Back Side of the Sunset

I took a walk on the beach in the winter cool in Florida. I left around 5:30 pm and headed North on Atlantic Beach into Hanna State Park. The temperature was about 59 degrees Fahrenheit at the beginning of the walk.

I prayed the Rosary in a wonderful way. I prayed all five Mysteries for each decade meditating on the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries. I didn’t finish until I reached my deserted and sacred place. It took an hour. It was a lonely twilight.

And then I contemplated.

My column this week might not have a picture. As a seafarer and water lover I have seen thousands of sunsets. I have also missed tens of thousands of sunsets. Since I am 50 years old, there have been over 18,250 sunrises and sunsets since I was born. Granted, there have been a number of cloudy days. But it is important to note that most of them were simply missed. How about you? Have you been a steward of your sunrises and sunsets?

Tonight, I only glanced at the sun setting through the trees momentarily, because I wanted to be a steward of the “sun that doesn’t set in the east.” Please bear with me.

In Key West, people gather every night of the year to cheer the glorious sunset. Even when the sun hides and plays coy behind the clouds, it can be a delightful and spiritually nurturing spectacle.

But have you ever tried to look in the opposite direction of the glorious sunset and see the life still going on? Have you ever contemplated the life of the world slowing down and searching for shelter in the darkness? I love shadows and night. I love the stars that first appear. I love how the moon sometimes seems proud as she grows in glorious light while the sun seems to fade away. Yes, yes, it is true. The sun isn’t really setting. We simply are turning toward the east.

Are we turning away from just the sun?

As I saw less and less on the back side of the sunset, I saw more of the back side of my heart and soul. I walked home with the light within me. I realized that the moon is nothing in comparison to the sun, especially if the sun refused to share her light. And we all know that the sun is incapable of holding back her infinite warmth and light. And I realized how insignificant I am…without the light of Love Eternal…God.

The little fishing boat disappeared from my eyes in the darkness…except for his light.
The ocean’s blue traded her aqua color for black and foamy white. Even I gave up my colorful self. If I stayed much longer, I would give up my heat as well, something you cannot see. On my outward journey, the variety of seagulls, terns and sandpipers were astonishing. About 14 terns were wearing orange beaks that highlighted their black and white markings. On my return, I could barely see the dark silhouettes of those beaks.

The back side of the sun will eventually turn into the sunrise. Be patient. “Pause awhile, pause awhile in the humdrum of the city or behind a cloister wall. In the early morning and when shadows start to fall, hear Creation bending to the Maker of it all. And all we have to do is pause awhile.” Enjoy the shadows falling to the Maker of it all. The Morning Star is coming!

Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron

*Pause Awhile in the italics is from my memory of a song I have sung over and over. We sang it on Wednesday evenings at the Merchant Marine Academy at the Folk Mass. I thank whoever wrote this love song to our Creator.

2 thoughts on “Back Side of the Sunset

  1. Hello Father Ron,
    I saw your post referencing the song “Pause Awhile”. My wife and I occasionally play duets in church and I would really like to do this song. I sang it as a child in prep school. Do you know where I can get the lyrics and chords for this music? Thanks so much, Father, I really appreciate it.
    God Bless
    Massey Hemenway
    Nashville, TN

  2. Massey,
    Pause awhile was done by a group called the Damens who publish through GIA Publications in Chicago, IL. I think the song is out of print, but you can arrange with them to get copies for .25 a copy. I don’t know if it includes this song, but you might want to give them a try. I have included their contact information below. I hope I have been helpful to you.
    Greg Owen
    GIA Publications,Inc. | 7404 South Mason Avenue | Chicago, IL 60638
    (800) GIA-1358(442-1358) | (708) 496-3800 | Fax: (708) 496-3828
    Hours of Operation: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. CST M-F

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