I’m Lela Markham, an Alaskan writer. I’m a Christian who lives in Alaska and Jane and I know each other from the Authonomy writer’s site, where my book “The Willow Branch” is available for reading. And you may notice that I brand myself as the Aurorawatcher.
The aurora borealis lights up the nights here in Alaska during the winter, but I have a less travelogue reason for using it.
As a reporter decades ago, I interviewed Dr. Syun-ichi Akasofu for a story on the Alaska Geophysical Institute which is THE research facility on the aurora. It was a pleasant interview touching on topics that were outside of my fields of knowledge, but Professor Akasofu explained them so well that I managed to write an intelligent article. Toward the end of the interview we were talking about the aurora, his special field of research, and I mentioned having heard it.
The phenomenon of hearing the aurora is well-known among Alaskan residents who frequent remote parts of the state, but it is an infrequent occurrence. Dr. Akasofu corrected me, saying the ionosphere cannot transmit sound into the biosphere. I was pretty sure I’d heard it on a least three separate occasions. He suggested, kindly (for he is a very kind gentleman) it was a group hallucination or perhaps it was static from a car radio. I could offer no scientific arguments to bolster my experiences, but I did note that on the second time, I was alone and my dog was actually the one who heard the static-like sound first. Do dogs hallucinate? I didn’t want to burn a source and Dr. Akasofu is such a nice man that we agreed to disagree.
Fast forward maybe 10 years and I meet Dr. Akasofu at some sort of public gathering. After a moment of conversation, he asked (you will have to imagine his Japanese accent) “You are the aurora watcher?” He had been at a remote site monitoring the aurora and had heard the same sort of static sound. Nobody else was around and the equipment wasn’t running at the time, but he heard it. He apologized to me for his “arrogance” in dismissing my experience. I didn’t think he was arrogant, but asked him if he had proven it scientifically. He said he hoped to “someday”, but scientific evidence or not, he was now convinced the aurora makes a sound that is, under the right circumstances, audible in the biosphere.
Christian faith is a lot like that. I’m convinced by evidence that I have experienced of a reality most people have not experienced. Some take that as a lack of evidence and call me crazy, but I know what I experienced and I am confident that if people would just lay aside their presuppositions, they too might see the evidence and come to know Christ.