Glacial Sanctuary

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This is the first post I’ve been able to do since boarding the cruise. The blessing and curse of this experience, and certainly cruising up here in Alaska, is there’s been very little phone connection and even less internet connection! There’s a gift in being able to disconnect in that way and reconnect with the world around you. Even as I type this, I’m looking out into Glacier National Park, chunks of ice floating around me and the sunshine beckoning so many different shades of blue, among others, all around me.

Before we arrived in Glacier, we listened to one of the Park Rangers here explain what it is we were going to see and experience, but he also pointed out his own experience and moving from Virginia to Alaska with his family and living without any regrets. He mentioned that people come for a variety of reasons, but once here something begins to happen. There truly is that disconnecting from the wide world and reconnecting with a world that is so often beyond words and often only experienced. Even typing this I know I want to say something but I know fully I can never express what it is I have experienced here in Glacier.

There are also a wide range of animals that migrate here each year, none other than the hump back whales. You would think, why on earth would they migrate from the stark beauty of Hawaii and travel thousands of miles to glacier country in Alaska. But like many of us, this too has become sanctuary for them. It is the place they come to be fed. It is the place they come to give birth to their young. The glaciers provide a safe haven for them to come, not only for that place of sanctuary, where birth can take place, but also the sustenance that they need for the continued journey. As crazy as that sounds, there is even a species of bird that flies from Antarctica to glacier country in the summer for the same reason only to prepare them for the journey that is to come as the weather begins to change here and ever so slightly, nightfall begins to return to the land of the midnight sun.

It’s quite the spectacle of not only learn about but also witness with my own eyes and heart. As I step out on deck right now, sailing down Glacier Bay, all I can hear is the sound of the sea gulls, the gentle flow of the water below, and from time to time, the crashing of pieces of glacier into the chilly waters. That alone is a spectacle to witness in this sanctuary as the thunderous roar awakes you from a nap, a sanctuary of my own, of sorts.

There’s been nothing quite like it in my experience, what it is I have seen up here in Alaska. Beyond vacation and a bucket list trip, I am amazed of the never-ending places I have called home in that sense, that brings you back to your core as a person, to a personal sanctuary that connects you in ways that you sometime lose in the day to day life. From the hustle and bustle of city life, work, relationships, and all that comes with it, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s available to us and what has been made available to us not only by a God that creates in such a way and allows us to participate in this great wonder, but also the many people and generations that have gone before that have made these lands a priority for what they are, a place of sustenance and sanctuary for so much wildlife but also for everyone that has been given the opportunity to step foot on land and ice over the years, and now myself included among them.

Like life, it can all be so fickle. As beautiful as it is cruising by right now, I also know the weather in this sanctuary can change in an instance. With great, high peaks around us, weather has a tendency to get caught up, raining down clouds, fog, and even some wet snow these days. Yet, despite it all, we keep returning and they keep returning to a place that is so much more than a vacation destination. For those of us who do sometimes get caught up in the rat race of life, myself included, it’s easy to lose sight, even when you try to make mystery a priority in life.

With each passing day it seems as if we move ourselves further away from what’s most important, and I have made note throughout this trip that we’ve been lucky enough to miss both political conventions, and we seem to have such short-term memory when it comes to this great mystery and what we’re called to in life. But in these moments, and the opportunity to share it in these words, coming to what is sanctuary for so many living beings, provides the space to disconnect in order to reconnect to the sanctuary that provides the eternal sustenance we desire in life. If it works for whales and birds traveling halfway around the globe to come to this place, then why not for us. The paradox of it all, we should’t even have to leave the confines of our own home and yet we do and so we did to come to this glacial sanctuary that offers warmth and care to so many.

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