For two days after I lumbered out of the skiff in my clumsy knee high boots, I could barely breathe…eyes opened wide, memorizing every island, cove, and otter lying on his back staring at me.
We hiked through alders and salmonberry bushes and saw an empty eagles nest on a high rock spire below us. I could hardly speak to myself about what I saw. My head constantly swiveled, not missing a bit of what was before me. It pierced my soul with its beauty…its wildness.
It shocked me.
Five of us slept in the dock house, nearly on the water. Each night I listened to the ocean waves and I was sure it would lull me to sleep, but there was the four-hour time zone to consider…and the wildness of this place that left me with no words.
I met small black-tailed deer in the night. Two adults…two charcoal colored young ones, stopped and stared at the strange woman hustling to the outhouse, her flashlight brandished. Possibly they were intrigued by it. Half tame they were, and perhaps after a few days of a carrot offering, they might take one.
Coarse, black sand marked the beaches, chalk white shells, mussels, and barnacles on rocks. Bull kelp curled round like snakes, washed up on high tide. Fishing boats lined Uyak Bay day and night, nets strung out. Sunny days and then rain, and fog so thick you could not make out the island across the bay.
The studio, our gathering place, lay hidden in small trees. It was here we drank coffee and tea, had breakfast and lunch prepared at the big house and hauled down to us each day. Such luxury for most of us with children, such beauty in the display of food, such hospitality! (And the salmonberry jam!)
It was here we heard Leslie and Paul speaking the slow, deliberate readings of poetry and prose. Here we bared our souls in writing because something deep in us called us to it. That is why we came…we are drawn into God’s love by the magnetizing affect it has on us. He loves…we pray to express it.
Love unconditional…we can’t just write it, but we must live it.
In the weeks before, we read one another’s work. The day came when we each read aloud. We laughed, cried, and gave grace to each other instead of criticism. Some of us bit our nails and nervously read a page or two aloud. One, fiercely involved in her dialog, spoke loudly, with those upstairs wondering if a fight had begun. G. was intimately involved with her people!
Others wrote creative non-fiction, one who had never written at all. Now she’s one of us.
We were growing, inspired, bonded.
To write is one way to grieve pain, or understand loss.
Or give hope.
It’s not that any one of us writes an original idea, there are no original ideas, but from the hand of God he molds our life, our personality, our pain and loss into beauty.
And someone is making art everywhere…expressing God.
Finally, beauty stopped me short on the path to the studio. I was alone, and the wildness spilled out all at once and I choked at what my eyes beheld. God made wild beauty, way up north in Alaska where few humans see.
I nearly saw His pleasing smile and He said in my heart, “I knew this would be more than you imagined!” He was pleased with me being in awe…in words I could not express.
And that became enough for me.
I Came to Alaska and I was…