Eternal Tongue

“How would you feel if your baby died?” Chief Marie, the last Indian fluent in the Eyak tongue, explained how she would have felt if she had allowed her ancestral language to become extinct. According to linguists, 19 of the 20 indigenous languages in Alaska may die out as English replaces everyday Native words. Linguists…

Facing Change

            A few of us are blessed with a primeval sense of abandon. We live for the satisfying shudder, bungee jumping from a rock face, or standing pat in the face of a grizzly’s false charge. Far more of us are contented to partake of the perils on the Last Frontier at the safe end…

What Do You Expect?

Soldiers in Afghanistan have reported a sense of desperation at times, when IEDs (improvised explosive devices) surround their positions. They say that it’s smarter to risk a sniper’s bullet than to “guess” their way across a zone not officially cleared of landmines. In my frantic everyday life, I, too, can feel hemmed in — by…

How Embarrassing

Psalm 94:17-19 If the LORD had not been my help, My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. If I should say, “My foot has slipped,” Your lovingkindness, O LORD, will hold me up. When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. How embarrassing…When I agree with my…

I Will, He Will

When I reach down deep and nothing reaches back. When my heart beats hard and I have no strength. When no one knows the darkness inside. When something whispers, “Run!” but I stay. When hope is a mirage. When love is a word without substance. When all that is familiar seems foreign. When making sense…

The Egg is Gone

When my granddaughter and I reached our car with a load of groceries, we discovered that our eggs had rolled helter-skelter inside their carton. Naturally, an analogy came to mind… Our emotions often roll and tumble during upheavals in our lives–like eggs spilt in their carton. In time, we fit each “egg” back into its…

Tide or Miracle?

And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matt. 21:22) When Officer Noah, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spotted beluga whales marooned in the Turnagain Arm, he flew his Piper Cub to 500 feet to get a better look. A little west of Bird Point (Southwest of Anchorage) the…

Just Wait!

The mundane. Such monotony. Sameness, day after day — until the lightning strikes. And in a flash of recognition you know God is speaking. His contact comes in a thousand different ways: while you lend a hand to someone; or give of your substance; or speak encouragement; or you listen to someone who needs to…

Safe Migration

            It was April in Alaska, when steel-gray skies weigh upon the heart, and birch trees seem to dress in mourning attire. About mid-month we hadn’t packed away knit caps yet, and underfoot my wife and I crunched traction sand on pavement that finally replaced black ice. As we ambled along, we desperately searched for…

Grizzly Memories

            An Alaskan English professor and her two young nieces ran afoul of a grizzly on a trail at the Chena River State Recreation Area. The bear was only a cub—perhaps 200 pounds, but it seemed intent upon protecting territory or killing for food. A burly sow wandered elsewhere out of sight, but this juvenile…

Dear Preachers

Please stop teaching that the principles in the Bible have many interpretations relative to a person’s circumstances in life. To any thinking Christian, you sound ridiculous. It sounds like you believe that God’s written word for mankind can be stretched like taffy to accommodate human appetites. If you teach that God waffles about the way…

Sweet Things

I am reminding myself today to soak in the fine things, the sweet things. Like taking strength from the bearhug of a grown-up son. Or drinking in the silly smiles of a granddaughter as she kisses my unshaven cheek again and again. I can ignore these moments like a reflexive breath or I can savor…

Where Else?

Okay, there may be a few places, but: Where else would our hackles rise as we hurry past a grazing moose? Where else could we hear, from our porch, a wolfpack singing songs of the hunt? Where else could we see bald eagles launch from the branches of a cottonwood? Where else do lengthening days…

Palm of Dread

It’s morning again… Sometimes, while I sleep, my subconscious meddles in God’s business, trying to solve problems. I awaken feeling like a giant palm is pressing down upon me. But I am learning that the moment I blink awake, I must choose to “set my mind on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2),”…

The Glare of Duty

Captain of the warship Shenandoah titled his log entry for August 2, 1865: “The darkest day of my life.” James Waddell had accepted his commission from the Confederate States of America to search out and destroy all Union merchant vessels within range of his cannons. After sinking or capturing over a dozen Yankee ships in…

Rockin’ and Rollin’ at Hell’s Gate

            On a rainy February day, my family left the civilized interstates of Northern California, and set out for the Far North, via the Alaska-Canada Highway. My son, Tom, had just turned two (months that is), and my sons, Matt and Ben, were 11 and 8. My wife, Carol, and I were in our energetic…

“Wigwam” Woman

In Fairbanks, you didn’t expect a smile and “Good afternoon!” from Irene, even on a warm and cheerful day. You risked being pummeled with curses if you tried to force a conversation. Unlike the weather, Irene’s face seldom changed from a scowl as she ambled down the street to her “wigwam” at Noyes Slough. She…

Havoc

A 5.3 magnitude earthquake rattled our windows today. This temblor was a portion of left-overs we often feel, since the destructive 7.1 shaker on November 30, 2018. It was an eerie feeling, counting the seconds while the earth grumbled under the house again. In 2018, our 7.1, four-minute quake flung dishes and pans helter-skelter onto…