Have you ever wondered why, in a lifetime made up of millions of individual experiences, there are particular moments embedded in your mind – tiny spaces of time singled out; seconds captured in freeze frames – to which you return with joy and awe?
After sunset, when the last of the sun’s rays has melted into the gathering darkness, but before the final light has said goodbye for the day, there comes a short span of time that’s called twilight. It’s been my favorite time of the day since one magical evening when I was 12.
I grew up in Miami, long before the days of central air-conditioning. Yearly, the heat index begins its climb in May and continues through at least all of September. Once we were called in for dinner, my sister and I were not allowed to go back outside. Towards the end of the school year, however, extra liberties were granted and we would gather some of the neighborhood kids into our yard for a game of hide and seek. We chose our house because my parents owned an extra lot, giving us more hiding places. Under no circumstance were we allowed off our own property after sunset.
One evening, we had eaten dinner and been at our games for perhaps an hour. The fire-red tropical sun had dropped into its own hiding place and the shadows of night were quickly closing in on us. Any moment Mother would open the back door and call us in.
Deter Burger was tall with a shock of blonde hair plastered across his high forehead – and, he was older; older than most of my friends.
That moment, mystically sealed among my most treasured memories, is of Deter and me, standing under the avocado tree, talking. I can almost smell the gardenia and night-blooming jasmine seductive in the night air. But we were only children captivated with play in a late spring dusk. I’ve long forgotten the topic of our conversation, but as if in a trance, I can recall at will, the awakening, the fascination of feelings that captivated me then. I smile still, when I think that I, a gangly, tongue-tied, poney-tailed girl, was talking to a boy alone at twilight. It was a ceremony of passage; a solemn awareness that I was leaving childhood, a dreamy prelude to womanhood.
Deter has long since receded into the past. That moment never led to any others with him. But even today, at 69, sitting on the deck looking across the lake with my husband of 50 years, when the sun goes down and shades of evening steal across the sky, I remember and smile.
Tonight when dusk highlights the end of day and the almost full moon begins to rise, might you remember some sweet time when God began to awaken you to a new season? And might you lift a quiet prayer of thanks for His bringing you through to this evening?
Now the day is over
Night is drawing nigh
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky.
Jesus give the weary
Calm and sweet repose
With thy tenderest blessings
May my eyelids close.
~ Sabine Baring-Gould