What Comes After Sunset?

 What Comes After Sunset?

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell


“Life is as precarious as a fiddler on the roof…” (photo Diane Sobolewski)

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.


Our family about the time we moved to Connecticut to serve at First Church in Wethersfield

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)


We like our new titles – GrandDad and Granny! (photo David Gilbert)


So many Stories…. (photo David Gilbert)

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.”mikewelldonesign

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

 NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

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10 Responses to What Comes After Sunset?

  1. Gail Cooper says:

    Beautifully said! So enjoyed your article this morning!

  2. Carole Lewis says:

    Thank you, Cindy. Love you and can’t wait to see what God has in store for you and Mike. Maggie’s song was so beautiful.

  3. Thanks Gail! As another Broadway song says, “The sun will come up, tomorrow. Betcha bottom dollar that tomorrow…..there’ll be sun….” A good reminder to us all, eh? See you in October. Twice.

  4. Thanks Carole for your comments! YOU are one of my great role models for continuing to move forward with energy and endurance! Cannot wait to read more in “Resolved!” Praying for you and this new season of your own life as you discover more and more of God’s perfect provision. Love you and see you in January…

  5. maggierowe says:

    Thanks for posting these poignant thoughts, Cindy. I thought of two friends in particular when I read it – one whose ex-husband just remarried, the other with terminal cancer and perhaps only weeks to live. Both sunset situations…but both friends know Christ and are promised sunrise as well. Excited for you and Mike in this new season of life.

  6. Thanks Maggie for your thoughtful reflections. Because you are my bff I think I know which friends you are talking about and I just sent up a little prayer for both of them. It is true that are not all promised a literal sunrise each new day, but for those who go “Home” in the night, I suspect the Sunrise in Heaven is pretty spectacular, eh?

  7. Marilyn bullock says:

    Cindy, thanks for your encouraging words. Yes sunrise comes after sunset. I am doing so much better than when I last saw you. Am in Tennessee with a friend and her DAd reading Spa for the soul with her. Enjoying the southern hospitality of her friends too. Praying for you and your family In this time of transition. May the night be full of rest and then another sunrise.

  8. Marilyn, great to hear that you are doing well and reading another of my books! Woo Hoo! Best part is that you are in Tennessee, one of my favorite places. Keep moving forward – God has great things in store for us all!

  9. Cindy Arpin says:

    As usual, God presented to me the words I needed to hear- and you as His eloquent story teller! I start a new career as a college prof next week. Hoping to share my several years of nursing experience with those just starting their adventure in this exciting profession. Looking forward to seeing how He uses us all in the next chapter (sunrise).

  10. Cindy, so grateful these words encouraged you today. Congrats on your new position as a College Professor – woo hoo! I am praying for you and know it will be mutual beneficial for you and your nursing students. Looking forward to teaming with you in ministry again in October…

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