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Published in 'The Lutheran' - August 2009
God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night - Genesis 1:5 RSV
I am a circadian person, used to awakening in the wetness of a bright cool morning, and surrendering at night to the unconsciousness of sleep as if sealed in a black envelope. This cycling of life is now strangely disturbed in the luminescence of the quiet horizon of the far northern lake, invader as I am of the peninsula that extends northward into the golden abyss. Witnessing the two-hour setting of the midnight sun on this new July morning, I experience surroundings that are supernatural, strangely a mystery to this creature of celestial habit, encompassed by the hush I associate with darkness, now invaded by light.
My consciousness becomes confused; I listen for the slightest violation of the silence, sense the verdant odor of tundra forming shoreline now quiet in the calm, and watch in vain for a solitary bird as the horizon-filtered light fades into an azure dome interrupted only by water and land. I shift my weight against the rough stone on which I am seated and contemplate the awe-filled certainty that in six months there will be a frigid midnight of blackness, lightened perhaps by the cold reflection of wind-driven snow, the surface of the lake a stone-like desolation in several feet of ice. Only the spring and fall shed light and darkness equally enough in the Artic for the mind to comprehend the cyclicity of night and day.
We humans struggle for the light of comprehension amidst the blackness of despair. The night-fear of childhood becomes an adult reality of apprehension, and we reach for solutions that seemingly defy illumination in spite of the struggle. Perhaps it is Faith and perpetual Resurrection light that brings us to the quiet shore of decision and resolution, similar to the Lenten foreboding of lightless Good Friday fading inexorably into the dawn of Easter brilliance. I contemplate these truisms as I crunch along the gravel shoreline toward my tent, where a few minutes later, in the comfort of a sleeping bag, I cover my face with a large black mask, still a child of light, seeking the peaceful darkness of dreamless slumber.
- Ron Burmeister
Read another Christian article by Ron Burmeister: 'The Atoll'
Visit Ron Burmeister's photo essay about some of the trips that inspired his spiritual writings
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