Alaskan wildlife

How Alaskan Animals Pray (and 7 "Wonder Years" Winners!)

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(Wonder Years Winners Below!)

Some animals get all the luck. This time of year, think of all the attention given to donkeys, camels, sheep, goats and any other creature whose likeness attends and protects every baby Jesus, every Nativity scene. Were they even present that night that God broke into the world through the screams and the body of a teenage girl?

I don’t know, nor do I know if dogs and cats go to heaven, but I do know that animals are beloved. I know that creatures high and low, hairy and slithering were spoken into being before us in that resplendent first garden.

So this Christmas season I am thinking of animals, the animals around me in Alaska. Most mornings I sit over the ocean, reading my Bible, watching the eagles and otters. I tire of human antics and long for something purer. This is the real news of the day, not the Internet news, not the radio news. When I am watching these creatures I feel as though I am watching bodies and beings at prayer. They seem to be praying the words that I love and stutter nearly every day.

Here they are, my animal neighbors who move me to pray with them.


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Our Father who art in heaven,

Glorious, honored, loved, hallowed be your name.

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(May we always cherish it in our hearts and keep it holy.)

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Reveal your kingdom among us, here, now,

in ocean, tree, bush and sky.
Cause your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth,
 just as it is fulfilled so perfectly in heaven.

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We acknowledge you, Father, as our generous Provider
  so we ask, would you give us each day the food that we need—

(but no more, no less so we live by trust more than by food?)

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And would you forgive us the creaturely wrongs we have done,

the debts we owe, the ways we have hurt others 

as we ourselves forgive and free those who have wronged and hurt us?

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Please rescue us, deliver us when we face tribulations, temptations,

when we are drawn away from you rather than close to you.

Please rescue us from the destroyer, that evil one.

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We ask you all this

because you are the King

and this holy kingdom is yours,

power and majesty and strength is yours

glory and honor and praise is yours.

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Forever and always,

 Yes and amen.

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Amen.


THE WONDER YEARS WINNERS!

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Friends, it was SO wonderful to hear from so many of you last week! What a treat! I know I said I was giving 3 books away, but I’m giving 7 instead. (I would give you ALL a book if I could! But maybe it would make a great gift to your over-forty friends for Christmas?)

Please contact me here (Leslieleylandfields@gmail.com) with your mailing address and I’ll get a copy to you asap!

*Karen Worley

*Lula Cobb

*Jane Stewart

*Yvonne Mollica

*Katie Husby

*Lance Aldrin

*Darrell Davis

Congratulations!! May the words in those pages enrich and prosper your soul!





Stormy Crossing, The Last Place We Look for Beauty




                                 (Photo by Wallace Fields)

Two summers ago, I was scared before the skiff even launched. The NE wind had come down. It had been blowing 40 mph, ripping the ocean to white, but now it was probably down to 30 mph. I hadn’t run a skiff yet that season. So this was my first run, in these shuddering seas? 



I was fully dressed, as we always are when we step into a skiff: I was wearing full commercial grade raingear, a life jacket, a hat, my fishing boots, but I forgot my gloves. My hands were already so cold it wouldn’t matter when they got wet.

And they did get wet. As did the rest of me, even through the small opening at my neck. We all stand in our open skiffs when we travel to see over the bow. Like lightening rods, the water finds us first. Whole sheets of water pelted me as I rose and fell in the swells, my knees braced against the seat in front of me to stay upright, my arm on the tiller. Gasping for air between waves, I quartered my way from one island to another.



I have made this crossing many times and been out in storms far worse. I was not terribly afraid once I left shore---I was mostly awake, all of me. What I saw! The deep blue heaves and lifts me like breath; the whitecaps under the wind are my gasps. The grey clouds that sweep the mountains and troughs, spilling their water, and the sun that breaks between them, lighting the fires . . . All this exploding in water and howl of wind and motor, eyes blinded by the force of so much being and existence. . .


PHOTO OF ELISHA IN STORM

And more astonishing, even this on the island I just left. That island is a working island where everyone is head-down on task, where there is no shelter from the wind, where the nets are splayed across the grass, and the island is covered in tractor-roads. 






















Our island too is a working island, where nets and tractors, skiffs and machines cover grass and beach.




This day of mending net in the wind, it was hard to speak to anyone and I was cold and wet ---but what I saw! Let me tell you about the colors of this work! The colors of all this gear on land before it is dropped into the sea to catch fish.



Let me tell you about the blue-green nets and the yellow corks and the pink buoys and the endless coils of line ready to do their work for us.






















 Let me tell you about yellow and orange raingear hanging in the gear shed waiting for the bodies to give them life and the rusty anchors sunk in sand to hold our boats. 







Courage lives here, and endurance, and a brotherhood of fishermen. But can you believe that beauty lives here as well, even when it is not intended or sought?

“We walk by faith, not by sight,” we often quote, but just as often, it is our sight that awakens our faith. Even when we do not intend it, in our busiest hardest labor, beauty and order and color emerges from our hand and pours forth speech that brings praise out of silence---for those who see it. 

I see it. I hear it. I am sure you do as well. Even here: 






















                                  (Photo by Tamie Harkins)

Where do you see strange beauty in your world?



Praise Him, the Father of All Beauty and Good,

Who can be found in storm and sea,

Who can be seen in the work of ordinary, tired hands,

Who yet will be praised

By babes and fishermen and women late

at the sink or deep in the soil:

Praise Him for bringing Loveliness out of our 

commonest Labors.









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And, I do not forget the eaglets, Calvin and Maddie (as named by my youngest sons), who have doubled in size. Here, too, is strange beauty forged from odd feathers and dinosaur faces. Here, too, we watch and praise . … 





Look! I can almost fly!




Praise Him.