Thursday’s Washington Post featured an article on the beauty and majestic nature of sunrises and sunsets, a somewhat unusual change of pace for a publication best known for its political coverage.
The essay’s author strongly suggested that readers enjoy more of them, and even cited research indicating that exposure to nature is good for our emotional health.
Predictably, the piece was void of any spiritual or theological themes. In explaining why the rising and setting of the sun are so beautiful, Kasha Patel focused on the science, noting that lower and longer angles allow for “various color palettes.”
Ms. Patel writes, “As that pathway is lengthened, sunlight has the ability to hit more molecules in the air. The sun emits electromagnetic energy, but we can only see the energy from 400 nanometers (bluer part of the spectrum) to 700 nanometers (redder hues) as visible light. These molecules — like oxygen and nitrogen — are thousands of times smaller than the incoming visible wavelengths from the sun.”
“Each one of those particles scatters, or changes the direction of, the sun’s visible energy. The air molecules scatter shorter wavelengths, such as blue and purples, removing them from our line of vision. Longer wavelengths, such as orange and red, can pass more freely to the ground, giving us the iconic sunset and sunrise colors.”
Scientific explanations alone, however fascinating, tend to sanitize and even reduce the wonder of it all.
It was the Psalmist who wrote long ago, “They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy” (65:8).
In reading through the Washington Post piece, I couldn’t help but think of my friend and our former colleague, Bruce Hausknecht. Careful readers of the Daily Citizen will have noticed his absence from the site. He retired on February 28th of this year.
Bruce devoted the last 18 years of his professional career to Focus on the Family and the Daily Citizen. He authored well over 1400 articles. An attorney, he was originally hired to serve as the ministry’s legal analyst. Pouring over countless court decisions related to marriage, religious freedom and a whole host of issues, Bruce had an uncanny ability to glean the essence and significance of a case from hundreds of pages. As they say in farm country, he knew how to shuck the corn right down to the cob.
Writing for the Daily Citizen, Bruce broadened his scope of family-related subjects, but remained our go-to-guy when it came to all things related to the judiciary.
Other than Bruce riding off into the sunset to spend time with his beloved wife, Bonnie, and children and grandchildren, what does this have to do with the rising and setting of our closest celestial star?
Over the years, we occasionally featured some of Bruce’s incredible photographs on the Daily Citizen Facebook page. An early riser and excellent photographer, our legal beagle was known to stop off on his way into the office to capture some remarkable sunrises here in Colorado Springs. If the timing was right, he did the same on the way home, photographing some stunning sunsets over the Rocky Mountains.
One of the reasons Bruce’s shots were and remain so magnificent is because he communicates his love and awe for the author of their beauty. He may be able to explain some of the science behind them, too – but more than anything, they’re about God’s creation and His willingness to share the wonder with us.
As we head into the weekend, you might heed the advice of the Washington Post. Take in more sunrises and sunsets. There will come a day when you see your last of each this side of eternity.
For now, though, enjoy some of Bruce’s terrific photos. We miss him terribly at the office, but as he likes to say, he now has more time to spend with the people he loves the most – doing many of the other things he enjoys – including taking stunning photographs of God’s handiwork.