By Lindsay McKay
During the winter months, the North is replete with darkness. Darkness invades and it pervades. It is resolute. For weeks on end, the only lights that continually shine are the stars and even the starts are no match for the endless empty space. The moon remains steadfast in the sky; reminding those below that the sun still exists—somewhere beyond the horizon it shines, unmoving. One’s helplessness against the darkness is founded on a forgetting. As winter trudges on, it is difficult to remember that summer will come. Eventually, the Northern Lands will be constantly bathed in a golden light. The Land of the Midnight Sun will shine once again. It is easy to forget that reality when the pitch and the wind work as one to saturate one’s bones with a heaviness that seemingly will not lift. The frigid air overwhelms one’s lungs and freezes one’s heart until it seems that it will beat no longer.
It is common to wonder why one would choose to live in such a deeply dark, cold place. Until one night, the endless black is broken. Great Lights breaks free from somewhere that is unseen. At first, just a whisper of green, the Lights soon begins to grow. They bathe the dark Land in a magical luminescence, which flows between the sparse trees and over the vast, frozen lakes, into the igloos and the teepees, the houseboats and the plywood cabins, into the houses and the apartment buildings. Their radiance is awesome to behold: green, purple, white, blue, red, yellow—the spectrum is endless. The Lights move and dance across the sky, calling, “Here is Life! Here is Life! Northern Lands, come live again!” As the Aurora Borealis streaks across sky, something magical happens: people come out of their homes and answer the intoxicating call of the Lights. The bright colours of night burn bright and true overhead, feedings hearts with Light that had been absent for so long. The Lights rouse something in the people that live beneath them: hope. The people of the Northern Lands breathe in Life once again.
Like Penelope’s tapestry, however, the Lights must unravel and retreat back into the indefinable, cavernous darkness that they came from. It is at once extremely disappointing and indescribably wonderful to watch the Aurora leave again. I can only describe the Northern Lights as a gift from God during the interminable darkness of winter. They are a display of Love that is unique and beautiful. The darkness is a strange incubator of the Northern Lights, for they are a gift that can only come in the midst of extreme darkness. Indeed, as they take flight, they are ultimately a reminder that light only exists in contrast to the darkness. Without the darkness and its great mysteries, we would not be able to fully appreciate the gift of Lights.