Last month my sister and I did an outdoor leadership course through NOLS in the Cascade Mountains in Washington, USA.
Growing up, our family vacations were that 20 hour drive to Montana that then consisted of more driving up the mountain roads to find that trail my dad the day before heavily researched. On the way up, we'd stop at any sign of wildlife, pulling out the binoculars when needed, and hit every turn-out point, being forced out of the car to witness and capture the beauty of the unspoken, gradual changes from point to point of the surrounding scenery.
These were our family vacations and as I grew older my love for these trips became more realized. The stillness of my childhood memories in the mountains, began to show me something deeper about who I was and what I wanted to become.
My sister and I are very similar. We think the same and often find ourselves acting so much the same that it creeps us out. Alongside this sisterly trait, we shared the yearning to take on a greater adventure that would allow us to be more apart of the "real hiking world." Unaware of how to do this, our longing stayed within us as we carried on with our suburban lifestyles.
It wasn't until sometime last year when my sister attended a conference at her school in Nashville, where a student talked of his semester course in Patagonia through NOLS. Inspired and with fascination, my sister brought the information she gathered to me with the fresh idea of doing one of the courses NOLS had to offer. Our longing that was residing within seemed to come to life in the hope of accomplishing one of these trips in the woods and being completely detached from society and our present, daily routine. We had the information and all that was left to do was to take action.
After several months the idea became more of a reality.
All signed up and as we started to gather supplies and equipment, our June course was quickly approaching. Hesitancy grew, and yet my family grew up going to the mountains, I never actually been camping before and honestly I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Doubts naturally filled my mind and the faith I had in myself became a joke. I found myself telling myself that I wasn't ready and this whole thing was in vain.
One day I was scrolling though Facebook and I saw something one of my friends liked. It was an article that her sister wrote about Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. It was exactly what I needed to hear. My dream of being in nature and learning with new eyes was right around the corner yet I was so entrapped in my increasing fear and self-doubt. I needed strength, mentally and physically. Her words captivated the devoute, young, loving, and adventurous Blessed Pier. I screenshotted the picture she posted in the article as a reminder to pray for his intersesstion on this NOLS course and as I read his motto, "verso l'alto," it filled my heart with a new motivation. His expressed love for the mountains recentered my reason for why I originally longed to experience a trip like this, and to see more profoundly and respectfully God's creation. I once again had eyes of hope in the reminder to trust.
I'm now back from my course and I came upon this letter by Facebook, again through that same friend that lead me to her sister's article before leaving on my course.
To put my NOLS experience briefly, my eyes were opened and my mind ordered in a way to see the little things in life a whole lot bigger and the bigger things smaller, and of much less importance. It was a beautiful adventure and my sister and I already long to go back to the heights where there's a special closeness and clarity that we've found in many ways inexplainable back here in this bustling life.
Blessed Pier Giorgio was with my sister and I. Whether it was in some divine intercession or in a humble intercession that came upon us by our acknowledgement of his living witness that allowed us to carry him with us, he was there.