At Colorado College, I am an intern at the Chaplains Office, or a SPIRAL fellow - which I assume is an acronym, but I have yet to figure out what it means. As of right now, I want to pursue chaplaincy as my career. Though my interest in religion and spirituality blossomed in college, my spiritual path has evolved throughout my life. A blend of New Age ideas and Christianity have inspired the root of my spiritual identity, though its outside expression has morphed over the years from a belief in capital G God/capital S Spirit to atheism to confusion to a vague notion of life's miracle and connection.
What I love about religion is that it is a beautiful (and, to be honest, sometimes ugly) expression of humanity and our place in the world. I can't say that I agree with all the conclusions that religion comes to, but I find so much beauty in humanity's need for truth, however elusive a search it may be.
How might this relate to "advanced monitoring techniques" or “easement violations," a.k.a. what I’m doing for the Plamer Land Trust? I suppose land preservation is another way to express that search for the unanswerable. So many have found their church in a forest: their choir the birds, their sermons in the wind. I know where I fit in this world is in the grand scope and depth of life, and I cannot isolate myself from the wild of the world. I could not have known that without growing up surrounded by open space. Easement documents attempt to quantify the value of land as "scenic" or "open space" with "viewsheds", but land conservation does more than that by connecting us to the wild, returning us to our humanity, our spirit, our truth.
Most people interested in land conservation have experienced the peace found in being outside, away from the noise of human civilization. It reminds us where we belong in the family of things. It is hard to express this idea without resorting to cliche, so I will let Mary Oliver do the rest:
The clear pebbles of rain are moving across the landscape,
Over the prairies and the deep trees,
Over the mountains and the rivers.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination
Calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting,
Over and over announcing your place among the family of things.
Hannah Pardee is the 2018 Heather Campbell Chaney Fellow. We are honored to be a part of this opportunity to bring a current Colorado College student on board as a Palmer Fellow for a portion of the summer. Read more posts by Hannah and previous fellows here.