During a hike at Horsetooth Reservoir , Fort Collins, Colorado, I couldn’t help but stare in awe when I saw the sun set. The vast, rolling mountains were an endless ocean of waves frozen in time and in beauty. Something about majestic colors on the huge peaks that made me feel something soft in my chest, like a trickling of water. As I took in all the wonder around me, the trickle turned into a river and then an ocean. It felt like being in love, or being caressed and held close to someone’s heart. My heart then became filled with something a lot bigger than me, even bigger than all the mountains. I could hear a voice all around me saying, “Jeana, I love you this much.” I heard God speaking to my very soul.
That was only the beginning of the hike, and I knew that something beautiful was unfolding. Fourteen of us students trekked up and down the winding trail with our counselors from Colorado State University’s Journalism and Technical Communications Camp. So far, we had all known each other for only four short days. At first, I was uneasy with the idea of sharing a dorm with strangers from across the state for an entire week, but now things had changed. The change happened not only during the journalism courses we’d taken that week, but particularily on this incredible hike. Maybe it was it the painted sky or the quiet breeze or the towering mountains –I’m not sure what it was, but something there bonded us together. Suddenly we were no longer strangers, but long lost friends.
I had difficulty keeping myself from staring at the breathtaking sky and, unfortunately, tripping over rocks as we walked the trail. Okay, God, I thought, what else do you need to tell me? I could practically hear the Big Guy chuckle and say, “You mean, what I’ve been trying to tell you your whole life?”
"Enjoy," He said. "Don’t worry about what you should be doing; I can take care of that. Look around you; see the beautiful people I’ve placed you with. Just be who I’ve made you to be." And so I did. Though I’m only a teenager, I’ve excelled in the ability to worry over frivolous things. But in that moment of choosing to either hold tight to my fears or let them fall to the ground, I chose the latter. Then a new feeling was in my chest –this time it was light.
As the week went on, I looked at my friends. But this time I didn’t just look: I saw. I saw some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Then I didn’t feel like I was falling in love –I fell in love. I saw these people, in all their craziness and laughter, just being themselves. And I enjoyed all of it, because it didn’t matter how different we were or who we sometimes believe we’re supposed to be. We just were.
That week, I anticipated nothing more than to learn about journalism, but along with that I found breathtaking sunsets, inspiring friends and all their different stories, and my own heart changed by things I never knew could touch me. Originally, I wanted to spend a week alone searching for God himself, but instead I found him in the beauty of every friend I made and in the joy I see in each one of them. And all I had to do was enjoy that sunset right in front of me. What more beyond this incredible treasure could anyone possibly desire?
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