Though it was New Year’s Eve complete with parties, the highlight of my day was going snowshoeing with 8 other students in the Rocky Mountains. We drove about 20 minutes into the park to find decent snow and spent 90 minutes or so hiking around Bear Lake. We had to return to the parking lot by noon to give the snowshoes to the next group, which was a shame as we were just getting started. I’ll post pictures once the folks with enough foresight to have brought their cameras upload them. It was a blast, even with the thin snow, and we had some great conversations and adventures as we hiked along.
On a similarly light note, I would be remiss if I did not mention little Thaddeus. My roommate Daniel and I spent some time before the dinner banquet playing checkers in the YMCA’s main lodge. A young mother and her absolutely adorable three-year-old son, Thaddeus, happened by, and his eyes got big at the site of a new game. She asked if he could watch us play, to which I said heck, I’ll even teach him how. He absolutely loved it, at least for the first few moves – toddlers’ attention spans are no bigger than their tiny little bodies. I was rather amused upon learning he could only count to five. Impressed with himself, he declared that he was “acting four!” but didn’t know what the heck I meant when I humored him and said, “I don’t think you’re acting four, Thaddeus. Do you know why? (No…) I think you’re acting five! (Huh?)”
The day started with Celtic Morning Prayer – which I skipped due to a severe lack of sleep – and ended with a progressive Eucharist. For the evening’s sermon, Terry Parsons, the Episcopal Church Center’s Program Officer of Diocesan Services, read a hilarious story about a Christmas pageant at a small-town Presbyterian church in Minnesota. Alas, I do not remember the author’s name, but it was sort of a cross between Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon and Jan Karon’s Mitford. Parsons added a few of her own thoughts to the story, the point of which was that we often see the light in unexpected places.
The day – and the week, since we packed up and left early the next morning – ended with a banquet and the choice of a Taizé service, coffeehouse, or New Year’s Eve dance and skating party. I split my time between reading a prayer guide a chaplain had loaned me, the coffeehouse, and the dance (where I did not dance but did count down to the new year, and became rather upset when the DJ played “Celebration” rather than “Auld Lang Syne”).
The wind was insane – I’ve been in places both colder and snowier, but never windier. Weather.com’s severe weather advisory for Estes Park said some of the surrounding foothills had sustained winds of 90mph! Oddly enough, despite the wind, it did not snow once all week, save some teensy flurries as we departed Thursday morning.
I’m back in Idaho now and am about to return to New Hampshire, but look for a few more Gather-related posts in the coming days. I'll be too busy to write new material, but my stay at Denver International Airport on Thursday was long enough that I’ve got plenty of pre-written posts scheduled to go.