Have you ever stood facing the Western sky at sunset watching the “Last Light?” Of course you have. This photo taken by landscape artist and my cousin Douglas F. Frank reveals not a lunar landscape, but the “Last Light” over the badlands. Sunset is one of the serendipity moments of the day, and always a surreal surprise. I don’t know about you, but when the sun disappears over the horizon trailing yellows that meld into orange and then to many hues of purple, red and violet, I am in awe. I will often sit on our deck and stare into the de-intensifying, then fading colors, until there is a breathless peace. There is solitude and often silence that accompanies this daily farewell that can bring peace or pain in the darkness that encroaches, leaving faith or fear with it. Yet in the certain cycle of nature, we can see our God reminding us of time. It announces a period of hopeful rest, when the noise of the day may come to an end, wrapped in the disappearing light. It is a pause created by God for us to leave the labors of the day to replenish for tomorrow.
Then you can wait all night, or sleep returning to gaze at the Eastern sky and the morning sunrise, and its first light. Isaiah the Prophet reminded Israel of God’s faithful pillar of light at night and pillar of cloud by day in the Exodus, to the Promised Land. “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. “Lift up your eyes and look about you” (Isaiah 60:1-3a). It is a resplendent hour, when the world is just beginning to stir and we can stand alone to be replenished by the light, as the birds herald the coming day. The Prophet Habakkuk 3:4 reminds us of God’s glory, “His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden.”
I have the privilege of riding my bike to the Lake Michigan bluff to watch the morning light faithfully lift the horizon in the east. My favorite place is at the Concordia University Campus. Here there is a carved stone bench inscribed with the words of Psalm 97:1 saying, “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.” The new day brings energy and freshness; this morning as I write frost. A fellow sojourner to the Lake, Kathy Poull, found this image one summer dawn.
The sunrise finds me in devotional prayer as I seek the glory of the Lord. I come in gratitude for His faithfulness and the new day for guidance. It is at the foot of the cross that I find my strength for the new day.
There is a poem called The Dash written by Linda Ellis that is read at the end of many things. It poses the question of the use of time between birth or dawn and death, or the sunset. That is always a good question. I say start with prayer and end with prayer, “Pray continuously,” seek the Lord always. In between follow His will.