Strange, this place I find myself in now

Eugene Scott

Strange place I find myself in. Despite growing up in Denver, I didn’t try skiing until I was almost 16. Someone suggested we take Tom, one of my best friends, skiing for his sixteenth birthday. I wasn’t all that interested until the cute blonde whose idea this was and who was a member of the ski team at Loveland promised to spend the day teaching me. Skip school, a cute blonde and a day in the mountains – hmm. Dressed in long-underwear, Levis and down coats, we hit the slopes. I began to have second thoughts when I read the sign on the lift: EXPERT SKIERS ONLY. “Can we get off halfway up?” I asked stupidly. The cute blonde blinked her blue eyes at me and nodded yes. Right then I would have believed anything. At the top I fell off the chair. She laughed “with” me. The cute blonde then spent two or three long minutes teaching me how to snowplow. After which she waved a “see you at the bottom” wave and swooshed off. I stumble-plowed (it’s like snow-plowing except worse) my way to the edge where I had last seen the cute blonde. Instead of the cute blonde, I saw a vertical ocean with unending, hurricane-sized whitecaps (I now know they’re called moguls). At that moment, I decided to never again believe anything a cute blonde said. I made it down to the car just in time not to be left behind. It took me all day to descend the mountain. Right then I decided to never ski again.Strange, this place I find myself in. I live in a ski resort. Strange place I find myself in. Despite growing up in America, I didn’t try God until I was almost 16. My best friend’s grandmother, who was no longer cute or blonde, coerced us into attending a church camp in the mountains. Again, I wasn’t all that interested. Neither was I interested in staying home, mowing the lawn and doing other chores. Plus a week in the mountains was a week in the mountains.”How bad could it be?” I asked stupidly.Day 1 wasn’t too bad except for the fact that no one but the counselors (do you boys know Jeesuus?) would talk to us. I thought that at least at church camp, where everyone talked about Jeeesuus, two guys with hair down to their shoulders would be welcome. After all, I had seen the longhaired likeness of Jesus on a pack of rolling papers. Day 2 we attended the two required chapel services and heard about hellfire. Day 3 we heard about damnation. Day 4 we heard about brimstone. At that moment, I decided to never believe anything a preacher dressed in a dark suit and tie said. Strange, this place I find myself in. I’m a preacher.Things, including skiing and God, are more difficult, frightening and disappointing than they first appear. Cute blondes and sweet rationalizations don’t smooth out the bumps of life. Deciding to never ski again didn’t eliminate any future life-size moguls. And I still had to face the realization that I was not who I pretended to be. I may not have wanted to believe in and hear about hell, but my insides were hot with the fires of guilt and shame and the inability to change into who I really yearned to be.Also, things – including God and skiing – are deeper, richer, more wonderful and exhilarating than they first appear. Had I kept my first prejudices, I would never have experienced that “epic powder day” recently when the snow was knee deep and my 11- year-old brimmed with joy and charged down the mountain like she owned it. I would have never experienced God’s grace including that quiet moment when I stopped in the trees and watched the snow crystals float in the sky like glitter from God’s hair. I would have never stood in the snow at 10,000 feet above sea level and watched the sun come up over the Gore Range on Easter morning while Helmut Fricker played “Amazing Grace” on the alpenhorn, while hundreds of others joined hands voices as we celebrated that, despite our fear, our doubts, our pain, our past decisions, Jesus lives.Strange, this place I find myself in. I’m a believer. Eugene C. Scott is pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church at the Vail and Beaver Creek Chapels. The Christian interfaith congregations are offering many Easter services over the weekend, including two 6:00a.m. Sunrise services: one at Eagle’s Nest in Vail and one at Spruce Saddle in Beaver Creek. To find out more call 477-0383 or e-mail at Vail, Colorado

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