If you have ever planned a trip a year in advance without knowing when, how, or where you were going then you have an idea of what my summer adventure was like. I had no idea how I was going to make this trip possible. Only one thing was for sure, I was going. What I discovered, was a personal treasure of deepened faith in myself that I will carry with me to my next big adventure, college.
I found most of the information I needed on http://soaringforwisdom.com/ where I printed off paperwork and a necessities list which was very helpful. It was then that I realized that I would be making this trip independently of my parents, a first ever in my life. The retreaters would be camping at Laurel Hill State Park for the first two days and staying at St. Emma's monastery in Greensburg Pennsylvania for the remainder of the week. Transportation arrangements were entirely on my shoulders. I decided to partner up with a friend of mine who would also be attending the retreat. Combining our resources, we took my fuel efficient car, her GPS, our luggage and headed for the turnpike.
With teamwork and help from the GPS, my friend and I arrived safely at the camp ground. Gathered around the first campfire we all became acquainted with each other. It was inspiring to hear how far people had traveled to participate at Eagle Eye; there were people as close as Ohio and as far away as Texas who made the trip. We even had two religious sisters with us who had come from France, though originally they were from Taiwan and Germany. While I wasn't nearly as far from home as others, homesickness clenched its fists around my stomach that first night.
The following two days were filled with hiking through the undulating terrain that was a working ski resort in winter. The new scenery in Pennsylvania reflected the people we were surrounded by, strange but certainly beautiful. As we became more acquainted and our friendships deepened throughout the week, the cultural exchange was a wealthy gain of knowledge and understanding. When we arrived at St. Emma’s monastery, the open farm land surroundings created an atmosphere of secluded unity. While at first we were a group of strangers coming from vastly different cultures, we transformed into a family. Throughout the entire week, we ate, prayed, attended college level classes on theology and philosophy, played recreational sports and did chores together. We were set apart from civilization, many of us away from jobs and other demands of the world, which knitted us even closer together as a family.
Looking back on the retreat, I feel a sense of excitement about my upcoming college adventure. I learned that I want my family to travel with me, not just my friend, because I will miss them. I’ve also decided to invest in my own GPS for the traveling back and forth from college and home. I will be meeting people from across the country and perhaps the world. I will be taking college level classes while facing the chores of up keeping a dorm room, in which case it is important to stay close to the necessities list provided by the college. While there are many things about the retreat that has helped prepare me for college, the most important thing I have learned is that I can do it. This deepened faith is certainly one that will be applied in my years to come at college.