Halley’s Comet and The End of the World

My grandfather was 66 years-old when I was born. I was at his bedside when he died 30 years later. The years between my birth and his death were magical years for me. His influence in my life was significant, to be sure.

My grandfather and I spent a lot of time together. And he told me stories, lots of them. He loved to read and he understood how to use stories to whip up bowls full of childhood curiosity. I couldn’t get enough.

As I got older he gave me books, lots of them. Books bulging with stories that begged to be read at a time when television was beginning to bewitch children. Books that introduced me to wonderful characters like Androcles and the Lion, Alice in Wonderland, Gulliver, and others who lived in times and worlds beyond my own.

Perhaps best of all were the stories he shared from his own childhood. By the time I came along he had already lived an amazing life.

Felipe Garcia was born in 1893 on a ranch in Duval County. He worked as a cowhand on the George West Ranch, attended business college in San Antonio, and became a real estate developer.

He sold a car to Pancho Villa, played a key role in recruiting Hispanics to serve in the First World War, and started the first Hispanic Boy Scout Troop in Duval and Hidalgo counties. He served on the Mission city council and in his later years was recognized as the longest and oldest serving city commissioner in Texas.

There is so much more to tell, but I will do that a bit at a time as I begin a journey to blog about his story.

I recently started reading through his personal journal, two notebooks bulging with single-spaced lines hammered on to the pages in uneven Courier font using two index fingers on the lettered stems of his Royal typewriter.

I was delighted to read one of the stories he had shared with me more than once when I was a kid — the 1910 appearance of Halley’s Comet. This is the story in his own words:

Ranch after ranch, men, women and children were very much upset about Halley’s Comet being so clearly visible for several nights in a row. The fantastic stories about what was going to happen when its tail would hit the earth. All these scenes took place, and one could observe how many of these simple folk would re-act. To think about the earth being destroyed was no fun at all.

I remember that the night the comet was supposed to strike the earth several of us boys made our beds in a wagon that we may be able to see what was going to happen. That early morning was supposed to be the time that the comet would hit the ground. We were a disappointed group, we did see its tail probably bigger than before but this lasted only a short time, as the sky began to darken with gulf clouds which obliterated the scene. So this year of 1910 was not the end of the world.

It was also the general conversation among old pioneer residents that there would be a time that the earth would be destroyed because people were beginning to fly contrary to the wishes of Almighty God.

Whatever the anguish, anxiety and suspense Halley’s Comet bought to this area’s inhabitants, the news of its failure to destroy the earth was accepted calmly and reverently. I was glad that the suspense had ended to our favor.

Halley’s Comet makes its rounds about every 75 years or so. When my grandfather was a teenager, the comet streaked across the night skies in April 1910. This was also the first time in human history that the comet was photographed.

Interestingly, a French astronomer named Camille Flammarion claimed that gas from the tail of the comet “would impregnate the atmosphere and possibly snuff out all life on the planet.” That claim went viral and so, even in rural Duval County, folks believed that the appearance of the comet spelled the end of the world.

Like my grandfather and his friends, I am glad that the world is still here. And like the pioneer residents of Duval County, it would be wise to not behave in ways contrary to the wishes of God.

More stories from my grandfather’s journal to come. Stay tuned.

The Pace of Progress Off the Grid

We started our off-grid adventure four years ago with nothing but raw land surrounded by some of the most magnificent views in the Big Bend of Texas. Although we had no intention of developing our property for full-time living, we nevertheless wanted a comfortable and inviting place to visit several times a year.

Four years later we have a cozy cabin powered by solar panels, almost two-thousand gallons of water catchment capacity, a workshop, and a recently added shade structure that we are developing into an outdoor kitchen. Looking back, it has all happened slowly — one small project at a time.

One of the first things I did when we started our off-grid adventure was to get a little black book — a place to scribble notes, sketch ideas, make materials lists, and record our progress. This simple step has made a huge difference because it has kept me focused on planning and completing one project at a time.

Developing anything off the grid requires careful planning, in large part because if you forget something it is a long way to the hardware store. And because we only visit our cabin a few times a year, we can’t afford to waste time by postponing a project because we failed to plan accordingly.

We have learned that redundancy in regard to tools and supplies is important to making progress. This usually translates into buying an extra coupler or an additional box of screws or extra lumber or whatever the case may be according to the project at hand. Over time I have built a good inventory of extra items — the things that I know we need to stay on track with our projects.

Although we like to visit our cabin to relax and unwind, we also want to take advantage of our time there to make a little more progress on the development of our property. It is a long way from our driveway in the suburbs to the gate to our property so we always plan on completing at least one or more projects every time we visit.

This past week we added pavers to the area under our shade structure. Because dust is an ongoing reality of off-grid life in the Chihuahuan Desert, every little thing we can do to mitigate the dust is a win.

I ordered three pallets of pavers from McCoy’s Building Supply in Alpine and had them delivered to the property. In preparation, I leveled the area and ran a line of mason twine from post to post to guide the installation. I then notched the corner pavers to lock them in around the corner posts and then started the installation.

Getting the first row of pavers perfectly level and in line was important to avoid having to deal with cumulative error on the next rows. This was the tedious part of the process but worth the extra attention to get it right.

All in all it took us a day and a half to install the pavers. Having knee pads made a huge difference since I spent most of the time on my knees while Cheryl handed me the pavers. I had to cut the entire final row of pavers and was happy when I laid the last one in place.

Once we completed the installation, we swept sand between the joints to lock everything in place and then added a line of gravel around the perimeter. I am thinking about adding a decorative border around the perimeter sometime in the future. We’ll see. And then the final step in this phase will be to add an inch or two of gravel all around the shade structure and cabin.

Spending a day and a half, mostly on my knees, setting one paver at a time in place reminded me that this is how we have been able to make so much progress over the past four years. Like eating an elephant, it all happens one small bite at a time! That is the pace of progress off the grid.

Boys, Mentors, and Adventures

When Cheryl and I bought our little slice of heaven in the Chihuahuan Desert, we dreamed of developing our property not just for ourselves but for others as well. In particular, we talked about hosting at-risk boys and offering them the opportunity to experience outdoor adventures, including doing work projects that require cooperation.

My friend Ryan Orbin, the Director of the Hangar Unity Center in Brookshire, and I have had lots of conversations about how to help at-risk boys become good men. He works for an organization called Eyes On Me, Inc — a ministry that exists to mentor, disciple, and serve at-risk youth and their families.

Earlier this year, Ryan approached me about hosting a Spring Break adventure at our place, including a work day, for boys from Brookshire. I immediately agreed. The Hangar has a great mentoring program that is making a difference in the lives of young boys. Some of these boys are one decision away from becoming a statistic. But thanks to Ryan and his team, things are changing.

Motivational speaker Josh Shipp knows what it means to be a kid at risk of becoming a statistic. Thankfully, one caring adult made the difference in his journey. Josh champions the belief that every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story. Josh is absolutely right in his observation. One caring adult willing to mentor a kid can make all the difference.

Cheryl and I have waited with anticipation for Spring Break. We headed to the cabin this past Sunday to get everything ready for the Brookshire Boys Big Bend Adventure.

The boys arrived late Tuesday afternoon as temperatures started to cool. The first order of business was to set up camp. For some of these boys, this was their first time to pitch and sleep in a tent. My friends James and Selim, members of my Band of Fathers group, came along to prepare meals.

We spent each evening around the campfire. My friends Doug, Ba, and Bobby are three of the men who meet with the boys week after week. I was so glad they joined the boys for their week of adventure. All of these men shared good insight into biblical manhood each evening around the campfire.

On their first night around the campfire, we gave each of the boys a hydration backpack and lots of outdoor gear. Each of the mentors explained the reason they should carry these items on outdoor adventures and then used those items as a metaphor for how to deal with life’s challenges.

We planned two days of hiking adventures for the boys at Big Bend National Park. The weather was perfect for hiking. Our first adventure outing was to Santa Elena Canyon, one of the park’s signature vistas. We hiked along the Rio Grande River to the end of the trail.

From Santa Elena we headed to the Hot Springs where the boys soaked in the natural hot spring pool and then swam in the Rio Grande. Their laughter filled the air and it was hard getting them to leave.

We set aside day two for work projects that required a high level of cooperation. We divided the boys into three teams. Team Doug and Ba was assigned the task of pounding in t-posts along the northern border of our property. They learned how to use a level to check for plumb and mason’s twine to check the height of each post.

Team Bobby was assigned the task of clearing brush for a new fence. The lesson here was to learn the importance of removing things that prevent us from making progress. Clearing fence line is the first step to putting in posts and stretching wire.

Team James and Selim was assigned the task of installing a new gate on our northwest tract. The boys learned how to measure the proper distances between holes and then learned to use an auger and a post hole digger. They set the posts and then set the gate.

At the end of the day our campfire conversation was about the value of working cooperatively and leaving a signature of excellence in all they do in life. Ryan reminded the boys that the work they had done would now be a part of their legacy. Several of the boys commented on how they felt really good about what they had learned and the work they had done.

Day three took the boys back to the park where they hiked the window trail and then hiked to the balanced rock — two more iconic locations at the park. Some of the boys said that they learned to push past some of their fears about the outdoors. We reminded them that in both outdoor adventures and in life, alone is dangerous. Men often get into trouble when they do life alone.

Our final night around the campfire turned into a share time as the boys and their mentors talked about our time under the Big Bend sky. We concluded the evening with prayer and then a final night in the tents.

The boys headed back to Brookshire this morning. The place is quiet again but not the same. As I look around I see part of a legacy left here by young boys on a journey to manhood. The boys returned home a little wiser, better friends, and with the understanding that God does indeed have good plans for each of them. Cheryl and I can’t wait to host the next group.

Our Chihuahuan Desert Kitchen

The desert is not for everyone. I understand that. But, for whatever reason, I am attracted to the beauty of the desert like a moth to a porch light. It’s not any one thing in particular but instead several things conspiring together to draw me back again and again.

I like the long views, the amazing air, the heat of the day and the cool of the night, the first light of dawn and the signature of the sunset, dark skies crowded with stars and the silence of the night.

The desert is a spiritual place for me — one where I can practice neglected monastic disciplines like silence and solitude and simplicity. When I am away from noise and distractions that swirl around me like a desert dust devil then I can discern God’s voice a little easier.

I enjoy introducing others to the desert — the Chihuahuan Desert in particular. Our little off-grid cabin sits outside of Big Bend National Park and gives us easy access to some of the most magnificent landscapes in the Lone Star State. Cheryl and I have become amateur guides to friends who come to camp at our place.

We have been working hard to make our place as welcoming as possible. Every time we visit our cabin we invite our desert dwelling neighbors over for eats around the campfire. Always fun. To that end we added two fire pits and picnic tables that have seen lots of use.

We also added a shade structure to shelter an outdoor cooking area for those nights when the neighbors come over. On this trip we started and made a lot of progress on the outdoor cooking area under the structure.

I ordered our supplies from McCoy’s in Alpine and had them delivered directly to our place. The delivery arrived on time. Cheryl and I measured and marked and then staged supplies under the awning.

We started by setting the posts along the north side, taking great care to make sure every post was plumb. We then measured four-feet up and checked for level, marked and cut the posts.

Once the posts were cut to measure, we added the stringers to tie them all together to form the framework for the corrugated tin wall. We then painted all of the framework before cutting and installing the panels. I have to say that we love the look of the wall.

We had time to add one of the countertop areas. I took old reclaimed maple floor boards from a gym demo and made a butcher-block type countertop. I think it turned out pretty good. I then cut an oval to receive a galvanized pail sink. On our next trip I will add the drain and run the gray water line to a nearby mesquite.

The final step was painting and installing a Texas-flag themed backsplash. Love the way this all came together. Next steps will include adding a counter top to the opposite side that will be used as a serving area. And then we will add a fire place in the center between the two countertop areas.

We want for our Chihuahuan Desert kitchen to be a place where neighbors, friends, and family can enjoy good food and fellowship in view of the surrounding mesas and mountains and under the canopy of the Big Bend sky. Just another reason why the desert is a special place for me and for Cheryl.

Ending and Beginning at the Cabin

Whenever folks ask me how long it takes us to get from our home in the suburbs to our cabin in Big Bend, I usually reply by saying it only takes us 8 hours and 60 minutes. While that may seem like a long trip to some, Cheryl and I have grown accustomed to the drive — making only four stops along the way.

We generally leave our home in Katy at 6:00 AM and travel to Luling for breakfast at Buc-ee’s — stop number 1. From Buc-ee’s we head through San Antonio and on to Sonora where we take Exit 404 to get fuel — stop number 2.

From the Pilot gas station in Sonora we drive the short distance to Ozona to have lunch at the Dairy Queen — stop number 3. From Ozona we drive toward Fort Stockton where we turn south toward Alpine — stop number 4.

About 30 minutes or so south of Alpine we pass Elephant Mountain on our left and then a few minutes later Kokernot Mesa on our right before Nine Point Mesa comes into view. Our cabin is just west of Nine Point. Although it looks close at that point, it is still another half-hour away.

After enjoying the holidays with our family, Cheryl and I packed up and headed to our cabin to spend the last days of 2021 and to welcome the new year. We always have a list of projects big and small but really just wanted to get away to enjoy the beauty of this wide part of the Lone Star State.

We arrived to find that our neighbors Joe and Lisa had complete our new shade structure. We have fun plans for this space so stay tuned. We decided to celebrate with a cookout under the awning, so we invited a few of the neighbors to join us. It was good to reunite with friends who are just as captivated by the beauty of this place as we are.

The next day I prepped the iron posts and purlins on the shade structure for painting and spent the better part of a day going up and down a ladder to apply black matte finish oil base paint. I don’t like painting with oil base but do love the results. It was worth the messiness.

Cheryl was excited to try her hand at Dutch oven cooking. Using a recipe from a Dutch oven cookbook she received from our friend Karen Attaway, she cooked her first Dutch oven meal — a baked fideo dish that was absolutely delicious. Looking forward to more Dutch oven meals.

I piddled with some scrap wood in our container shop and made some Texas-themed key holders. I hung the wooden Texas flag craft that I made. I also hung one of my favorite pics that I took a few months ago along the magnificent River Road between Lajitas and Presidio. This pic hangs over our bed and is just like looking out a window.

A few months ago when our son Jonathan visited the cabin, we started digging a swale as a part of our permaculture plan for the property. The swale will allow us to capture and keep more ground water on the property during the monsoon season. We extended the swale by about another 25-feet. We’ll add some native rocks and stones later to mimic a dry stream bed.

The days and nights this week have been magnificent. No air conditioning or heat necessary in the cabin. However, as I write this post the temps are expected to drop into the upper 20’s so we might have to turn on the heater later tonight. Thankfully our cabin is well-insulated.

Cheryl and I have enjoyed quiet evenings listening to music, reading, and savoring the beyond-beautiful night skies here. Tomorrow we will join our friends for worship at Terlingua Ranch Community Church, enjoy lunch at the Bad Rabbit Cafe — our Sunday routine — and then get ready to leave for Katy early Monday morning.

We remain grateful for this place that is so soothing for our souls and embraces us with the amazing beauty of God’s handiwork in the Chihuahuan Desert. The words of another describe how we feel about our little place in the desert: From the outside looking in folks don’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it. Thanks for following our adventure.

The Homer Wilson Ranch Trail

Big Bend National Park is an adventure-seekers paradise. From short day hikes to longer thru-hikes or off-road four-wheeling to night time star gazing, Big Bend is a Texas treasure that just keeps on giving.

Those interested in learning about the history that preceded the official establishment of the national park in 1944 can roam among the ruins of some of the original homesteads in this wide part of Texas. These sites are accessible by way clearly defined trails, mostly half a mile or less in distance one way.

The Homer Wilson Ranch Trail (or Blue Creek Trail) is one of my personal favorites. The Homer Wilson Blue Creek Ranch was established in 1929 and was one of the largest in Texas, comprising more than 28,000 acres — home to 4,000 sheep and 2,500 goats. The ranch was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

The trailhead is located at a scenic overlook a little less than 8 miles from the northern end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. This overview offers sweeping vistas of Blue Creek Valley — once the operational center of the Homer Wilson Ranch. If you look carefully you will see what remains of the old line camp on the bank of Blue Creek.

The trail leading to the old line camp is an easy downhill stroll that crosses two drainages and then climbs to the house on the bank of Blue Creek. For many years, this ranch house was home to Wilson’s foreman, Lott Felts.

Although abandoned in 1945, what remains of the ranch house is more than enough to give visitors an idea of what ranch life must have been like in the days before the establishment of the national park. The house was well built, featuring a flagstone floor, high ceilings, a centrally located fireplace, and a covered porch.

Hidden in the surrounding brush are the remains of a circular corral for the training of young horses, a rainwater cistern, a dipping vat and chute for sheep and goats, and a few other remnants of ranch life. The entire area is a time capsule worth exploring.

