The Discipline of Watching a Sunset

We had a rare weekend in southern California complete with cloud cover, intense humidity and rain. I thought I had perhaps moved to another state without realizing it. Rain makes me giddy in this drought-ridden landscape. A little before 8 in the evening I was reading in my backyard because it was far more comfortable than inside my house. I looked up from my Kindle to stretch my neck and take in the glorious clouds. Stratocumulus clouds are almost as rare here as rain.

As I admired the evening sky the sun decided to go out in style. It reflected on each and every cloud. I caught my breath and I’m not really sure how long it took for me to start breathing again. It was glorious. I decided to take advantage of the hammock I had given my husband for Father’s Day. Lying halfway under our fruitless pear tree, which is extravagant in full leaf, I smiled at the sky.

And then something jarring happened. I found myself having to convince myself to stay put. It was as if I needed a lecture on the discipline of watching a sunset. In the past I have sat on the sands of a beach and peacefully watched the sun go down below the horizon; and I have sat on a mountaintop and admired its glowing descent. But somehow it was different in my backyard. Perhaps it is the proximity to my everyday life.

In that moment I decided I want my everyday life to have wonder in it. Watching a particularly spectacular sunset is a gift overflowing with wonder. It is a reminder that the world is beautiful. How desperately I need that reminder. How desperately I need beauty to be given its due recognition in my everyday life.

I relaxed and sunk my body into the hammock and watched the entire show. The back of my house faces eastward. As the clouds turned back into black, gray and white I turned my face to the north to see the clouds that hung onto the last rays of sun. I rolled out of the hammock to grab my phone that was sitting on the patio table in the hope of getting a few photos.

I lifted the camera to take the photos and what I saw in the screen was far less vibrant than what I saw through my eyes. I knew the photos would be a sorry representation of the half hour I had just enjoyed. But I was okay with that. It made the experience a greater treasure. I had been given an invitation to a private viewing and I’m so grateful to the Creator who invited me. I’m so glad I didn’t leave the showing early.

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