There is something still on my bucket list. Well, actually there are several things still on that list. Now I gave up my top wish when the Three Tenors cancelled their performance in the Houston Astrodome several years ago, but I haven’t given up attempting to see the Aurora Borealis. As incredible as the Hill Country of Texas is, there is about a zero percent chance of ever seeing the Northern Lights in our spectacular night skies of South Texas. After six attempts on Alaskan cruises, I’m about to book trip number seven. Maybe this will be the one.
I’ve been close once in putting the checkmark on this line item on my bucket list when the captain of the Amsterdam announced one evening at dinner that conditions were favorable for seeing the Lights late that night. I asked Bill to set the clock for 1:15 a.m., the time for optimum viewing. At the sound of the alarm, we jumped into our sweats the way a fireman jumps into his suit and boots when he gets a call in the middle of the night. We climbed five flights of stairs to the top deck where we found ourselves completely alone. We grabbed more than our share of plaid blankets, wrapped up, lay down on the lounge chairs, and waited. For two shivering hours, we waited for the Lights to dance – no Aurora Borealis. Oh so disappointed, we finally gave up and untangled ourselves from the wool blankets and stopped by the Lido for a cup of hot chocolate. I grumbled a bit while my hands thawed, and we tromped off to our cabin, and said “Good Night” – again.
Oh, but the story continues and the excitement returned—same conditions the next evening. Before turning in for the night, I asked Bill to set the clock again, and he did. But when it alarmed, he turned on the light, showed me a 5X7 picture postcard of the Northern Lights (given to me by our dinner companions), told me I had seen them, and to go back to sleep. Somehow, I don’t think that postcard did them justice. Who can sense the feel or sound of electricity from a postcard? Seeing those Lights and hearing them crackle are still on my “bucket list” – the best reason to go back to Alaska I suppose, not that I need one.
You can tell I was disappointed, but the time was not wasted. While I lay there on the top deck like an Eskimo mummy, searching the heavens and waiting for the Northern Lights to appear, I saw stars, and more stars, the faint sliver of a crescent moon, and meteor trails against a midnight blue curtain of eternity. In the beauty and vastness of night, I had time to wonder where the eagles were nesting, and if the whales were asleep, and to ponder about the first ships that sailed across our world’s vast oceans. I hummed “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and hymns about heaven and worshipped as I acknowledged everything that I could see in the daylight and in the darkness was made by an imaginative and powerful Creator who also loves me. I believed it as a child, and now decades later, that thought still surprises me.
A few years ago when our granddaughter Samantha was younger, I was telling her stories about her great grandmother Nichols who died before Samantha was born. I told her what an adventuresome spirit Granny had and how she always wanted to go to the moon and that if someone had been selling affordable lunar travel tickets, Granny would have been the first in line.
Samantha became very quiet, and then she commented, “Well, since she really wanted to go, maybe God took her by the moon on her way to heaven.” Wow!! What an idea! Perhaps, He did. So I have hopes that perhaps if I miss them while I’m walking around on this planet, He’ll take me to see the Aurora Borealis on my way to heaven, too. And just maybe the Three Tenors will be singing “O Sole Mio” in the background. Until then, I’ll be ever so grateful that amongst a billion-starred sky, an unfathomable ocean, and multi-ton whales and soaring eagles, He sought me.