The Sun Coming and Going…
Sometimes we need music that stimulates the spirit so that we want to dance, sing, or shout with joy together with those we love. Then there are those times we are so overcome by the beauty of the moment that silence is what we need with perhaps no more than the sound of a bird singing, the quiet rush of a babbling brook, or a cricket chirping. It is those moments of monumental beauty in nature that stop us cold so that no words suffice, because we are humbled by a radiance and splendor that leave us speechless but somehow grateful for the gift of living.
As I age, I am becoming more deeply moved by sunrises and sunsets. Getting up to see the sky splashed with amber and gold is such a pleasant reminder of being alive to see another day. The birds are usually singing then too, and the glorious combination of the audio-visual loveliness simply makes one grateful to be here.
I often sit on the upper deck of the house in the evenings to watch the remarkable sunsets over the trees and mountains here in Colorado. The deep, rich colors and textures of the clouds catching the final sunlight of the day remind me of life’s finality too and that we are here for a while to enjoy the beauty of this world before our time is up, and the darkness comes. That cycle of the hours from morning through evening is a powerful prompt to inspire an acknowledgement of this gift of life and its relative brevity. There are times when the sun melting over the mountains is a kind of benediction to the day, and no one can experience such splendor without being profoundly affected, no matter what his spiritual affiliations may be.
I’m going to include here photos I’ve taken of several sunrises and sunsets, along with quotations I’ve collected from my reading.
“How sweet the morning air is! See how that one little cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic flamingo. Now the red rim of the sun pushes itself over the London cloud-bank. It shines on a good many folk, but on none, I dare bet, who are on a stranger errand than you and I. How small we feel with our petty ambitions and strivings in the presence of the great elemental forces of Nature!”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Volume I
“What breaks in daybreak? Is it the night? Is it the sun, cracked in two by the horizon like an egg, spilling out light?”
― Margaret Atwood
“Far over the Great River, and the Brown Lands, leagues upon grey leagues away, the dawn came, red as flame. Loud rang the hunting horns to greet it. The Riders of Rohan sprang suddenly to life. Horn answered horn again. Merry and Pippin heard, clear in the cold air, the neighing of war-horses, and the sudden singing of many men. The sun’s limb was lifted, an arc of fire, above the margin of the world. Then with as great cry the riders charged from the East; the red light gleamed on mail and spear.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
|THIS is the land the sunset washes,|
|These are the banks of the Yellow Sea;|
|Where it rose, or whither it rushes,|
|These are the western mystery!|
|Night after night her purple traffic||
|Strews the landing with opal bales;|
|Merchantmen poise upon horizons,|
|Dip, and vanish with fairy sails.|
“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“One might fancy that day, the London day, was just beginning. Like a woman who had slipped off her print dress and white apron to array herself in blue and pearls, the day changed, put off stuff, took gauze, changed to evening, and with the same sigh of exhilaration that a woman breathes, tumbling petticoats on the floor, it too shed dust, heat, colour; the traffic thinned; motor cars, tinkling, darting, succeeded the lumber of vans; and here and there among the thick foliage of the squares an intense light hung. I resign, the evening seemed to say, as it paled and faded above the battlements and prominences, moulded, pointed, of hotel, flat, and block of shops, I fade, she was beginning. I disappear, but London would have none of it, and rushed her bayonets into the sky, pinioned her, constrained her to partnership in her revelry.”
― Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
“And yet day and night meet fleetingly at twilight and dawn,” he said, lowering his voice again and narrowing his eyes and moving his head a quarter of an inch closer to hers. “And their merging sometimes affords the beholder the most enchanted moments of all the twenty four hours. A sunrise or sunset can be ablaze with brilliance and arouse all the passion, all the yearning, in the soul of the beholder.”
― Mary Balogh, A Summer to Remember
To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
I never kept before.
Ensanguining the skies
How heavily it dies
Into the west away;
Past touch and sight and sound
Not further to be found,
How hopeless underground
Falls the remorseful day.”
― A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad
“It was growing dark on this long southern evening, and suddenly, at the exact point her finger had indicated, the moon lifted a forehead of stunning gold above the horizon, lifted straight out of filigreed, light-intoxicated clouds that lay on the skyline in attendant veils.
Behind us, the sun was setting in a simultaneous congruent withdrawal and the river turned to flame in a quiet duel of gold….The new gold of moon astonishing and ascendant, he depleted gold of sunset extinguishing itself in the long westward slide, it was the old dance of days in the Carolina marshes, the breathtaking death of days before the eyes of children, until the sun vanished, its final signature a ribbon of bullion strung across the tops of water oaks.”
― Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides