Glacier Bay

We took a trip to Alaska last month, and one of the stops was Glacier Bay National Park. It was awe-inspiring and beautiful, and the spirit of the place was very evident (even to a cement head like me).  Maybe it’s because everything is so new there- I tend to think of “natural wonders” as being impossibly ancient, but the fjords of the bay formed very recently- since the peak of the Little Ice Age in the 1700s, as a matter of fact.  There was something very raw and brash and youthful about the place.

Johns Hopkins Glacier

Crack! and rumble as we face the
Wall of ice; a woman behind me
Murmurs “white thunder”, and lightning
Ices my spine. More chunks tumble
And splash as the delayed crash follows.
Hard to find a scale to size it
Until the eye, the mind grasps
That those tiny curved dark dots
Are harbor seals, five hundred pounds
Or more, hauled out on the floes
(Oblivious to the plummet of blocks
Bigger than them). Blue glow
Shimmers in the serried spikes along the
Glacier top, and all is quiet for an
Intake of breath while our ship pivots.
Then a span of the ice-face fails
Its hold, spouts and plumes at first,
Then it all merges as the wall dissolves
At one point, fountaining high before
The roll of sound reaches us. A wave
Heaves up, spreads, touches the hull,
Rocks us gently, massive, implacable,
Before passing down the bay towards the sea.



I freaked myself out a bit today.  I got pulled into an informal working meeting in my boss’s office, and afterwards I realized I’d been in an entirely different mode than usual for me (even at work)- confident, assured, completely and helpfully coherent- and entirely unselfconscious about about it.

I don’t really think of this as a mask in the sense of a falsification of my genuine personality.  It’s more a way to show a different facet of me, one appropriate to the situation and audience.

I do the same thing in ritual space, although there are many different possible facets and sometimes I need to spend extra effort in remembering when to switch from one to another.  For example, at Universal Temple of Spirits services that I attend (most of them in a given year), I’m almost always one of the people singing the opening prayers that connect the current place and time to the ongoing and permanent spiritual structure of the ritual, building the sacred space of hospitality and worship that we need.  That requires an odd split where part of me is singing prayers and names (often in other languages than English) while part of me is paying attention to the energy of the process.  During the main part of the services, I’m switching modes quite often- drumming is different than dancing and singing is different than keeping an eye out for who might be getting possessed (or is needing a little nudge either towards or away from that) is different from attending to the needs of a spirit who is riding someone is different from interacting with that spirit more directly.

I’m not always good at this.  I need to work on being less self-conscious; I need to work on better selection of what facet needs to shine at what time.  But I’m definitely getting better.