The dying light of a sunset is an encounter with the aching beauty of the eternal. As I watch the light unfold, my heart also unfolds. Here and longing. Flashes of mystery in the familiarity of light.
Two days ago, in the early winter hour of sunset, I drove into the southwest horizon. The crisp, yet not cold, December air felt light and clean as the sun’s horizontal shine blew the heaviness and rush of daylight away. But as the light went its silent way into the deep blue fading sky, low in my chest, something heavy grew. Sorrow and the fullness of joy were somehow interwoven in a single feeling. The black shadows of trees etching upwards like arms and fingers reaching to the sky, like black spires aching in the light, recalled something eternal, something of death in life and life in death. The aching of my heart quivered under the hope the leafless trees promised. But quickly, the image faded. Too often, beauty is a shadow passing–leaving only a thin hope, a momentary awareness of a true home. As it passed over, this thin hope found its place in my heart, a heart now missing a faraway home.
Deep in South Texas, my grandmother’s childhood home sits at the base of the Texas hill country and is dominated by slow rises, wide views, and red dirt. Everything about the ranch reminds me of her–rugged and beautiful in a Texas kind of way. It’s an old house complete with a 1980’s Ford pickup to drive the property.
On a visit one summer evening, the old pick-up with Texas Country playing on the radio took me to the highest point of the ranch, and I rolled the windows down to watch the sun set into the grey of a coming storm. As the clouds turned from shadows into the surface of a burning sea, the storm and its rushing glory moved towards me. The smell of rain, thick in the vital air, mingled with the vision. Far in the low sky, silent lightning struck. The coolness of the coming rain and the sedation of the setting sun spoke peace, but in the moment, there was also fury…fury in the rising storm and a wild otherness in the red dirt and fiery skies, tremors of holiness within the peace. It was a fleeting sight of a home I did not know, a place I had only sensed.
My longing for that home, only glimpsed, is often full of sorrow. I, and all those whom seek, wait. We wait for the Son in the midst of a sullied world. We wait for him to be born. We wait for him to die.
In the aching hour of the setting sun, we wait.
Yet, in the promise of his advent, our waiting is full of hope. For he said he will come again, and we, with John, say: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”