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The Magnificent Sunset

Here on the west coast of Florida for the winter, I often attend a delightful nightly show.It’s free to get in, no ticket or reservation is required, and it begins at 6:24 pm. It is a packed house as people flock to line up to watch the performance on foot, on blankets and towels, nestled into beach chairs, sitting along the wall or while walking, bicycling and skim boarding. Everyone has cell phones in hand – or the occasional “real” 35mm camera – to snap photos.

Titled The Magnificent Sunset, the show is staged by God and cast by the sky. There is no monologue and it is set on a gorgeous stage.

No two performances are identical. After the premium act of watching the brilliant sun descend comes an even grander segment of a swirl of colors across the sky. God cues gigantic white angel wings, blue and pink cotton candy clouds, purples and blues and oranges and yellows, and the horizon is ablaze with such a rich blood orange-red it seems as if it’s on fire.

Even if you should be late watching the sun touch the horizon, you’ll be treated to post-sunset props of colors pirouetting across the sky. It is spectacular – a show I cannot attend enough – and one I’m sure you have seen performed somewhere.

When the conditions are right in a clear sky, we may be lucky enough to catch the final curtain call of a “green flash.” That’s a bonus show stopper! The green flash is a mirage – an optical phenomenon barely perceptible which occurs sporadically, but not with every sunset. You must watch vigilantly and be ready to catch one since it is visible for a mere two seconds when the sun is almost below the horizon and its top rim “flashes” green. Supposedly, the sun’s rim is green during every sunset, yet our naked eye cannot decipher it. Although a scientific explanation of this marvel might describe how the atmosphere separates colors and there is increased refraction, it makes sense to me that since blue + yellow = green, the flash occurs after the yellow sun melds with the blue water!

In any case, it is very cool. I have caught it several times and wait for it at every sunset.

I always say, if someone doesn’t believe in God, take him or her to a sunrise, a sunset, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the mountains or a beach. The pure majesty of such panoramas should infuse faith. I find it almost impossible not to chat with God during his show. (I hope I’m not distracting him from painting!)

In itself, to be on a beach is amazing for the soul … for reflection … for connecting with nature … for conversing with God … for simply being. Add in the experience of a lovely sunset and the performance is no less than awe-inspiring.

Photos courtesy Suzanna Molino Singleton