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The sunset of my life

CEBU, Philippines — When a person gets to his seventies, other people would say he is already in the sunset of his life. I am in that stage of life. But it does not worry me to be 76.

In fact, I feel quite proud of myself, to be around this long. I am not as saddled physically as other people my age. I have no major health complaints – well, except a slight loosening of my memory.

I tend to forget certain things now. But – thank God! – the things that slip my mind are mostly the unimportant: dates, names of casual acquaintances etc. The significant ones I never lose thought of, perhaps because, even if my mind loses grip of them, they are etched in my heart.

For instance, those innumerable, always beautiful sunsets I’ve been blessed to experience would never leave my memory. There’s one from my faraway youth that has since unceasingly warmed my senses.  It remains blazing inside me that every time I think about it my heart would almost burst in exuberance!

I was out in the idle field on that summer afternoon. It was my daily task to gather grass for the family’s cows, back in our rural town. With my face mainly towards the ground, a kind of warmth soon descended on my back.

As I turned, my eyes were filled with a most glorious, magnificent sight! It was a whole sky of pulsating red-orange! The view topped all the sunsets I had seen before and since, so far.

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Such a sunset, today, would surely immediately find its way to a social media post. It might even flood the social media universe – images of the same wonderful work of art taken from different angles. It would be a great backdrop to a selfie or groupie – but it is greatest without the distraction of human faces.

There was no social media back then. The images had been posted just the same – in my senses, in my whole being. And just like in cyberspace, anything put there stays there – for good.

Nothing compares to the real thing. The sunsets I see in magazines, on TV, and, yes, on the internet are a far cry from that one I experienced on that summer afternoon of long ago. Perhaps it’s the unique way it strikes me – the Divine uses the same ‘language’ to tell a different story to every heart.

Not everyone sees the power and the glory of a sunset. Not every heart is ready to hear the beautiful Truth told without the benefit of words. Not all people recognize the Beauty that is just there, free for all to enjoy.

That absolute majesty unfolding above me in the afternoon sky was much more than a sight. It felt like blessing – like I had been particularly chosen to experience it. Perhaps I was, because the feeling has not left me since.

No matter what my actual physical posture might have been at the time, my soul knelt in prayer as my being opened up to God revealing Himself to me. Even the most jaded and cynical would have felt the same way, if chosen. No words were needed, it was enough to watch it and soak it all in.

The sunset is not simply artistic – it is art itself. Art at its best. Because it is the work of the greatest Artist of all, or it is the Artist offering Himself! (FREEMAN)

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