Watch the sun go down and you have to hope it will come up again tomorrow.
That’s the reason, it is said, that seagulls cry – because they see the sun sinking and believe the night will be eternal. Coyotes cry for a much different reason, according to many Indian tribes.
And no one knows why whales cry.
Humans cry for so many reasons, there aren’t names for them all. But sometimes, they cry for the same reasons as seagulls – the end of the world really does happen every day. For someone, somewhere, an accident, illness or just the weight of the years piled upon them, pulls them away from the world we know, into a place no one has ever returned from.
Look out at the night sky and see the stars. Whatever your viewpoint, the vastness of the great ocean of black is only made more real by those tiny points of light. One native American tribe attributes those lights to an accident – a cosmic splash of flowers from a great bag – flowers the creator had intended to place in perfect patterns, so the creatures of the world would always know he was real.
We often suffer through doomsday claims and for some, a countdown and expectation of something perfect and complete, just around the edge of night. Yet we are still here, imperfect with our wishes and hopes and cruelties and crimes.
We remain here to continue in our days, knowing that another sunset is coming. And in all of the moments between the time we open our eyes in the morning and close them at day’s end, we somehow lose sight of the truth that each breath we take, represents a moment in which somewhere else, the world is ending – or at least changing irrevocably for someone else. And of course in that same moment the world is beginning – being born, in every sense that is possible.
On an antique table in a corner of my house is an ancient tooth – not of a whale, but certainly something as large as a whale, that cut through the black of the sea 186 million years ago. The eyes of that creature looked upon a very different Earth. In the time it lived, there were no people yet, but the Earth was already ancient. It swam through the crush of a universe no mind can comprehend.
Time is the greatest mystery and immensity of all. We are lost, trying to stay afloat in its’ waves and currents. But nothing can tread those waters forever. No matter how fearsome or how beautiful a thing is, the truth remains. We know it when we are young, and one incredible day we feel somehow the miracle that we have slowed or stopped everything. In that youth we can stop time, but when we are old, we are only time travelers, remembering better days and trying to forget the days which haunt us. Backward and forward – lives played like some kind of worn film, flickering and crackling – eventually giving way to silence.
Perhaps all the tears shed over the millennia, are simply a reflection of these truths: The sun rises and sets and may indeed do so again tomorrow – but the moment we are experiencing right now; that simple spark amidst an eternal fire – is an opportunity to be greater than we were a moment ago, an hour, a day - a lifetime.
If everyone did everything they could to make the world a better place, we would see a day in which no one would fear the night. Hope and compassion would be real - not just words, and we would all know the truth the Creator wanted us to see in the stars.
Perhaps we would even know the meaning of the songs of whales and wolves and the music of a perfect afternoon in an unforgettable place.
We can get there from here, but politics and intolerance, hate and all the ignorance and stupidity we would visit upon each other – all has to be gathered and left to dry and bleach in the sun, until it all shrivels and dries, and is carried away in softness.
Somewhere the sun is going down – and somewhere else a sliver of golden light cuts across the horizon.
The only true mystery remaining is what you will do with this single moment.