By John Pierce

Perhaps “glory” is an overused word — though not as much as “awesome.” Yet it conveys a sense of magnificence beyond measure or definition.

Glory seems to have a spiritual dimension. It’s a biblical word.

Hymn writers often use it — almost always rhyming it with “story.” (Gospel singers prefer a long-O sound for both words.)

Over the years I’ve come to quietly revel (if that’s possible) in sunrises and sunsets — sometimes making special efforts to be in a particular place to marvel at the twice-daily shows that are never duplicated exactly.

My friend, colleague and photography mentor Bruce Gourley and I have made such efforts from the Sea of Galilee to Jekyll Island to Rocky Mountain lakes. The reward is greater than a treasured snapshot.

It is the chance to focus on something that is brief but beautiful — and always with an element of surprise. The shows are not reruns although they appear daily. The presence and/or positioning of clouds play a starring guest role.

And, often, what a show! To watch the darkness slowly evolve into spectacles of color and light — or to witness the dimming sun disappear behind the horizon while offering a parting gift of orange spray upon the clouds.

Recently my daughter Abigail and I were having dinner in the Georgia mountains after a day of hiking. Late afternoon rain had set in.

As we left a comfort-food diner, however, some light appeared to our west. The movement of clouds suggested a sunset show in production.

Without a plan or much local knowledge I drove until a hilltop development appeared on our left. We headed up a rising, curving road where new homes were being constructed — and bingo!

A vacant lot near the top offered a spectacular view of the setting sun bouncing its rays off the clouds, mountains and valleys. We soaked it all in until dark. We were at peace.

Perhaps such an experience — or viewing a star-filled sky — led the psalmist to proclaim: “The heavens declare the glory of God…”

Such “handiwork” (or craftsmanship, as some English translators render the word) indeed leads to wonder. Though I’ve never felt the need to try to explain it too much.

In fact, if we understood it all it would not be so marvelous. Mystery and wonder are to be experienced, not solved.

My beloved Berry College professor Jorge Gonzalez put it all in the right perspective for me long ago: Science tells us how the world was created; the Bible tells us who did it and why.

Call it what you wish: beauty, grandeur, splendor or glory. Or don’t say anything at all; just marvel in it.

Time is a gift — and it’s offered up in fleeting moments as each day emerges and departs.


[Photo of a golden sunset along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park]

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