Alex: Before coming to Link I was not a motivated person at all. I didn’t want to go to school and I didn’t like going on any sort of outdoor trips with my family. All I wanted to do was to be with friends and hangout with them all day, everyday. When I came to Link to visit T.J, my brother, Bobby would always ask me when I was going to apply but I always told him I wasn’t coming.
Yet here I am and coming to Link has changed my way of thinking completely. I was able to get the help I needed with the classes I was struggling in. I have become a person that loves to read and do other academic work. With all the trips here at Link I have found out that I absolutely love being in the outdoors no matter what the activity is. I still like hanging out with friends on my free time but that isn’t the only thing that I like to do anymore. Lucky for me I have had made a lot of friends over the years at Link that I can hang out with while doing sweet adventurous activities.
Link has helped me become a more engaged Christian Scientist than I was before. Before coming here I would only attend church and read the lesson at camp. I never really used it outside of that setting. It was my first year at Link when we went to Chilé that I began to use the ideas I had been learning in Christian Science and apply them to my daily experience. I found that even at home when I was on break I was reading the daily bible lesson and turning to the ideas in it when challenging things came up in my life. Throughout the years here I have had both small healings and large healings.
The healing that I will always remember is when I was in Chilé and I became really ill. I wasn’t feeling well through the whole day and that evening when I got into camp Bryan read to me from “Science and Health.” I was getting better as the night went on and by the next morning I was running around and being myself again. The guides that were with us were shocked to see me running around after what I was like the day before.
Being here at Link has helped become the person that I have always wanted to be. I wanted to be happy with going outdoors more and needless to say I now love being outside whether it be riding horses, running, or just reading in the sunshine. I have always loved getting good grades as I did when I was in sixth grade and throughout my time at Link I have found myself consistently improving academically. Link helped me overcome all the challenges that I had going on in my life just a few years ago. I went from failing my freshmen year to having a 3.0 in my last year in high school. Honestly, it is something that I am proud of. Link has made it possible for me to graduate on time and has helped with classes that I didn’t previously receive credit for. I will always be grateful for all the help that Link has given me. Link over the last three years has helped me overcome many challenges and although there was a steep learning curve I have come a long way and am confident in who I am today.
Clara: I was unhappy with how I lived – everyday the same as the last. I was disengaged, neither giving nor receiving but instead constantly wishing I were somewhere else. Somewhere where I felt I was encouraged to be the best version of myself.
You might ask why I didn’t try harder, why I didn’t push myself to be the person I so desired to be. Well, the truth is that there wasn’t anything motivating me to step out of my comfort zone or try new things. Everyday turned into a day where I told myself, “You only have to handle this for a little while longer.” Rather than convincing myself each day that I only had to wait a little longer to be in a ‘better place’ I could have been asking myself to engage and do things I was proud of.
There is a passage in “Science and Health” that says, “Gain a little each day in the right direction, till at last [you] finish…with joy.” This passage has helped me in understanding that love is an ever-present help in my life not just an abstract idea. It has allowed me to engage in my experience here and now, wherever that is. It has helped pushed me into a mentality of giving rather than just seeking to receive. I’ve learned to try new things, love every second in the moment, and not anticipate what will happen tomorrow, but rather embrace the today. My goal is to finish each day knowing that I asked myself to be the best Clara I know there is.
Suzannah: I was small, like the smallest dust mote, small as a grain of mustard seed and with less faith in me than that. I was insignificant to the highest degree. Every action I made came with no reaction. I was doomed to a pointless life, a life filled with material stuff and going through the motions. I was empty. I suppose I couldn’t see.
Now, I am full of blessings. I am a part of the entire universe – the sun, space, and all life. Everything since the beginning of time has led up to me and my 7 billion brothers and sisters. Now, together, we stand at the edge, the frontier of time, waiting to step into the future. I am made of earth, the dust beneath my feet, the life around me, my fellow man. Therefore I must be humble as the trees, standing, living, praying patiently every moment. I am made of stars, the stuff of celestial bodies, pure light. Therefore I must be noble, holding myself to the standard of the Christ-like man. I am not small, insignificant, doomed or empty. I am the blessed child of God.
Sarah: I felt I wasn’t good enough. A fear of failure kept me from being confident and present in my experience, and I thought I lacked the attributes to be successful – whether it was in a job, schoolwork, a relationship, or any other good thing. Lies that told me I wasn’t smart enough, or pretty enough, or strong enough were present in my thought daily, and I quickly lost confidence in myself. I became fearful and my consciousness felt weighed down by this burden.
