This summer I came home from Wilderness a week earlier than I had planned. The excitement and anxiety of beginning a new career was catching up with me, and I knew I needed to spend some time at home before life begins at full speed. In honor of my sweet Wilderness Ranch, the place that has formed so much of who I am over the past three years, here’s a throwback to last summer, my last piece of writing published before I made the switch to the new blog. To Wilderness Ranch, and all of the beautiful friends who have loved me, challenged me, and grown me, I still mean every word and then some.
August 6th, 2014
A week from today, I will be headed back to Austin, hurdling away from the slow-paced mountain life that I have come to know and love so much, and speeding full throttle towards the high paced, unbearably busy life of a college student/student teacher/young life leader.
So today, I spent the day the best way possible. By myself. I laid a blanket out in the park, grabbed a latte and some pizza, and spent the entire day reading The Chronicles of Narnia. Because at a moment sometime very soon, these sweet moments of rest will be long gone, left behind with the mountains. And I needed one last taste.
I can’t begin to describe the mix of emotions bubbling up inside of me. This summer has been one of redemption and growth and beauty. Fears conquered. Challenges overcome. New dreams awakened. Drawn nearer and nearer to the feet of Jesus. There’s a lump welling up in my throat at the realization that this is the close of my time at Wilderness Ranch.
Wilderness has been a home for me. A place that has seen who I am and challenged me to become more. A place where I have met and grown close to some of my closest friends, and a place where I have grown even closer to friends who have been by my side since before double digits. A place full of laughter, grace, and unyielding faith. A place where I have been fully known and fully loved, and a place that has left me utterly and completely changed.
I spent my last week on trail trying to cherish every moment. Not always successful, but attempted. The last camp fire, the last peak day, the last serving of chicken dinner. Each time not fully being able to process what it meant. And now here I sit, trying to struggle through it again.
I don’t know if this is the end of my time at Wilderness; I hope that it’s not. But senior year quickly approaches, and graduation and a job follow soon after, and friends are getting married, and people are moving, and life is changing. In the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis says that Aslan is “always on the move.” And so it is with life, and with Jesus. This life is never static, never stationary. Always moving and changing and winding down an unknown path. Jesus has new plans and new adventures and new fears to overcome. And right now, following that path, His path, means jumping in a car and heading back to Austin.
To Wilderness Ranch and all of those who have loved and lived to make it what it is: thank you. Thank you for loving me and believing in me and forcing me to run faster than I want to. Thank you for discipling me and growing me and never letting me give up. Thank you for trusting me in situations in which I would never trust myself. Thank you for putting me in a places where I could be used by Jesus. Thank you for giving me a stage to meet and love and be transformed by high school girls. Thank you for saying yes, for taking a risk on the insecure, unsure, broken girl who naively asked to be a guide two years ago. You have been at my back, pushing me, yelling at me, praying for me, and encouraging me, both literally and figuratively, for two years. You have transformed a scared little girl into a woman of the Lord and a minister of the gospel.
As I walk away from Wilderness and into “real life,” (although I am convinced that there will never be any life more real than what’s lived on a mountain), I walk away as a woman of confidence and courage, ready to live life to the fullest. Because life is not lived on the peak, but rather, in the valleys. And as I tearfully descend back into the lower regions, I am better because of it. Because I know what is above, and my eyes will forever see through new lenses. Because I know what it is like to be afraid, and to be brave, and to live in true community, and lessons learned here are not easily forgotten.
So thank you. Thank you for making me a better person, a person truer to the woman Christ designed me to be. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus, molding me into who I am. I don’t know all that lies ahead, but I know that as this season of life comes to a close, a new one is opening, and I can walk into it with the confidence of one who has been face to face with the glory and grace of her Creator.
For more words on Wilderness, go here.