written by Kelly Vetter, February 2016
Sunrises and sunsets are God’s paintings for us each and every day. He hand paints them everyday, everywhere, full of vibrant colours. I was in Italy for 80 days. There were 80 sunrises and 80 sunsets for me to see there, halfway across the world from home. 160 sunrises and sunsets vividly on display for me; 160 different paintings to see.
I remember one sunny fall morning in chapel Dr. McNeal asked us to share moments of beauty that we had been encountering so far on our journey in Italy. And I remember Jasmine saying that each and everyday the sunrises and sunsets are beautiful. She could now understand why the Italian painters were so enchanted with sunrises and sunsets, they are magnificent. That struck me. I realized that I’ve always found sunrises and sunsets to be beautiful, even amazing, but I tended to take them for granted, because it is something that happens everyday, as I’m waking up and going to sleep. But that was just it. They happen everyday. That is amazing. God paints the sky everyday in the morning under the sun’s first light, and in the evening when the sun is going to rest.
So I resolved to chase the beauty of sunrises and sunsets. To look for those magnificent colours in the morning and in the evening. To sit and watch. To do nothing but watch the display of colours lighting up the sky. I remember Robbie saying that we should watch as many sunrises and sunsets as we could. They are different every time, striking in their own way every time. It never gets old.
I found myself getting up early to watch the sun wake up. In late September I woke up shortly after five in the morning to watch the sun rise on a misty morning from the top of a medieval castle in the Casentino Valley. The whole world seemed as if it were still sleeping, and the sun shown through the gray clouds just for me to see. And then I woke up early in Agrigento, Sicily to watch the sun rise with Jasmine from our hotel window. To watch the magnificent colours paint the sky above the ancient Greek temples and the palm trees in the center of the city. Lavender and rose and yellow. Or that very same day, to watch the sun set from the sandy beach below the Turkish Steps. To see the sun fall lower and lower in the sky, behind the Steps until they were silhouetted. Or to watch the sun set in the late afternoon in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I remember watching it set from the Princes Street Gardens and seeing the beautiful, pastel colours frame the city skyline- the ferris wheel in the park, or the Edinburgh Castle perched up high in the center of the city. No matter where I was it was a spectacular sight to see each time; it never ceased to take my breath away, in the early hours of the morning when the world is still sleeping, or in the wee hours of the evening when everything is winding down.
It’s hard to pick a favorite sunrise or sunset. It’s like trying to pick a favorite painting, you can’t- or at least I can’t, it’s just too hard. But one of my favorites was the sunset on the beach in Paestum while we were having our sunset devotional that Sunday evening. It was November but it was refreshingly warm. We had had a relaxing day in Paestum doing nothing much. As we sat on the cool sand singing songs and reading our favorite Bible verses God painted one of the most beautiful sunsets that I have ever seen. The colours were so brilliant. Bright reds and yellows and oranges and royal blues covered the sky above the Bay of Salerno that evening. The colours were intense and the setting was perfect. I sat there running the cool sand through my fingers and let it sink in between my toes, and I lifted my eyes up to the sky, because I could hardly believe what I was seeing. God creates the most perfect paintings I have ever seen, and they are new every day.
I started this journey of chasing sunsets in Italy. Challenging myself to not let their beauty pass me by. There is a new piece of artwork for me to behold in the sky each and every day. This challenge carried me through my 80-day journey, and it has carried itself through to my journey here at home. I just can’t let this beauty pass me by.