Sitka Spruce dot the land, the harbor and city come into view and the white caps decorate the ocean below. As a family of smart travelers I am usually found in the back of the plane behind the wing. I don’t mind too much unless there is a reunion I am itching to throw my arms around down below in that oh so familiar one room airport. And of course as long as turbulence isn’t extreme, because in that case the back of the plane is experiencing an entirely different flight than those up front catching every motion of the plane on the emotional winds. As the plane descends there is an air of relief with my fellow passengers, 75% at least or more I recognize as community members, friends, my town. Some perhaps have been waiting for this blissfully clear day for days, we have all been there. It’s a terrible rite of passage that sourdoughs here wear as medals of honor with accompanying stories to top one another over coffee at a friend’s house. I find myself breath in relief every time I am about to land at home because it’s a feeling of finally. As we approach closer Pillar and her 6 wind turbines stand in a way that seems strangely natural. Closer still, and Boy Scout beach and the Buskin River come into view and pass. As we touch the runway I can see where the ocean kisses the shore and brushing against the rocks lining the start of the tarmac and the familiar airport of home comes into view.
I wait patiently (and other times not so patiently) for the plane to unload. That passenger seat belt sign kicks off and the symphony of clicking seatbelts off rings in the cabin. Bags are found, belongings gathered, laughter and meaningful small talk (which in a small town is a real thing) ensue and the door is opened cooling the cabin immediately with faithful Kodiak wind. Unfortunately the further I travel and the longer I stay away the more difficult the season of adjustment to the weather is coming back. In this temperature I would normally be with a sweatshirt, maximum, but here I am bundled like some, dare I say, tourist. Though living in Chicago gave me a taste of my coldest winder yet (I will never forget February of 2015) Kodiak is a chilly that is comforting and unlike any other.
Finally taking my steps off the plane and descending down the stairs I pause for a brief moment and breathe in the freshest air I have tasted in my life. The sea breeze fills my lungs and it’s as if residue from the ocean mist fills my veins, into my very being. This feeing I can never convey but can only show to people by bringing them here. This sleepy fishing town nestled in emeralds of Spruce trees and caressed by the ocean’s constant and needed presence, Kodiak is a forever home sort of place.
In part of my growing pains I am learning to find my sense of place. My sense of place has been completely turned upside down and inconsistent since leaving the house. It’s an exciting time and some of it’s normal but with a long distance relationship, a hometown in rural Alaska, a traveling heart, a move to the city, and an upcoming move upon getting married my sense of place has been found in various moments, various towns, and with various people.
And I am brought to the desert. This island girl is being starved of the ocean she knows but I will be moving with the love of my life, a small price to pay for love I’d say. The beauty of this move to the desert is it meets me where I am. In the midst of a very trying spring semester I broke down with my roommate. Her love for Matt Chandler’s sermons and great wisdom helped me “unslump” a bit and I was able to refocus despite the hard place I was in.
Simply put, sometimes God ordains the desert. Matt Chandler goes on (check it out right here) and points to the character of God. The desert isn’t abandonment, the desert is for growing seasons.
Matt and I are using the beautiful and rare time we do have together to explore when we can. Though my visit here is coming to a close the countdown until we are Mr. and Mrs. is quickly ending and we will start our new chapter together. It’s a strange sense of home because there are trails and we can walk and talk like good old times. Back in Kodiak Matt and I were going on a walk every day just about. It’s a sense of home. We’re at home with each other and it’s great to have a haven that feels like where our roots together started. We paused on the trail yesterday and just sat there together and took in the everything and enjoyed just being.
The desert reminds me how to just be. The desert reminds me to breathe. The desert reminds me a bit about God’s peace too. The silence in the desert is unreal. The ocean, and the ocean I know full well is noisy. It crashes onto the shore and collides with it’s surroundings. It’s beautiful, it shows me how undeniably God exists. The desert is quiet, it’s still. The rocks jet out of dry ground like a field of dinosaur bones. The strange vegetation is still and foreign, growing despite the challenges of elements.
I am thankful for the ordained desert. And though I’ll miss rain smearing across my face and misting up my glasses, though I’ll miss the wind ruffling my hair and my Xtra-Tuffs, though I’ll miss coffeeshops where everyone knows everyone and whether the coffee or the ambience is better is an impossible distinction, I embrace the desert. This is where Matt and I will get started and though I never would dream to move here just for kicks, I am excited for this waiting place to be our place.
To the desert we go.