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  • Writer's picture Bethany McMillon

Sunrises,Sunsets and Shadow




Gray, billowy clouds fill the sky.  Rain and thunderstorms rolled through the city all night and left evidence of their presence this morning with scattered leaves, puddles, and a gray and dreary morning commute.  The temperature wasn’t actually cold, but the lack of sunshine made it seem that way and encourages me to pull my jacket closed as I wait at the red light.  Even the music playing on the radio sings a slow ballad.  When the light turns green, I press the gas pedal, and my wheels splash through the remnants of the storm.  Moments later I turn the corner into the school where I work and weave through the parking lot. My eyes are drawn upward.  Just above the rooftop peak of the school building, the clouds – instead of gray and overcast – glow a golden yellow and orange.  The rays of the sunrise reflect through the dark clouds to form a brilliant display of light and blue skies peek over the horizon promising the sun would light the sky soon after. 

***

Each evening, as the day comes to a close, I sit in basically the same spot on our sectional couch.  Most evenings it’s well past sunset when we all settle in for a few quiet minutes to reset before our bedtime routines begin - my husband reclines on the opposite end of the couch, our son usually occupies the corner and Penny, our furry princess puppy, curls up next to one of us.  However, this evening, I collapse into my spot under a blanket far earlier than usual - just after I returned home from school.  The day had left me tired, emotional, and ready to retreat.  For a moment, I’m quiet and still, but soon the setting sun begins to shine directly through our front door window and, like a spotlight, onto the portion of the couch I occupy.  The brilliant rays illuminate the room, spill bright light onto the wood floor and cast tiny rainbows into the foyer.  Penny stretches and seems to notice the shift in my attention.  She hops down from the couch, saunters over to one of brightest spots and lays down in the light.  A minute later she rolls onto her side to stretch and bask in the light.  Soon, the brilliance of the light through the door subsides, but leaves the room full of indirect and more subtle light. 

***

I slip on my gray walking shoes for the first time in weeks.  The sun shines in a perfect blue sky scattered with wispy white clouds.  A slight breeze highlights the seventy-five-degree temperature. Our puppy Penny barks and whines to go walk with me, but my soul needs the quiet, so I leave her behind today.  I bound down our front steps and roll my shoulders to begin to ease the tension.  As I round the first corner of our neighborhood, my shadow stretches out in front of me.  I can’t help but inwardly giggle at my shadow’s form.  From this angle, my legs are six feet long and my breeze-blown hair looks like a mane.  The sun gently warms my shoulders through my cardigan, and I exhale.  The shadow, the warmth, and the perfectly blue sky all give evidence of the golden light all around me.

***

“I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the Light of life,” Jesus declares in John 8.  Earlier in this same chapter, we see Jesus defending and saving a woman from being stoned for being caught in adultery.  Though we only know a few details, I imagine her life before meeting Jesus that day was filled with darkness.  Perhaps she was alone and tossed into that lifestyle because she had nowhere else to go.  Maybe she’d felt unlovable or worthless for years.  But I firmly believe she deeply understood walking away from darkness and into the Light.  In my mind’s eye, I envision she started to run from that darkness as He said, “Go and sin no more.”  But then, perhaps, the timing was such that she heard Him begin to tussle with the Pharisees.  Possibly she paused as she ran to begin her new life, just long enough to hear Him claim to be the Light, and then she knew, He wasn’t just a light, He was The Light. 


Now, all these centuries later, when life swirls all around, I often find it easy to focus in on the shadows and the storms and the dark or hard situations.  However, the Light of the world promises I don’t have to walk in that darkness.


For as long as I can remember, I’ve reminded my son (and myself) that “we find what we are looking for.” As we follow Jesus and deepen our relationship with Him, we continue to train ourselves to pause and look for the Light – for the evidence of God’s Hand.  I may find it in the laughter of friends, in the words of Scripture shared at just the right time, in the quiet moments of connection with my family or in the golden rays of the actual sun.  But, if I don’t remind myself to look for this Light, I could forget it is there. 


Lord, open my eyes to your Light all around me.  Allow me to see the evidence of Your work in me and in the world around me.  - Amen

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