Fragments of Light

The Light from Cape Cod

In this blog, we present another except from Gabriele Wilpers’ lecture, “The Gate of Longing,” which she presented last April at the Community of Jesus. The workshop setting, at Rock Harbor on the shores of Cape Cod Bay (one of the few places on the east coast of North America where the sun sets over the sea), provided a perfect opportunity to reflect on the beauty of the sea and the glory of the setting sun.

The Light from Cape Cod

Evening sun, evening red, heavenly light, heavenly fire, sunset evening light . . . these natural spectacles offer us an incomparable experience. The evening sun, with its heavenly light, like heavenly fire, immerses the sky and the ocean in a spectacular play of colors — yellow, orange, red, and violet. The cover of clouds appears to tear open and the setting sun leaves behind silver, dark blue, and turquoise light. We hear the roar of the waves, taste the salty air, and feel the fine sand under our feet; we want to linger.

Here at Rock Harbor on the shores of Cape Cod Bay we have an example of a place of longing where such spectacles continually reoccur. I have experienced myself how many people gather here every evening shortly before the sun sinks into the sea: some come with musical instruments, others place their chairs around an American flag stuck in the sand, some stay in their cars, others stand on the jetty on whose railings bronze plaques commemorate their loved ones, keeping them close in their thoughts. But they all have only one focus, the sun setting on the horizon.

The renowned light of Cape Cod has lead many people here, including numerous artists like Rothko, Pollack, and Hopper . . .

And after the sun disappears beyond the horizon, people clap enthusiastically. Hardly another landscape is as attractive as the ocean. People euphorically report how they stood on the beach with their families and experienced the breadth of the sea. Elation! As our view wanders undisturbed to the horizon we have an incomparable feeling of freedom, one that is an unending and enlarged expanse of happiness.

Sunset is always a moment of quiet devotion in which time seems to stand still. Time and timelessness are inherent to man. This is significant and irrevocable. The desire to be free from time is deeply rooted in our human nature. We know that when we reflect and meditate we can experience for ourselves this freedom from time. The happiness of looking is experiencing the small moments in life.


Friedrich, Monk by the Sea, 1808-1810

Caspar David Friedrich, Monk By the Sea, 1808-1810.


Gabriele Wilpers is a multi-faceted artist from Essen, Germany. Her biography appears following our previous blog post.

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