The Start to ACMNP 2018

Driving up into The Rockies towards Estes Park had me playing the best music I have on Spotify and my mouth sending a few howls out into the winding mountain air. I’m 22, I’ve just graduated college with two degrees, and the first job I have out of school had me making about $5.00 an hour and living in a room with three other girls. I don’t think I could think of anything less ‘professional’. After last summer, the entirety of my life has felt notably boring when compared to the hikes and conversations and meteor showers and sunset worship sessions that had consumed my life at The Grand Canyon. And so, I signed up to work with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP) again.

I know that last summer cannot be replicated, and I wouldn’t want to try to recreate it, but everything leading up to this summer has had me on the border of excited and terrified. Excited that I would get to be in the mountains and that I would get to work with disabled kids and that I would get to hike and sing and meet new people. But terrified that I wouldn’t be in the desert and that my job is a high risk job and that I’ll have to meet all new people to learn to trust enough to go hiking and climbing and be weird with.

Last summer, all we had was each other. The other employees were full time, Arizona residents, who were too old to give a rat’s ass about meeting the bright=eyed seasonal employees. So, all we had was each other and it was easy and dependable. When I showed up to the YMCA of the Rockies for check in, all other 239 seasonal staff was around my age and just as hungry for companionship as I was. That makes it seem like making friends would be easy but when you have to try to be friends with 239 other people instead of 13, all relationships feel severely lacking. From day one I knew that my battle of this summer was going to be loneliness. Temporariness. Fickleness. How do you find your new best friends out of a crowd of 239, and how do you avoid feeling exclusive if you are lucky enough to find them.

 

Yesterday, I was feeling notably hopeless and so I decided to go for a run. I was tired and feeling less than 100% but I knew that physical activity does wonders for the brain even more so than the body. When I stepped outside, I saw a double rainbow cascading across a stormy mountainous sky and I was drawn back to my drive down to AZ last summer.

Last summer, as I crossed the continental divide and made my way west of The Rockies into geographic territory that I had never experienced before, Creator threw a double rainbow onto a pink sky to the south west of me as if to say “your journey is blessed, you will experience more than you can know”. I took those rainbows as a sign that I was not alone, nor would I be alone. Yesterday, when I saw the double rainbow, I realized that this summer, too, could be blessed, and that Creator had plans for me He had yet to reveal. That is a realization both inspiring and terrifying.

I continued on my run, heading towards the horse stables when I heard the sound of a full stream forging the melting snow down into the valley. Nothing about water will ever be bad and so I decided to find the stream. I went off trail, following the rushing sound, and ended up on a much less beaten path that ran right along the banks of the river. The force of the stream invigorated me as I watched the water go crashing over rocks and tree logs unrelentingly. I continued on my way and then suddenly saw a sign that said “Entering RMNP”. Somehow, I had entered the National Park without realizing it. There was a herd of mule deer to my right, the stream behind me, forested peaks all around me, and total surprise in my heart. I let out a whoop and ran/leaped deeper in to the Park. The sun was beginning to set, so I didn’t make it that far before I turned around and headed home, but the accidental discovery of the nearness of preserved creation had done its job completely. I stopped by the horse stables on the way back home and sang a few folk hymns to them in an attempt to get sucked into a Disney movie. They all stared at me with a look of amusement on their face, but I took no offense.

I ended up back at home as the sun went down and changed my clothes in time to go spend time with some ACMNP teammates of mine. Their sense of humor was inviting, and I realized that there are people I can trust here, but that relationships with them may not come with out intentional action.

I know its only day three, but I’ve been laid up with strep throat all day (blech), so I’ve had a lot of time to think. I think that last summer, Yahweh needed to strip down everything that I had until only the essentials remained, to show me that life can still exist even in the driest of places. I think that He wants this summer to be more about creating new Good things that lend themselves towards fullness.

I don’t know what the future looks like, but I think believing that it will be good already makes it good. There are hikes to come and laughter to come tumbling out of our mouths and divine realizations that will change the world. Those things will come this season whether you are on top of mountains or living in the same place you always have been. Thank you for joining me as I learn to start living the future instead of trying to predict it.

-H. Asfeldt

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