Friday, May 27, 2016

Juneau Town {Lone Star to Last Frontier, 2015}

For the backstory, please see the post, "Courage, Dear Heart!" This post is mostly photos, so e-mail readers may prefer to view the Web version of Juneau Town {Lone Star to Last Frontier, 2015}.

Of the Alaskan ports we visited last year, Juneau was our clear favorite, both for the town itself and for our whales-and-glacier excursion. Upon first introduction, the state capital with a small-town feel was shrouded in mystery.

Once ashore, the public art, flowers, and buildings old and old-fashioned charmed us immediately.

We didn't go inside, but Wyatt Earp's gun reportedly hangs over the bar here.

Sculpture adorning the public library

The streets of Juneau were full of flowers.
Then we met and fell a little in love with Patsy Ann. "Who is that?" you ask. Technically, we didn't meet her, but we did visit her memorial and read her story.

The English bull terrier Patsy Ann lived in the days before ship-to-shore radios and clockwork schedules provided details of ships' arrivals and docking plans. Although born deaf, she somehow knew not only when a ship drew within half a mile of the shore but also where it would dock. The sailors learned to let her guide their preparations. The sign next to her statue said that when she died, a small crowd watched as her coffin was lowered into the channel near where the statue now stands.

Juneau displayed a sense of humor we appreciated, too.

"Established: A Long Time Ago"

What's more, three of life's essentials were available in the main downtown area: coffee, books, and fudge.

This local roaster sells the best dark roast we've ever had: Black Gold.

Mom and I visited the lobby of the state capitol building, but renovations had closed it to visitors.

Meanwhile, Dad and Amore hiked up the hill a ways to visit the oldest Russian Orthodox church in North America, named for St. Nicholas.

If I should forget all the rest of the town of Juneau's appeal, however, this last experience is the one I would wish to keep. Before gathering at the meeting point for the whale-watching excursion, we ascended the Mount Roberts Tramway.

You recall, of course, how mist-veiled and overcast the city was throughout the morning. As the tram climbed, we broke through those clouds, and glory greeted us.

The brilliant blue sky and sunshine had been present all along, but we couldn't see them looking from below the clouds. We had to move through them and gain a higher perspective to see the light.

At the time and often since, even this week, this has vividly illustrated to me an aspect of the Christian's earthly life. In some seasons, our souls are overcast and all we see are mist and clouds and grey from horizon to horizon. Life may feel bereft of color and light. At least, that's all we see and feel if we're looking around at our circumstances and up to the limits of our human vision.

If we enter the "tram" of God's Word, however, it shifts our perspective up, breaking through the clouds to behold heavenly spiritual realities. The Holy Spirit shows us the sun is still shining, the mountain peaks still stand, and the color and beauty are still real and present, even when we can't see them from below.

The apostle Paul wrote of this phenomenon in his letters:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV).
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV).
Feelings and sight can yell so loudly that this seems impossible. It does require effort and intentionality, but the effort to yield our earthbound perspective to the Lord's eternal one in Scripture will not go unrewarded. Even brief, regular glimpses of the truth and glory hidden in the living and written Word can sustain us through the mists and clouds.

If you too are in a grey season, dear Crumble, may the Lord encourage you and fortify your spirit to set your mind on things above, on the glorious, unseen, eternal realities of life "hidden with Christ in God."

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