Late this afternoon, I was in a car heading west. My destination was a funeral home in a small town in Oklahoma. The family was gathering for an event commonly called Visitation, a time of remembering and sharing about a departed loved one, a time for friends and associates to pay their respects. The man being honored tonight is my Uncle Rex. I’ll share more about this sweet and kind man tomorrow, after his memorial service. 


I was in a reflective mood as we drove. Greg graciously chauffeured me, due to a threat of severe weather, which allowed me the freedom and opportunity to gaze out the car windows. Clouds were indeed gathering in the sky, as the sun sank toward the horizon. 

I love sunsets. Although they are a daily phenomenon, no two are ever quite the same. I appreciate the beauty of sunrise as well. But let’s face it. I am not an early morning person. I don’t see the sun appear in the eastern sky nearly as often as I see it dive in the west. 

I am perfectly okay with who I am. 

And so sunsets stir the magic in me. They draw gratitude from my heart and my lips. They fire up the sky and my imagination. 


The sky was so beautiful as we chased after the sun, that it created an ache within me. Although it is difficult to capture that splendor accurately, I felt compelled to try, snapping pics with my iPhone camera, capturing the day’s last gift. 

I thought about my uncle, for whom the sun has set for the final time here on earth. Sunset can be symbolic of the end of life, of the closing of the day and a chapter in the book of life. 

However, what I love most about sunset, in addition to the sheer beauty of it, is this…

Sunset teaches me about trust. I trust that when the sun disappears, it’s not gone forever. I trust that even when darkness gathers, the light will appear again. I trust that there is a time for endings, and endings signal new beginnings. 

I trust that life is a series of sunrises and sunsets, and the sun may go down for the last time for a soul…but a new sun rises, in a new realm, and that soul lives on. How beautiful and mysterious are sunsets…and life. 

John Ruskin wrote, “At sunset, nature is painting for us…day after day…pictures of infinite beauty.” 

I am grateful to behold her majestic art, displayed on grand canvases. I am undone by that infinite beauty.


Mercy Park

After a fun and full weekend, I felt like taking a stroll today at sunset. This time of year, the air loses its heat as the sun sinks in the west. I longed for beauty and fresh air and reflection. 

Yesterday the city of Joplin opened a new park. I’ve driven by this development almost daily for months, watching as the park took shape. This evening I wanted to visit Mercy Park and walk around the small, newly created lake. 

Five years ago this land was part of the St John’s Hospital complex. On May 22, 2011 the hospital was in the path of the massive tornado that swept through Joplin. The hospital was destroyed, along with much of the medical community. 

The hospital, renamed Mercy, rebuilt in a new location south of Joplin. They donated the land to the city. A new elementary school was built on the southern section, to replace two that were lost. The second project was a pavilion atop a knoll, situated in the exact spot that the hospital chapel once occupied. Phase three has been the construction of Mercy Park, complete with a walking trail, a lake, fountains and benches placed strategically to enjoy the view and invite quiet reflection. 

It was, indeed, a gorgeous evening for a walk in a new location. Other people had the same idea. Greg joined me and we shared the walking path with joggers and kids and young couples pushing strollers. My eyes were drawn repeatedly to the water, with its twin fountains sending water high into the air. And to the red sun as it sank into a bank of thunderheads to the west. 

After walking the loop, including the bridges that span the water, we climbed the stairs to Mercy Chapel. It was serene there, and the view was spectacular. Lights were coming on across the city as darkness fell. Below was the newly opened park and across the street, the beautifully reborn Cunningham Park with its playgrounds and memorials. 

I enjoyed walking at Mercy Park. There is still work to be completed. And a butterfy mural will soon adorn a large wall. But what a gorgeous place…beauty from ashes, a sanctuary of healing again. I will return here often. 

Journey 177: Gorgeous Twilight Sky

This is not the post I had intended for this evening. But when I walked outside, after a day of rain, I was completely captivated by the sky! This beautiful display of billowing thunderheads, enhanced by soft pink, gray and turquoise, was not in the west, but due south. The setting sun was responsible. Yet I’ve never seen such an enchanting sky in the south as the sun dipped below the western horizon. 

I love being surprised by beauty. It pierces the heart in a pure and profound way. This simple journey was the perfect end to the day. 



Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
                            Rabindranath Tagore