Last week we took our second trip to Alaska in two years. We had such an amazing time on the first trip we just had to go back to share it with our kids. Amongst everything going on there were a few little incidents that were kisses from God. You know, those events or moments that weren’t by any means necessary but tap you on the shoulder as being put there by a loving Father to remind you of His love. Yeah, we had several. The most spectacular one was for Brian. I mean, we were all thrilled, but it was definitely put in place to touch Brian’s heart.
Brian has a thing for whales; for years he wanted to go whale watching. In fact, that was what prompted us to take our first Alaskan cruise: his desire to see whales in the wild. That first trip we had a beautiful time hanging out in a cove with one mama whale and her baby, watching them repeatedly bubble feed. This time was different. It took a while to find the whales, but when we did, there six of them. Six! One showed up just as we were leaving to wave its tale at us as we drove away in the fishing boat we had hired, but the other five swam around, spouting and showing off their tails. (The photo above is one of these whales when it was positioned just right in relation to the sun and us to make a beautiful spectrum appear as it spouted.) I didn’t know until later that Brian felt like, as awesome as the experience was, it was a little incomplete because we didn’t get to see bubble feeding. But God knew.
After a lovely lunch of freshly caught fish and chips sitting on a restaurant deck overlooking the water, Brian and Amanda decided to take a walk on the rocky beach below before heading back to the ship, and Adam and I opted to stay on the deck enjoying the cool breeze. I was enjoying the view, thinking back on the morning’s adventure, when I noticed something strange in the water. There was a ripple. A huge, circular ripple, not more than 30 or 40 feet off the shore. My first thought was that it looked like bubble feeding, but it obviously wasn’t, since it was so close to shore. I kept watching and noticed the ripple was intensifying, and finally saw a huge bubble along the ripple, and realized it was in fact a whale about to have lunch.
At this point 3 conversations broke out in my head. Conversation #1 was with Brian and Amanda. It was “Hey, guys, look! There’s bubble feeding just a few yards off shore right in front of you!” The second was with Adam: “Hey, look, Adam! Down there by where your dad and sister are standing. See that ring in the water? That’s bubble feeding. If you watch, you will see a whale burst up through the center of it grabbing a giant mouthful of fish!” The third was with myself: “I can’t believe there’s bubble feeding so close to shore, but there’s no other explanation. You need to pick up the camera, turn it on, and get the settings right. You need to hurry; there are just a few seconds before it’s too late.” Yes, I had all those thoughts, all at once, as the world seemed to switch to slow motion. In the heat of the moment, though, all I was able to say, while reaching for my camera with my right hand, pointing with my left hand, and pushing my wheelchair out of the way with my foot, was “Look look look look look!” Not very erudite, but it was effective. Not only did Adam manage to look just in time to see the whale above water, but 100-200 of my closest friends/total strangers heard and ran (yes, RAN) to the railing to see whatever it was that was causing the crazy old lady in the wheelchair to freak out.
Brian and Amanda had a front row seat (to everything except my freak-out). The whale surfaced directly in front of them. Not up the shore a ways, but directly in front of them. What I didn’t know until later was that Brian noticed the bubbles right away, and knew Amanda might not notice since she hadn’t experienced bubble feeding before. Being the good dad he is he wanted to say “Look, daughter. See that ring of bubbles? That might be bubble feeding. Watch closely and we might see a whale.” Instead, he pointed and said, “Bubbles bubbles bubbles bubbles bubbles!” Once again, not eloquent, but effective! Amanda looked in time to see the whole event unfold right in front of her. After that the whale swam along the shore a ways, gave us a wave of his tail, and was gone.
The whole family knew this was for Brian. It was God saying, “I know what moves your heart, son. I’m here. I love you.” Like I said, it wasn’t a necessary part of the trip. None of us prayed for it, or was even looking for it (before the babbling started, at least), but what a beautiful token of affection we were given that day! God is faithful and really knows how to throw a party!
Brian and Amanda, pointing excitedly as the whale swims away.
Brian and Amanda (lower left) watching as the whale waves good-bye