I could feel my boots growing heavier and heavier, as if they were becoming the very stones I was climbing up. The moon and stars faintly lit the rocky trail as we approached the summit, weak, weary, and stiff from the cold. I began the hike with friends hours ago in the middle of the night and now we gazed out onto the horizon having reached the pinnacle of our journey, the 14,265 foot summit of Quandary Peak. The sun slowly began to rise in the distance, first casting soft hues of blue and purple over the peaks in the distance, but soon the earth around us was draped in blankets of glowing orange. The looming shadows of the Rocky Mountains around us now came into view like majestic giants slowly rising from a deep slumber. As night turned to day around us it felt as if we were standing on top of the world, staring into a warming horizon that seemed infinite. Despite shivering from the cold, and half asleep, I couldn’t help but contemplate at this moment.
In less than a month I will be traveling to India to work at Profugo’s Center of Development, growing in community with the people of Prashanthagiri, and striving to improve the quality of life for all of us through natural resource management. I am filled with an emotional mixture of being nervous and extraordinarily excited. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and for the people and experiences that have made me who I am today. I was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado, and I am thankful to have had the amazing love and support of my family throughout my life. My mom, Janet, my dad, Vince, my sister, Carly, my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, and cousins have taught me how to love. Growing up in Colorado, I always had a deep reverence for the world around me. It was the breathtaking views and people in my life that first made me look beyond and realize that we are all a part of a universal community much greater than ourselves. I went to college at Villanova University and received a degree in Chemical Engineering. The engineering education I received, the people, and a strong connection I developed with campus ministry at Villanova gave me the desire to use engineering to help others and work for the common good. In serving others, and in opening my heart to be served as well I saw the Gospel come to life and got a better understanding of what it means to love, and what it means that all people are made in the image and likeness of God. Experiences with the Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness, Bethlehem Farm, the Romero Center, the Center for Environmental Transformation in Camden, campus ministry retreats, and engineering service in Cambodia has taught me the importance of community and how our well-being, both physical and spiritual, is intimately bound with the well-being of others. With Profugo and the people of Prashanthagiri, I look forward to the challenge of developing deep relationships and working for justice.
On the summit of Quandary Peak, I am thinking about the challenging mountains we will overcome together in Wayanad: Challenges to discover better sustainable agriculture techniques to improve nutrition and income, challenges to find affordable sources of renewable energy, challenges to improve water quality and the tailoring cooperative. All are challenges we can begin to summit and overcome with team work and resources. It takes the help of everyone, community members, staff, field fellows, and donors alike, and I look forward to growing in community and facing these challenges together. I know it will in no way be easy. But by striving towards our goals and achieving them as a global community, the sun will rise for all of us when we reach the summit.