A New Rhythm2
Having just returned in July from living in Alaska for three years, these past months have been filled with many “first-time-post-Alaska” experiences. This past Sunday was my First Daylight Saving Time Since Alaska, and I can tell you it was quite different now that I have a fresh perspective on just how dark it is – or isn’t – here in Greenwood.
My first fall in Fairbanks, I found myself in a place where the seasons were coming and going in ways I wasn’t used to from my time growing up outside Chicago and living in Greenwood. To make matters worse, that first November there came along a great and terrible beast – Daylight Saving Time. We fell back and all of a sudden it was DARK when I got to my office and DARK when I left my office. Even more terrifying, it was around that time that I discovered it was getting darker very, very fast. We were losing almost seven minutes of daylight a day. To make sense of it all I began keeping close tabs on the comings and goings of our sun, that most fabulous of stars, the means by which God has chosen to bless us with light and warmth.
I’m still in the habit of tracking the sun, so for those of you who aren’t glued to your sunrise and sunset websites like I am here are a few fun facts:
Today the sun rises in Greenwood at 6:21am and sets at 5:07pm, blessing us with almost eleven hours of sunlight. In Fairbanks, AK the sun rises at 8:45am and sets at 4:22pm. They will enjoy just over seven and a half hours of sunlight today and will continue losing almost seven minutes of sunlight every day until the shortest day of the year, when the sun will rise at 10:58am and set less than four hours later at 2:39pm.
If that seems like not nearly enough sunlight for your tastes, I wholeheartedly agree. It was not enough for mine; yet Fairbanks is still over 200 miles below the Arctic Circle. Above the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets on the longest day of the year and never rises at all on the shortest day. That means at least 24 straight hours without sunlight every December.
But there’s more darkness out there. Up in the farthest, farthest north above the Arctic Circle is Barrow, Alaska, the United States’ northernmost city. In Barrow, the sun will dip below the horizon on November 18th and stay there, below the horizon, until January 24th of next year.
That’s over two months without direct sunlight.
These are the things I think about now that I’ve weathered a few winters in Alaska. This fall, I am reflecting on darkness and light and on how we become accustomed to and eventually take for granted the rhythm of the seasons in the place where we live. At first in Alaska, I struggled to remember in the darkness of winter that Jesus Christ is the true light of the world, and that His presence is constant. It’s hard to be joyful in the dark. But Jesus is light and truth and warmth no matter the weather, and His saving grace is good news no matter where we are in the world or in our lives. That first winter I came to know the provision of Jesus Christ in a new way, and that first spring I appreciated and celebrated the return of the sun and its gift of physical light and warmth in a new way too.
Now that I’m back in Greenwood and my First Daylight Saving Time since Alaska has come and gone, things feel a bit off. I’m accustomed to a different place, and I’ve grown used to depending on Christ in a different way. Truthfully, it seems almost too warm and too light outside.
Almost, but not quite.
I’m working on a new rhythm.