September 15, 2022
On my way to a conference in Philadelphia, I’m spending a few days with my parents in Erie, PA. We spent our first evening enjoying a lovely sunset on the peninsula of Lake Erie, and my youngest sister bragged that Erie has been ranked as providing the world’s 3rd best sunsets. Who was I to argue as we took in a divine display of color and beauty.
It was a curious ranking – 3rd best sunsets – a quick internet search yielded no results of the statistic that was likely invented by a marketing team. But it offers an intriguing perspective. They don’t claim to be the best. They don’t need to be the best. But they are confident of their worth – that what they have to offer is worthy of celebrating. They are worthy of at least a runner up ribbon – not to be belittled in any way even if they aren’t the top-rank of any superlative category. It struck me as a ranking of joy – a ranking of value – a ranking worth being proud of against the worldly pressure that tries to say only the best of the best have any value; that nothing else is good enough.
In my work of Public Witness, I keep returning to this notion of abundance – that everyone is deserving of enough. There is more than enough to go around – if only we don’t allow certain individuals the power to confiscate much more than they need at the expense of others. It is when greed and theft enter the picture that inequality and injustice and abound.
The world offers so much, and yet, it is so easy to negate what we have by comparing it to what we long for – or what marketing campaigns tell us we should long for. Abundance acknowledges that what we have doesn’t need perfect, or to be the best, it just needs to be enough. And it is, if only we can return to valuing what we have for what it is, not what it isn’t.
Now I’ve seen some lovely sunsets in my life, many of which from the front steps of my home. Each one was a piece of beauty, a work of art. I’d hate to spoil any of the memories by trying to rank them – placing higher and lower value on any because of how they compare to something they aren’t. Can’t they all be beautiful, all be precious, worthy of at least a runner up ribbon? Third best is quite beautiful, after all – worthy of savoring.
Thanks be to God for the abundance of sunsets and beauty and joy in our lives.