The sunset surprise – more about love

Photo by William Cornett, Greenbelt, MD.

Until recently, I thought sunsets were something to pay attention to when on vacation at the beach. After all, being on the east or west coast of the ocean makes the morning rising and evening falling of the sun more spectacular than anywhere else. Thankfully, I recently shattered that limiting belief.

An unexpected blessing of Covid is being home more and walking our neighborhood. My wife Geraldine and I walk once or twice most days. We are fortunate to have a beautiful lake with a walking path around it less than a fifteen-minute walk away.

When the sun sets here in Greenbelt, there are often a few beautiful moments that can be seen from many places, including our own front yard. Walking around the lake, we discovered a little inlet where the sunset lasts longer and blends with the clouds to create magic for thirty minutes or more.

Quite by accident, we recently learned about what I now call “the second showing.” We timed our arrival at the lookout point on the lake at the precise moment to see the sun quickly drop, leaving in its wake a panoply of colors that seemed to dance. Once the sun had fully dropped, I was filled with gratitude for the beauty we had witnessed and I was ready to leave.

Several neighborhood photographers were there. One, a gentleman who had a tripod and a camera a little more sophisticated than a cell phone, observed how the real beauty would arrive in about fifteen minutes. I didn’t believe him. The sky was getting dark and was filled with clouds. I was sure he was mistaken.

Geraldine, ever optimistic, suggested we wait. I said, “No, let’s get going.” We started the walk home. As we headed up the hill, Geraldine looked behind us and saw this beautiful mix of light red and clouds filling the sky. She urged me to head back with her. In fact, she insisted, and I reluctantly agreed.

We had to run the last 100 yards to the edge of the outlet to catch the magical end of the “second show.” It was spectacular – so many light and dark colors flowing between each other and dancing against the clouds. The photographer was shooting away, with a huge smile on his face.

A few days later, now as believers, Geraldine and I were at the inlet with the photographer. I asked him if the sunsets here were this spectacular all year round. I wondered out loud how I had missed this for so long. He explained that the inlet was the best place to photograph this spectacular phenomenon during the winter.  In summer, he said the best viewing is down the shoreline, about a half-mile away.  He told me it took patience and time to learn the ways of the sunset.

If I learn my lessons from the sunset, I can slow down more often to take the second look – to see what the “second show” reveals. All of us are deeper and more beautiful than is readily obvious. Surely, there is a force for good in each of us that is bigger than the force for evil. And if we can’t see it right now, maybe we can stroll further down the shore in the coming season and try again.

Maybe if we slow down and take that second look, we will be amazed at the beauty we see and the loving connections we will make. Wouldn’t it be a shame to go home without seeing the “second show?”

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Tom AdamsAbout Tom Adams

Tom Adams writes and speaks on topics vital to the intersection of our personal lives with our community and global lives. He has for decades been engaged in and written about nonprofit leadership and transitions, spirituality and spiritual growth, how we each contribute to a more just and equitable world and recovery from addictions and the Twelve Step recovery movement.

14 Comments

  1. Sharon Klees

    This was really lovely, Tom! Truly every person deserves that “second look”. Once we truly search, there is always that kernel of goodness hidden even in what appears to be the darkest and cloudiest heart.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Sharon, I appreciate your reinforcing what is both obvious and so hard to do. Best to you, Greg and family. Tom

      Reply
  2. Phil Kurata

    Very interesting little essay packs a lot to think about.

    Reply
    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Phil! Tom

      Reply
  3. Joy Jones

    Is this Lake Artemesia? What a lovely piece!

    Reply
    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Joy, no this is Greenbelt’s own lake in Buddy Attick park. It is a park named after the Director of Maintenance for Greenbelt decades ago who collaborated with a property owner adjoining the Lake to create an easement and trail around the lake before other owners came and wanted to protect their property. The trail is a testament to the foresight of loving leaders who focused on good for the whole community. And we are all many years later the benefactors! Tom

      Reply
  4. Greg Cantori

    We Love the second show!
    My favorite book of all time is also one of the shortest – One that I would read to our teen daughters before bedtime (they loved bedtime stories as teens as they never got them as younger orphaned children)
    The title is “The Precious Present”

    Reply
    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Greg, I am getting a copy of The Precious Present to share with my grandkids and to enjoy! Tom

      Reply
  5. Shirin McArthur

    Oh, Tom, as a photographer I do love sunsets (and sunrises and pre-sunrises, which I actually catch most often in the summer here in the desert!). My favorite second sunset shot was taken at the Grand Canyon a couple years ago; it’s subtle, but glorious. You can see it on my Instagram account (and explore many others) here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BvB74LDhWIn/

    Reply
    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Shirin for sharing your beautiful photos! And the reminder of our oneness with the creator if all this beauty and invitation to love and appreciate more deeply. Peace, Tom

      Reply
  6. shelley gillon

    For some reason, this post almost brought me to tears. (A cynic would say I tear up easily; but I’m not a cynic and neither are you.) Spending most of my days either at the keyboard or on household chores, this was a well-timed reminder of the great gift of life on this spectacular planet. I plan to time my late afternoons to catch the sunset.
    Love also that you wrote, “Surely, there is a force for good in each of us that is bigger than the force for evil.” I’m not sure about that. But then, I haven’t been taking time out to catch the sunset. Thank you, thank you, Tom.

    Reply
    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Shelley for sharing your doubts and hopes. We are all fear of both. As a spiritual director and friend Rosemary Dougherty would say often: Why do the antelope walk side by side in the jungle? So they can blow the dust from one another’s eyes. Thanks for helping us all blow our dust around! Tom

      Reply
  7. sally mac

    Higher Power leaves us Valentines all the time in Nature. If we’re vigilant and ready , we can enjoy that pause that refreshes (thank you, coco-cola ad copy writers!)
    Sticking around to listen to birds, notice a butterfly, or catch a gorgeous “sun dance” is a practice worth cultivating.

    Reply
    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Sally, yes God/Higher Power is amazingly visible and offering us grace when we slow down and are a little attentive. Peace, Tom

      Reply

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