St. Olaf Sentiments: November 20, 2015

By Avery Ellfeldt ’19

A windy day, 68 degrees, my favorite song is playing and a whole lot more than air is swirling around my head. I’ve been at college for approximately six weeks, each one teaching me something new, introducing me to someone brilliant and molding me a square inch more into the person I will eventually be. Far from the people I love the most, I would never have imagined feeling the way I do in this place, on this hill.

What really struck me a few days ago was the unforeseen difference in quantities of light between my two homes. Sunshine has always been an integral piece to my life seeing how it exists at least 300 days a year in Colorado, filtering through every window, crevice and tree I come across. Sunlight here is a rare blessing: most definitely something to appreciate. A gray day has become everyday, while sunshine and blue sky is a rarity.

In waking up and feeling instantly affected by the lack of blue above me and absence of gold around me, I’ve realized that whether I like it or not I’m going to need to start recognizing sources of light that are less glaring than the 1,368 watts per square meter of energy that we get from the sun. Sunshine at home was a constant reminder of hope as golden beams consistently reminded me of the radiance all around me. Yet here, the gold comes in different, subtler forms. It comes in streams of honey piercing through the most vibrant fall leaves I’ve ever seen, in friends who are so full of light they defy the gray skies and as fragments of bliss which dim the sun in comparison.

The occasional gift of sunlight illuminates our home here in a way that is only possible from a rarity. Something so radiant must remain rare or it loses its promise, its eminence and its power. The glory of this place on a sunny day is incomparable, its brightness affecting everything, changing everyone. The trees are on fire, the limestone shines in its antiquity and my peers glow with the promise of the future and passion for the present.

Yet because these days don’t happen all too often, I’ve begun to see bits of dazzling light in the most unexpected places. Ten minutes spent under a fiery tree changes hearts. 90 seconds in front of a sky set ablaze by sunset changes priorities. What St. Olaf has taught me so far is that light comes in many forms if you let it. The key is that you must crack the window.

In the mornings my roommate begins the day by thrusting open our blinds and flooding our beginnings with light, whether it be golden or gray. Throughout each week a classmate ensures we walk outside as many times as possible, securing fresh air in our lungs and fresh rays on our skin. Every night a friend finds her peace in the brilliant Northfield stars, encountering a source of light that is shockingly beautiful yet quietly audacious. Hours before bed, someone (whether they live there or not) illuminates my room with 4 strands of lights, transforming it into a place that reveals the funkiest, deepest and most peaceful pieces of who we are.

In telling my new gentle, bold and passionate Midwestern friends about my utter shock at the lack of sunshine in our new home, one replied with an extremely promising sentence:

“I guess we’re just going to have to be your new source of light.”

About that, she was absolutely correct.

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