The tune and chorus of one of my all-time favorite songs play in my mind now and again, for just the right occasion. “Song for the Life.” I first became familiar with the song when Alan Jackson had it on one of his CDs in the mid-90s, but the song is much older than that. Singer Rodney Crowell wrote the song in 1978.
Anyway, the song’s chorus goes, “Somehow I've learned how to listen / For a sound like the sun going down / In the magic that morning is bringing / There's a song for the life I have found / It keeps my feet on the ground …”
So the words resonated with me the first time when I was in my 40s. Each decade, my life understanding changes, and now that I’m in my 60s, I keep applying the message to where I am and how life is.
Used to be I’d catch a sunset by pure happenstance and admire it, but already be thinking of how much I had to do still before bedtime and too often regretting how quickly the day had passed.
Three years ago, when I moved from Brownwood to San Angelo and my and Helen Crews’ acquaintance grew into friendship, she taught me the art and comfort of stopping and taking the time to appreciate the sunset.
Helen is a dedicated sunset watcher. She’s as busy and active as anyone I know, but she takes the time and seeks the comfort of a sunset. It was she who converted me. One afternoon, just about sundown, when she was coming to visit me, Helen pointed out I had a perfect sunset-watching post at the end of the corridor of my apartment building.
It is great. But in my busyness, I seem to forget to go and watch.
Friday, a week ago, had been one of those confounding very busy doing things and not accomplishing much kind of days. How busy? How confounding? Well with the granddaughter delivered to wherever, other dependents situated and most things taken care of, I sought refuge in a blended root beer float. I haven’t said so publicly, but three months ago I swore off my habit of daily root beer floats, citing the $90 and 9,000 calories the floats were costing me a month as being too much.
And Helen caught me, sitting there doing the very thing I said I wouldn’t do any more. She laughed. I made excuses. Turns out, we were within blocks of each other. I said we should meet and decide where to go from there. Besides, I said, I wanted to take her for a ride in my new car.
Helen was there in a minute. Her approval of my little car was gratifying. Those amenities taken care of, she remarked we were facing east and what looked like might be a very glorious sunset was about to take place behind us. We should head west we agreed. We wouldn’t have to go far to find a sit and watch the sunset.
We were off. Right, left, right, another right. Central High School parking lot we thought would be good, but no. High wires and tree branches blocked our view of the horizon. A couple more blocks, another right and a quick left and we were there, stopped in time to see the last half of the orange-gold iridescent sun ball slip behind the horizon.
Beautiful, certainly, we agreed, but the aftermath – where the salmon-pink clouds stretched and scattered across much of the sky, then concentrated back toward the spot on the horizon where the sun disappeared while the gray clouds that had surrounded them darkened deeper and deeper to a charcoal was equally spectacular.
Words do not describe the beauty so I don’t know why I’ve tried, except that it was simply too glorious not to share.
As I often do, in the last glow of sunlight, I thought of Corrie ten Boom’s poem tapestry poem, “The Weaver.”
It begins, “My life is but a weaving / Between my God and me. / I cannot choose the colors / He weaveth steadily. / Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow; / And I in foolish pride / Forget He sees the upper / And I the underside.”
If this were the underside, I’ll take it and be awed. Thankful for the life I have found, my friend, the time and place and that somehow we learned how to listen … and to watch.
Editor’s note: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, formerly of Brownwood, now living in San Angelo. Her weekly columns are published Sundays in the Brownwood Bulletin and Thursdays in the San Angelo Standard-Times and are unique for each paper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Today’s column is a rewritten version of the column that was published last week in the Standard-Times.