Tundra graveyard, Unalaska, 1/2016
I returned home after almost 3 weeks away at the beginning of January. I had an adventure with that small group of pilgrims who worship together in community at the UMC Mission church on Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands. I learned many things, about the place and the people, and about myself.
That time during the holidays I stayed in the large, empty house that faced the Bering Sea, a luxury given to me as part of the adventure, and I was lonely, sometimes.
When my beloved arrived on January 31 to spend the last days of my adventure with me, I was grateful. I arrived early at the airport that boasts one runway in Unalaska, waiting with the others waiters: small children climbing onto the ledge that faced the window, dropping down just to see how far it was to the floor, then climbing up again, a couple of families waiting for the next plane to arrive and to leave, to take Mom or Grandpa away, a few strong, rough-looking men – fishermen, I supposed. I waited impatiently for the plane from Anchorage. It was a sunny day, and since it was not too windy, I expected flights to be able to make it from Anchorage to this “birthplace of the winds.” When the plane arrived and so many others disembarked, and then the line ended, and I didn’t see Jeff, my heart sunk. I was eight years old again, embarrassed and disappointed. I got up and walked around the small airport, wanting to ask someone: “will there be another flight?”
Within a few minutes, another plane descended onto that lonely runway, then another, and another. Jeff walked down the steps of the last plane, the last of the passengers (of course!). I was grateful and excited.
For about a day after his arrival, whenever I had the thought, I said: “oh, thank you for coming!”
On New Year’s Eve, we welcomed the New Year in that isolated place with the best firework display I have ever seen, and from the warmth of my front window. On New Year’s Day we walked in a flurry of snow, we drove on an 2-lane highway along the sea to a lake hidden in the mountains, and we watched – in slow motion – as a large rock tumbled from the cliffs above us into the Bering, just like the sign had warned: “Beware of Falling Rocks.” Ouch! Surreal, too!
Just as quickly as the days passed during my time away, the days since my arrival home have taken the month of January.
I have the sense that I am still in transition, a transition to some different part of my life, a transition from being in a community to looking for a new community, a transition to the time when I will, like other folks in The Wisdom Years, be saying: “I’m more busy than I ever was!” I’m not there. Still, since my arrival home just after the beginning of this new year, invitations to new groups have arrived, and I’ve even been able to help a few folks with their own transitions. I suppose this transition – which I trust has a life of its own, although I might not always like the life it has! – is going somewhere, or maybe not.
I like the sense of time this time of life gives me. I can reflect across a number of decades filled with the world’s life and with many experiences of my own. I can see how times changed, and how they seem to be changing now. Do things ever really change? I have more space in myself for other points of view, and for how my own life has unfolded. Sometimes, I grieve a bit for some part of myself that has played out again, over and over, and will not go away. I come to the place where I see that is simply who I was, and who I am. No need to change, now.
My mind still moves quickly from one thought to the next, from one idea to another, from one significant memory to a less significant event in the present, from one image to another. That’s what the mind does, I think. Another bit of acceptance.
Acceptance is such a lovely guest during a time of transition…
Home, again. Grateful, again. “I’m so glad you came!”