By: Ginny Luedeman
October 21, 2002
CS Sentinel

During my second week on staff at a wilderness camp on British Columbia’s Bowen Island, we embarked on a four-day “out trip” into the Stein Valley. I could barely lift my pack, with its four days’ worth of supplies, and I was embarrassed that the other staff and campers had to carry not only their own personal items but also the food and camping supplies for 27 people. My additional load? Some tissue. And the salt and pepper.
Wilderness camp was a first for some of us, including me. Its main purpose was to provide the campers with opportunities to learn more about their spiritual natures--that all the good qualities of God were theirs to enjoy. Each day we saw more clearly that what really identified us were things such as peace, courage, intelligence. As a Christian healer, I had a lot of experience praying for people, so I was on the staff in case anyone might have a need for prayer or spiritual counseling.
Back to the hike. Soon, I found I was praying hard--for myself! I was hoping I wouldn’t have to be carried out on a stretcher. When we started up “The Devil’s Staircase”--a rugged, steep, rocky slope high above a river--I really prayed. I desperately wanted to drop my baggage of weakness and feel more of the strength that I knew God gives to each of us.
The prior week at camp had been full of healing. We had all been praying to focus on those spiritual qualities instead of on our physicality. So instead of seeing each other as tall or short, young or old, or whatever, we focused on looking for things such as the helpfulness, kindness, and humor we saw in each other. Whether we were 30 feet in the air attempting to walk the ropes course, rock climbing, hiking, or swimming, our prayer had helped us trust in God’s power and love, and we had watched our fears and doubts melt into nothing. One girl, who had not felt able to trust anyone before, lost her distrust when she found she could leap from a high platform to a bar six feet away, depending on her fellow campers on the ground to support her through a rope and pulley system. Several girls had overcome their fear of heights. And some their fear of water.
I had been “pre-prayered,” so to speak, to take that hike with the assurance that my strength was from God. Now was the time to prove it. As I trailed along at the end of the group, praying all the way, a new idea dawned on me: “Our physical bodies are like televisions.” Well, that was odd. But I decided to follow the idea to see where it went.
I thought, OK, so our bodies are physical, like television sets, but our identities are beyond physical, a little like the story or program that’s on the screen. I thought about my brother’s new television set that is mostly screen, with hardly any componentry. It’s only about four inches thick and hangs on the wall. When it’s on, you don’t even notice the set--just the picture. It occurred to me that God made us to be expressions of His being, similar to the program or message on the screen--rather than like the equipment itself. And that the best “picture” of our identities would be one that’s “tuned” to our unlimited, spiritual nature.
Here I was, with many women who were much younger. They were singing and laughing and hiking along, apparently without even thinking about their bodies. They seemed to me to be tuned in to their spiritual identities--to their relationship to God. Couldn’t I be tuned in, too? Just because I had seen the earth go around the sun a few more times than they had didn’t mean I had to be less expressive of God’s creation. I still had the same inexhaustible source that they did--God. All the spiritual qualities they were expressing were free for me to tune in to, also--a little like the way that any number of television sets can be tuned to the same broadcast.
Right then, I stopped thinking of myself as older, more responsible, less beautiful, or different. I knew I was simply part of God’s being--Life expressing itself freely, everywhere.
Suddenly, I felt wonderful. My pack felt lighter. My heartbeat became normal. And I felt strong and free.
The time we spent camping after that hike into the valley was a delight--full of surprises and laughter. I was really feeling the power behind these words from Science and Health: “Consciousness constructs a better body when faith in matter has been conquered. Correct material belief by spiritual understanding, and Spirit will form you anew” (p. 425).
Our five-mile trip out of the valley was exhilarating. I felt no fatigue and had no bodily discomfort--even when we had to step up our pace because we saw a baby grizzly bear.
About two weeks before this happened, I had been thinking about using the senior parking slot at the local Wal-Mart. Although I was eligible to park there, I decided against it. I wanted to think of myself not as a “senior,” but rather as full of beautiful, strong, age-less characteristics from God.
Many of the ideas I had been studying in Science and Health had been helping me understand the meaning of agelessness. One says, “The measurement of life by solar years robs youth and gives ugliness to age” (page 246). Later on, the paragraph says, “As the physical and material, the transient sense of beauty fades, the radiance of Spirit should dawn upon the enraptured sense with bright and imperishable glories.” Wow, I thought, what a kind of beauty and strength this is! And how lasting the radiance of Spirit’s “glories” is.
What I learned at wilderness camp built on this. It helped me see that strength and freedom are part of our heritage as God’s children. Our struggles can cloud over this fact, and then we suffer from what we don’t yet know about our relationship to God. But we can pray to control our bodies by better understanding our spiritual nature. And when our faith is tested, and we don’t see ourselves as spiritual, I find that simple trust in God can be what leads to increased strength, healing and progress in life.
When feeling held back by age or weakness, we can begin where we are--without condemning ourselves or comparing ourselves to others. Prayer will move us toward a deeper and wider expression of spiritual freedom. That’s definitely a hike worth taking.

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Ginny Luedeman


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