There’s a postcard outside my window this morning.
Surely beauty grows wild in Alaska. Instead of wildlife and wildflowers, it’s the mountains rushing to greet us today – mountains backlit by the hint of an eastern sun.
Still clouds reign, though the beauty of this place is not disguised. Thick conifers fall to the sea. Likely Black and White Spuce, they stand in rows, one on top of another, as if standing before their assigned stadium seats. Cheering. Soon the ship will dock, allowing us to mingle with the sights and tastes of Juneau.
Hubbard Glacier was doing what it does best yesterday – calving icebergs. Thunder roared, just like for rain in the sky, to announce the birth of a new independent entity. Around Old Mother Hubbard, the seas were filled with offspring; a few turned into air mattresses for seals in need of a little rest in the weak sun.
The ship officers made their own proud announcement yesterday: Our ship was brought within two-tenths of a mile to ‘shore’, closer than any of this ship’s other cruises to Hubbard this season. Being a bit of a skeptic, I wondered if they didn’t tell the same to all the other ‘girls.’
No matter. There’s no need to boast in Alaska. Near or far, there is a sense of the holy all about me. I feel lost and at a loss for words. And isn’t this the way it always is, whenever and wherever humans bump up against the Holy; whether on the pages of the Bible or in the here and now, we stumble for words of our experience. “God cannot be expressed but only experienced,” writes Frederick Buechner.
Which makes me think — surely the tired and worn phrase of postcard writing – “Wish you were here” – was born in Alaska.