Week 2: Fall in Alaska

by | Sep 17, 2018

The natural beauty of Anchorage in Fall is stunning. And to have the opportunity to participate in a Twilight Photo Tour was wonderful. Jody was both a great tour guide and a helpful photography tutor.

And I also discovered two other forms of beauty.

The first was what drew me to Anchorage in the first place. Back in April 2017, I emailed Marcia Wakeland in response to an article that she had written with Mary Cartwright “The Art of Listening Deeply with the Vulnerable and Marginalised” that was published in Presence, the journal of Spiritual Direction International. Although we only met for the first time on Tuesday, by the time I left Anchorage, it was as if we have been lifelong friends. Maybe, on some level, we have. So many connected interests, passions and mentors: spiritual questing, labyrinths, passion for listening among the marginalised just to name a few. Marcia has an amazing network of volunteers who regularly listen in 6, soon to be 7, sites across Anchorage: 2 libraries, a homeless hostel, 2 supported accommodations, a church that provides a welcome to those who are homeless, and an assisted living centre. What a gift is being offered to the people of Anchorage.

The second was my first real experience of “Fall.” Living most of my life in Sydney, with the absence of deciduous trees and mild climate, our environment does not highlight the experience of autumn. Walking the parks and streets of Anchorage I came to realise why in places like this it is called “Fall.”


vibrant colours
ever changing
leaves dangling
letting go
softly falling
ever so gently
finally grounded
blanketing earth

* * * * *

The wonderful welcome that was extended to me, is not the experience of all though. I entered a supermarket across the road from one of the libraries. Within a few minutes I was approached by a staff member, because I had failed to see the sign requiring all bags to be left at the front of the store, my small backpack included. I wonder how the poor, the homeless, that frequent this supermarket or other places for that matter, fell as they are always under the suspicion of shoplifting?

I arrived in New York late on Saturday evening. But my luggage did not. Except for my laptop, iPad, camera, some books, 2 jackets, a toothbrush and my handbag, I had none of my meagre possessions I had packed for the 14 week journey. While I felt confident that I would be reunited with my bag by the morning, I did entertain the idea of having no change of underwear, no clothes, no kettle to make a cup of tea, no gifts to offer my hosts. Yet aware that I did have money and resources to replace what I needed and desired, if necessary. Many do not.

Some ponderings:
There are so many good people “doing” good work.
How can I be more intentional in being aware of, and appreciating the beauty that exists around me?
How is it to live life, constantly under surveillance and suspicion of others- either individuals or systems? Particularly, when one is already vulnerable with a fragile self-esteem?
What do I actually need to carry in my luggage? What possessions, if any are important?

With deep gratitude to those who have offered hospitality particularly Marcia and the Listening Post Volunteers Pat, Julie, Christine, Laurel, Edie and Dave and Jody from Alaska Photo Treks.

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