The journey of my experience at Link has helped me to identify and dispel the fear that was at the base of this problem. I was trying to force and mold myself into being a better mortal, to please everybody else, which left me feeling empty and a failure. I had forgotten for a moment where my source was, and who was gently guiding each of my steps. Through ridding myself of these feelings of lack, I gained confidence, and put it back in God’s hands where it belonged. I was able to see material shortcomings as lies trying to convince me I could not express God fully.
I will be forever grateful for my experience here at Link, and can honestly say I would not be the same person I am today because of being here. This quote from Mrs. Eddy has helped me throughout my journey these past two years, and I’m sure will help me in my next:
“We should remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills, opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves…Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not wear upon our sensibilities… with a charity broad enough to cover the whole world’s evil, and sweet enough to neutralize what is bitter in it.”
Astrid: One of my favorite things about Link is that I am always asked to be on my growing edge. It has not been the easiest thing for me, but I am starting to embrace and enjoy it. I am learning to push myself more than I would have in the past, and I am able to do things I had deemed impossible or too hard to accomplish.
A couple years ago I deemed kayaking impossible and found it daunting. For me it is mostly a mental challenge. The idea of being trapped in a boat and being partially submerged in cold, moving water, is and was, not the most comfortable situation for me. I have been working this year on improving my mental state while kayaking by becoming more comfortable with flipping. However, heading into our final river trip I was nervous, more than I thought I would be. The first day started out calm and I was reasonably comfortable but then we hit rapids and they were larger than I had expected. I got through the day, but I was not satisfied with how I had handled it mentally. I felt like I had done nothing more than survive the day, which left me feeling disappointed in myself. A couple days later, I kayaked again. It was a stretch I had done the day before in an inflatable boat, which left me feeling more confident about being in a kayak. As a result at the end of the day, I was happy with the progress I had made because I no longer had just survived the day but actually found myself enjoying it. It still is scary for me, but I am beginning to embrace the challenge, which isn’t something I would have done before.
Although kayaking has been a struggle and a challenge for me, it is not the only one. Calculus has demanded a lot from me, as well as biking on small, bumpy trails, and being in a foreign country for three weeks. They have all pushed me, and as a result I have grown.
The path to accomplish these has not been easy by any means. A quote that has helped me along is from Miscellany. It says, “Remember, thou canst be brought in to any condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee” (149:31-2). I love this quote and how it affirms God’s presence and promises good, no matter what the circumstance is. It has been my go-to quote from the beginning of the school year when I first came across it while looking for inspiration.
I am grateful for all the lessons learned this year, and am looking forward to those in my future.
Shep: I was afraid of being unable to succeed in…well, anything and everything. Some things I struggled with were feelings of incompetency especially around backcountry and survival skills. I also found myself feeling distrustful of other people. However, now I am more confident in myself and I trust myself in situations that previously were challenging. Before Link I was unsure of what to do in situations that were either difficult or demanding mentally. Now I feel like I know how to stand up for myself and how to begin addressing difficult situations. I think that I became more confident because I no longer feel afraid when I am alone. I am stronger now than I was before. I now feel like I can not only support myself but help others as well. I was afraid of my ability to succeed but now I know that I am able too push through challenging situations and come out the better for it.
Kevin: I like to look at my time at Link like a climb. At the outset I thought it would be easy but soon realized I had vastly overestimated my skills. Rather than give up, I pressed onward, looking for the strength to keep moving, when at times I felt that I was finished. After every fall, I charged back, looking to push forward.
Hymn 136 has been a constant in my daily prayer for many months now, specifically the part in the third verse which says, “I climb with joy the heights of Mind, to soar o’er time and space; I yet shall know as I am known and see the face to face.” It has been the inspiration to which I have consistently returned it reminds me that I am climbing these heights with God as my guide, and she will always protect me. I look with joy for God everyday in everything I do. I see God in the mountains, I see her in the rivers, in the rocks, in the people around me. Seeing God face to face has been my ever-present goal. I have been able to find such beautiful peace in letting myself be open to presence of God in every moment.
When I came to Link I knew I was missing something, though I wanted to think I knew exactly what that was, I didn’t. I thought I knew who I was, I thought I knew what I wanted, I thought I knew where I wanted to be. I knew nothing. In fact my knowledge was a smokescreen, allowing me to live a self-centered life while trying to pretend that I wasn’t. As I opened myself up, I learned that the truth was so absurdly simple; I could distil this entire piece into seven words. “I was afraid, now I am not.” I was afraid of living in the world around me, so I lived in a world of my own creation. This world was never helpful to me; it was never helpful for the people around me. In fact it was the opposite, but I was too afraid to look outside my shell, too afraid to confront the challenges before me.
In the end, I realized I was afraid of being happy, because being happy didn’t seem permanent. I didn’t want to recognize that in the permanence of God, nothing good can be erased, so I was unable to move forward. That was the most poignant lesson I learned while here, because it created the window I scrambled through to freedom.
