Originally posted November 12, 2008.
What would you say are your favorite things? What things, when you see them or get to experience them, bring you joy? Mountains at sunset, my little girl with her dog on the new spring grass, and babies bundled in snow gear make my list.
Favorites on my list this time of year can be in short supply, but I’m still striving to find the joy. You see, for me, winter in Alaska brings on a few “not so favorite” things. Darkness…talked about that a bit in my last post. Snow…hinted at that one too. Cold…yeah, I live where the air can hurt my face. But this time of year brings about one of my “top of the charts” favorite things: the perfect conditions in which to see the Aurora Borealis, the northern lights.
When my husband and I first starting “dream talking” of moving here in 2006, I remember sharing how excited I was that we would live where we could see the northern lights! At that time I naively thought they would be a nightly occurrence, but nonetheless we couldn’t wait to experience them in person. I had studied them a bit in college in a Space Environment class, but nothing can prepare you for seeing them for the first time.
Our move north brought us up the famous Alcan Highway, which extends from central Alberta Canada through the Yukon, in mid August. Our journey was not what I’d call smooth sailing, but God provided the whole time. We started out with two vehicles and two fully loaded trailers. And while we did end up in Alaska with the same two vehicles and trailers, we also had picked up a transmission repair, new trailer tires and had actually unloaded some of our things in Edmonton, Alberta to lighten a load. Long story short, we headed back to Edmonton after spending less than a day at our rental house in Alaska to return for our stored items…in one vehicle with one trailer…with the goal of 1,000 miles a day. Lots of driving. Lots of driving in the dark, which didn’t come for very long up there in August. Also, side note ladies, don’t ever leave your purse in a hotel in Canada and drive 300 miles before you realize it is gone. It does not make the mood in the vehicle a light one. Anyway, back to the lights…
We were somewhere outside of Watson Lake on our return trip. It was early morning in the middle of nowhere. It was dark, and yet, there was a faint glow in the sky that made it seem like we should have been gaining ground on a large city not marked on the map. It was a strange mixture of white, and blue, and green. And then, when the glow divided into ribbons of light and moved in the sky like a string of banners in the wind, I knew. I knew but yet, all of my head knowledge flew from consciousness as I sat on the dark roadside, in the middle of nowhere, and simply marveled at the wonder of it all. It was magnificent, and I felt so very small under the sky that night.
Twelve years later, I never tire of see the lights. Seeing them is special enough, but if you add the comfort of my own back deck and a warm mug of tea to the mix, you’ll find me in full joy mode. Some have been so active and vibrant that I can’t keep silent or keep tears from streaming down my face. My prayer is that everyone could one day behold them with their own eyes. To stand still, in wonder, in smallness, and behold the creative art of the One who made it all.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
And God saw that the light was good.
Genesis 1:1–4a, ESV
Aurora Night flows out of my love of these lights. It is a simple piano piece, with varying movements and dynamics, much like the lights themselves. This version adds in a string quartet and a flute for fun, which was born out of the joy of being able to play “October Snow” for my church congregation earlier this month with the team I’m blessed to lead worship with at church. Our Worship Pastor, Joel Stamoolis, wrote some amazing parts for that little song, so it got me thinking about what this one would sound like if my team played with me too. Fun stuff, and I’m still learning about part writing, so this is a bit of an experiment.
I’m also excited to be teaming up with a local photographer and friend, Joshua O’Donnell, to share this song with you. His photos beautifully capture the vivid colors that we most often get to see around here. You can check out more of his amazing work and connect with him on his website at joshuaodonnell.com.
Friends, give thanks for your favorite things in life. Until next time, enjoy the music.