The half-mile hike back to the parking area is all uphill but not difficult at all. When hiking in Big Bend, always remember to take a hydration pack or bottled water — even on short hikes. If you are interested in hikes that will help you to learn about the history of Big Bend National Park, definitely include the Homer Wilson Ranch Trail hike on your day-adventures agenda.

From Curbside Trash to Cabin Treasure

I have always been attracted to broken things. I think it’s because I enjoy looking beyond the actualities in something tossed aside to consider the possibilities. Giving broken and discarded items a second chance can yield some pretty cool results.

A couple of weeks ago I drove a friend home from a meeting and noticed a large trash pile in front of his neighbor’s home. Among the bulging bags of garbage was a yellow bench that looked to be in pretty good shape — at least it did from a distance.

I walked over, picked up the bench, and put it in the bed of my truck. When I got it home and did a closer inspection, I discovered all of the reasons why the bench had been tossed to the curb.

All of the joints were wobbly and weak. The mortise and tenons on one of the cross-braces had rotted away. The paint job was a globby-bad mess and there was considerable dry-rot on one of the armrests.

No worries!

I could not wait to get the bench to the cabin to start the repair and restoration process. I made a list of things I would need and only had to buy some wood dowels and plastic wood filler for this project. I had everything else in my shop. This project would cost me about $15.00 total.

The first thing I did was to address all of the loose joints. I cleaned and sanded these areas and then drilled holes and glued in reinforcing poplar dowels. I then reattached the horizontal cross-brace using poplar dowels. I clamped everything together to give the glue time to dry.

The next step was to address the dry rot in the armrest. I applied layers of pliable plastic wood and built the area up. Once it dried I sanded the area down, following the shape of the armrest. With this final step complete it was time to paint the bench.

I wanted to keep with the Texas-themed outdoor furniture at the cabin, so I painted the bench red and then added a small lone star medallion in the center of the backrest. I used the official Texas flag shades of red, white, and blue.

I love the finished product. We will keep this bench on the small front porch of the cabin where it fits perfectly. Cheryl and I enjoy sitting on the porch in the evenings, waiting for the stars to populate the Big Bend night sky. We will enjoy sitting on our salvaged bench that only took a few dollars and a few hours to be transformed from curbside trash into another little cabin treasure.

Hot Springs Loop Trail in Big Bend

Big Bend National Park is one of the absolutely must-see places in the Lone Star State. Bordered by a 118-mile stretch of the Rio Grande River to the South, the park encompasses more than 800,000 acres of magnificent Chihuahuan Desert landscapes.

In 2012, Big Bend National Park was awarded International Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark-Sky Association. The park boasts the darkest skies of any national park in the lower 48 states. There are no words to describe the breathtaking nights in this wide part of Texas.

Big Bend National Park also has a variety of hiking trails for every skill level — all of which offer their respective spectacular vistas. Whether you are interested in a tough multi-day thru-hike or a short and easy stroll, Big Bend does not disappoint.

The Big Bend Hot Springs Trail is a 1.2 mile loop trail with a modest 144-feet of elevation gain. The trailhead is located at the end of a two-mile gravel road that descends down a rough, narrow wash to the Hot Springs Historic District. There is ample parking there.

The Hot Springs Historic District preserves the history of this popular location in the park. In the early 1900s, a man from Mississippi named J.O. Langford was suffering from malaria-related health concerns. He traveled to Alpine, Texas with his pregnant wife and young daughter in hopes that the desert climate would improve his health.

While in Alpine, Langford heard about hot springs along the Rio Grande that would cure anything. Without having seen the place, Langford headed to the county surveyor’s office and filed a claim under the homestead act to secure the hot springs and adjacent land. He then loaded up his wagon and traveled eleven days from Alpine to his newly-acquired tract.

After Langford regained his health by taking a three-week treatment of bathing and drinking the spring water, he opened the springs to others seeking to improve their health. He built a bath house over the springs and charged 10 cents per day or $2.00 for a three-week treatment.

A country store, restaurant, post office, and lodging followed, making the area a popular tourist destination. The remnants of these buildings still stand as mute testimony to the attraction of the hot springs.

The Hot Spring Loop Trail leads to what remains of Langford’s bathhouse. The hot 105-degree spring water is retained in the perimeter of the old foundation, forming a large square bathtub. Soakers can sit and gaze at the Rio Grande and across to Mexico.

