In the light of dusk, I studied the bridge from a distant vantage point. The Hercilio Luz Bridge is an elegant marvel of engineering. The longest suspension bridge in Brazil, it connects Santa Catarina Island to the mainland. But soon my gaze shifted to the peacefully retiring sun and shadowy silhouettes of fishing boats and wooden skiffs on the bay.

Attraction to a sunset hints at something far more profound than daylight slipping below the horizon. In “Sundown,” Longfellow muses about the passing of time. “The summer sun is sinking low, only the tree-tops redden and flow… On the road of life one milestone more! In the book of life one leaf turned o’er!” To pause and enjoy a sunset is to be aware of the passing of time, of deeds done and words spoken, of opportunities missed and embraced. Something so beautiful tends to slow life down to a reflective crawl. We linger amidst our thoughts.

But humans are not content to only observe beauty. We create beauty in images, sounds, and words. We who are created in God’s image, in turn create beauty – from primitive art in a cave to modern bridges in a city. Humans are unique, and uniquely able to reason about our uniqueness. “The proof of it is here,” Chesterton writes. “It sounds like a truism to say that the most primitive man drew a picture of a monkey and that it sounds like a joke to say that the most intelligent monkey drew a picture of a man.”

Leonard Bernstein, the famous orchestra conductor, ventured beyond the musical score when reflecting on Beethoven. He “has the real goods,” Bernstein said, “the stuff from Heaven, the power to make you feel at the finish: Something is right in the world… something we can trust, that will never let us down.” Bernstein wasn’t particularly religious but reasoned that beautiful music is a clue about the human soul and the beyond.

Whether natural or manmade, beauty elicits certain longings. Music – contentment. A child’s face – innocence. A family portrait – love. These longings, even unfulfilled, mean something. “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Your desire for sunsets is never satisfied because they remind you of the passing of time, of another world. Today is in the books. Tomorrow’s destiny is a bit closer. God has set eternity in your heart (Ecc. 3:1) and beauty is your clue that the Eternal exists. “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psa. 8:3-4).