I thought at first I was seeing things. After all, I hadn't had chocolate or any sweets for about three days by then. Coming down off of sugar can do that.
It was enough just to drink in the sun--which was delirious, even at 7 pm. Then the mountains and the sea . . . Though I've driven Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage 100 times, I don't remember it being this stunning. I didn't bring my camera----just my phone because it wasn't a sightseeing trip. It was an oral surgery trip, a getting-three-titanium-screws-in-my-jaw trip. But look what we landed in!
My surgery wasn't until the next day, so we hopped a rental car and drove south.
Then, to add to this evening in Anchorage, it was a bore tide that night. We were there just as it started sweeping down the Arm. Do you know what a bore tide is?
It's a rush of seawater returning to a shallow and narrowing inlet from a broad bay, creating a dramatic wave. There are only 60 bore tides that occur around the world. This one, in Knik Arm, just outside Anchorage, can create a wave 6 – 10 feet tall, reaching speeds of 10 to 15 miles per hour. It's the most northerly, and the only one bordered by mountains, making it the most scenic and dramatic bore tide in the world.
And you know what? In the 1000 times I've been to Anchorage, and the 100 times I've driven that road, I've never seen it before. Until last week.
Here's a moment of it, captured on my phone:
But then, what was that? I saw maybe a person out there? No, two, three? More? Like this:
I soon discovered that people come from all over the world to surf, paddle board, and kayak this phenomenon. I only had my phone for a camera. This is the best I could do. But here it is up close-up, from a real camera:
There was yet one more surprise this evening. After these surfers finished their 20 minute tidal run, they beached their boards and came ashore in the evening sun, glistening with glacier water.
I asked one of them, a short, squat man peeling off his drysuit, "How many times have you done this?" He looked at me sharply. "This is my first time." He spoke with an English accent, and then went on to say something rude, gibing and sarcastic. I was so surprised, I didn't even register his words. Seeing my confusion, he kept at it, adding injury to insult with a sardonic grin and tight lips. I smiled back while trying to understand his words. Surely I was misunderstanding him?
I so admired him while he was riding that wave, I wanted to BE him! But, no longer.
After surfer-man loaded his board and left, another man who had heard this exchange came up to me. "I just want to apologize for him. I can't believe how rude he was to you. There's no excuse for that." He shook his head angrily looking in the direction of the departing van.
"It's okay. I didn't take offense."
"Well, I just . . . you didn't deserve that. Sorry," he said again, looking into my eyes. Then he walked away.
What just happened? I had just watched, admired and envied an adventuring athlete for 20 minutes. I had given him, if not love, at least attention.
And the next man----what he did!! He covered the first man's sins. He really did. Entirely. Sweetly.
"Blessed are the peacemakers."
I hadn't planned to go all metaphorical and spiritual, but this lovely evening could have been spoiled. But it wasn't. If I could do this more than this once, if we all could do this: When we're broadsided by strangers, family and even friends who climb up out of their own wild ride or their own disaster to dish out sudden sharp words, names----can we refuse the offense? Yes. We can look at their fatigue, their exertion, understand the power of stress, cortisol and adrenaline, and we can choose to let the gibe go; Love can do this. Peace can refuse the insult.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
And when we see this happen to others, we can do as the second man did: cover the deed with our own attention. Name what we saw. Be kind to the one who is hurt. Let our love and attention cover that sin.
"Love covers a multitude of sins."
If we can live like this, dear friends, we will bring peace to the ones thirsting for it.
And Peace like a river, like a rushing river of tidal waters, will bear us aloft and along through the channel, beside the white mountains, washing away insults and hurts, gushing with such strength and beauty -------
All who see will be cleansed, refreshed,
and we will be who we are called to be:
the brave, joyful, peaceable children of God.