It was an odd experience approaching this glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. You could hear all of this ice banging off of the bottom of the ship. We were fairly far from the glacier, so these were relatively small pieces of ice. We could see large chunks of ice breaking off the glacier and were told that they were the size of a bus!
It was hard to keep a perspective on sizes and distances in Alaska. The same thing happens in our lives: things “close” to us seem much larger (more important). How to keep things in proper perspective? Reflection. Humility. Prayer.
Praise God in the holy temple; praise the Lord in the mighty firmament. Praise God for powerful deeds; for boundless grandeur, praise God. O praise the Lord with sound of trumpet; give praise with lute and harp. Praise God with timbrel and dance; give praise with strings and pipes.
This photo was taken at the end of our first (full) day in Alaska. We were driving from Seward back to Girdwood. I remember looking across the road and seeing this lake (Tern Lake) and noticing the beauty. We stopped and took a few pictures and got back in the car to finish the drive to where we were staying.
It was only much later, when studying this photo to write this reflection, did I realize that the tops of this mountains are brown because they are above the tree line. Turns out the tree line is about 1500 feet in the area.
So often, what seems obvious in hindsight was not-so-obvious at the time.
This photo is one of my favorites from Kiawah Island (and I’ve taken a lot of photos there). I think what I really like is that it suggests a story to be told. A story about someone riding to the end of the world.
On the Camino de Santiago, that place is Finisterre (from the Latin, meaning “end of the world”). There is tradition for pilgrims on the Camino to burn an article of clothing if they hike to Finisterre (about 90 km further after reaching Santiago). This symbolizes the transformation that occur along The Way. Pilgrimage is about seeking transformation by encountering God (burning clothes not required).
This photo was taken on Kiawah Island, near the northern end of the beach. I was surprised to see eagles because I couldn’t remember ever seeing them at Kiawah in the past. Plus, I was out biking and just happened to look over to the dune and see them standing there not too far away.
As I read about the distribution of bald eagles in the US, I was surprised to find out that they are year round residents of the Atlantic Coast. We recently returned from Alaska, another place the bald eagle resides year round. So I shouldn’t have been surprised (but I was) when I saw two on the beach near downtown Anchorage.
What makes for a surprise? The unexpected, of course but what separates the expected from the unexpected? We are surrounded by God’s gifts, how many do we take “for granted” and how many do we truly delight in?
This is a photo taken at Congaree National Park in June. These are cypress tree knees; their exact function is not certain but it is thought they add stability to the tree in soft muddy soil. A sort of support system.
As a think about these trees, I can’t help but reflect on my support system. Friends and family that I know I can rely on. I pray that I provide similar support for others.
We encountered this tree on our hike in the New River Gorge. From a distance, I really couldn’t tell what it was. Only once I got closer could I see it was a tree. What makes a tree grow like this? Something obviously happened – lightning? Another tree falling on it? Maybe a person intentionally bent it.
The New River is well known for whitewater rafting and kayaking. The Lower New River has a vertical drop of 250 feet in 16 miles, much of which occurs in a series of rapids. Those rapids are barely visible as whitewater in this photo taken about 1000 feet above the river. They are much more impressive up close, as seen and experienced on the water. The more challenging rapids (class III, IV and V) have detailed descriptions online including instructions on how to best navigate them.
Life has plenty of “rapids”. Fortunately, we also have instructions on how to navigate them.
This photo was taken at Spring Lake Park near Bellbrook in mid-winter. You can see some ice on the water in the distance. The birds seem quite oblivious to the cold. A few of the have their heads in the water – fishing, I guess.
How many people do you know that are filled with joy no matter what happens in their life? Lord, help me to be like that.