by Christine Sine
I love photographing sunsets and probably have hundreds of photos of sunsets taken all over the world. I am not alone. Sunsets are one of the most commonly photographed things in the world.
A sunset is not primarily a photo opportunity however, it is an invitation to join God in the closing of one day and experience hope at the beginning of the next, a chance to sing and dance and shout for joy at the changing beauty of each moment. They are often spectacular, awe-inspiring, and fill us with hope. No two are the same, and in fact, no 2 minutes of a sunset are the same. They are constantly changing and filling us with awe and I sometimes wonder if when we snap a photo and then walk away we miss the incredible impact of what a sunset is all about.
I thank God for the gift of sunsets, this sometimes wondrous flash of beauty displayed at the end of the day. I thank God too for the sunsets I cannot see, those that are hidden behind clouds and sheets of rain. They too are gifts of light when the world is falling into darkness, gifts to be delighted in as they remind us that the world is entering into rest and it is time to do the same. Unfortunately we rarely hang around long enough to see the sun fully set and allow the darkness of the night to envelope us with this quiet invitation.
We often forget that in the creation story the day ends at sunset and a new day dawns with us going to sleep and God beginning the work of a new day.
Have you ever wondered about what God did in the darkness of those first hours of a new day? For us, a good night’s sleep is so important, in fact, its benefits are amazing. Sleep boost’s our immune system, helps prevent weight gain, strengthens our hearts, improves our mood, improves our memories. It is often during sleep that new ideas germinate and take root. I wonder was this the time when God imagined the creative acts of the coming day? I know God is not like us. Our Creator does not need sleep like we do but I wonder does God need time to dream, imagine, and plan new acts of creation?
Thinking about this over the last few days was a wonderful, awe-inspiring practice for me. It’s autumn here and over this last week it seems that the leaves have changed in an amazing flash of brilliant colour, the waning of the year, that seems to be mirrored in the brilliance of the sunsets. Here too there is hope. Yes, over the next couple of months those brilliant leaves will give way to a pile of dead foliage, but even in that there is the promise of newness. Autumn scatters seeds in the wind, seeds that look for a new place to lodge and grow, and the humus formed by those dying leaves is one of the best ways to both protect and nourish those new seeds.
I love the way that both the end of the day and the waning of the year call us to a time of rest and stillness, a time when we are invited to pause and listen to the whisper of God’s voice in the darkness. Perhaps that is what God is calling all of us to do today and in the days ahead. Spectacular sunsets and brilliant autumn leaves remind us that we need to rest and refresh ourselves so that we enter the new day fully charged, with the energy to do what God calls us to.
In this last photo I feel as though God is painting in the sky, which seems such an important image to take with me into the night. However, you may prefer one of the other sunset images.
Which of the photos above catches your attention? Focus on it for a couple of minutes. Take a few deep breaths in and out and allow you mind and your body to relax. Put to rest the activities of your day. Put to rest the stress and anxieties of the day. Put to rest all that holds you bound. Commit the coming day into God’s hands and allow yourself to relax into the night and the quiet presence of the God who calls you into rest.
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