Peak Perspectives: Chasing the Light

*Note: This audio essay first aired on KRCC (Colorado Springs’ NPR affiliate, 91.5 FM) on September 10, 2020. The link to the program is here; the audio file and the text from the essay are below.

I’ve always seen them, I just didn’t know what to call them; those light beams that shoot up from behind the mountain as the sun sets. 

I looked them up. They’re called crepuscular rays or “God rays.”

Sunbeams obscured by clouds or mountains. The name comes from the Latin “crepusculum,” meaning “twilight.”

The Maori people of New Zealand told stories of a demigod that used these rays as ropes to hold back the sun, to make the days longer. 

Sometimes, here, it looks like those ropes tie our peak right on up to Heaven.

In this peak’s shadow, we struggle like Sisyphus, the Greek king forced to roll a boulder uphill for eternity. Right now that boulder feels heavier for all of us, like we might crumble, like we might crash.

But we won’t. 

We won’t because we’ve got the good light. 

Light that lights the way. 

Not the flip-a-switch kind of lazy light. 

Our light struggles through clouds and mountains, light that works hard. Crepuscular rays have to fight to exist — through up to 40 times as much air as the midday sun. 

That filters out the blue, leaving us with a red and yellow light that nature’s bartender uses to mix up our orangey sunsets.

Arizona can keep those tequila sunrises; I’ll take the champagne sunsets in Colorado.

It’s our universe reminding us to look up, enjoy, be amazed, to see something… crepuscular.

Be good, be well, be a shepherd to a shelter animal. 

Until next week, no matter what, climb on.

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