Beauty in the Sky

This was only the second blog story I ever posted when Away In Autumn started as a travel blog and I was visiting Iceland and Scotland. In autumn of course. What an amazing adventure. I keep coming back to this post lately, and deeply missing those green luminous Northern Lights and this majestic experience of being with an excited and inspired group of people in Iceland on a late-night excursion, off in the darkness on the edge of the world, searching the mystery of the skies, and my heart being uprooted from its home in my chest. I was awakened that night to beauty off the grid like never before. Hope you enjoy this read and the memory I take with me.


Day 3 in Iceland… and I am enjoying myself and the weather immensely. Apparently it comes as a huge gift that I love the cold, windy, rainy weather. Walking the streets here, the air is clear and fresh, and I feel more alive with every breath. I know I have to leave on Sunday, but I’m falling fast in love with this place. There is something so enjoyable about the people, unique and magical about the landscape, fascinating about the culture and history. You feel like anything could happen. Or, like a friend said to me before I came to Iceland, “you’ll feel like you’re on the edge of the world.” I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve begun some day trips, which head outside of Reykjavic, taking us along miles and miles of lava fields and sea shore. Our tour guide shared that wherever you go in Iceland, you’re almost always near the sea. For me the sea is my compass-north, always drawing me closer. First it was my longing to head to the East Coast for school, then my longing to be in Ireland for 3 months, and now my love of the sea in Iceland. The phrase “deep cries out to deep” has greatly affected me for months before coming to Iceland, and when I look at the ocean here, these words fit perfectly.

Last night, I went on an adventure of a lifetime: a Northern Lights excursion. I will never forget the magic of the evening. The tour started at 9 pm, and the buses returned us home at 1:30 in the morning. In that time, we chased the Northern Lights, not knowing where or when they would show up. We left with cloudy skies, and the forecast calling for not much northern light activity. By the time we were 40 minutes outside of Reykjavic, night surrounded our bus entirely, and we looked out rainy windows at black lava fields that went on forever into thick darkness. Soon, the skies started to clear and the stars came out, more and more, until it was a clear starry night. If you’ve ever been out in the middle of nowhere-countryside, with all the city lights gone, in a darkness so pitch-black you are tripping over your own feet, then you’ll also know how bright the stars were when the skies completely cleared. The milky way, the small and big dippers, the bright, white handfuls of brightness everywhere, were magnificent–I was dizzy with joy. And oh, so cold.

And then after photographing the stars, and being so damply chilled that many of us were warming up on buses, someone spotted the first small ribbon of light in the sky. Hundreds of people from many different buses, all stumbled out as far as we could walk, onto tricky landscape of uneven rock and deep mossy patches, and stood shoulder to shoulder in the swallowing darkness, intently watching the sky. Soon, there were more ribbons of light, and then more, until the entire sky was lit with moving rays, forming a curtain of electromagnetic activity and light so beautiful you wanted to climb up inside it and behold the skies and heavens beyond. I was filled with awe and gratitude, and while I did not know any of the people standing in the crowd with me, I will never forget sharing that experience with them.

Call it a date with God, call it a date with the universe–whatever your faith, your language of choosing, your beliefs, or how you perceive the world, I can only say that there is a beauty and grace out there beyond our wildest human understanding, and I hope that someday again I might be lucky enough to witness even a fraction of it.



Starry night
Gorgeous ribbons of light and stars together.
Big Dipper
Beauty of the universe.


Deep cries out to deep.


From a seaside restaurant where we stopped for hot chocolate by candelight.
Beautiful light from a nearby village mixing together with Northern Lights.

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Some stories from home, some from travel adventures (usually in autumn), some happening in community, friendship and faith, and some about the vulnerable, lonely and excluded. To honour them because they have changed me for the better and taught me how to love more fully and be loved more fully. Some days are great, some good, some not always good. But overall, it's been a beautiful journey so far, and I feel more like myself every day. -- Debra, writer / photographer / blogger / traveller

3 thoughts on “Beauty in the Sky

  1. Sorry everyone, my comment field was temporarily not working, but is fixed again now. Thanks for the feedback to let me know!

  2. What an adventure–love the idea of a “date with God”– seeing the beauty in his presence. It does look like something you’d always remember. Beautiful Debra. hugs!

    1. Thanks so much Rhonda, hugs to you too! Every time I think about that night, I am sure that I must go back. But there are so many other places to see too. The nice thing, is that God will be in every one of them. 🙂

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