On Sunset

It is almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream.

Bern Williams

I have a not-so-secret obsession with sunsets. I know what time the sun is going to set every night where ever I am (thanks to the app on my Apple Watch), and I try to see as many as I can. It’s a nightly ritual that makes me take a break from my daily grind, and enjoy the beauty of nature in all its glory. For a person who has a difficult time relaxing, it’s become an important pause for me to reset not just my mind, but to ease my soul.

My favorite sunsets happen daily on the southernmost tip of an island I call paradise in the Gulf of Mexico. There’s a Grille on the beach where locals and visitors alike congregate each evening to enjoy a cold one, delicious food, and the soothing sounds of musicians playing on a small outdoor stage. Picnic tables and umbrellas abound, but the lucky few get to choose the Adirondack chairs that sit atop a short sea wall protecting the Grille. At high tide or during rough seas, the narrow strip of white powdery sand disappears as the ocean laps the wall. In the middle of this wall, there sits a pole with a bell that is over 100 years old, and every night at sunset, the chosen person(s) ring the bell 15 times in honor of someone or something dear to them. The “Ding dong sunset ringers” are recorded in the local historical society book, and the reason they rang the bell written down as well, for prosperity.

On a cold, blustery, rainy November day, I was one of the only people at the Grille. Ergo, I was the chosen one to ring the bell. I was introduced to the ritual by the local man in charge of the historical society, and he duly noted my name in the book. However, when he explained to me I had to dedicate the ringing to someone, I was stumped. I was told that in days past, the bell was rung for those lost at sea. Many ringers continued the tradition, ringing the bell in memory of a loved one recently or long past. I thought about it for awhile (I had only 5 minutes to figure this out, the sunset waits for no one!). It seemed to me that such a solemn occasion deserved special observance, but instead of memories of loved ones past, my mind kept drifting to those I knew living today. Friends and family challenged by personal health, financial burden, their own personal loss, and those battling their own personal demons. So, instead of ringing the bell for ones not on this earth, I rang the bell for those lost and struggling souls alive today, that they could know resolution and peace, and the strength to fulfill their spiritual journey.

Sunset lasts about 3 minutes, if you watch the edge of the sun touch the horizon, to the time the last of the sun disappears beneath the horizon. In my paradise, many times, the sun melts into the ocean, and on the rare occasion, a green flash may be observed. As the last of the sun sinks below the water, my soul breathes a long sigh of relief and I revel in the colors that stain the sky. All the colors of the rainbow are observed, with the most striking pinks, reds, oranges, and violets. The afterglow is filled with dark green rays on occasion, as the night time sky turns to the darkest violet with tinges of blue, and finally black as the stars come out from hiding. The sky is naked, and the hidden wonders of the universe far beyond our blue skies are revealed. I usually make a wish on the first star, because isn’t that what dreamers do? And, as I gaze at the constellations in the night sky, memories of good and bad times past, as well as my hopes for the next day and beyond, all blend into the ether, and I enjoy only this one moment in time. I am at peace.

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