When winter hits the South Pole, the ‘Polar night’ begins and the sun disappears below the horizon for over four months, plunging the South Pole into twenty four hours of darkness every day.
To live in such prolonged darkness coupled with the bitter cold is unimaginable.
But an explorer named Richard Byrd chose to spend the winter alone at the South Pole during this period. He challenged himself to live in darkness for four and half months buried beneath the snow in a tiny room that he built. The room temperature dipped 50 degrees below zero. Thrice a day, Richard would climb the roof of his room through a trapdoor to shovel off the snow and then get into the darkness to record the temperature.
The world wondered why Richard chose to live in such cold and darkness. He answered the world in his book titled, ‘Alone’. He said he did it because he wanted to get away from everything and do some serious thinking.
In his own words, “It occurred to me that there was an opportunity that I could choose to live the way I want to; obedient not to the necessities of life but to those imposed by the wind and night and cold and to no man’s law but my own.”
Loneliness is painful but being alone by one’s own choice is an enriching experience. When we break away from our busy schedules, even from people and throw away the extra baggage we carry now and then, we discover our untapped energies, our real potential and also our frailties, leading us to a realisation of our purpose in life.
Being alone with God and with ourselves often will launch us into a life of great contentment and joy.
After a month of solitude, Byrd began to realise something “good” happening. He writes in his book that you can live life much more deeply and profoundly when you keep life simple and do not clutter it by clinging to too many material things.
He returned from his expedition a totally changed man. His book ends with these beautiful words, “All this happened four years ago. Civilisation has not altered my ideas. I live more simply now and with more peace.”
In the Bible, we see Elijah, Moses, John the Baptist and many others who took time-off to be alone. We also read how Jesus chose to be alone at regular intervals to draw strength to accomplish the tasks ahead of Him. ”Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). The Prophets would go up the high mountains, places of solitude, to draw inspiration and strength from God.
Let not your day get too cluttered with too much work. Take time to be alone, away from the humdrum of life. God may have an important message, a caution or a blessing for you. God cannot speak to busy people.