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Lessons from a sunset

| Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The other day, I went on a walk to St. Mary’s lake with a few friends. Honestly, it was less of a walk and more of a picture-taking session. After all, it was evening and if you have never seen a sunset at St. Mary’s lake, you are really missing out. And this spring sunset was no exception. I could just make out the purples of the distant redbud trees in the fading light. Overhead, soft lavenders, brilliant salmons and bright golds streaked the sky and painted the lake in a rippling display of colors. When I managed to tear my eyes from the glorious horizon for a moment, I saw a female Mallard leading her five newborn ducklings through the pink and blue waters. For a few minutes, I was completely in the moment, captivated by the heavenly scene.

So often in our lives we cannot seem to find the time to seek out the beauty of the sunsets. So often we seem to not have the willpower or motivation to even notice the beauty that is right in front of our noses. When was the last time you stopped in your tracks to listen to the birds sing? When was the last time you stooped down to sniff the spring flowers? When was the last time you thanked God for a sunny day? When was the last time you ran and stomped in puddles during a light rainfall? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and didn’t see your flaws? When was the last time you told a friend you liked his/her smile? 

If you can’t remember the last time for any of these questions, you are not alone. I, for one, am guilty of complaining more than being joyful for the good all around. And, at this time, it is especially difficult to not get burdened down by all the negatives in our lives. Finals are marching ever closer. The precious time we have left to raise our grades is rapidly dwindling. Perhaps you are still trying to sort out registration catastrophes. You may still be coordinating move-out and wondering when you will possibly have time to pack. Maybe you are just upset the air conditioning hasn’t turned on yet. Looming over everything is the broader social issues including political polarization, racial division, climate change and of course, the pandemic. No conversation about the stress and evils of our lives can be complete without acknowledging the isolation, the lost opportunities and the grief of the deaths of loved ones brought about by COVID. 

In times like these, it is easy to question the goodness of the world. We obsess over the darkness in our lives whether great or small. But we have to move beyond these barriers to see the hope and meaning of this world. Our Christian education demands this of us. We have to hope that good conquers evil. Providence is at work. Yes, bad things will continue to happen. The world is broken and humanity messes up all the time. But as much as it might seem, life is not spiraling out of control. Finals will soon be over. Stress will dissipate. COVID will pass. Take hope that there is a loving force always diligently weaving our lives, guiding us towards our purpose even as we constantly go astray or fall short of our potential. We cannot know how our individual stories will fit into the broader story of humanity, but we must believe that our lives have meaning beyond the pain and anxiety.

So, no matter what your final grades are or how the chaos of our society settles out, remember that you are cherished and that you have a divine purpose that nothing can take away from you. And when everything seems to be going bad, take a few moments to go outside and breathe in creation. There is always still goodness, joy and beauty to be found. That is the promise to be found in every glorious sunset. God will be with us through the night, and we can persevere through the hardships. Take care of yourself, finish strong and stay hopeful.

Mary Capps


May 8

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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