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September 3, 2017: God's Creation in the "Last Frontier"
Earlier this summer we went on a bucket-list trip, cruising the Alaska Inside Passage on the National Geographic Sea Bird with 66 other passengers and crew, including naturalists and professional photographers from National Geographic.

by Katherine Nordal and Elaine Eaker

Earlier this summer we went on a “bucket-list” trip, cruising the Alaska Inside Passage on the National Geographic Sea Bird with 66 other passengers and crew, including naturalists and professional photographers from National Geographic.

We marveled at the glacially carved cliffs of Misty Fjords; the icescapes of Glacier Bay; glaciers along the route; and the wildlife-rich waters of Icy Strait, home to humpback whales, puffins, and Steller sea lions. We explored spectacular fjords by expedition landing craft and hiked through old-growth forests, enjoying their beauty with all our senses. We kayaked with sea otters and sea lions and watched amazing sea birds. We hiked the ancient Tongass National Forest and learned from the native Tlinglits about their rich heritage and customs. We rafted in rain and wind through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, marveling in the beauty of those creatures. Over the course of the trip we also glimpsed orcas, brown and black bears, wolves, and mountain goats. Perhaps the most spectacular experience was sitting for a few hours between two pods of humpback whales as they communicated and worked together in a behavior known as “bubble feeding.” The sun was bright and warm. The sky was a magnificent blue, teeming with birds who patiently waited to feast on the remnants of the bubble feeding.

While these incredible sights gave us a deep sense of thankfulness for this part of creation, we also experienced God in this awesome environment. Alaska’s inside passage provided us a deeper understanding of what John Philip Newell points out in Listening for the Heartbeat of God, the book we read together as a parish earlier this year, that God is in creation and we should see the world as a place of revelation and life as sacramental. Observing the drastic retreat of many glaciers and visiting wildlife refuges for animals who have suffered due to human behavior emphasized the important responsibility that humans have to love, nurture, and cultivate this magnificent world that God has created.

As Hymn 405 reminds us: “He gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell, How great is God Almighty, Who has made all things well… All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.” Let us pray that we may all be good stewards of God’s magnificent creation.   

Last Published: August 31, 2017 10:19 AM
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