The Hot Spring Loop Trail continues for a bit beyond the hot springs and then takes a turn up the bluff. The views from this section of the trail are magnificent. Distant purple-hued mountains draw your eyes upward past the sagebrush and ocotillo that look like something transplanted from a Martian landscape.

The trail eventually loops back toward the trailhead and parking area, descending behind the remnants of the old general store. The hike is relatively easy and the views are better than spectacular. If you visit Big Bend and are limited on time, then this is a must-do hike that will reward you with great views.

Fort Davis Drug Store Restaurant

Fort Davis, now a National Historic Site, was established in 1854 in the heart of the Davis Mountains. The site is one of the best surviving examples of a frontier military post built to protect mail carriers and travelers along the San Antonio Road.

After the Civil War, several regiments of Buffalo Soldiers were assigned to Fort Davis and served under the command of Second Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper, the first African American graduate of West Point. These soldiers served admirably and played a key role in keeping travelers safe.

The present-day town of Fort Davis surrounds the well preserved ruins of the old fort and is the county seat of Jeff Davis County. Situated on Limpia Creek at the intersection of State Highways 17 and 118, the town boasts beautiful views of the surrounding Davis Mountains.

The main drag is lined with quaint shops and a variety of eateries to satisfy every appetite. Flanked by the historic Hotel Limpia on one end and Stone Village Market on the opposite end, everything in between is stroll worthy. Shop owners are welcoming and super friendly.

After several days of hiking at Big Bend National Park and Davis Mountains State Park, my friend Doyle and I headed to the historic Fort Davis Drug Store for lunch. This cool restaurant features delicious made-from-scratch meals — including amazing desserts and a vintage 1950’s style ice cream soda fountain.

I ordered the Mile High Hamburger and added Pepper Jack cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles and a side order of homemade onion rings. This burger features a one-third pound all-beef patty and is served on toasted Kaiser buns.

The patty was cooked to perfection, the bacon was more on the crispier side like I prefer, and the buns were slightly toasted and very fresh. From the first to the last bite, this burger was delicious. And the onion rings were the perfect compliment. So glad I ordered this burger. It was more than enough to fill me up and energize me for a final afternoon hike.

Fort Davis is off the beaten interstate path but definitely worth a visit, not just for the food, but for the shops and a look at the historic old fort. I look forward to returning on a future day trip from our place in Big Bend. I hope you will add Fort Davis to your future Texas road trip bucket list. You’ll be glad you did.

Sunsets and Stars at Big Bend

From ancient times, mankind has had a fascination with the sky and all things related to the heavens — a curiosity that is far less common today because we tend to spend our evenings indoors.

David, the young shepherd boy who became the most famous king of ancient Israel, spent much of his boyhood under the stars. His fascination with the heavens led him to write the eighth psalm in which he concluded that God placed a greater value on him than on any stars or planets in the cosmos.

When I was a much younger man, I explored the ancient paths of Machu Picchu, a lost city of the Incas, nestled high in the Andes Mountains. I learned about the profound knowledge these ancients had about the night skies. The Inca constructed many structures in harmony with what they understood about the heavens.

I have had the privilege of looking up at the heavens from locations around the globe far from the light pollution that robs so many of an unobscured view of the stars. I have spent hours gazing at the darkest skies in the world from Darfur to the steppes of Mongolia to vantage points high in the Himalayas.

The heavens are one of the reasons we started our off-grid adventure in Big Bend — a place that boasts some of the darkest skies in the United States. Big Bend is famous for its magnificent star-studded skies bisected by the visibly bright band of the Milky Way. There are no words. You have to experience these skies for yourself.

Every dark night in Big Bend is preceded by an explosion of colors as the moon chases the sun toward the welcoming western horizon. Sunsets in Big Bend are breathtaking and never — and I do mean never — disappoint. Each and every evening, the sun leaves its impermanent signature across the sky in ever-changing combinations of colors.

There is something good about contemplating the heavens and slowing down enough to watch the sunset introduce the night. We should all do more of this — looking up at the stars more than down at our feet and the mire of the moment. It’s hard not to dream or to smile or to breathe in wonder when we look at sunsets and stars. God gave us these gifts for a reason — so make the time to unwrap them. You will not be disappointed.