Over the past year or two I’ve made a concerted effort to see more sunsets. There’s a large field behind our neighborhood that lends itself to unobstructed viewing of the huge Oklahoma sky. Most nights you can find me, sometimes my husband, sometimes a kid or two standing at the entrance to our neighborhood, staring at the amazing show taking place right before our eyes. Sometimes the show is so breathtaking, I truly wonder how the people driving by can resist stopping to take it in.
I’m much less familiar with sunrises. Not only do they often happen at inconvenient times, there are miles of homes between me and the eastern horizon. However my reading room, where I try to start each day, offers a pretty great glimpse of them. I’m learning that the morning sky show is often just as beautiful and offers a completely different feeling and elicits different emotions.
When I see the sunset, a day is about to come to an end. Pausing to see the sky helps me to pause and reflect on the day I’ve had. What’s been good? What’s been hard? What have I learned? Where have I failed? For what do I need to repent? There’s always also this overwhelming sense of gratitude. I often feel like God paints a particular sky just for my eyes and my heart, knowing intimately how much they mean to me and how they turn my thoughts to him in such a powerful and profound way. For the most part, the overwhelming feeling I have when I’m watching a sunset is PEACE.
With the sunrise show, I’m often still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. I’m sipping my morning coffee, journaling, reading, and praying that nobody wakes up for another 30 minutes or so. A new day is beginning and I don’t know what it will hold. So the reflection questions sound more like: what do you have for me today, Lord? What do you want me to learn? It’s much easier for me to think on my humanness and smallness and limitations in the morning. I’m not usually weighed down by the burdens of my failures from the day before. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the tasks of the day ahead. But for the most part, the overwhelming feeling I have when I’m watching a sunrise is HOPE.
For me, it’s an amazing way to bookend my days: in HOPE and PEACE.
The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens
and follows its course to the other end.
Nothing can hide from its heat.
The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving insight for living.
Reverence for the Lord is pure,
The laws of the Lord are true;
each one is fair.
They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even honey dripping from the comb.
They are a warning to your servant,
a great reward for those who obey them.
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19 (New Living Translation)