This evening, in the parking lot of the grocery store, I saw it coming. It didn't look ominous or foreboding, just massive. A slow collision. Inevitable. A child made a dragon from scraps of torn construction paper. A large black piece for the dragon, and a jagged wedge torn out to make the mouth, spouting the fire of sunset. I didn't want to be the only one, so I said to the man who was returning his cart to the pen, "Do you see how the dark is pushing through the daylight?" He swung his child from the cart where she had been sitting and lifted her to his shoulder and turned to see what I meant. He saw it just as the sun, hidden, limned the edge of the dragon's mouth. "Awesome," he said, and he and his child were still standing there watching when I got in my car and drove away.
I could still see it on my left as I began to exit the parking lot. I was unwilling to turn right, but the woman waiting her turn behind me would naturally not understand or share my reluctance. So I did turn and drove into the soft blue of an unremarkable twilight. I felt my heart thrumming all the way home.
As I drove home from work earlier today, I had listened to the Anglican Anchbishop of Capetown tell how his imprisonment in a horrific jail had resulted in his decision to become a priest. He had, he said, "wrestled with God." Terry asked him how this wrestling ended up in acceptance rather than bitterness, and I listened closely for his answer, because this is what I can't understand myself. Archbishop Ndugane said he had realized that the horror and the suffering were not God's will. I was disappointed, because if it is not God's will, no one who beleives in a God has ever told me why God would leave us to our own devices.
Then later, after the sunset, driving home with such shivery joy, I thought about why such a sight would mean anything to humans. The best reason I can find to believe in a God is the design of nature. How could this be random, when natural movements of the can evoke such passion? What has caused us to find a vivid sky, or anything at all, beautiful? When did we first decide these things are meaningful? Maybe the beauty we see is merely the result of experiencing the memory of living in this world. But what is mere about that?