Years ago, a good many years ago in fact, when my life as an adult had only just begun, I was backpacking around Europe, and I began to hear people talk about the land of the mid-night sun. Now, talk of the mid-night sun always took me back to my childhood memories of my Dad reciting the Robert Service poem, the Cremation of Sam McGee. As a kid, this Canadian epic always sparked my imagination, as I dreamed of those, “strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.” for “The Artic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold; The Northern Lights have seen queer sights”… and on and on it goes spinning a which always fills me with glee as I warm my soul by the heat of the cremation of Sam McGee, wondering about all the other strange things done in the mid-night sun. So, when the possibility arose to actually travel up to Narvik in Norway to see the mid-night sun I was off. My rail-pass covered all of Scandinavia, which before I had the opportunity to ride the Scandinavian rails, I had only seen on distorted maps which made it look ever so small in comparison to Canada’s vast land mass. The distortion of maps deceived me into believing that it would be a short trip from Bergen to Narvik. Little did I know that in 1977 it would take me almost three days to travel the more than 1,000 km; a trip which included disembarking over and over again to lend a hand to the conductors as we worked together to clear the tracks of snow.
It was an epic trip on which my once innocent 20-year-old self learned to swig akvavit like a Viking. As the train finally pulled into Narvik, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. It was barely nine o’clock and the sun was already beginning to set. Alas, the sun does indeed shine at midnight in the summer months, but in Norway summer does not include the month of August. Disappointed I resigned myself to abandoning our plans to camp on the hillsides which envelope the port of Narvik. Fortunately, the youth hostel was full, and we were forced to hike up and out of town to find a suitable spot to pitch our tents. As we toasted ourselves by the fire, my mind wandered back to the Cremation of Sam McGee and I wondered, if I’d ever learn what strange things are done beneath the mid-night sun.
It wasn’t long before the magnificence of our solar system displayed an array of stars not seen in lower latitudes. In lieu of seeing one bright daystar shining at mid-night, I counted the blessings of seeing more stars than I could begin to count, twinkling so vividly that it was if I could reach out and touch them. The scientists in our camp began to speculate on how many light-years the twinkling images had travelled in order for us to catch a glimpse of these masses of hydrogen and helium as they burned billions of miles away from our infinitesimally small hillside.
The poets in our camp began to spout, Keats, Wordsworth, and Auden, while only an anonymous nursery rhyme occurred to me: “Star light, star bright, First star I see tonight, I wish I may, I which I Might… when all of a sudden we were all silenced by the intrusion of the Cosmos. The beauty of the star-filled sky faded into the background eclipsed by blazes of colours dancing in the sky, tiptoeing across the hillside and caressing the tree-tops. There erupted a silence which defies description, for if silence could speak, then this silence spoke volumes. Embraced by the Cosmos it was as if we were being drawn into the SOURCE of our being.
“In the beginning there was the WORD; the WORD was in GOD’s presence, and the WORD was GOD. The WORD was present to GOD from the beginning. Through the WORD all things came into being, and apart from the WORD nothing came into being that has come into being. In the WORD was life, and that life was humanity’s light—a Light that shines in the darkness, a Light that the darkness has never overtaken.”
Light, dancing waves of glorious light. Particles really, energized particles from our beloved daystar the sun collide with our Mother the Earth’s upper atmosphere at speeds up to 72 million kilometers per hour. Cocooned by Earth’s magnetic field we are protected from the force of this collision as the particles are redirected toward the North Pole and transformed into a cinematic atmospheric phenomenon which dazzles as it fascinates, dancing this way and that way mesmerizing Earth’s creatures.
Is it any wonder that our ancestors strung together their own ancestors’ names for their ancient gods, Aurora the Roman goddess of the dawn, and Boreas the Greek god of the north wind? Aurora Borealis a name befitting this gift from the Cosmos. Bursting forth in and around us, our eyes widened as we attempted to take in the captivating beauty dancing all around us.
Eventually, in the stupor of our stunned state, we began to hear the sounds of the Cosmos. Crackling, hissing, rising to a crescendo which I can only describe as a gentle clapping, as if the Cosmos was applauding its very own dance.
If I close my eyes the colours of the Cosmic dance playfully grace the stage of my imagination. I can see the beginning without end. The LIGHT which shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overshadow.
Standing on that long-ago hillside, I felt like I could fly with the very particles which danced across my view. Standing here in our sanctuary, I long for the nearness of the Cosmos, so that I might send particles of wonder to dance through this mechanism which brings us together. Alas, this technology can’t quite match the splendour of the Aurora Borealis. So, I look back upon that young woman who longed to see the midnight sun and had to settle for dancing with the stuff of stars. She was not disappointed. Yes, the sun, the moon, the stars, our planet, and the particles of stars which collide with Earth to dance so beautifully are all amazing. But so is the candlelight which flickers providing light. So too is the reality that you and I can collide across technology. For you and I, we too are made of star stuff. Each one of us is a magnificent part of the Cosmos and just as the SOURCE of the Cosmos is revealed in the wonders of the sun, the stars, the Earth and all her creatures, so too is the SOURCE of our BEING revealed in, with, through and beyond you.
We are ONE, you and I. ONE with the ONE who is the SOURCE of ALL. ONE with one another. ONE with the LOVE which permeates the Cosmos. My eyes and ears were opened wide by the dance of the Cosmos. My our eyes and ears be opened wide by the dance of this brilliant life which comes to us as pure gift. Life the original GRACE. “In the beginning was the WORD; the WORD was in GOD’s presence, and the WORD was GOD.” That same WORD dances in, with, through, and beyond the Cosmos. That same WORD lives, moves, and has BEING in, with, through, and beyond you and I, for we are wonderfully made of the stuff of the Cosmos, by the ONE which is the LOVE which calls us into being, dwells among us, and causes us to be LOVE.
May the LIGHT which shines, which flickers, which dances, caress you and cajole you into joining in the dance, so that you too may hear crackling and hissing, rising to a crescendo of gentle clapping, as the COSMIC ONE applauds you as you dance, as you LOVE, as you live in this GRACE-filled gift which is life. Let it be so, you wonderful cosmic particles of the ONE in whom we all live and move and have our being. Let it be so, now, and always. Thanks be to all that is HOLY.