Sunday, September 11, 2005
Northern lights have a compelling magic about them - some say you can actually hear an especially active display and I have always been susceptible to seeing divine influence in the aurora, a sort of large scale ever-changing painting by God. On a frigid December night 10 years ago, I pulled my car into a side road and stood under the aurora and cried, begging for guidance and direction, desperate to be heard. A week later, on the day after Christmas, my house and all my worldly possessions burned to the ground with my sons and I narrowly escaping with the clothes on our backs. I guess that period of my life perhaps demonstrates better than any how stubborn I can be because the easiest thing would have been to move back in with my ex-wife - instead, I spent the rest of that Alaskan winter in an unheated 16 foot travel trailer in the driveway of my former house, bringing endless loads of rubble to the dump each day after work in the bed of my Ford Ranger.
In my mind, that night spent standing along side the road talking to the northern lights, tears freezing in my beard, will always be linked to the fire a week later and I am reminded of that every time I see the aurora. In God At The Edge, Jewish Rabbi Niles Goldstein does a great job exploring the idea that faith is often found and grows best in times of hardship. I know from experience that years I spent alone and often challenged by life's circumstances have taught me valuable lessons about myself and society that could probably not be learned any other way.
Today is the 11th anniversary of my Mom's death and I miss her very much. I'd like to think she is proud of me and most of the choices I have made and the paths I have chosen along the road to my apex.