By Judith Cordray
When I went off to college right out of high school, I was pretty naive about the world. I’d grown up in a large family and we all attended a Christian Science Sunday School. Looking back, I don’t think I had a very clear idea of God or what my relationship was to Him/Her.
I became friends with a group who impressed me with, what seemed to me, their sophistication and familiarity with things I’d never experienced – drinking, sex, drugs. I was totally captivated by these friends and ended up experimenting with marijuana, drugs and drinking. My grades began to slide, and by the end of the term, I was on academic probation.
My parents visited me at school and were very concerned. When summer arrived, they told me they had arranged for me to go out west to camp at the A/U Ranches. I was pretty excited, because I just loved horses and riding!
When I arrived at camp, I was just taken in by the atmosphere of love and companionship expressed by the staff. Everyone was so friendly! The experience that I remember most vividly was an evening hike – we climbed up to a high vantage point, in complete silence, to watch the sun set and the moon rise. Even these many years later, I can remember the feeling I had as we climbed and watched the moon in silence. It was as if every blade of grass, every rock, every tree, every bush, was radiating Love to me. I’d never felt anything like it. It was just incredible. This was the first time that I had even an inkling of what God’s love actually felt like – how beloved I was.
This turned out to be a turning point in my life. When I went back to school in the fall, the old friendships just fell away naturally, and I made a new group of friends. My grades improved enough that I made the Dean’s list. My professors were just astounded at the change, and I was glad to share my summer’s experience with everyone.
While there certainly have been ups and downs in my life since that pivotal moment, I’ve never forgotten the feeling of just being surrounded and filled with God’s great love. I can only express my great gratitude for this experience.
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