Every Sunset is as Different as Every Day
I was driving home from a late afternoon meeting today with a dear friend who is struggling to do the right thing for his ailing, failing mother. He tells me with tears in his eyes how she kicked his butt when he was young and taught him what it took to be a man of character.
He is an icon in his community now, well loved and much sought after for his breadth of experience. More than that, people love Paul for his quirky humor and his incredible compassion. Seems he learned the lessons his mother sought to teach, though he would tell you himself what an obstreperous learner he was. He actually uses words like “obstreperous” when you talk to him. And he credits his mother for reining him in.
Now he wants to return the favor, but she’s resisting and he’s wondering how far to push things. She wants to go home from a rehabilitation facility to be with her beloved cat and to relax in her space. He knows she can’t take care of herself. Never mind that she’s almost 90, she’s his mother and, by God, she believes in tough love! They have some things to work out.
Loaded with thoughts of this delicate–and increasingly common–struggle, I couldn’t help but marvel at a beautiful sunset as I drove home. The sky was painted bright hues of golden orange, teal, and royal blue and there was a bright, bushy contrail of white streaking its way to heaven. It was 28 degrees; my car heater was on duty.
I was reminded of another memorable sunset and how similar the colors were; how beautiful the western sky. I was on a boat then with a beloved friend and we were nearly silent as we watched Mother Nature paint her sky. It was nearly 80 degrees; I was in shorts enjoying the sweet evening air, grateful to be on the water where it was cool. I remember feeling profoundly peaceful, marveling at the sky’s palette on a sultry July evening. We weren’t going anywhere and we didn’t talk much. I remember thinking how right the world was just then and how in silence great truths can be revealed. That evening and its sky remain in my memory as a cherished place and a magical time. I thought of it again today as I considered Paul’s dilemma with his mother.
What can sunsets teach us? That different times and places give different meaning to colors and shapes that seem identical. That different seasons offer fresh dimensions. That magic occurs every day if we are willing to see it. And that even if one sunset doesn’t lead to the magical morning we dream of, there are more to come.