Colorado is beautiful and I love it. I wouldn’t have trekked the mile in the snow to work if I didn’t love it as much as I do. It’s beautiful, the atmosphere is great, and there is never a lack of things to do. It’s always hard to find thing that stand out in a place that you love. Usually the indecisive person that I am would respond to a question like that with “I don’t know what I like the best. I like it all!” However, I am certain that when asked to point out elements of Colorado that stand out more that anything else, I could choose two:
1. Estes Park and the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park
- 2. St. Thomas Aquinas and all the amazing Catholics I have met since I moved here.
So when an opportunity presents itself to get away for the weekend and combine these two blessings, you jump at the chance. Once a semester, that comes around in the form of Buffalo Awakening, referred to by the University of Colorado Catholic community as BA.
BA is a three-day retreat that is organized and run by the students of St. Thomas Aquinas. Last semester, I got the chance to go as a retreater and found that BA was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The retreat is an amazing way to get to know Jesus in a completely new way. With all the great activities and the love that is brought in by the staff, you get back to school wishing that the weekend never ended. And all of this takes place at the YMCA of the Rockies which sits at the base of some of the most beautiful 14er’s. Getting to know Jesus in a breathtaking atmosphere? You just can’t beat it.
This semester I was back again, but this time as a staff member. I was a little wary in the weeks leading up to it. I was placed on a staff that works primarily in the background. Our job was important, but we had relatively no contact with the campers. I was convinced that this was going to be a tough weekend for me. I wanted to be up front, to directly work with the retreaters, to share my story, to change lives! Little did I know that God had different plans for me. As soon as we met our families, I felt a wave of completeness. Here I was never talking to the retreaters in my family, but my job praying for and supporting them changed lives. It made them feel loved, wanted, and supported. It was completely eye-opening for me. It taught me the importance of doing God’s work, sharing the burdens of others, and supporting my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I learned that my prayers and small simple acts mean the world to those around me, and that at the base of those beautiful Rocky Mountains, being a staff member of the best retreat in the land can be just as spiritually fulfilling as being a retreater.
So here is to Buffalo Awakening 30 where I learned who much God loves me, to Buffalo Awakening 31 where I learned how great it feels to love others even if I don’t know them, and to the many Buffalo Awakenings to come! I pray that I continue to find complete beauty in those beautiful mountains, not just in the landscape but in the love of Jesus that is shared there.