A place where I always feel inspired is the Christian Science summer camp I go to. I always feel free to be myself there while I’m riding horses, kayaking, rappelling, or climbing mountains.
This summer, while peaking Columbia—my second 14,000-foot mountain—I was really tired because I was carrying a big pack.
We got an early start at about 4:00 in the morning, so it was dark and we were using flashlights to see where we were going. We decided to play an alphabet gratitude game where we shared things we were grateful for that started with each letter of the alphabet. Focusing on the good took my mind off thinking that my pack was too heavy and that I might have trouble hiking the four more hours to the top.
I filled my thoughts with gratitude so that there would be no room for fear. I love to sing hymns because they combine music and powerful healing words. I worked with the words from Hymn 3 from the Christian Science Hymnal:
A grateful heart a fortress is,
A staunch and rugged tower,
Where God’s omnipotence, revealed,
Girds man with mighty power.
I also like to sing different versions of a hymn with words by Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science Hymnal, Hymn 304), so I prayed with the words, “Shepherd, show me how to go, / O’er the hillside steep.” I prayed the whole time I went up the mountain. When we reached the base of the peak, my counselor carried my pack up to the top for me. When we all reached the peak, we were all so happy!
When we were coming back down the mountain, I was singing a camp song with my friends and was basically skiing down the slope of gravel and boulders in my boots with my big pack on my back again. I started to lose control and was going too fast and didn’t feel stable. Suddenly, I tripped, found myself tumbling over a big boulder, and fell on my back on the ground. I was grateful that my backpack provided a cushion to land on, but the fall shocked me and my knee and fingers were cut up and bleeding. I started to cry.
My counselors immediately came over and comforted me and prayed with me. Since the program head was a wilderness first-aid trained staff member, he cleaned up and bandaged my knee and fingers. I remember the counselors saying, “You just accomplished something that you didn’t think you could do and this fall cannot take away your joy! You were just singing and having a great time! We’ve seen you grow so much by peaking this mountain!”
When I stood up, they asked me if I wanted them to carry my big pack down the mountain the rest of the way. I felt like God was literally surrounding me, and felt the love of my friends and counselors. I thought about my friends at the bottom of the mountain who were also supporting my journey. So I said I wanted to do it myself. I knew that God had given me the strength to make it up the mountain, and He would also give me the strength to make it back down.
I resisted looking at my knee because examining it wouldn’t help me stay with my prayers, and it wasn’t keeping me from getting back down the mountain and walking back to camp with the group. During this time, I worked with the hymn that says,
Everlasting arms of Love
Are beneath, around, above;
God it is who bears us on,
His the arm we lean upon.
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 53)
I felt closer to God and had my joy back!
Farther down the trail, I met up with my cousin (the camp photographer), and we laughed about how silly it was that something unexpected could take away the joy I had just expressed at the peak of the mountain. Later, she offered me her cellphone to call my mom. So I called and told her about my wonderful healing!
After I got back to camp, my knee was bothering me a little bit, but the skin was healing. I visited the camp’s Christian Science practitioner a couple of times and we worked with Mrs. Eddy’s words from Science and Health: “When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea” (p. 495). I focused on what was true about me and my relationship to God, and was able to participate in normal camp activities.
I felt so grateful for God’s guidance and the love expressed by the counselors and my friends. I’d been protected by landing on my pack, and there had been a great healing. So I took the next step. I shared my gratitude in two testimonies—one at camp, with other campers, and one back at home in my branch church. And now I’m sharing it with you!
Lily Oyer will be an eighth grader in the fall. She enjoys sports, traveling, and composing and singing music.
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