Hannah broke all the stereotypes of both: living in country, and living as only child. First because she enjoyed the simplicity of her town “Seward, NE”, a town of 6-7 thousands of population. Moreover, she moved out to the country when she was in 1st grade. The second stereotype was living as a single kid, she invited trees, sun, and stars into her life and they became her friends. With her imagination, she was the contemplative person who appreciates everything surrounding her, and the Ignatian person I met.
I matched a lot of common points between Hannah and St. Ignatius of Loyola. And I want to illustrate them for you in light of the lovely conversation we had in Bethel.
Hannah likes open spaces, though she loves the big cities as St.Ignatius did, but she goes farther in imitating him. St.Ignatius was gazing at the stars when he reached the fullness of his spirituality at the end of his life. Hannah too has a deep connection with the stars. She was enjoying them in her childhood, and misses this connection with them now, under the black dull sky of the cities.
As she tries to live her Ignatian spirituality, Hannah asks for more, more of love for nature. She found the “Magis” by considering “Environmental Science” as her vocation for the rest of her life. As a first step, she seeks an academic background at Creighton with undergraduate program, completely following the advice of St.Ignatius.
Her realistic vision of our world helps her to overcome the obstacles of working in this tough field. She manages comprehensively to understand the position of the people who are supposed to talk about the climate changes and work to stop it. She always presumes the positive in her dialog, and tries on the personal levels. Her wisdom led her to realize that as nature takes its time to grow. Likewise human nature too. It needs time to change someone’s attitudes. She said: “All we can do is plant a seed that allows a person to think about it a little bit more and never let the shadows cast the good that other people are doing.”
Here at Creighton she was influenced by passionate companions, who share with our “enthusiastic friend” the same dream. Hannah likes to show her love to nature in deed more than in words. Therefore, she works at Creighton Center of Service and Justice (CCSJ), and is involved in an advocacy group for sustainability and ecology. She learned how to talk bravely about the issues that she feels strongly about. It is all about joy, just spreading her inner delight to other people, so they might be able to experience the same for themselves. Then, they will have deeper feelings and connections with the Earth and nature .
Hannah learned also how to open her mast to the guiding winds of God. At the time when she had planned to go to the Dominican Republic for the summer of 2014, she found herself a little bit up North, in Alaska. With different aspects and expectations, Hannah embraced the world of journalism. After long discernment, she realized that she can branch out into journalism, go to Alaska, and experience something she never experienced before.
Hannah detached herself from her prior experience with science. She left all the aspects of the hard science, being in the lab, or doing the field research. Instead, she got to know the people of Alaska very well, listening to their stories, giving them her full attention, and learning from the culture.
As Hannah discovered all new things about others, she also discovered a lot of new things about herself. Even though she has learned a lot from her classes, she found that she learned more from a single moment on the Kuskokwim River. It was a Manresa moment for her. She also fell in love with photography. She shared, “It is fantastic, it’s like another medium of art shows and it tells stories and emotions. I really found out that in these two weeks. I learned so much”. It is a way to convey her message of the importance of sharing your story with other people, and learning from people’s stories. She continued, “In stories, I love to see how a character will develop, but in a documentaries it is real people, it is a real experience and I just think it’s really cool that people share others’ lives through documentaries”.
Hannah always has the tendency to review her life in light of her new discoveries. She heard a call to incorporate all the stories she has been listening to when she goes back home. She finds it amazing that there is group of people that feels spiritually connected to the place where they live and feel it so deeply.
Alaska definitely changed our friend Hannah, she shared, “There is an appreciation of the land, almost seeing God in nature, and the divine in the Earthly with such a deeper connection and meaning to everything. I think I am gonna translate that to different aspects in my life, like in friendships. Seeing something deeper than a person. Seeing a soul and experiences I would never now about if I had never asked. It is very important to be open to the people as they have been open to us.”