I think you have to love something before you'll fight for it. At least that's been my experience growing up in Edina, MN. My friends and I built snow castles in the winter, chased rabbits in the spring, and marveled at the sun-kissed summer leaves, years before learning the biochemistry of photosynthesis. And my body remembers hundreds of nights curled up in a tent while I became an Eagle Scout. I yearned for the lakes, woods, and prairies before I understood their ecology, scarcity or services. I remember when the lake turned slimy and eutrophic, and I recall that childhood sadness that haunts me now as I study environmental damage on a global scale.
Some scholars might belittle those childish feelings of longing, awe, sadness, and hope. But these formative experiences spark my professional curiosity and drive my belief that environmental solutions can and must be found. To be clear, we need practical solutions—technical, political, and economic—but I believe that environmental stewardship also means helping people fall in love with the planet. As a joint master's student at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale Divinity School, I am cultivating an ecological ethic in my faith community—a call for stewardship that is rooted in love for creation.
At Yale Divinity School, I'm preparing to pastor prophetically. I majored in Environmental Studies and Sacred music at Oberlin College and Conservatory, so I knew music and environmental ethics before I got to New Haven. But I have so much more to learn. For example, did you know that pastoral care sometimes involves silent listening? Or that congregations grow fastest when people feel like they're part of a community? Or that great leaders provide vision first, relationships second, and funding third? I'm constantly learning practical skills, and it's exhilarating.
Thanks to the Institute of Sacred Music, I'm weaving theology, music, and scripture into liturgy. I'm also an Episcopal student at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, so it's fun to compare Episcopal liturgies with the color-splashed collage of Marquand Chapel. Drawing on these worship experiences, I've worked with the staff at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine to craft two Good Friday jazz liturgies. I'll never forget jamming with my jazz sextet in the world's largest Gothic cathedral!
To bring this wonderfully broad experience into focus, I'm studying interdisciplinary problem solving at Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. I hope to lead a wilderness retreat center and sustainable farm and, by God's grace, help congregations fall in love with the planet so they can radically reduce pollution and advocate sound environmental policy.