Living in Alaska affords us a unique experience – darkness in winter. It’s amazing to see how our lives adapt to this extreme change. We have close to 19 hours of sunlight in Anchorage during the height of summer. Now, we have less than six hours of sunshine – or light of any kind, as we approach winter solstice.
While we continue with our lives pretty much as usual – the kids still catch the bus at 8:40AM, albeit in the dark!, there is an undeniable deeper, quieter pull on our bodies. We all feel the need to sleep longer and to be more quiet. There’s less energy for external play (unless it’s skiing) and a greater nesting urge.
It’s 8:52AM as I write this on December 9, 2011. It’s pitch black. I can see nothing outside, except of few distant lights – on the mountain, like in the middle of the night. The stars are still brightly shining, and the Christmas lights are still burning. Inside the house we have the “happy lights on” – and all the other lights. We hope these lights will give our bodies a dose of natural lighting that it’s missing. We have begun to consume large quantities of vitamin D as well.
Yet the truth is, if it weren’t for the school schedule, I’d quite happily sleep into the dark morning like a bear – and let the kids do the same – it just seems natural. As we grow nearer the darkest day of the calendar year in Alaska, I welcome the opportunity to heed its call to slow down and rest more. My body yearns to simply be at home. To get into quiet projects, to sit by the fire and read or play games with the kids, to listen to my family make more music and simply to be still.
Indeed, winter in Alaska calls us to honor the season of winter – and there are many gifts to it. Of course with modern conveniences it’s easier to ignore the call and stay on autopilot. Today I pray that our children, family and community are richly blessed by the beauty of darkness and its true present. Joy runs deeply at home.
“Be still and know I am God.” Psalm 46:10