Jul 7 2013

Sun and Clouds


“He covers the sky with clouds…” Psalm 147:8

On the Fourth of July I went down to the Henderson riverfront with my sister and her husband to watch the fireworks.   They had a live band playing ahead of time so we got there early and enjoyed the music as the sun went down behind the Ohio River.  I know some people think all sunsets are spectacular but photographically this one was not anything special.  There was a big red ball in the sky and a few clouds nearby.  Shortly after the sun actually set more clouds came in and it was then that things started getting interesting.  The sky became redder and redder.  Soon it was almost purple.  The colors in the sky and those reflected in the river below ended up putting on a show that rivaled, if not exceeded, the fireworks display that followed.  It was truly awesome!

I have been observing and photographing sunsets long enough to know that to have spectacular ones you usually need clouds to be present.   They are what provide the drama and the variety of colors in the sky.  In the short time I’ve been in Henderson I’ve driven to the riverfront numerous times to watch the sun set.  It’s always a pretty sight but if there are no clouds in the sky I don’t bother getting my camera out.  You’ve got to have the clouds!

Bosque 110149In the eastern part of Kentucky a lot of people are presently sick of seeing clouds.  It’s been raining a lot.  In fact, my sister-in-law in Frankfort posted a cartoon on Facebook this morning that said “To think, it only rained twice this summer.  Once for 45 days and again for 35 days.”  I can understand their disgruntlement.  When you have nothing but clouds day after day it tends to get you down.  If you’re a photographer it can drive you crazy!

It would seem that for good dispositions and great sunset photography you need the right combination of sun and clouds.   This is true for life in general if you substitute good times and bad for sunshine and clouds.  It appears to me that if our lives are always “sunshine” then we tend not to appreciate how blessed we are; we take the sunny days for granted.  If we only have “clouds” then life becomes dull at best and overwhelming at worst.

Bryce sunset crI believe God sees to it that we get what we need.  I’m not implying He causes everything to happen in our lives but I do believe that God is actively involved in them.  He knows that we need a combination of sunshine and clouds.  And sometimes He brings them together in such a manner that we find beauty, purpose or meaning in ways we could never have imagined or experienced in any other way.    It is for that reason I’ve learned to appreciate the clouds in my life.

In the Bible God is at times associated with light.  At other times God is associated with clouds.  If we are wise we will learn to discern His presence in both (literally and figuratively) and to pay extra close attention when He uses both at the same time.


(I took the top image this past Thursday in Henderson.   I captured the second sunset image at Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico and the third one near Bryce Canyon in Utah.)

Sep 22 2009

Sunset, Sunrise

Clingmans Dome sunsetIn Rob’s last entry he praised the virtues of sunrises.  As soon as I read the blog I sent him an e-mail telling him his message was not convincing, that I’d still rather sleep in and settle for sunsets (I’m not a morning person!).  He responded by calling me “one of those lazy folks who can’t appreciate the welcoming embrace of early light.”  The truth hurts!

In my e-mail to him I tried to make a biblical case for the priority of sunsets.  Interestingly enough, in the biblical account of Creation the day does not begin in the morning but in the evening.  Throughout Genesis 1 we read, “There was evening, and there was morning….”   In a strange sort of way, sunsets come first.

Various answers have been offered for why evening is placed first in the Creation story.  I like the pastoral answer best.  By placing evening first and morning last we are reminded that light always follows darkness.  This is most encouraging for those who are going through periods of “darkness” in their life, for those who cannot presently see what path to follow.  It means there is hope.  In the words of the Psalmist, “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (30:5)   This truth is reiterated in the Book of Revelation where we are told that in heaven “there will be no more night.” (22:5) 

In one of my all-time favorite movies, Fiddler on the Roof, two of the main characters sing a song called “Sunrise, Sunset.”  The chorus to the song goes, “Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days; seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers, blossoming even as we gaze.”  It is a beautiful song but I think the writers got it backwards.  It should be “Sunset, Sunrise.”  This is the hope we have as Christians, a hope confirmed the first Easter morning when Jesus rose from the grave.

Rob is right; sunrises are special.  But so are sunsets…


(I took the sunset picture above at Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—no early wakeup call, alarm clock, or coffee needed.)