by Bil Aulenbach

Skiing in Heaven

I do not believe in heaven and hell as places but as states of being.

Monday mornings are my idea of hell—too many challenges. I go to my spin class reluctantly, but by the time it ends, I’m in heaven—positive, upbeat, and raring to go.

Skiing is even better. My wife, Annie, and I (at eighty-two and eighty-eight, respectively) think fair-weather skiing is heaven. Nasty weather conditions are hell, so that’s when we stay in.

During our latest ski trip to Lake Tahoe, we enjoyed an especially beautiful midweek day with minimal skiers. Annie went back inside before I did, so I rode the chairlift alone to the top (8,500 feet up) and admired the blue, blue sky behind the dark green pine trees seemingly growing out of the snow—Creation at its best.

I thought to myself, we cannot allow climate-change naysayers to destroy this.

Suddenly, way up in that blue sky appeared a small dot trailing white vapor. Unbelievable—the creativity of humanity has assembled a machine that can lift itself off the ground, go up above the clouds, and fly halfway around the world.

I want this wonderful creativity of humanity to develop ways of working in concert to protect Creation.

Once my chairlift arrived at the peak, I could see dozens of mountain ranges, some dressed in pure white, others in off-white, and some in barren brown. As I skied back down to the base, I spotted Lake Tahoe—twenty-two miles long, twelve miles wide, 1,645 feet deep, and filled with royal blue water (the exact shade changes from day to day). The lake is 6,225 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains, trees, snow, and little pockets of civilization.

This Creation is breathtaking!

Thanks to humanity’s creativity, I can take a seven-minute ride on a mechanized chair to the top of a mountain. Then, with two appendages attached to my feet, working in tandem with Creation’s snow, I can ski for five exhilarating minutes to the base of the mountain and then do it all over again.

Skiing is my religious retreat. Nothing brings me closer to my god, Creation, than a day of skiing.

I use my alone time on the chairlifts (which usually takes more time than skiing) to ask myself hard questions: Am I using my creativity to work in concert with my fellow human beings and make this world better? Am I living a life of agape? How can I be a better Follower? Where have I fallen down? Would Jesus like skiing?

I always come home refreshed and willing to take on new challenges. I’m tired, but in a most fulfilling way.

For me, skiing is heaven—a state of being that gives me a sense of peace that surpasses all understanding.

What gives you that peace?

 

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

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