DayBreaks for 6/23/20: Celebration of Light
From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:
I believe it was Ben Franklin who coined the saying, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” But what you may not know is why that saying came to be. Partly, at least, it was due to recognition of the fact that the night time is perilous and fraught with danger and the wise will go to bed early rather than be out and about where they are more prone to being attacked and hurt!
In 21st century America, we have artificial light all around us: streetlights, tungsten lights, fluorescent lights, spotlights, stoplights, car lights, flashing lights, strobe lights…it seems that you can’t get away from artificial light. Artificial light is so pervasive that it is hard to find a place to really view the stars. We are blessed to live in the country, and when people come out to our home in the evenings, they usually come out as they prepare to go home and are shocked by how many stars they can see. Those same stars are in the skies over their own home in town, but they just can’t see them because of all the ambient light from artificial sources. Because light is so prevalent today, it is difficult for us to appreciate the way night was perceived in earlier times. For millennia, people illuminated their dwellings and workplaces with fire. It was not until William Murdock invented the gaslight in 1803, that large areas could be lit up after dark. For centuries before that, people literally walked in darkness if they walked at all at night.
It was true in Bible times. People living then fully comprehended the meaning and dangers of the darkness. When a prophet said that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, they were speaking of something vivid, dramatic and hopeful. When they spoke of Christ as the light of the world, they were making the claim that Jesus had the ability to transform their world from one of darkness, danger and despair to one of hope, safety and joy. It helps us to understand the literal darkness of that ancient world to appreciate the words of the Psalmist: The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? (27:1) Or, the words of St. John: The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (1:5)
Barrow, Alaska is the northernmost point on the North American continent. Because of the tilt of the earth on its axis, Barrow is also one of the darkest places in the world. The sun sets in Barrow in November and won’t show up again until sometime in late January. Getting through over two months of perpetual night cannot be easy – and it isn’t, not even to the natives who live there: in this tiny, seemingly innocuous outpost home to 3,000 hardy hunters, whalers, lawyers and public employees one finds one of the highest attempted suicide rates in Alaska. Darkness drives people to do dark things.
Light, however, pushes people to do things that are right and decent partly because they don’t want dark deeds to be revealed. Light also encourages celebration: the good folk of Barrow have parties on the frozen sea/ground when the sun makes its reappearance.
I look forward to the party when the Son makes His reappearance. How about you?
PRAYER: We rejoice to know that the night won’t last forever, and that even on the darkest night, Your vision is unimpaired and You see all clearly and can defend us from the dangers that we cannot even see ourselves! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>