By: Arissa VandeBurgt | April 8, 2021
If you head down towards the soccer field, past the dome, past the basketball court and onwards towards the forest and take a left, you’ll find yourself on a trail. Secluded, hidden in the trees and lightly dusted with wood chips, it’s the perfect spot for a private walk. If you go at sunset, you might find yourself in one of those magical moments where the fading sunbeams waft gently through the foliage, and the trees sparkle in the enchanted golden hour.
Allow me to tell you the story of this trail, known to many as the beloved DTR trail.
Long ago, in Redeemer’s youthful days, people weren’t so lenient about the intermingling of different denominations. They stayed cliquey, didn’t date outside their church backgrounds and generally spent a lot of time judging anyone who didn’t believe in the same kind of baptism as they did. The church segregation was in full effect, until…
Until. Hannah and Luke first laid eyes on eachother. Luke was raised strictly CRC, baptized at birth, had his first taste of communion several months before and believed firmly in predestination. Hannah had been raised in churches where occasionally people raised their hands in worship and had been baptized at 13. They were never supposed to fall in love, and yet, they did.
Picture this: it’s your first day of class. You’ve just met the people in your dorm not even a week ago, and you don’t know anyone else on campus yet. So when the grinning, blonde haired, blue eyed boy across your HUM class waves at you to sit next to him, you would walk over too, right? They hit it off from first sight, despite their disapproving friends and the judgemental stares thrown their way. But 2 months into school, when they first walked into the building holding hands, people couldn’t contain their opinions anymore.
“Dude, did you see her in chapel the other day? Her hands were in the air!!”
“Hannah, would you really wanna baptize all your kids when they are only a week old? That’s heresy!”
“She said she accepted Jesus when she was 13…she can’t do that! Jesus can only accept her!”
No one could believe what was happening. It was Romeo and Juliet, Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez all over again. No one was even choosing sides, they were all so focused on how this could never in a million years work. There was no way the Lord could have willed this!
Finally it all became too much. There’s only so many places on campus that a couple can go for privacy. They needed somewhere that no one knew about, where they could actually be alone without the prying eyes of the world. One night, as Luke was out for a walk by himself, he stumbled across the apple trees by the soccer field. He was angrily throwing apples into the forest when an idea slid into his brain. A secret path! One where they could walk freely and talk openly and no one would find them. With the plan firmly lodged in his brain, he grabbed a strong looking stick and started whacking at all the weeds and bushes in his way. Night after night he came back, working to clear a trail. And then, finally, several nights later, he emerged on the far side of the dome. Panting and sweating, he stood and admired his handiwork. Then he ran to Hannah’s dorm and threw some stones at her window. Groggily, she came outside but quickly woke up in excitement as he told her what he had done.
Without the constant stares and able to find time away by themselves their relationship thrived. Day after day, they disappeared to walk the trail, and somehow, no one ever found them. Two years later, they were walking the trail, hand in hand, when Luke turned and asked Hannah to marry him. Years later, they would talk about how it was this very trail that determined their relationship and gave it a chance to work out.
After getting married (much to the horror of all their friends) and graduating, they snuck back one late night with a sign. It read, “The DTR Trail.” They nailed it into place, smiling at all their fond memories on the trail, and then left. To this day, they are married, happily ever after.
As for the trail itself, well, it certainly has determined many a relationship. As students grew more inclusive towards other denominations, the trail began to be used for simpler purposes than hiding from an entire campus. And if you’ve ever walked the trail, be sure to thank Luke inwardly, because he put in a lot of work to make your little stroll down the trail possible. And maybe, if you look hard enough, you may be able to spot that old, now faded sign, hanging up among the trees announcing the beginning of “The DTR trail.”