I was afraid, of life, of happiness, of freedom, of being a part of this beautiful world. I am FREE. Free to climb the heights of mind and soar o’er time and space—for now I know, as I am known. I see God face to face.
Emma: I was going with the flow, doing what was considered “normal,” I was too scared to leap out of my comfort zone. I spent my free time surfing the Internet while sipping Starbucks completely oblivious to the brilliant opportunities just outside my front door. Fear was my best friend, it was always there telling me I could get hurt and that simple living was just easier.
My new friend is adventure – always telling me to try new things. “You’ll be fine,” it says, “there are people here who care about you and your safety.” I am now living my life with a fullness I had not previously known. Did you know I could snowboard, backpack, rock climb, mountain bike, raft, and snowshoe? I didn’t either. I am capable of doing so much more than what I had ever thought possible. These new discoveries will impact me for the rest of my life and I am eager to see where my life – newly freed from fear – leads me.
George: I was afraid.
I was afraid to look deep within myself, to see me true identity – my soul. I was lost within life’s generic current full of uncertainties but at the same time certainties. I was a cage unto myself, trapping all individuality, freedom and potential, the real me only allowed out when I needed him most. I had let others shape my existence, let them decide what was good and bad about me, let them decide where I was going. But as a sapling must become a tree, so must a person realize their personal legend, their true calling.
Now, I am free from life’s temptation to join a mainstream life, full of structures and limitations. Now, I pick my own lines and ride my own wave train. I am free to follow my own thoughts and pursue my own dreams. That is who I am.
I was lost but now I am found.
Gavin: I was an average person. I was going through school to get to somewhere better but never thought that what came next would match my current experience. I was a small, wimpy, unwilling, self-conscious child, who wanted nothing out of life other than entertainment. I really didn’t care about anything else. I wasn’t motivated to do anything that involved effort unless there were short-term rewards.
Now – although I am far from finished – I am able to see beyond the short term and make an effort to change the long term. I want more out of life than entertainment. I am no longer that small, wimpy, unwilling, self-conscious child. Now, I’m not-as-small, less wimpy, more willing, not super self-conscious, and a not-so-manly man.
Kelemn: This year I have been working on the idea of serving two masters. Before, Link I had an aggressive personality that fit in with my friends at school. I lived and acted as how I thought the people in my environment around me wanted me to. I made decisions that went against my morals and led me down the wrong path many times. I started to bring this horrible person home with me and let him control my life. However, I was able, for moments at a time, to really embrace my true spiritual self and accept myself as the perfect idea of God – God’s child. Yet most of the time, I was blind to the people that loved me, and couldn’t accept or appreciate their care and protection.
I still don’t know exactly how to be my true self, how to fulfill my God-given potential in every aspect of my life. I think, though, that the most important thing in everything I do is to try to be the best person I know how to be. This takes a willingness to accept who I really am and know that my peers have and will continue to love and support me 100% of the time.
This is Atonement
Watching the proud standing tower, half in the moonlight, half in darkness. Creatures big and small basking in its strength that is sends out to all. Its bold stand against the elements reminds me to stay strong and keep going on the right path.
That is Atonement
Watching the moonlight tirelessly and effortlessly consume the land, but not forcing itself into every crack and crevasse. Just complimenting the land, accentuating its finer features, not obstructive as the mid-day sun. Storing away its quiet confidence into others it’s around.
That is Atonement.
Watching the always-changing canvas of a sky shifting its colors and stars with brush strokes of clouds. Enjoying and noticing mankind’s contributing its own cross work of beautiful lines left by jets, again not overpowering or hiding natures beauty, only complimenting it.
That is Atonement.
Hearing the steady work of the water methodically, patiently confident in its direction. The way the landscape works to provide its friend a challenge is evident in the low growl at the rapids. All the strength, almost but not quite, hiding the near silent working of the small ripples onshore. Their persistence inspiring the small ripples in my soul.
That is Atonement.
Hearing the fire’s joyful and grateful crackling and popping is a comforting companion in the full silence of night. The longer shifting of the logs bringing my attention back to the fire, allowing me to reset my senses before looking out in the distance again, its thankless giving reminding me why I’m on this earth.
That is Atonement.
Feeling the warmth of the fire embrace me, gently pushing away the cold as a mother pushes the hair out of a young Childs eyes.
That is Atonement.
Feeling spirit flow through the land and throw me in the steady motion of the world bringing me into re-team with all of nature.
That is Atonement.
Finally feeling true raw beautiful emotion flowing around me. Working with the sand to cool my hot head, the fire to bring warmth to my cold heart, the stars to bring love and companionship to my lonely soul. And all of nature working to bring me closer to my peers.
This is Atonement.