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As nature prepares love for man, coffee prepares man to love.

As the early morning begins, the sun begins to shine its gentle rays through the redwood trees after a rainy night.

The drops of water tap the muddy ground at a gentle rhythm. The birds begin to fly onto the campsite whistling their favorite songs. And I begin to heat my water on a jetboil as I grind coffee for a cup of joe. Fulton Sheen states in a talk titled Altruism: The Evolution of Love, “Nature is full of cooperation, affection, harmony, benevolence, chivalry, generosity, in which the chord of self is struck in order to make music for others. Take a survey of nature, and it will be discovered that it is unconsciously preparing love for man.” I recently went on a solo camping trip through the Redwoods of California with this quote in mind, understanding that if I remain open to the beauty of nature in my travels, I will return to my friends and family with a greater capacity for love.

In a much less threatening, harrowing fashion, I journeyed into the unknown much like Odysseus did after the Trojan War. While Odysseus resisted Sirens, killed a Cyclops, and freed himself from the captivity of a nymph, I went to beaches I’ve never been to, redwood forests I’ve never entered, and lighthouses I’ve never seen. Yet, while the journey creates beautiful moments such as hearing the sirens sing or hiking next to the elk by the Pacific Ocean, like Odysseus, the journey home, the return to the ones we love with greater courage and great humility is, without a doubt, the moment I anticipated the most. For with growth in virtues such as courage and humility,

I returned home with the vision of living out the vocation God gave Adam, to till the soil and participate in transforming the world into Carmel, the Garden of God. By doing that, we not only partake in the creation of the world, but we live out being made in the image and likeness of God. C.S. Lewis asserts “The poets and the mythologists know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty, though God knows that that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words, to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”

Fulton Sheen argues, “Let them have coffee before meditation.” Each morning during my trip, I would wake up, heat up water, grind my beans, and make a 20 ounce French press as I meditated on how I would observe sacrificial, altruistic love in nature, in the world God created. Now, with each morning cup of coffee in the comfort of the place I call home, I meditate on the future opportunities to cultivate the world by sacrificing myself for the sake of love. As nature prepares love for man, coffee prepares man to love.

- Vincent Escueta

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