I have a self-confessed interest in altitude. I don’t why, or where it came from. Perhaps it was born out of my fascination with road cycling over the years. I have always enjoyed watching the mountain stages in races like The Tour de France when riders climb the highest and steepest passes in Europe like the Col du Galibier in France or the Mortirolo in Italy. I grew up at altitude in Armidale NSW and it has been exciting to return to the Central West where the contours top out at 1395m on top of Mount Canobolas. Being at altitude gives us great perspective. As our Year 11 and 12 students excitedly boarded the chairlift in Thredbo last Tuesday to climb to the highest point on mainland Australia (Mt Kosciuszko, 2228m), some showed a minor disbelief in my point of trivia for them; the base of the chairlift is exactly the same elevation as the top of Mt Canobolas. Standing on ‘top of the world’ in Orange is only the start of the journey if you’re climbing Kosciuszko.
The Stage 6 Camp took our senior students from Orange to Jindabyne, to Kosciuszko, to Canberra and home again in the space of 5 days. From standing atop a lonely peak in the Australian Alps, to mingling with 63 other seniors in a lecture hall at ANU, UC and ACU universities. Students were ‘challenged’ by Kosciuszko, ‘lost’ in Questacon, ‘absorbed’ by the museum, ‘enthralled’ at the zoo, ‘intrigued’ by ADFA and ‘deeply moved’ by the War Memorial. Each of these italicised words are direct quotes from our seniors as they reflected on the many experiences they encountered over the course of the camp. Our seniors gained a newfound perspective on what it means to study at HSC level.
Seeing uniformed ADFA students marching around the campus between university classes left a mark on more than one of our students. Not to mention the reaction when we heard that undergraduates at ADFA only get their phones for 1 hour of use each night... Now, that is an interesting perspective! Each and every student was struck by at least something throughout the week, and all of them have gained a greater perspective on where they are at on the HSC journey, and how to get the most out of themselves as they ‘top out’ in either 6 or 18 months time.
Perspective is something we sometimes lose very quickly and have to work very hard to get. As I reflect on the term that has been, I have at times been too slow to gain perspective as issues, opportunities, victories and defeats have come my way. I wonder if you’re the same? As we move toward Easter we encounter a chance to gain some perspective on our lives. We often find it hard to extend forgiveness to others, particularly when we feel that they have wronged us and we are blameless. Easter turns this thinking on its head. The message of Easter gives us a perspective on the divine love of God that is like no other.
In the book of Romans, Paul boldly states:
“6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
God is, in many ways, unlike us. Where we are slow to forgive, he forgives. Where we are unwilling to forgive, he is willing. Where we play ‘tit for tat’ he wipes the slate clean. In the very midst of our mess and despite our sin, Jesus Christ dies for us his enemies. His death in our place is not because we’re so good, but because he is. Now, that’s a new perspective! God, the completely holy and blameless God, the one who sits at the highest elevation of all, chooses not to simply look down on the mess of our lives, but takes out place in order to raise us up.
Happy Easter to all.
Mr Scott Hazelton