I was lucky enough to spend a part of this last summer in Alaska. I spent the bulk of my time performing on stage at Perseverance Theater, the largest union theater company in Alaska. We had a very successful run of our show in Juneau and I will be heading back in November to complete the last two weeks of my contract in Anchorage.
While I was in Juneau, the theater company put me and a couple of the other performers up in a house out in what the Alaskans called “the Valley.” This was a stretch of land twenty minutes outside the city where we were surrounded by wildlife. We were constantly warned about moose being around the corner, bears kept opening up our ‘bear-proof’ trash cans, and seeing bald eagles outside our window became routine.
The most beautiful sight around was a sprawling, 14 mile-long, glacier that was situated a half mile from where I lived. I visited it often, not really sure about what kept me going back. It may be the sheer size of the thing, or the deep blue that never seems to come out properly in pictures, or the bears that were often seen around it. Or it could simply be the atmosphere of the place. This thing is beautiful. I’d google it if I were you: Mendenhall Glacier.
Everyone I spoke to about it also seemed entranced by its effects. At the church I visited, the pastor weaved it into the sermon. When getting directions everything was based on heading to or away from the glacier. The whole town had been taken in by its spell.
Yet there was a definite tone of sadness when I mentioned this was my first time seeing this mighty giant of a creation. They’d tell me, “You should have seen what she looked like before.”
The glacier was receding. Fast. I was told by tour guides in the area it had retreated over 100 feet since this time last year. According to the National Geographic, Mendenhall Glacier has retreated 9,000 feet since it was measured in 1911.
Despite Alaska being a red state, most of the Christians I met there didn’t dispute climate change. They could see its effects first hand. I don’t know if I imagined the sense of guilt they felt when talking to me about the glacier’s retreat. I did hear their woe about it slowly being taken from them. It really struck home for me: God gave us this great, beautiful planet, but it’s up to us to take care of it. And wouldn’t true Christians do great things to protect this great gift from God? And figure out how to properly bear proof our trash cans. How is this still a problem?