Life in the Dark

By Zachary Harmon

Have you heard the news? Christmas is coming! Better question: Who hasn’t heard that Christmas is coming? For the past month or so we’ve been tripping over Christmas lights, wrapped in festive sweaters and bombarded by carols. I’ll be honest, I have mini christmas tree next to me on my desk.

I’m sure you’re all well aware of the true meaning of Christmas. Besides being bombarded with advertisements for “great deals,” that seems to be the second most popular idea bombarding us. “Guys its about Christ’s Birth.” It is, but I’m talking about a different day.

There is a unique day that always comes a couple days before Christmas that seems to be left behind and forgotten. I always remember because it lands on my birthday every four years. It also happens to be this Saturday.

It’s the shortest day of the Year. San Francisco will see a whopping 9 hours, 32 minutes and 54 seconds of Sunlight. Fourteen and a half hours of darkness.

Darkness has such a negative connotation, doesn’t it? “Luke, come to the dark side” said Darth Vader. Small children and teenagers alike are afraid of the dark. God is always associated with the light, and sin and evil is with the dark.

You know me, I’m a ocean nerd. A couple weeks ago I was out on a ship wandering about on deck, about 50 miles off the coast of Mexico. It was a crystal clear night. It was there I remembered why I love being underway.

You may not notice it, but our night skies are heavily polluted by light. Do you ever look up on a clear night and see stars around here? Maybe a few here and there. That’s because You’re 18 miles from the lights of San Francisco. In fact you’re basically standing on a big spotlight. I love playing with long exposure night photography because you can so easily see the pollution.

trees  silhouetted by the night sky,Out at sea you don’t have that problem. I was standing out in the dark, as far away from people and lights as I could get, looking to the stars. It was really my first time looking at the stars since I had gotten a pair of glasses, and wow. I always thought those photos with clouds of stars were just clever photoshop, but no. They’re real. It was amazing.  I fully realize I’m starting to sound like our editor in chief, rambling about the heavens, but this was the thought that hit me.

We had a speaker come in last year who talked about solitude. Solitude is the Idea of being alone. Just you and God. Some people go up to the mountains, Others go out to sea. In reality I don’t have the ability to jump on a ship and motor out whenever I feel like it. A few months a year I can just paddle out on a surfboard, bodyboard or anything that Floats. So much space to be alone and think away from distractions.

“This is all good and nice, but what about a Thursday night during the school year?” This is where the shortest day of the year comes in. Go enjoy the dark (I say that literally, and not metaphorically, that would be horrible). You can be like me, with blackout shades on the windows, and duct tape over even the smallest light in the room. Or just sit out in your back yard.

We have no reason to be afraid of the dark, for the Lord Our God is with us.

So this Saturday, maybe pass on the gazillionth round of “Jinglebell Rock,” and step away from all the noise, lights, people and commercials.

Relax.

Be alone for a minute to reflect on the true meaning of the Christmas. (See, I still slipped it in here).

Stay safe, and have a lovely break.