Tag Archives: hike

Restless for Peace

As a group we went on a desert hike. We walked along a path taken by migrants into the United States.

The experience I had on this hike is more explanatory in description than any analysis I could give in this blog.

We crawled under barbed wire. We went up and down a rock wall. It was a grueling approximately two mile hike and we had plenty of water and rests along the way. We came across water stations where groups had left gallons of water and canned beans for migrants to consume.

On the walk we saw articles of clothing left behind.

We finally made it to a shrine for migrants where there were crosses, rosaries, and other keepsakes. There were also jugs of water hanging from trees so that the ravens could not get them. Here we sat down with the leader of this hike and reflected. During this reflection we were given a prayer for the migrant. This prayer was a call to action. It explained how we all could work for peace. Though we were praying to God to accomplish these tasks, there was an underlying tone that each of these things can be accomplished by humanity and more specifically God working through us. This is why this prayer made sense to me more than really anything else we had talked about up to this point, I felt like this could be accomplished and I could help.

The prayer follows:

Creator, full of love and mercy, whose own Son became a refugee and had no place to cal his own; look with mercy and compassion on our brothers and sisters who today are fleeing from poverty, homelessness, and hunger.

Protect them as they suffer mistreatments and humiliations on their journeys, are labeled as dangerous, and marginalized for being foreigners. Make them be respected and valued for their dignity. Touch with Your Goodness and Active Concern the many who see them pass.

Care for their families until they return to their homes, not with broken hearts but rather with hopes fulfilled. Inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts; and guide all the people of the world towards that day when all will rejoice in you Reign of justice and love. Let it Be.

Arizona desert
Arizona desert

Part of our reflection at this migrant shrine was discussing a young woman who had died during the journey to the U.S. not far from that spot. John (our hike leader) ended our time at the shrine, after telling this young woman’s story, by saying may she rest in peace and may we be restless for peace.

This experience was a call to action, that I may be restless for peace.

Melting Away

On our last day in Alaska, our touristy group made a trip up to Exit Glacier. I was in an average mood; I was a bit tired, but excited for a scenic hike. I was excited for the thrill of reaching our destination and simply looking at everything around us, and enjoying our last true piece of our time in Alaska.

On the way up the trail, my thoughts just wandered. Each little break in the trees, we’d see the beautiful mountains and sky surrounding us, and each time I’d have to do a little spin around and smile with admiration for the beauty that is Alaska. It was hotter than I had expected, so after each little break, I’d rush myself just a bit to get up to the crisp glacier air a bit quicker.

As I got closer to the Glacier, I came to this point:

The last sign on the way to Exit Glacier.

On that sign, it was noted as the location of Exit Glacier in about 1996. After reading, I began to feel slightly off, something I wasn’t expecting, as I finally began to feel the chilled wind from the face of the glacier.  I was still a little far from the edge itself, but I began to look around and I slowly realized the true impact of me being there.

I watched people walk up to the edge, smile or make a silly pose and get a picture. I watched people take a long look, and then just walk away. In the most recent exposed rock from the receding glacier, scrapes and scratches painfully dug into the rock were being ran over and overlooked. I suddenly felt disgusted with myself for being excited to be there. I was no longer a happy tourist; I was a mourning visitor.

This glacier, this change, had happened and is still happening in my lifetime. I looked at the clawed rock and I saw suffering. I looked at those smiling and taking goofy pictures as ignorant (even though I did get pictures in front of it). This once massive, beautiful structure stood with pride, yet now it is literally melting, receding, and cracking, losing its place on earth.

Exit Glacier, as it stands today.
Exit Glacier, as it stands today.

In a way I could compare it to the Yup’ik culture we experienced in Bethel. The old ways and traditions were being pushed back, forced, by a new western outlook. The children didn’t want a part of the Yup’ik ways, they want the modern ways, and therefore don’t make room for the culture. Just as the glacier had clung to rocks, trying desperately to pull itself back, those who believe in the Yup’ik culture are trying to bring it back to the people of Bethel.

In our times as humans, we lose things. From friends, toys, or games, to memories, material goods, or history, things disappear from our lives and this world all the time. But something made this different for me. It’s happening now. When I was 5 years old, that glacier was bigger; now it’s not. That one moment, standing on the edge of Exit Glacier made me realize the harsh truth of the matter; if people don’t see the importance of things such as culture and climate change, they are just going to keep disappearing.

Though I was in no way expecting something from that hike, it taught me something. It showed me the importance of staying aware, and being on the side of seeing importance and value in my history, my traditions and culture, and those of others as well.

I’ve learned a lot from my time in Alaska. From all the people and stories and lessons shared, it was all an incredible experience. Yet I got my final push of remembrance and inspiration from that hike frozen in my mind; and it’s one thing that will never melt.

A beautifully written passage about the glacier.
A beautifully written passage about the glacier.