What I Saw In The Golden Hour

May 4, 2015

It is called the Golden Hour or, sometimes, the Magic Hour. Photographers and filmmakers revere it.

It rarely, if ever, lasts an hour. Usually it is less, though in the far north in deep winter, it might last all day. It is that period just after sunrise, or, more usually, just before sunset when the light is warm and soft and shadows are long and gentle.

During our winters, golden hour is something I glimpse from a window in mid-afternoon. A sight that causes me to pause. For a moment.

Now that it is spring, golden hour is more like a place. We might wander in and out of the house all day, but as sunset nears a new door opens. It no longer matters what indoor tasks are pressing on us (homework, dinner prep, a pile of laundry on the dining-room table). When that door opens we will stay outside until the door swings shut and every last, golden drop vanishes.


This week, in this magic evening place, I have seen a two-year-old girl, her hair the same color as the light, kneel in a sea of violets. She used a stick to stir a basket overflowing with dandelions. She was so focused on her fluffy, yellow stew that she never saw the pink magnolia petals drifting behind her back. She never noticed the bright green buds from the maple tree dusting her shoulders.

This week, in the golden place, I have seen a brother and sister roll their bodies down a green hill, over and over again. My own shadow was so long, reaching toward them, it seemed as if I could wrap shadow arms around them while they rolled. I could use shadow hands to help them back onto their feet.

In the golden hour, all kinds of burdens are lifted. Dinner and homework and laundry matter so much less. Even the daily burden of gravity seems to lift. In this light, we walk somewhere between the earth and the sky, belonging equally to both. When the two-year-old cries, “I catch the moon!” I believe her.


Here is what I have seen in the golden hour: my children are beautiful, the earth is gentle, there is no reason, ever, to be afraid.

Here is why I hesitate to share what I have seen: Baltimore burns, another young black man is dead, wars rage, a marriage is ending, young parents grieve a baby’s diagnosis, a friend has landed back in the hospital.

I am strongly tempted to keep the vision of golden hour a secret. I know that my world is not the whole world. Do I tempt you toward jealousy if I say that this week my life, between the hours of six and eight, is almost unbearably beautiful?


Yet if I am silent then some essential part of the story goes missing.

CNN and NPR tell their stories, and we feel duty-bound to hear them. What about the good news? What about those dispatches from the golden hours?

The door to that place opens and closes according to a will that is not ours. Some evenings bring clouds and rain, and we are given only darkness.

I cannot even begin to guess why this is so.

But I hope that when the clouds move in, and darkness once again surrounds me, that you – yes, you – will have the courage to share your golden visions.

That I might know more of the story and take heart.

That I might glimpse the ending of it all and have hope.





  1. Sarah

    This is very much my current life experience, and I am so glad you shared. You’ve reminded me that when glory and goodness are hard to come by, the evidence of it can still be found in the lives of others…if they are brave enough to share.

  2. Tresta

    I’m with you, Christie. Dispatches from the golden hour can feel so indulgent in a world of despair, but we all need it. We all need a glimpse of beauty, even if it comes from someone else’s view. Thanks for sharing your light!

    • Christie Purifoy

      Indulgent, yes. That’s exactly the right word, Tresta. It feels indulgent, but it might be just the gift someone else needs.

  3. Sue Tell

    Beautifully, poetically, in a way I get, written. Oh how we need the glimpses of beauty. Thank you for drawing me in, helping me long, creating wonder.

    I was in your state this week. Oh how I wanted to wander from Bedford to your home and be pampered with your friendship.

    Love from Colorado.

  4. Jennifer Chandler

    Christie, that is just beautiful. I know the hour. I can just picture the light there. But more than that I have those same thoughts – the hesitancy of sharing when there is so much difficulty in the world. Yes, I think it is wrong of us not to share our magical moments because they are inspiring and uplifting. Beauty doesn’t trivialize pain. Beauty makes pain endurable.

  5. Ashley Hales

    Beautiful Christie. Such lovely images and words and lines strung together. We all need beauty. We need beauty in despair; we need hope. Keep writing.

  6. Danielle

    Yes yes. “That I might glimpse the ending of it all and have hope.”

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thank you, Danielle. You capture this light beautifully.

  7. Cara Strickland

    This is so lovely (and so true).
    Thank you for speaking out from your golden place, friend.

  8. Briana

    As one who is naturally rather melancholy and has such a hard time receiving these kinds of glory gifts from God unrestrained from guilt knowing there are others suffering so much, I appreciate you sharing your golden hour moments with us.
    I am learning that to receive and share such gifts is as much a part of light not being overcome by darkness as is taking on the burdens and brokenness of others around me.
    I am learning to do both.

  9. Shelly Miller

    You just always say things so beautifully. Thinking about you today . . .

  10. Larry Ebaugh

    Hi Christie,

    I hope you and your family are well. I’m just reading now about your Golden Hour. When I started reading I felt a bit of leftover tension from something that happened earlier. The more I read, the more I felt the tension lifting. Are you sure you’re not an angel in disguise?

    Golden Hour or Magic Hour? A rose called by any other name is still a rose. God bless you. I’m glad that we met some years ago . . .

  11. Diana Trautwein

    Glory, glory. I’m late but right on time – and I thank you, Christie, for your visit to beauty, for your reflection on it, your celebration of it. WE NEED IT. Lord, give us eyes to see.

  12. Amy

    I came here by way of Ann Voskamp’s porch. I love the golden hour, and I think much of what I treasure up is from it… but I’ve often felt conflicted sharing what I’ve found there, so thank you for writing this. I do need to remember that in my darkest times, what I craved most was, as a friend puts it, “a light in the tunnel that isn’t an oncoming train.”



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