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Saturday, February 1, 1997

Sunsets

                                                                                                             February 1997

Dear GUCI Staff:

I’ve always had a special feeling, a fascination with sunsets.  For me, no matter what the day brings forth, a dramatic sunset is a sign of hope.  As I think about it, I realize that I’ve gone out of my way to watch sunsets wherever I’ve been.  Sunsets are glorious spectacles of elapsing time dramatically punctuated by their slowly changing color schemes.  They inspire me with their magnitude, make me feel small and part of something big, all at once.

When I was a Unit Head at Olin-Sang-Ruby up in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin I had a private Erev Shabbat ritual.  At a certain point during Shabbat dinner, I would quietly leave my unit and walk out back of the Chadar Ochel.  There I would take my seat, all alone, on a wooden storage box and watch the Western skies turn to fire as Shabbat descended. I liked to think that the colors in the sky were the train on Shabbat’s royal gown.  Later I’d think about the prayer in the evening service which credits God with causing the evening to fall and setting the stars in their heavenly courses.  It’s hard to feel Shabbat peace when you are a camp staff member with ongoing responsibilities, but those Shabbat sunsets out back of the Chadar Ochel were my fifteen minutes of Shabbat Shalom.  I was a Unit Head for six summers.  Every clear Erev Shabbat I managed to make it to my designated sunset spot.  I remember the calm and the beauty of it.

Last spring, Juca and I spent a week on the West coast of Florida.  We joined all the others in that beautiful place each evening quietly watching the sun touch down on the water.  We always thought and sometimes remarked at how quickly the sun went down.  It seemed to plunge into the Gulf and disappear.  One almost expected to hear it sizzle.  But what came next was the clincher.  After the sun was gone, a full half-hour of reds turning to purple turning to wisps of pastels.  Someone told me the colors are just the sun’s reflection off of the air pollution.  “Finally,” I thought, “something good from pollution.” 

Yesterday I spoke to my son Michael on the phone.  It was a big deal for me because he’s away, far away studying for the semester in Tel Aviv.  That was the first time we had spoken since he left.  It’s true that I hear his voice speaking the words he writes me on the e-mail, but in my heart, not my ears.  So it was great to actually hear him yesterday.  He had a lot to tell me, but one of the stories was about going to the beach to watch the sun set.  I think he told me this because he knows that I am moved by the thought of it.  And now I have these thoughts too; thoughts of my son in Israel, celebrating his independence, touching his Jewish roots, growing up, sitting on the beach taking it all in, in Technicolor.

Each evening we bless God for making the evening fall and setting the stars in their heavenly courses.  And in our hearts a special blessing for alowing us to witness this greatness; and living to hear our children tell of this majesty, from 8,000 miles away.

Ron

So now it's 2015, fifteen years later, and  I'm still looking at sunsets with awe.  As Thanksgiving approaches, being in the sunset years of my life, I can't help but be thankful for two wonderful and successful sons, two amazing daughters-in-law, two (I can't say enough about) granddaughters, and,  in all caps, JUCA .

Here's a sunset (a bit enhanced) from our porch in Bloomington...Awesome!