I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

Today is sort of like our 9/11. A year ago there was a terrible storm and two people we loved died in a landslide and all of us were effected in one way or the other– and then Phil, my beach walking friend Nene’s husband who was a volunteer EMT and had helped so much with the search and rescues died too when his heart stopped, and Johnny out in Klukwan passed away the same week, and so today it all came back. The scar on the hill hurts to see. Still, I was surprised by how sad and grumpy I was.There is so much to be grateful for in the care and “tender gravity of kindness” as poet Naomi Nye says, that we have shown each other in the last year.

I woke early- in the dark– and turned on the twinkle lights, made some coffee, listened to Chip do his sit-ups and push-ups on the rug. Fed the dogs, let them in and out. Stood on the cold porch and peered out at the snow. Heard the river, the wind. Saw the lights of the airport. Snow slid off the roof like thunder. So much snow. It was very quiet, mostly. Papa Bob sleeps in, so the radio was not on.

For Advent, I am reading Luke’s gospel, the King James version as I like the poetry in it and this morning it was chapter two, my favorite. The Christmas story, and it came to pass, shepherds abiding, fear not I bring you good tidings. I went back and read Isaiah too- chapter 40, the one you can sing because the words of Handel’s Messiah come straight from the text.

Yesterday, I watched the White House Hannukah celebration with Papa Bob. My friend and Haines neighbor Rabbi Syd Mintz was there and invited me to the virtual event. I loved it. All that talk about light in the darkness, resiliency, respect, tradition– surviving hard times with faith, love and kindness. The President was so wise and well spoken, reminding us of the words of a famous rabbi- the veneer of civilization is paper thin– That’s so true, and yes, we must be vigilant always, fighting evil,  but as that event and our tragedy also demonstrate, in the best of all worlds there is a timber frame of community holding the walls up. I told Syd thanks to her, I could be Jewish if I wasn’t such a Jesus person.

After my Advent devotions I rode my bike to nowhere– and somewhere better– up on the stair landing and listened to an Episcopal Morning Prayer service. The readings were not that helpful (it wasn’t anyone’s fault, the lectionary is set years ahead, it was only a coincidence that mountains fell down and oceans surged–) but the music was good, O Day of God Draw Nigh, the choir on my phone sang, “Bring to our troubled minds, uncertain and afraid, the quiet of a steadfast faith…”  I usually listen to Motown hits when I’m working out, singing ain’t no mountain high enough, be my baby, heard it through the grapevine, as I pedal like a mad woman.  I will again tomorrow. But today? the hymn was a comfort, and the prayers too– and the slower pace felt right. It was just what I needed, especially the collect: Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.

I want to wear an armor of light, don’t you?What if we all did?