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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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We can become aware of God’s eternal power through the beauty of creation

We can become aware of God’s eternal power through the beauty of creation

 I recently returned from a two-week vacation in Alaska. It was the best vacation I have ever had. I would like to share some of my experiences.

The first part of the vacation was on a cruise ship. I had never been on a large cruise ship before so this was a real treat for me. The food was great, the entertainment was delightful, and the opportunities to “do things” were unlimited.

A first-class fitness facility with instructors was available plus classes on healthy eating, proper exercise and maintaining a proper metabolism. Art educational seminars, an art gallery, and art auctions were also available. 

We visited some major cities and sites in the southern part of Alaska: Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and Seward. We had opportunities to see glaciers, explore these cities, take trips to salmon canning factories, watch the salmon swim against the freshwater streams to spawn and then die.

From Seward we left the cruise ship and went by bus to Anchorage. The next day we boarded a glass enclosed train car and made our way to Denali National Park to see the wilderness in all its pristine grandeur.

The beauty of Alaska is magnificent. We can see the earth in its purest form as God created it – no trash, no billboards, no oil wells, no houses, only an occasional modern day “outhouse.”

The Book of Sirach proclaims, “When the Lord created his works from the beginning, and, in making them, determined their boundaries, he arranged his works in an eternal order, and their dominion for all generations. They neither hunger nor grow weary, and they do not abandon their tasks. They do not crowd one another, and they never disobey his word. Then the Lord looked upon the earth, and filled it with his good things. With all kinds of living beings he covered its surface, and into it they must return.” (Sir. 16:26-30)

To see God’s creation in its pristine beauty is a meditation in itself. The snow capped mountains – we were blessed with sunshine the whole trip so we could see Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America, for two days. The mountains call to mind Psalm 65:6, “By your strength you established the mountains; you are girded with might.”

Fall had already begun in Alaska so the trees on the mountainside were bright with various shapes of yellows, oranges and reds. We saw wildlife: bear, moose, caribou, reindeer, seals, eagles, swans, beaver dams, star fish and of course salmon.

St. Paul tells us in Romans, “Ever since the creation of the world, (God’s) eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.” (Rom. 1:20)

How true!

We were the last crew to visit Denali National Park. It was snowing when we left and the temperature had dipped into the mid-twenties. That’s cold for us but for the natives in the central part of Alaska, their winters go down to 40 degrees below zero. That’s cold!

We also had opportunities to see the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, to understand the process used to exact gold from the rocks, to pan for gold ourselves, to visit an Indian village to see how they lived and survived in this hostile winter environment. We also visited the dog training camp of Jeff King, the four-time Iditarod Trail Dog Race winner. The Iditarod is an annual long-distance sled dog race held in early March from Anchorage to Nome.

We experienced a lot!

The biggest surprise of the trip is that Alaska has no sales tax – neither local or state. 90 percent of their revenue comes from oil companies. Why do we give our oil companies tax breaks?