I was recently sitting with Lisa watching the sunset. I reflected on the experience of dusk, that in between time before darkness and after light. I noticed that everything was ideal. I thought about what life would be like if we lived in permanent dusk. I couldn’t help but also think about how dusk emulates dawn, again that in between time, but in that case the time after darkness and before light.
What I thought was interesting about these two in between times was how little effort life required. The color was about perfect – enough light to recognize objects, people, and your surroundings, but not too much that you had to work hard to mask the flaws. A person’s skin looks almost flawless in this light. Dents and scratches in objects disappear. Your surroundings appear comfortable and inviting. Sound is sweet too. You never play music too loud at dawn or dusk; however, you listen to it simply to augment the experience, not to over shadow it. Birds love to chirp during these times. You realize the animal world comes alive. Florida and its infamous mosquitoes love these times as do their predator, the dragonfly. Temperature is about perfect. The heat of the sun is present but not over powering while the chill of night coats the moment with just enough of a cool breeze to take the edge off.
The in between time invites reflection. Dawn evokes imagination. A new day, what will it bring? My troubles seem to fade as I imagine what could be. The day begins, life awakens, a fresh start for all. Sometimes I may actually feel that it’s all actually possible. My dreams become real again. Dusk evokes memories. A day gone by, how did it measure up? What victories did I experience? Would I have said anything differently? Any regrets? Did I eat or drink too much? Anything left undone? What failures haunt me? I realize that my body is no longer refreshed but actually tired, reminding me of my vulnerable self. The bed and pillow invites me to turn off.
I can’t help but say that several emotions remain constant as I intentionally take time to reflect on dawn and dusk. Gratitude seems to take a pole position here. Gratitude for the moment, gratitude for my breath, my companions, the fact that I feel, gratitude for the little things I’m invited to notice because the noise of my day is subdued. However, gratitude doesn’t sit alone. Fear sits next to gratitude, sometimes trying to steal gratitude’s influence. Fear appears jealous. Fear of what could be hovers around dawn, and fear of what should be hovers around dusk. The fear that lingers is often unfounded and is actually an uninvited guest, a joy thief that can threaten the moment; however, gratitude is an amazing antidote, much like the dragonfly and the mosquito. Humility is shy. She wants to be there but is intimidated by noise. I have found that if I’m quiet long enough, humility warms up to gratitude to remind me of what’s important, what’s real and what’s worth remembering. These I celebrate.
Dawn and dusk don’t last very long because they are then interrupted by the reality of day and night, both extreme versions of the former. I believe that’s intentional. I must embrace these moments and see them as substance for the journey of day and the experience of night. I think that life has moments that we would consider our day. These are the times when we work, create, build, care, invest, deliver, decide, laugh and cry. Additionally life also has night. These are the moments of despair, confusion, disappointment, quiet, rest, passivity and loneliness. Therefore, our days and nights are bookended by our dawns and dusks.
I remember, many years ago, Lisa and I owned a small retail business. The business was not doing very well, and we were under tremendous pressure. We had not been able to pay ourselves from the business for quite a while and had fallen behind on our little mortgage and various other expenses. The situation stimulated many calls to our home asking the question when would we be paying our bills. Our response was that we were willing but not able and doing our best. The dance continued. The mirror image was occurring at our store. We would put on a happy face for our customers and employees but then lock ourselves in our little sixteen square foot office and try to manage the bills. Additionally, while we were dealing with this, Lisa’s only sister and best friend was dying of cancer. Did I mention we had three kids in diapers? All this to say that we had some stress. I’m sure many of you can identify with us, even now as you may be experiencing something very similar. I remember one of my dawns during that time. There is always a dawn. I had arisen hoping my reality was just a bad dream only to be quickly reminded it was not. My day was once again filled with dodging more bullets and dealing with questions of which I had no answers. Making my way to the kitchen for some coffee, I ran into my little son who was in his night shirt. He had just woken up, not a care in the world, and simply said with rich sincerity, “hi daddy.” His little world was quite normal, oblivious of the chaos and completely content. God used him to be my dawn that morning. That reminded me immediately that it was all worth it, and that my Father in Heaven wanted me to have the same childlike perspective.
Therefore, as I proceed through another series of dawns, days, dusks and nights, let me be reminded just how much I need to be quiet in order to see and how clear I need to be so that I can hear. God is always speaking, and His presence is ideal. I think I see and hear God most in my dawn and dusk moments. He equips me for my days and nights. Let’s be willing to interrupt our night so we can see our dawn a bit more and interrupt our day so we can experience our dusk too. God has much to share.
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.