The evening sunsets on the Aegean Sea were always wonderful experiences. They always took on a greater importance after John and I had long discussions about what he should write to the adelphoi (brothers and sisters) in Asia Minor who were being challenged by certain teachings.
Our discussions of grammer, syntax, theology and precise written expression at times left me mentally and emotionally drained. Sometimes after long hours of work I would tell John that I needed to relax and get refreshed. He would always nod knowingly, smile and say, “go and watch the sunset.” I would get up wearily and walk to the mouth of the cave, inhale deeply the fresh sea air and then walk out to the edge of the beach.
I would look out at the sunset and try to hold the vibrant colors that the sun painted upon the water in my mind’s eye in order to prolng its fleeing beauty. No matter how hard I tried I could never hold on to the such-ness of its splendor.
Sometimes after I returned from my sunset experiences John would say to me, “are you still trying to hold the sunset in your head my brother?” Again he would smile knowingly and we would return to our work.
One morning before we started to work, I asked him why he always asked me about the sunsets. His response was unexpected and disarming. He said, “My brother the sunset is not to be held as a possession it is not yours to possess. The sunset is a reminder that we are not and cannot possess life and beauty. We are ephemeral and transient. We are here to love as He loved us. The greatest idolatry is not to perceive that we can embrace but we cannot possess or hold what we are here only to enjoy.”
As I ponderred his words I was able to give myself the gift of release. There was a new peace in my heart as I began to realize that I can embrace and enjoy life without the burden of possessing it.