by Bil Aulenbach

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My Ski Retreats

Annie and I recently went to Big Bear Lake, California, for three days of skiing. The conditions were idyllic: sunny blue sky, forty degrees, six feet of snow pack, well-groomed trails, and not many people.

In 1975, after living in Hawai’i for twenty years, Annie and I moved to southern California. During our first winter, on President’s Day weekend, we and our three daughters went to Snow Valley Mountain Resort to learn to ski.

We enjoyed it so much that we’re still going over forty years later. Annie and I are probably the oldest couple on the slopes, and we still find skiing exhilarating. Why?

First, I am in the midst of Creation, my name for God. The San Bernardino mountains are millions of years old. Thousand years ago, the indigenous people went up these mountains to hunt and gather—especially acorns, a main staple of their diet.

Winters in the mountains are brutal, almost uninhabitable. How do the birds and animals survive? They do. We see them. Thanks to all the modern conveniences, we can enjoy this breathtaking beauty and feel refreshed and meditative in comfort.

Second, I believe that Creation produces creativity, so when I go skiing, my creative juices are stimulated.

In my younger years, I would drive up to Big Bear Lake alone and ski for the day because I needed time to think. When skiing, one spends five to ten minutes on the chairlift, and when one does twenty runs, that can add up to more than two hours of thinking time. Many a sermon, book chapter, letter, and blog post has been written in my head on chairlifts. I find that’s when I am at my creative best.

Third, I find skiing itself to be a creative endeavor. Many years ago, some ingenious person realized that if one attaches long pieces of wood to a person’s feet, one can go down a snowy hill much easier. Then someone said, “But walking back up that hill is difficult, so let’s invent lifts.” The invention of motors helped. Then people built lodges, roads, and facilities to develop ski businesses that brought hundreds of thousands of people to Creation to enjoy what were previously considered extremely harsh conditions.

I believe that Creation produces creativity. That’s why Annie and I go to the symphony, art exhibits, the theater, our church, and other stimulating opportunities that feed our creativity.

I wish our politicians would think outside the box to solve issues like poverty, homelessness, and hunger instead of focusing on getting reelected. Creativity can resolve all of these problems.

Maybe I’ll ask Congress to come skiing some weekend.

What do you do to simulate your creative juices?

Image courtesy of Kris Arnold (CC BY-SA 2.0)

One Response to My Ski Retreats

  • I agree. Politicians need to think more about the needs of ordinary people..instead of just the rich.

    I read to stimulate my creative juices.

    I also write letters to the editor of my local newspapers when something concerns me. Years ago, I met a young man who worked in Al Gore’s office.

    He asked me if I ever wrote to my congressmen. I said I did. He told me that was a waste of my time. He said the aides answered all mail using position books there in the office and the congressmen never saw the mail. I then asked how I could reach them then and he said, “you write letters to the editors of your local newspapers. They have a clipping service and all letters to the editors are clipped and put in the congressman’s desk. You are reaching their constituency.” So when something concerns me, I write letters to the editors of the three newspapers in my area.

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