What Comes After Sunset?
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
We just saw the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Goodspeed Opera House — a birthday gift with dear friends. Having recently married off two daughters, I delighted in the lively song “Matchmaker, Matchmaker.” I somewhat identified with Tevye’s struggle against change in “Tradition.” But I quietly wept during the singing of “Sunrise, Sunset.”
“Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset.
Swiftly fly the years.
One season following another.
Laden with happiness and tears…”
Even as summer 2014 fades into one of my favorite seasons – autumn– so I know that life’s seasons are advancing rapidly as well.
This Sunday my husband will preach his final sermon at a church he has served as a minister for 23 years. “Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly fly the years…” When I look at the 4 kids in our family picture at the time we arrived here in New England (knowing only one person in all of Connecticut), I can’t help but echo the lyrics “I don’t remember growing older. When did they?”
Only yesterday I was in the ‘sunrise’ of my life — so full of eagerness to embrace everything and maybe even change the world a little bit. I love that my kids and many younger friends are there now – taking on the world by storm and I’m sure making it a better place.
But I’m convinced that the ‘sunset’ of life can be just as engaging, as long as we are open to change and willing to live through the delicate dance of ‘transition.’ (btw, I am not retiring…smile)
Perhaps Tevye and Golde (the parents in “Fiddler”) might have appreciated this prayer for life’s transitions when their world was changing rapidly: “Lord, help me to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give You my discontent. I give You my restlessness. I give You my doubt. I give you my despair. I give You all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtakingly empty space of an open door. Amen.” (from “Common Prayer”)
This weekend our dear friends and church family honored Mike for his years of ministry and it was a precious and grace-filled occasion. Each face represented a story we have lived through and a journey we have walked through with dear people. And yet, at this time, Mike clearly senses a nudging from God to move forward, gracefully and gratefully.
What comes after ‘sunset?’
Honestly, he doesn’t know, but he is confident God is not finished with him yet. Of course, the obvious answer to post-sunset is that the night comes – and with it darkness, but also REST. Perhaps there will be some of both in the days ahead.
The incredible team who creatively orchestrated all the ways to honor my dear husband (their friend and pastor) put up this sign which is really all any of us want to hear at ‘sunset,’ isn’t it? “Well done, Mike, good and faithful servant.”
What comes after ‘sunset?’
Here is truth. What comes after sunset is …. SUNRISE. A new beginning of a new day. It happens every twenty-four hours.
Endings morphing into beginnings.
Are you facing a ‘sunset’ situation? The end of a career? A marriage? A dream? Or a life? Going through such a transition is definitely “laden with happiness and tears…” All seasons are.
But even if you are still in the darkness, don’t forget that God is not in the dark.
He sees. He knows. He has a plan for you for whatever days are ahead. The years are flying swiftly. “Life is as precarious as a fiddler on the roof.” Change is here to stay.
But the sun will rise tomorrow.
Will you and I (and Mike) be willing to face a New Day and do New Things?
“From SUNRISE to SUNSET, let the Lord’s name be praised!” (Psalm 113.3 CEB)
BONUS: Daughter Maggie sent video greetings to her Daddy’s retirement (she was in a show in the midwest and couldn’t attend) – “Unforgettable” is also the father/daughter dance from her wedding… http://bit.ly/unforgettablemaggie
©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell EncouragingWords.net
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