Thursday, June 23, 2011
I spent last week in Anchorage traveling around with friends, seeing new sites and living out of a duffel bag. It’s good to be back in the village. I’ve settled into a summer routine that includes checking my email when I first wake up, making brunch (really too late for breakfast), fetching the school mail from the post office, walking on the beach, reading and staying up late playing music and writing songs.
During the in between times, something always seems to come up that leads to more learning and adventure. Yesterday I discovered Al in his backyard putting the final touches on smoked fish production. He gave me a crash course in the whole process. Of course, I already know how to catch them and clean them, so I was a quick study. When he reached a stopping point we hopped in the paddle boat on the lake behind his house and peddled around looking at water lilies. Then we hopped in his truck and drove to a couple more nearby lakes to see what was there. We ended up back on the beach by the river where I gathered seagull feathers and posed for a pic inside a magnificent hollow tree that was laying just above the tide line.
I continue to feel the surrealism of this entire year. I’m like Scrooge, wide eyed in my metaphorical pajamas, being led by God-picked Spirits into new and interesting encounters.
Some elicit feelings from my past, enjoying nature with Greg and my little children. The clarity of the Alaskan lakes takes me back to snorkeling days in the Florida springs. I breathe these memories in deeply and don’t want to exhale. I miss those days, that life. I still stagger as I step off the old path and find my footing on the new one.
The Spirit of the present is a most welcome guide. There was a trip to Seward last week on the Alaska Railroad. Then a few days later I was flying with Carol (of Valdez Fly-in fame) to a music festival in Seldovia, a tiny little fishing town at the tip of the Kenai peninsula. A couple of hiking trips. New acquaintances and their stories; new memories to savor tomorrow.
Here in the village, the closest thing to a church service is the “Women’s Bible Study” at my house on Monday nights. We sing praises to God, share our worries and pray, read a few verses together and talk about them. All very personal, like church should be. It’s my favorite time of the week. There are only two or three of us this summer, but we are hopeful that more will join us as we invite them.
The most poignant elements of my stay here are too personal to blog. But I post them to God and He smiles at my antics and forgives me for my blunders. He always leaves a comment.
Here in the present, I am learning that God does indeed provide, that he fills our empty spaces and, as I've quoted so often, "He satisfies our desires with good things". Discovering what he means by "good things" is an adventure in itself. There have been a few surprises!
Then there’s the Spirit of my life-yet-to-come. Like Ebenezer, this one scares me the most. In fact, it’s my very greatest fear (besides being covered in hot lava from Mt. Spurr). The next leg of my journey will be the rediscovery of what I left behind, assimilating into the mainstream and finding where I fit. I’m not even sure where I should live. I fear not belonging.
My mind keeps going to Frodo and Sam. I have always believed there is much to be gleaned from the lessons of the “heroic quest” (It started with Jason and the Argonauts, and the Thief of Baghdad when I was a very little girl). After the fulfillment of the ring quest, Sam returned to the Shire stronger, more confident, equipped to make his old dreams come true. Frodo, on the other hand, never managed to “pick up the threads of an old life”. He sadly sailed away to the distant shores (Deirdre says that means he died and she knows these things).
There is a strong tug on my heart to just remain here. I can think of a million reasons why I should and they all sound reasonable and even virtuous. But I’m afraid it’s the fear talking. Fear is what I’ve been shedding so I certainly don’t want to reclothe myself in a more dressy, but oppressive, form of it.
But I still have weeks with the Alaskan Spirits before I decide.