The Sun Sets: Transitioning to a Darker Existence

It still surprises me when the sun sets before nine. For some reason, I still expect the everlasting sunshine of summer. As the days grow darker, I find myself reflecting on how I can prepare for this new season, and what it means to live a darker existence. 

view Salt Lake City at night from an airplane
Salt Lake City from an airplane

Even as a child, I’ve always appreciated the darkness. It’s less abrasive on my eyes, so I look forward to the shorter days after spending so many nights with a blanket over my head to combat the sunlight. With these shorter days, I find myself awakening to the world—spending time walking outside, visiting with friends, appreciating how society shifts towards a new existence in the fall. 

There’s something lovely in dark, moody evenings with lamps and lights aglow. Unlike the feeling of being seen throughout the light hours, darkness invites anonymity, which in turn invites each person to silently reckon with themselves. 

In this period of darkened days, I like to remind myself of the Creation story. On the first day, God creates light and separated it from the darkness (Genesis 1:3-4). Then, on the fourth day, God made the sun, moon, and stars, thus giving us light even in the darkness. The beauty of this creation is insurmountable, and I feel that I’ve never properly appreciated the artwork of the celestial sky. As a child, I would look at the stars at night, trying to find Polaris amongst her brothers and sisters or the always-recognizable Big Dipper. I lived out in the country, then, where light pollution didn’t impact my experience of the stars. 

Sliver of the moon overlooking Spruce St in Missoula, MT
Sliver of the moon overlooking Spruce St in Missoula, MT

I live in a city now, although I’m not sure how much I can consider Missoula, Montana a city after having lived in metro Atlanta. Even still, my nighttime strolls here bring their own charming loveliness as I watch the sun set and the moon shine, complemented by the glow of lamps, string lights, and store fronts. 

This darkness invites to turn internally, to think about the beauty brought my nighttime, and to appreciate our surroundings in a new way. 

Why Advent?: Exploring the Reasons Behind the Advent Project

With Reverence and Hope, the upcoming inaugural essay collection from Reconciling Earth came from my personal interest in exploring the relationship between my own faith and work as a climate activist.

Though the country chapel I went to as a child celebrated the season of Advent with the lighting of candles, I don’t remember many of the specifics. In my current spiritual journey, I have been studying the rituals of Christian tradition that I had limited exposure to in evangelicalism.

That may not answer the question I’ve posed in the title of this article.

Why Advent?

One of the things I appreciate about Advent is the symbolism of lighting candles in anticipation of receiving the greatest light: Jesus. The fact that this season of waiting coincides with darkest part of the year challenges us to consider how we can have hope in dark times.

With Reverence and Hope asks the writers, artists, and readers to consider their own relationship with hoping in dark times. As the effects of the climate crisis continue to become more and more severe, having hope that the world can become a reconciled place is a radical action. Just as the shepherds respond to the message of the angel by going to Bethlehem and seeing “this thing that [had] come to pass, which the Lord [had] made known to [them],” we can respond to God’s call to all of humanity to be stewards of his creation (2:8-20).

Stewardship Begins with Reflection

For a long time, I didn’t understand the purpose of our human call to be stewards of creation. Now, as I work on my Master’s thesis and begin to more serious study my own calling, I’ve realized that much of my newfound action in stewardship has stemmed from self-reflection that challenges my old notions of what it means to care for creation.

With Reverence and Hope aims to challenge how we perceive and interact with Earth, as well as how we form and build connections with one another. Our soul begs for this type of spiritual nourishment, which can be an impetus to act.

The writings in this collections will ask us how we can use the Advent season and our spirituality to reconnect with divine Creation. I know it’s possible.

Interested in working on In Reverence and Hope? We are currently accepting submissions for essays, artwork, and photography.

Wanting to write for Reconciling Earth? We are currently looking for regular contributors to our online magazine.