Last week, I attended my third Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I usually write a recap post telling you about attending writing classes, talking to publishers, meeting new friends, and so on. I had all of those experiences again this year, but I wanted to share another story from the conference with you this year:
My alarm blares at 5:30 a.m. on Palm Sunday morning. Warm and cozy in the little cabin, I can’t imagine why I would get up so early when breakfast isn’t served until 8 a.m. Before I pull the covers back over my head, I glimpse my hiking clothes stacked neatly on the other bed. I recall the annual hike to the cross that I have managed to skip every year at the conference. For a non-morning person, a 6 a.m. hike sounds great the night before but feels like torture when actually getting out of bed. It’s dark and 42 degrees outside. Perfect. While getting dressed, I change my mind three different times about going. Finally, I stumble out the door to meet the group. Still grumpy, I avoid eye contact with anyone who might strike up conversation. I hike up the paved trail, staying in the middle of the pack and slowly losing my bad attitude as the exercise warms up my body.
The hike gets more intense as we get closer to the top. We are hiking to the summit of Mount Hermon where a wooden cross sits atop the Santa Cruz Sandhills. Our guide tells us these sandhills in California are unique, the only ones in the world. The temperature drops as we climb higher. At sunrise, we reach the summit and the large cross, which is as impressive as the view.
After looking around at the sights, I notice a bag that looks like a heavy computer briefcase sitting at the foot of the cross. I wonder who hiked up here carrying it. How ridiculous, I think. What could possibly be so important that it couldn’t be left in the room during a short hike? As our guide gathers us for prayer, a lovely woman with an accent tells the group she carried the heavy briefcase up the mountain. It represents the burden she’s been carrying regarding her dreams of writing and having a book published. She realizes she’s been carrying this heavy load on her own and needs to turn her dreams over to God. So, she packed this bag and hiked up the mountain to set it at the foot of the cross.
She’s not overly emotional, yet the impact of her words is staggering. I recall my cynicism when first seeing the bag. I hadn’t even noticed this woman lugging a heavy case up the mountain. I grumpily hiked up that trail thinking about the critiques of my writing, publishing contracts, and my scheduled meeting with an agent later that day. In a single act of obedience, she gave each of us a beautiful picture of surrender, more meaningful than any sermon on the topic.
Early on that Palm Sunday morning, a time I would normally be sleeping soundly, I hiked back down the trail a little lighter. My new friend wasn’t the only one who left behind a few things at the foot of the cross.
Content and Photograph Copyright 2012. Allison @ Anointed With Grace.