Our very last morning in Bethel was magical. We all woke up really early, packed our bags and headed to the airport in three different cars that two two trip each.
I got to ride with Kevin Murphy, Susan’s husband. It was a misty morning in Bethel and one could only see 50 yards away. Kevin’s car was really old and clunky and Willie Nelson was quietly playing in the background as we all silently looked for the Bethel we got to love in the depths of the mist.
Our flight was delayed by an hour. But when we departed, we could not see Bethel at all. Even if we tried, none of us wave goodbye to Bethel from windows on the plane because we just couldn’t see it.
Landing on the lower 48 was a different story. After spending a couple of days in lovely Seward, we were dropped off at the Anchorage airport and took our flight out to Minneapolis. Flying over Minneapolis was a moment of realization for me.
On our way to Alaska, I didn’t really give much thought to be flying over such a big city as Minneapolis, I just thought to myself that this was just another city in the US, with its crossing streets, suburban houses, golf courses, shopping malls and tall buildings. But on our way back, I saw the city with different eyes.
After hearing from Brian and Nelson about climate change, from Cecilia about Yu’pik spirituality and from Ray and Rose about historical trauma, my eyes were changed and now all I could see was a city that had been growing at the expense of the earth. Unnecessarily big buildings, pretzel looking highway intersections, endless numbers of golf courses, two airports, suburban houses that could hold up to 20 people, but may only be occupied by four or five.
What was the need for all of this? I met some of the happiest people in Bethel, and their city was not nearly as big as Minneapolis. How did we get here? I wondered about Bethel’s future and had the short thought that it may one day be that big, because in the end, that is the face of progress for many. Where does it stop? As we flew over the city, the endless suburbs asphyxiated my imagination.
And just like our driving through misty Bethel was veiled by the tundra’s mist, so is our vision of this world. We don’t want to see the alternative and we refuse to see the truth. It hard for so many of us to recognize other’s lifestyle as valid and beautiful.
And at the same time we are fast to affirm our own beliefs as the absolute truth. Just like the clearness sky over Minneapolis, we have no problem seeing our own reality, but hesitate to question it.
Thank you Bethel for opening my eyes to new realities.