I was at a camp for Christian Scientists this last summer, and we were on a four-day camping trip. My group was told we would each be going on a “solo” for one night. A solo is when a counselor leads you to a specific spot in the wilderness and you prepare to spend the night all by yourself. The purpose is to be away from other people and just be alone with your thoughts, talking with God. (Counselors camp out at a distance, but are in the area.)
We were each given a Christian Science Hymnal, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, a whistle, a chocolate bar, and a backpack. At first I was pretty nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I got to my spot, set up where I’d sleep, and walked around. We’d been given an assignment—to answer a few questions about our time at camp in our journals, so I did those as well. I was doing fine until it started getting colder and darker. I remembered the counselors saying they would stop by once the sun went down, and I was determined to stay awake for that.
As it got darker, I became more frightened since I could no longer see what was making the sounds I was hearing, such as the scratching of something on the dry ground and an unknown hiss, which I now know was from an owl. I let fear creep in and forgot about my Hymnal, the Christian Science Bible Lesson, and Christian Science articles I had packed. As I lay awake, I kept hearing those strange noises that I’d never heard. I finally saw flashlights in the distance and signaled my flashlight in that direction. One of my counselors found me and came over to me.
The purpose of the "solo" was just to be alone with your thoughts, talking with God.
She asked me how I was doing. I was very open with her, telling her how frightened I was and how I wasn’t sure what was around me and that I missed home. She sat down next to me and opened her Bible Lesson titled “God” to a random page. She had turned to section five of the Lesson and began to read aloud. The first citation of the section was from Malachi 2:10, “Have we not all one father?” To me this was saying that everyone, including all the animals around me, was created by God. And the fourth citation was from Ephesians: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (4:31, 32). What that meant to me was that any scary or unknown sounds could not make me afraid, and that I had no reason to fear these kind, sweet squirrels, owls, and bugs that were making noises, because the sounds they made were a beautiful expression of God.
My counselor finished the section of the Lesson, gave me a little snack, told me she’d check in on me later, and went to find her next camper. I lay down, and after a minute or so I realized I wasn’t hearing those noises anymore because I was no longer afraid of what was making them. I was then able to reflect on my previous week at camp, where I made new friends, swam in a lake, and was able to conquer things like climbing what camp calls the “Giant’s Ladder” on the ropes course. I also thought about the Bible Lesson, and sang the hymn “Seek ye first” (Karen Lafferty, Christian Science Hymnal Supplement, No. 455). Then, I was able to go to sleep without fearful thoughts.
After all, fear is only F.E.A.R.= False Evidence Appearing Real.
Kaiana Bradley is a freshman in high school.
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