Finding Light in the Darkness

What a search for the Northern Lights taught writer Steven Petrow about new beginnings.

David Noton Photography/Alamy

Last winter I decided to head to the “land of fire and ice”—Iceland—ostensibly for a yoga retreat. Nearly every one of my friends asked me some version of this question: “Why don’t you wait until summer, when the midnight sun burns all day and night?” My answer was twofold: I hoped there’d be lessons to be found in the long and dark days; and (mostly) I wanted a chance to see the magic of the aurora borealis.

Experiencing the northern lights remains at the top of many people’s bucket lists, and I felt that longing deeply. The Romans named the northern lights after Aurora, the Goddess of Dawn, and if ever a soul needed a new day, I did. 

 As I revealed to the 14 strangers in our first night “welcome circle”: “I’ve been living in a dark hole for the past two years. Not in an ice cave or anything like that, but the suicide of a friend just before Christmas added to a series of painful losses, including the death of my parents in a three-month window, punctuated by my husband’s exit from our marriage in between Mom’s and Dad’s passing. I’m looking for a new beginning.”


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