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.

 “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” – Jesus, according to Matthew’s gospel.

“We can experience nothing but the present moment, live in no other second of time, and to understand this is as close as we can get to eternal life.” ― P.D. James

I had been operating under the assumption that there was another week left in July, and that meant that I had a bunch of free time after all the book “tour” stuff, and before August 2 when Skagway’s virtual North Words writers symposium began.

Then, last Friday while hosting my weekly show on KHNS and delivering the Earth, Air and Water Report, featuring the weather, tides, and daily daylight schedule, I realized that the sun was setting that night on July and rising the next morning in August. (I volunteer for the Back Country show from 1-3 most Fridays, except this one, when I’ll be talking to the Alaska and Pacific Northwest joint library conference. It’s a challenge to live in the moment these days.)

Anyway—what I had wanted to tell you before I showed up a week late for my life, is that two Sunday’s ago, on Zoom church the Bishop of Alaska, Mark Lattime, joined us and delivered the homily. In one of those random – or I choose to believe providential— ways that the pre-ordained Episcopal liturgical calendar of lessons and psalms for each Sunday of the year matches the moment, the Bishop’s visit coincided with not only the civil rights and congressional leader John Lewis’ final crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, but also the reading of the parable of the mustard seed.

From his sofa, with a watercolor painting over his left shoulder, The Bishop said, “In the story of John Lewis we see how a mustard seed, a person of humble beginnings, does not only cross the bridge, but becomes a bridge.” He said we too are called to plant the seed of love and tend it where we are. I don’t think he heard me say to myself, well, I’m no John Lewis, and no matter how much fish fertilizer I add to my work I will never grow to be a giant among men, women, or shrubberies. Sometimes, times like these especially, it is a little discouraging to try to save the world. There’s too much work to do, and not enough time. Why me? Why bother?

Which is the question the writers at North Words have been discussing the last few days. Why risk it? Why write while the world is burning? Is there hope?

Yes, the Bishop told our small congregation, “We are all called to grow, and not to give over responsibility for seeking justice and mercy and love to the giants of the world.” There is too much work for even for the great ones to do all by themselves. All hands on deck.

This is our time, as PD James said, there is no other moment of time.

And I am happy to report that the writers I have been hanging out with have answered those same doubting questions about their calling with a loud YES– and especially the young, super smart ones– a Hell Yeah.