Sunrises, Sunsets, and Seasons

As a young widowed mother, I made a decision that has blessed our family with light.

As a newly widowed, 22-year-old mother of two daughters, both under the age of three, I had many choices awaiting my attention. Looking back 40 years later, I am particularly grateful for one decision I made early on.

Almost immediately after the death of my eternal companion, it became evident that mornings, when most husbands leave for work, and evenings, when they usually return home to family, were vulnerable times. Frequently as presunset shadows lengthened, my little daughters instinctively stopped their play and innocently asked, “When is Daddy coming home?” escalating the longing in my own heart.

Instead of struggling to fight off sadness and loneliness in the house each morning, I decided to step outside to greet Heavenly Father in the sunrise, partaking of the beauty only He, the Source of all light, could offer. The mellow hues of refracted sunlight witnessed of His love, and deep swelling gratitude began to fill my aching soul, sweeping away the darkness and securing a wholesome perspective for the day. When the little ones awakened later, happiness born of gratitude for Heavenly Father’s blessings genuinely filled my heart, enabling the three of us to cheerfully set about the duties of the day. The early moments alone with Heavenly Father provided deep solace and fostered renewal of my self-confidence, vital when half of myself had so recently been removed.

Sunset became the children’s favorite time of day. As late afternoon shadows lengthened, they soon knew the routine. We returned toys to their proper place and tidied the house, not for Daddy’s return, but instead to go outdoors and enjoy the sunset while playing in the backyard, talking together on the porch, or simply sharing the resplendent beauty of rapidly changing colors. Hugging and cuddling close on the porch at sunset, our little family circled together, knowing eternal promises are sure.

Years passed and school started; then high school and college followed. Success in each phase was augmented by sunrise solace and sunset circling of the family together on the porch. Discussions deepened into more mature topics, and decisions for course direction were reached in council with Heavenly Father at sunset. Through the years we witnessed together that He begins and ends each day in beauty, silently setting forth breathtaking loveliness uniquely crafted for that day and beckoning us to be happy in Him.

During these two-score years of watching the sunrise, I’ve become more aware of the sun’s journey across the horizon as fall gives way to winter and spring to summer. In these early, quiet moments with Heavenly Father, I’ve learned that there are also seasons in our lives and that assuredly winter eventually withdraws for spring. While I have attended each premier-performance sunset, He has sent a harvest of happiness into my soul. What could have been a long and lonely widowhood has instead been richly blessed by harvesting the sunrises and sunsets He has given every day.

[illustration] Illustrated by Ron Peterson

Isabelle L. H. Cluff is a member of the Century Gardens Ward, Mesa Arizona Kimball East Stake.