I think it may be human nature to take beauty for granted after we’ve seen it a few times. At least that’s the case for me. Take sunsets for example. These live-painted masterpieces in the sky can become just another barely noticed moment in a busy day. But when I make an effort to pause and watch—even for a few seconds—while the divine light show is going on I inevitably feel a twinge of wonder. If I’m on vacation or have some down time I’ll usually make an effort to catch the full effect of purple streaks turning pink and orange glows turning brilliant yellow. I’ve been known to insist on staying for the 9 pm sunset on Lake Michigan after a full day at the beach, knowing that we won’t get home to Indy until close to 2 am.
While on vacation with the family in Gloucester, MA this summer I discovered that sunsets over the water there are as spectacular as any I’ve seen. Gloucester is just north of Boston and spans Cape Ann with the west part of the town facing Ipswich Bay. You can see a sliver of land on the other side of the bay–parts of Mass, New Hampshire and Maine. We the watched sun go down nightly from the huge granite rocks outside the lovely cottage our friends so generously gifted us for the week. As the changing light played on the water, a dozen floating buoys that marked lobster traps revealed themselves with bobbing shadows and the dark outlines of sea birds punctuated the pastels in the sky. One of those nights that I stayed to witness the show and capture photos, my eyes rested for a while on some intricate cloud formations in the middle of the colors. Wisps and curls and dots of clouds. And a thought struck me. Not just about God’s creativity—I’m always grasping for a handle on that while observing his natural wonders—but about his faithfulness. He is so faithful to put his supreme creativity on display every day, faithful to not only attend to, but finesse the details. It’s another of his daily love letters to the world, an invitation to contemplate beauty and the power behind it.
Sitting there immersed in the moment, I thought, If God is so faithful to share his love through creative beauty countless times a day– and right now in this stunning sunset– and to thrill me with the small details, how can I not be faithful to carry out the creative things that he’s called me to do?
How can I let fear or laziness or lack of focus keep me from joining in his creative plan for me, when he is out here night after night designing and executing majestic and surprise-filled sunsets?
After the colors faded I went inside the house warmed with renewed motivation.
If God is this generously faithful in this daily benevolent creativity—and a sunset is only an iota of that—how can I not be faithful in the creative things he has called me to collaborate with him in?
Dallas Willard says that our creativity doesn’t end with this life, “The glory of our future is continued creativity in the life of God.” I don’t want to any longer miss opportunities to live in that now.
I think this sunset moment may be something I’ll come back to for the rest of my life. It’s certainly something I need to remind myself of often. And it started with pausing to observe the beauty playing out in an regular day.
Photos by J. Scott McElroy.