The sunset touched me in ways I didn’t expect. I was returning from a weeklong interfaith writer’s seminar at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. The architects of the program called it “Beyond Walls” and that it was – a wonderful expression of all that challenged us as clergy and people who struggle with what it means to believe in something beyond ourselves.
We had amazing teachers, mentors and guides. It is no insult to those who sat at the head of the table to say that we learned almost as much from each other as we did from them. We held each other up; we confronted each other’s insecurities with the familiarity that comes from beginning with our own. We opened to each other and our own potential.
I saw the sunset on the second leg of my flights from Columbus back home. Does the plane window intensify the colors or is it the altitude and the ability to see a more distant horizon? It wasn’t just the colors though.
It is the crescent moon and the star aligned as if someone took a level and held it vertically. A little to the left, a little to the right – there it is. Let’s hang it. Let’s see who will accept the promise this sunset proclaims. (By the way – for those of you with a theological bent, I have no idea who’s talking and what is inherent in the apostrophe of the word: let’s. If I had to guess it is the “me” of yesterday, today and tomorrow.)
So what were they promising – the moon, the star, the coral, purple departing light? Certainly not that it will be easy – or that you will get the colors you want or think you deserve. I would love to believe that I could pray my way into a predictable future. Fania Oz-Salzberger said to me this morning: “As a writer and a historian, I know that storylines do not develop the way we expect, neither in life nor in fiction. There are too many unforeseen factors, overlooked seeds …” It was true for me; the conclusion far exceeded what I anticipated at the start.
The sunset was just right. No matter how colorful, it announces darkness will come. It is being born right now and you will journey through it. Darkness will come and so will the dawn. Lift yourself up and believe. You can’t predict the end from the beginning. Live with the colors and the alignment – there it is – it’s a wrap.
ps – Fania Oz-Salzberger’s article is a great read about potential, politics and Israel.