Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sunsets & Sunrises

As an old year draws to a close and a new year will be dawning soon, I am reminded of some words I wrote several years ago.

In a world filled with blessings from God, isn’t the sunrise among the most special? Think about it, the sunrise represents a new beginning, an opportunity to close the chapter that has preceded and enter into a new day filled with promise and potential.

Everyone takes a misstep here and there. Some of us take more missteps than we do correct ones. Everyone endures regrettable experiences, because of one’s own misdeeds or foolish choices, because they are in the path of calamity wrought by others, or because they are simply unfortunate. (It is a reality of a fallen world that innocent people do sometimes suffer.)

Yet, God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, blesses us with the sunrise. Every twenty-four hours, a new day dawns, and the regrets, unfortunate circumstances, and ills of yesterday, while not forgotten, are history. Rather, they can be made history if our perspective is what it should be.

Sometimes, many times, we are our own worst enemy. We allow our regrets, misfortunes, and mistakes to keep us down. We allow yesterday to seep into today and cloud our view of tomorrow. Some of us, many of us forget the sunrise (if we even take the time to view it!), and we allow the darkness to linger.

Now, the ramifications of yesterday do affect today, whatever our perspective. History still speaks, whether it be a day ago or a millennium. The path we have trod has led us to this moment and will influence the steps we take ahead. But, the sunrise is God’s subtle yet profound way of telling us that the opportunity for change, renewal, and a new beginning is real. While the past will always be a part of us we do not have to be captive to it. Let us master yesterday by living anew today.

Just as the sunrise is a wonderful blessing from God, so, too, is the sunset. With the sunrise, we are greeted with a new day filled with possibility and potential. At the sunset, the accomplishments of a day passed can be considered and evaluated. However, introspection is a valuable tool that many forget or refuse to employ.

I can remember a hike to Marble Falls, a scenic waterfall not many miles from Camp Blue Haven. My good friend, Chetlen Crossnoe, and I had hiked to Marble Falls and spent the afternoon scaling the rocks and enjoying the spectacular sights and were headed back to camp. We became distracted by this and that and found ourselves a couple of miles past the point where we should have turned onto the trail that led to camp. Instead of retracing our steps and returning to the trailhead, we decided to cut cross country and use our orienteering skills to find our way back to camp. We found camp, but only after hiking about 15 miles farther and several hours longer than we would have had we followed the proper trail.

Introspection is the opportunity to retrace our steps, to look back down the trail we have taken, and to reevaluate where we are headed. Life is filled with missteps, many of which we could have avoided, and many of which would not have been as disastrous if we had taken the time to stop, think, and get our bearings. Most of our trouble comes when we keep barreling forward without any sense of caution or regret.

The sunset is a blessing. One day is drawing to a close. The long, still night lies before us. There is a moment of respite before a new, busy day dawns. The sunset facilitates, rather, invites introspection. Will we accept the gift as it is given?