Thursday, December 31, 2020

As The Sun Sets on 2020

Sunset, December 21, 2020 (while looking for the Bethlehem star)

Capturing the final sunset of 2020 may go much like the rest of the year has gone. It will likely be a bust.

It's supposed to be overcast tonight, with another winter storm on the horizon in Kansas. So my tradition of taking a photo of the final sunset of the year and the first sunrise of the New Year may not be very compelling. 

Awhile back, I saved a daily email devotional that grabbed my attention and set it aside to consider again. It was from Beth Richardson, a familiar name on my Upper Room devotionals. In her introduction, Richardson wrote:

Celtic Christians acknowledged God’s presence in every aspect of living—from waking to sleeping, from birth to death, from mundane chores to momentous celebrations. They perceived God’s creation as a holy gift. Gratitude characterized their way of being as they affirmed the source of life and gave thanks through blessings.
Beth A. Richardson, Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings, Upper Room Books, 2016 

As I re-read her words, I thought it was the perfect way for me to usher 2020 firmly out the door and welcome 2021 with new hope - even in the midst of a global pandemic. It's a reminder to consider God's creation as a gift, and to be thankful. 

I'm not one to adopt resolutions. (I hate failing.) 
I'm not prone to pick one word as my New Year theme. (Me? Pick ONE word?)
But I do hope I can apply "gratitude" freely in my life - whether I'm considering the end to 2020 or as I turn the calendar page ... To find the silver linings. 

One of my favorite sunset photos from 2020 was taken on Palm Sunday. Usually, I would have been busy helping with a community church service, and I might have missed sunset all together that day. But, we were in the midst of a stay-at-home order, and we were feeling cooped up. So we went to watch sunset at Peace Creek. 

I took this photo of ripples, and it ultimately led me on a search for quotes to go with it. I found a couple I particularly like:

From The World According to Mr. Rogers:

Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person. There have been so many stories of the lack of courtesy, the impatience of today's world, road rage and even restaurant rage. Sometimes, all it takes is one kind word to nourish another person. Think of the ripple effect that can be created when we nourish someone. One kind, empathetic word has a wonderful way of turning into many.
Fred Rogers

And from Mother Teresa:

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.

It's something to remember as I turn the calendar page to a new year. 

I've illustrated Richardson's words with sunset photos from my archives:

Final sunset of 2017

Bless, O God, this tender evening,
The trees, branches raised in praise,

The sky, soft glow darkening into dusk,
The homecoming of young and old.

Bless, O God, this sacred moment,
The quiet pause between day and night,

The birds, flying to safety in bush or brush.

The colors of the sunset—

Orange to red to purple to black—
Creeping across the sky.

Bless, O God, this night to come.
The safety of shelter, the supper to nourish.

Hearts of joy or souls bent in sorrow.
Renewing rest and hope for one more day.

Bless, O God. Bless.

—Beth A. Richardson, Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings (Upper Room Books, 2016)

 More from the devotional:

Today’s Question

How could offering a blessing at sunset help you notice God as the day closes?

Today’s Scripture

From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised.

—Psalm 113:3 (NRSV)

Let's add a sunrise: October 21, 2020

 Prayer for the Week (maybe I'll change it to Prayer for the Year)

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.
(From a prayer attributed to Saint Patrick)

Harvest sunset



  1. Wonderful, wonderful images of peace and hope. Your Easter shot takes one's breath away.
    May you and yours, continue to be safe and happy throughout 2021.

    1. Thanks, Helen. I hope the same for you and yours.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing those beautiful photos and the devotionals. I appreciate them both very much.

    Happy, safe, and blessed New Year 2021!


    1. Same to you, Terri! I always appreciate hearing from you!