Extravagance and Exhaustion

Our Alaskan summer is half over. Where are the salmon? They're not in our nets. They're on summer vacation too, apparently, not ready to return home to their river beds, not ready to replicate and die. Who can blame them? If they end up on my doorstep, this is what I will do to them (yes, straight to the smoker!) 


I am writing to you today not out of excess, as is often the case, but out of fatigue. The shootings this week have distressed us all. It seems, as a race, we have an unending capacity to harm and destroy. How do we carry this weight? And do we excuse ourselves, as if we have no biases, no bent toward stereotypes and dismissal, because of race? Let me not believe I am pure and good, beyond any form of racism. Let us not believe we are beyond the sin of racism, any of us. Keep your hearts open. Do not stop weighing, questioning . . . 

These events come, for me, in one of those weeks, in one of those summers of extravagance, which is also to say, exhaustion. There is so much to do. So many to love. And there has been love abounding on this island this summer. Visits from children, from my sons' beautiful girlfriends, an engagement party, friends visiting, soon a 100-person picnic on our island . . . 


And there is the work. Picking fish--in storm and calm. Mending nets---in sun and in rain, harvesting berries, making jams, burning trash, painting buildings. Sometimes hard. Mostly good.



I know Love's Labors are not lost, not any of them. And in the face of death this week, who would turn Love away, who would turn labor away, ever? But here is the truth, too, that we do not speak: Joy, too, weakens us. Love, too, flattens us. Love is expensive and exhausting. (Click to tweet) And sometimes we think we will run out.



Sometimes we do run out. 


Last night, just before midnight, when I could not think or do or speak one more thing to anyone, I walked to the outhouse ridge and there it was. Over the next thirty minutes, I stood with a friend in the grass and witnessed this:








What alchemy was this, to dip and bloom this usual world of sea and sky into such colors, such gold and pink? Is not this world already enough, without this extravagant gilt? And still, each moment, it kept changing, glowing, blooming  . . . 

How is this, that just before tomorrow, such love would light up this far north sky? (Click to tweet)  How can such splendor be spent on me, on us?  Sometimes just a flower is enough. A bird. A  tree. Sometimes just a single leaf is all we need. And that leaf is given.

But tonight, how did He know we needed more? 








And then that "more" is given. 

This is for us, for all of us overwhelmed and exhausted.  He loves us this much. 

Let us rest then, in the blaze of love that is given to us this day, this week. Drink, sup, feast, be still in our Maker's presence.

Then, let us get up and keep going.  

His extravagant love will never run out. (Click to tweet)

Surely, nor will ours. 

Have you experienced a moment this summer when God displayed his Love to you at just the right time?