Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Setting Sail Today

As I prepare to leave Palmer, I find that I have more questions than before I arrived. I am overflowing with fresh perspectives and new ideas. The fluttering in my stomach suggests that I have been changed by these people and this place.

Looking back, I am embarrassed by my ignorance. Even those parts of my not knowing that have been erased by this journey still cause me shame. I thought it would be colder on this most southern continent. I thought this would be a black and white world, not one infused with brilliant blue-green or patched with rich shades of orange and yellow. I thought we had plenty of time to fix the hurt we are inflicting on the earth. I did not think I would miss the stars. I did not know I would be pierced to the core of my being by the sharp cries of the glacier dying.

Whether I am walking the coast, or sitting by a window and writing, or boating to one of the islands, I hear the glacier crying. She breathes the burning air, and her lungs collapse. She groans. She turns her face to the sun and loses clumps of hair to the fire. She presses into the earth, sloughing skin in giant handfuls. She screams. I fear her passing. Tears brighten my eyes.

I have come too close, sounds of the glacier dying will echo forever inside my head. I touched her. I cannot pull away—the palms of my hands are frozen to her skin.

My soul stepped onto the peninsula sleepy and complacent, it leaves wounded and afraid, but fear makes me stronger. And while I know the earth has plenty of time to heal, the knowledge that my own people teeter on the edge of extinction scares me.

(Photograph courtesy of Dan Jennings)