about people and how different a seminary life can be from a life in a different context. My understanding of people in general was challenged but, through a rejuvenated prayer-life, I found myself able to see past any prejudices I might have had initially and grow to understand my coworkers and the guests as well. My prayer-life was suffering before I arrived in Yosemite, but with the help of my Ministry Team members and through intense meditation and journaling, I found myself moving closer and closer to God.
Describe some specific times this summer where you encountered God in creation.
I encountered God most memorably on a night hike to the top of Nevada Falls. A fellow ministry teammate and I hiked up to the top of this waterfall and laid out on the rocks watching the stars move and listening to the water cascade over the rock into the river below. But what will remain with me for the rest of my life was the view of Yosemite Falls as it was lit up by the moon. I walked around the corner and instead of seeing the same 3 AM darkness, I saw a brilliant light. Yosemite Falls at this time was the most dazzling thing I had ever seen. That perfect image of brilliant clarity, while it was just a waterfall with moonlight reflecting off of it, has become ingrained in my mind as a reassuring reminder that God is always there for me. God's agency in creation, and not just a stagnant, ancient agency, but one that is living and moving with us as we exist in God's grace, has sustained my aching soul and helped me continue to love God and to see God's grace.
How will you apply what God has taught you this summer into your life back home?
This summer, I learned a lot about who God is in my life... as I continued to pray and experience God in my team members, creation, the Bible, and in my continually developing spiritual life, I was able to see that claim that God has on all of us as God's children and to begin to embrace that, no matter how they treated me.
To be able to see the image of God in each person is so difficult, and I am not claiming to have found the secret of how to do that, but I have found a starting point. To envision the imago dei in everyone I meet is my main goal at seminary this coming year. There were times this summer when I did not feel God's love, but there was always a reminder in creation, or a fellow human that made the importance of God's love more clear to me and refreshed me. It will take constant cultivation, but it is the most important thing that I learned this summer; to project the imago dei and to recognize it in others and embrace them for who they are.