The flight took off shortly before sunset. We were travelling west and thus against time. I sat transfixed watching the scenery out of my window as the sun was being suspended in time, and battling for over an hour to complete its path of retreat from the horizon, but never quite doing so.
Beneath us was a shadow of absolute blackness, but ahead was a fiery ball, a breathtaking combination of blood reds and seething oranges, casting lighter shades of pinks and mauves around the outward edges of its sphere.
The sky directly surrounding it was illuminated by the sun's brightness and its hues were graduating from lighter tones of azure to traces of deep navies and midnight blues and finally, an intense, bottomless black. We were flying against the enveloping darkness, and, with our constant movement, keeping it at bay.
Sunset, like sunrise, is a special moment in our day that is heart-stirring; a moment that is replete with such beauty.
As I gazed at it from my plane seat, I wondered why we are so entranced by these occurrences. Of course, we are overtaken by the magnificence of the scenery, and by the unique colour combinations of the dipping and rising sun. But, perhaps on an inner, intuitive level, we perceive and value much more. Each sunset and sunrise metaphorically represents to us something about our own lives that we discover within each of these moments.Each sunset and sunrise metaphorically represents to us something about our own lives that we discover within each of these moments.
Witnessing the mounting sun breaking through the austere darkness creating the dawn of a promising new day, we instinctively sense our own personal surge of hope, our own glimmer of light. In that instant, we, too, are reinvigorated by fresh rays of sunshine illuminating the unwelcoming, darker circumstances of our own lives.
And though the sun setting superficially means the arrival of the dreary darkness of the night—and the bleak, lonely circumstances of our lives—perhaps we innately grasp that even within this encounter, there is a also a prospect for new growth.
While angels are stagnant and unvarying, human beings are called "movers", journeyers, who constantly experience change and progress in their lives, enabling them to transform themselves into the people they are meant to be.
Unlike the constant static moments of the day, both the rising and setting sun represent to us this movement. They are our reminders of a new stage in life and as such represent the potential to unearth a newfound beauty that wasn't present in the fixed sunny midday hours or in the dark, stationary evening hours.
Perhaps we intuitively appreciate the glory of the setting sun, because as humans, we embrace opportunity--even one that may mean a darker circumstances—so that we can find within it, its own light.
How have you taken a sunset in your life and found within it beauty?
Whether I dreamed this, or imagined it, or it was some transcendent experience of the numinous realm, I sensed (didn't see) a being. It said its name was "Neirah," which I had to go and look up at the library.
I couldn't remember the name right the first time and looked up Neilah, which reminded me of my incorrect behavior on Yom Kippur the previous year--definitely may that never happen again--and then found the name: it is an Aramaic name that connotes light, kind of like the Hebrew name Neriah.
This experience, a note sent to the Rebbe's ohel, and fasting with some serious purpose on Tisha b'Av led me out of the difficulties and into a journey toward better circumstances. Doing better on Yom Kippur this year didn't hurt. I'm still on the journey.
This is what I know from the holy books. But perhaps you have another source that you would like to share with us.
Los Angeles, CA, USA
The darkness in life is a frame for its beautiful points—such as this article. The monotony of daily life makes so much more poignant those moments when we encounter true beauty.
Thanks for a touching article.