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The sunset has to be one of the classic 'themes' of visual art. (Sunrises are less so. Is this because artists don't like getting up early?) As I was taking this, I found myself musing on the reasons for this popularity. I wonder if it is because a sunset is not only beautiful in terms of its colours, but also evocative regarding the passage of time.
Sunset, as compared to sunrise, is an ending of another day, which itself takes each of us nearer to the end of life itself. Indeed, it takes us nearer the end of time. I remember many years ago as a child walking with my family on a beach with an astonishingly calm sea lapping the sand, and my father said that it reminded him of the scene in H G Wells's The Time Machine, where the traveller finds himself millions of years in the future, on an ancient earth orbiting a dying sun. As you can tell, his comment and the imagery made a deep impression!
In Genesis also, the transformative 'ending' comes in the evening: "And the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day ..."
What should have been a joyful encounter marked, instead, the end of the first 'Sabbath rest' (begun in Genesis 2:3). From here on, it has all been wandering "in the land of Nod, east of Eden". But "there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God," and so the sunset also marks, as my first vicar's wife used to say as she moved the ironing out of the living room, "a day's march nearer home".
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