Self-Guided Contemplative Hike
Location: Village Lawn to DeSoto Bluff
Distance: 3.5 miles round trip
Time: Approximately 1.5 hours
Jesus says the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) God wants every part of us. We are created as holistic beings. When we worship God with our body, our mind, and our heart we get a full experience of who God is. This all-inclusive activity limits our distractions because more of who we are is focused on God at the same time. The information below will guide you through contemplation that will help you draw closer to God.
See the accompanying map for more information. This hike starts at the Village Lawn. The path goes around SPEC, beside the Wrestling Center, down the hill, along the sidewalk to Crews Pavilion, around the Intramural and Soccer Fields on the right side, up the difficult trail to the bluff, along the bluff edge to the Bluff Proper (fence, signs, etc), follows the concrete path for about 50 feet then turns left onto a trail that goes downhill, this trail leads to the road and take a left which will lead you back to campus and follow that road to backtrack your steps from there.
Limit your distractions while on the hike. Either print this description off or open the page on your smart phone and then put it on airplane mode. It is a good idea to tell someone where you are going. Pack water and dress appropriately for the weather.
Focus on worshiping God with all that you are for this hike. Before you begin, pray that God will speak to you. Pray against any spirits of distraction and pride that will keep you from studying your true self.
Hike silently thinking about the following questions: What has God been teaching you lately? How has God challenged you recently?
If hiking with a partner, discuss the answers to the above questions. Help each other really focus in on what God is teaching. If alone, spend more time thinking and focus in on the specifics of what God wants you to learn.
This is where you can choose your own path. This symbolizes you choosing to walk the path Into His Image. Think about the things God wants to remove from your life (laziness, lust, anger, complacency, etc). Confess these sins to God. Leave this junk behind just as there are piles of logs and junk over to your right along your path. As the path thins and feels more like a valley, this is your valley of death. Contemplate the sins you have confessed and discarded. Let this lead you to repentance.
Repentance is hard, just like climbing this hill. Visualize who you are when living into God’s image. Picture this person a few steps ahead of you. As you climb the hill leave behind all the things that are not of Him. Feel their weight fall off you, which allows you to catch that person you want to become as you reach the top. This might be a slow process physically and metaphorically or it might be done at a run. You choose how to face this mountain.
Rest in the peace and joy of who you are In His Image. Contemplate God’s glory and its power to transform you Into His Image. As you walk along the Bluff realize that life will have its ups and downs, but you can still continue to rest in the glory of God. Look out to your right and appreciate the beauty of creation. Consider that just as life has its ups and downs, it also has dangers. Symbolized here by the cliff edge which is not only a metaphorical danger, but a current, physical danger. So be careful.
Say the following Prayer of Thanksgiving with those you are experiencing this hike
with. This prayer is taken from the Book of Common Prayer and has been prayed by
many believers throughout history. Really mean these words as you say them and read
them aloud with all the feeling they deserve.
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.
We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom, which gives us the ability to grow Into Your Image.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, we may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.
As you hike, plan practical ways that you will live in God’s glory to transform yourself Into His Image. Be specific. What can you do this week to truly repent and move towards God?
Share your practical changes with your partner. Help one another think through these changes and their implications.
Chat about life and celebrate the joy of life in Christ.
Remember the experience you have been through, your confession, repentance, God’s glory, and your plan for continued transformation. We often forget about and stray from our path, but it is important to refocus, even if it is a struggle like this hill.