Steps of Faith

4  people crossing the Kahiltna Glacier in Alaska
                                         Crossing the Kahiltna Glacier, the Alaska Range

Cross the glacier,
And probe the surface ahead
With a pole.

Reach below,
And feel for hidden holes,
Filled with emptiness.

It’s a profound place
Of majestic vistas and open spaces.

Crisscrossed by mysterious cracks of darkness
Known as crevasses.
Which lie in wait–
Hoping to swallow you up,
And drink you into,
Their endless world of ice and cold.

Some are open for all the world to see.
Others are hidden under a thin shield of snow
And the sea you walk,
Is constantly changing.

The shape of each crevasse,
And where they are,
At any given moment in time,
May never be known.
But can be better understood.

Feel the edges underneath,
Where the breaches end,
And the solid glacier extends.

And follow the path of most resistance.

If you do,
The going is slow-
Circuitous and wobbly.

But perhaps you won’t fall in,
And will get where you’re going.

Audio Version:

                                                                             Crossing a wide open glacier

 

The Heartbeat

 

Distant rope team crossing the Kahiltna Glacier
Crossing the Kahiltna Glacier in Alaska

Touch the ground with both your feet.
Feel the rhythm calmly beat.
Even through the rock and grass,
A heartbeat faintly rumbles.

Persistent pulsing
Soft, but lively.
Listen closely,
Answer wisely.

There are times it talks with words of thunder,
Howling winds, or crashing wonder.
But it’s mostly through peaceful silent breaths
That it tells its awesome tale.

Let it pull you with its rope,
And fill you up with hope.
Though you may not know the words,
It will magnify your scope.

Hear the music with your eyes,
See the clouds across the skies.
Bask in rays of winter sunshine,
And watch as waves approach the shoreline.

It is…

Star-filled nights and crispy mornings,
Tornado funnels without warnings.
Rolling dunes of glassy sand,
Forgotten places beyond man’s hand.

Gentle streams and roaring rivers,
Monstrous cliffs that give you shivers.
Fields of tundra filled with flowers,
Afternoons consumed with showers.

Rock towers covered with Bighorn Sheep,
Canyon walls so very steep.
Ocean trenches mighty deep,
Sights and sounds that make you weep.

Mountain crags and endless deserts,
Places thriving on the outskirts.
Caves reaching ever inward,
Jungles vast and still unhindered.

So many chapters in the story,
Sometimes gloom, but always glory.
So, touch the ground beneath your feet,
And feel the rhythm calmly beat.

Audio Version:

Fisherman standing on a rock in the middle of a mountain lake

Glaciers

The Kahiltna Glacier

Oozing forward.
Glaciers grow,
Or at least they used to.

Sometimes tumbling,
But mostly flowing,
And relentlessly scouring
The ground below.

Slow, deliberate,
Always persistent.
Marching to the sea.

Their rumbling movements ebb and flow.
Causing pressures to come and go.
Somewhere something has to give,
And so, they crack.

That’s what a crevasse is.

Some of those are open,
But many go unseen.
At times they seem like pits of peril,
Cold, and dark, and deep.

But in most cases,
They’re awe-inspiring, magical places
Filled with intricate light.

The bottom line is
If you’re in one looking ‘round
The kind of place you’ll see.
Depends upon just why you’re there
The reason is the key.

And the same can be said
For the whole of these magnificent rivers of ice.

On the one hand,
They’re intimidating, frozen, and indestructible.
But on the other,
They’re alluring, invigorating, and easily broken.

on the Glacier

The Ruth

Three people crossing the Ruth Glacier in Alaska
On the Ruth

I look out the window
Of the three-seat plane,
As we near the landing site
On the Ruth Glacier.

In the Alaska Range.

Not long after take-off, we flew over trees, rivers, and then the lower Glacier.
Now, we’re flying through the Great Gorge
Between startlingly huge mountains
And above a river of ice.
The world is the colors of snow, rock, and sky.

Prominent peaks dominate.
Denali, the great one, is straight ahead but not close.
The Moose’s Tooth is to our right and nearby,
Both imposing but welcoming.

In the Alaska Range.

Suddenly, we break free of the Gorge
And fly into the Ruth Amphitheater.
The venue of venues.

The Cessna turns left
Toward the Mountain House.
We haven’t even landed yet,
But the concert has already begun.

In the Alaska Range.

We’re late, what should we do?
I take a deep breath,
And realize that thankfully we’re not too late,
Because the music never ends.

The sky is clear
And the landing site on the snow is vivid.
The closer we get to the ground,
The more massive and magnificent the peaks become.

In the Alaska Range.

The plane touches down and stops.
I open the door and step
Out onto the Ruth.

Warm in my parka
Overwhelmed by the surroundings.

There are few people, no musical instruments,
No conductor,
And not much of an audience.

But I feel the full force of what I hear,
And am compelled
To whisper to myself where all can hear, “Bravo.”

Audio Version:

In the Glacier Plane
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