La Vida

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On the way up the mountain I felt like my legs might give way. On the way down I felt as if my spirit might melt. Before me and behind me, friends gasped encouragements while throwing in complaints. My group bonded over their shared misery. The rain water had gotten into our boots and the wind into our jackets. Our dialogue went something like this:

“This is a tragedy!”

“We’re almost there.”

“I can’t believe I’m doing this. Where is the top of the mountain?”

“We’re almost there.”

“This is just wrong.”

“We’re almost there.”

“STOP SAYING THAT!”

Before I was whisked off to orientation for Gordon, I willingly subjected myself to perhaps two of the most intense weeks of my life. I decided to fulfill Gordon’s outdoor education requirement by participating in a twelve day backpacking trip in the Adirondack mountains. You carry all your provisions in and all that is left over out. Along with nine other brave individuals, I trudged over seven mountains and fasted for 48 hours alone in the woods. I never let on to my camp mates that I often wished to collapse in the middle of the trail. However, our group’s drive wouldn’t allow it. A common question that popped into my head was: “Did I really pay to do this?”

As the nine of us participants struggled through, talking was a huge part of making it up the mountain. However, there were certain sentences that were banned from use because of the responses they would illicit, such as: “We’re almost there.”  The one phrase that our sherpas, the  leaders on the trip, joyously bestowed upon us the most was: “Be here now.” In the La Vida community it is a thoughtful way of encouraging participants to live in the moment and not to worry about anything besides the task at hand. However, by the end of the trip I harbored resentment against those words; as much as such a thing is possible.

Yet, looking back, I do not regret signing up for it. I got to experience challenges that I had never faced before, such as a high ropes course and outdoor rock climbing. Through the pain I learned I can endure much longer that I thought. And through fasting, from both people and food, I learned that I don’t rely upon God as much as I should. Ultimately those days in the wild worked on my heart to be more directed towards what should be the center of my life. And it equipped me to face trials that will confront me in the future.

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Veronica A.

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