Saturday, September 12, 2009

Glaciers in the Mist

I am pulled from the warmth of my bed by something that is much like the feeling of a child who has waited for the first snowy day of winter to finally arrive. I peer at the clock through one barely opened eye. 5:30 AM. Oy. What am I doing? In my light-weight tee-shirt and pajama pants, I quietly slip into my jacket. With nothing else but socks on my feet, I tip-toe past the others who are soundly sleeping in the room and gingerly open the slider which leads to the outside veranda. The cold air bites at my exposed ears and cheeks, but I impatiently ignore its bidding for me to return to the warmth of my bed. Warmth of my husband. I am where I am meant to be.

As we slowly lumber across the frigid waters, it is eerily quiet. There is a sense, in this place, that any added sound would be unnatural. I take a moment to slip back into the room to defrost for a bit. The air is still filled with the sounds of peaceful sleep. Deep, rhythmic breathing without any stirring. Once again, I head back outside.

It is then that I look out into the dusk of the early morning and I see them. Actually, first I smell them. A crisp, icy, scent bombards my senses and I realize that I have been awakened to something very primitive, something that connects me to the earth on a very soulful level. In the water, below me, there are huge chunks of ice. Frozen pieces of history floating effortlessly in a bay which now reaches the depths of 1000 feet plus. We have entered the glaciers of Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska.
Tiny seabirds rest upon these fallen chunks of glacier, which can sometimes be as large as three city buses. But from my vantage point on the ship, these wondrous pieces of ice appear to be gracefully floating sculptures. Naturalist, John Muir, explored this area comparing its beauty and grandeur to that of Yosemite National Park. He also used the story of the strikingly similar topography in both of these areas to prove that Yosemite was, indeed, created by glaciers.
An hour must have passed by now, or has it? Light rain begins to fall from the sky, but I am too enchanted by these otherworldly surroundings to go inside. I pull my tee-shirt out from the back of my jacket and cover my ears and cheeks. I do a little dance around the deck trying to encourage my body to create its own heat supply. I don't want to miss a thing. I consider waking the rest of my pack, but I know that the alarm will soon go off for them and something about what I am experiencing needs to be done alone.
We drift into an area covered in rain forest. Hundreds of waterfalls plunge from the mountains into the frozen water below.
Water, in all of its forms, overtakes my senses.
Once again, the mist descends. But then, there is a blue-tinged crevasse in between the mountains. Glaciers. Majestic. Supernatural. Ancient. I hold my breath as if breathing will disturb what I am feeling inside. Here, right here on this spot, I feel Him. As if on cue, God breezes right through my body and causes me to catch my breath. Don't leave, I pray, and He doesn't.
I feel even quieter now as a tear rolls down my cheek. I am so small.

So very, very small.
I hear the beginnings of stirring behind me. The slider opens and then closes. I hear laughter and then Mark comes out and snaps a picture of me. It is only then that I realize what I must look like. Wet socks on my feet. Striped baby-blue and white pajama pants. Black jacket. Grey tee-shirt pulled up over my head. I try to explain, but the words don't seem to be enough. I point out toward the glaciers. Mark stands behind me, pulling me in close for warmth. Our breath takes on a similar rhythm. Our four Angel daughters begin to emerge from slumber, one at a time. Faces sleepy from dreaming, they peer out on the glaciers, one by one.

All of a sudden, there is a clamor to get dressed. Excitement takes over like it does on the first snowy day of winter. An urgent fatigue begins to settle down over my body and I step back inside. The clock says 7:30 AM. I have been standing out in the cold, in my stocking feet for two hours. Mark and the girls get dressed and head out to view the glaciers from the bow of the ship. I kiss them all good-bye and they tuck me back into bed. The door closes behind them and I am once again struck by the warmth that overcomes me. As I snuggle into the blankets, I whisper words of thanksgiving into the universe. I pray that God will watch over my husband, our daughters, my family and friends and thank Him for awakening me on this cold, August, Alaska day. And as I descend into sleep the words, You are not so small, scroll through the mist between consciousness and sleep.

8 comments:

tj said...

...*sigh*speechless*

...Blessings dear one... :o)

Meili said...

I was there in Tracy Arm Fjord one year ago with my husband and his family. (See link below.) I was then pregnant with my little guy, who is now 9 months old. The beauty of the ancient glaciers is truly humbling. Happy that you get to experience this with your lovely family!

http://theincredibleedibleblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/definitions.html

jojo said...

We were there a few years ago. Never have I witnessed such beauty and peace in one place...I felt a connection that, to this day, I remember...

Chawwles said...

Wow Deb those are some great shots. I have some of the same things, but...yours are a lot better than my tiny little digital camera :P

I was there for this on the same day at the same time, so I can really appreciate and re-live that experience through your words. Thanks for that :)

Ness said...

If it weren't for you posting about your phenomenal glimpses of your world I would miss out on so much of life. Thank you for this post...something I will never see in person in my lifetime has been brought to me courtesy of one terrific Angel Mom! Love you.

Claire said...

I'm leaving this comment before I go book my Alaskan cruise...just kidding. If I had the money, I surely would, just based on your description.

Isn't God wonderful, awesome, amazing?!

Debbie said...

I want to go there so badly. What great photos.

Something Happened Somewhere Turning said...

That is just beautiful. What a wonderful site to wake up to.

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