Sunsets, Stars, Snowfall

This is part of a syndicated series for Lent 2019 with Harvard’s Christian Journal Ichthus. Visit Ichthus at http://www.harvardichthus.org

By Nam Hyun Kim ’21. Nam is a sophomore in Eliot House studying history and archaeology.

“Just let yourself, be.” While I’ll never quite know how to explain what it means to simply “be,” I do know it’s in the way I watch the sun set – how my heart seems to come to a silence that rests upon the hues of light pink and warm orange, seeping into the sky like watercolors on paper.

“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, and to seek him in his temple”

If gazing on the beauty of the Lord is to be able to appreciate the beautiful stillness of sunsets, then I’ll take that any day. But I realized how much I was missing out on Christ’s beauty by just seeking the beautiful things.

Over winter break, I had just gotten back home from a trip, and that night, a little past 11, I got a call from a friend and he told me that the eclipse was going to happen. That I needed to get up and out of bed to see it.

What in the world. No way. I was jetlagged, and I needed to sleep.

But there I was, on the front porch of my suburban home, bundled in my winter coat, looking up at the sky. It was dark and in that moment, it felt like there was no one else awake in the world but me. Looking at the shadows settle into the trees and the dim street lights painting the night with an eerie yellow-ish tint, fear and loneliness trickled into my heart.

As I started getting colder and anxious, I moved my gaze from the beauty of the eclipse to the stars around it. While the beauty of the eclipse is fleeting, the stars have always been there, as Christ often is. When I fear and look elsewhere, there it is again, that reminder that beauty is everywhere when we’re with Christ.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?”

It took a dark night for me to notice that God’s love has always been written in the stars. I suppose he put them in the darkness for a reason. That daily reminder that He is with me, and that He is good.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Fast-forward a couple months, and I’m on retreat with the Catholic Student Association in Kennebunkport, Maine. A weekend of prayer and community ended with a giant snowball fight. Exhilarated, but exhausted, I collapsed on my back in the snow and just looked up. I could only hear my breaths, distant laughter, and a thumping in my chest. I closed my eyes feeling the snowflakes pile on my face, and this time, it felt like it was just God and me. The air was filled with thick serenity and again, I was letting myself simply, “be.”

To be. I still do not know what this exactly means, but this gets close:

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock”

In the sunsets I’ve seen, the stars I’ve watched, and the snow I’ve let fall on my face, I felt peace because I felt safe. In those moments, I was safe from the exhaustion, stress, and anxiety that came with the things out of my control because God, who is infinitely good, reminded me that the goodness and beauty I saw in the world was the same goodness and beauty He sees in me.

At every moment you see beauty, may you realize that “to be” is to simply allow God to remind you of the love He has for you through sunsets, stars, and snowfall. For He is always willing and never tires of doing so.

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