March 15, 2023: Polar nights and midnight suns

Reading: Ephesians 5: 8-14

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light — for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Sleeper, awake!
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”



These days, I’m rather addicted to a YouTube channel called, simply, “Svalbard.” Svalbard is an island chain that sits between Norway and the North Pole, and as such, for four months of the year the islands are plunged into complete darkness or polar nights. With two-month transitions between, the islands also experience four months of complete sunlight, the midnight sun. For the woman who hosts the “Svalbard” channel, both extremes have their benefits and challenges, but she admits her preference for polar nights and that the darkness gives permission to slow down and snuggle in for the winter months. While I can’t imagine living on Svalbard myself, I can see the attraction.

I’ve never been comfortable with the way we tend to contrast dark and light as bad or good. In life, as on Svalbard, both have their unique aspects. Living as children of the light, then, seems like more of a balancing act. In most cases, we do not experience the extremes of either polar nights or midnight sun in terms of our emotional, physical, or spiritual wellbeing. We balance dark and light, and live with the challenges and benefits of both, all the while trusting that God is in the depths of darkness and the brilliance of light.

–Lisa Raylene Barnes



God of polar nights and midnights suns, to live in your light is to know that you are present in our darkest of times and in the brilliant moments. Illumine our hearts, enliven our souls, give us strength for the light and the darkness.