Last weekend we gathered in southeastern Ohio to celebrate my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary.
That’s a lot of years, y’all.
It’s a lot of loads of laundry, a lot of head colds, a lot of technological advances, a lot of pancakes, a lot of choosing the hard thing when you’re already tired, a lot of vehicles, a lot of yard mowing, a lot of packing lunches, a lot of miles in the car.
For an afternoon the house was filled with extended family. The Baton Rouge Sparkette flew in (in an airplane, of course…we’re an advanced people, but not that advanced), The Far-Away Sparkette and her husband and all the Grand Sparks drove in, the Sparkette came with Mr. Sparky and myself, and lots of uncles, aunts, and cousins came and filled the back yard, the living room, the back porch, the dining room, and the garage. The garage was temporarily set up as Party Central, and we made a few tables groan with the weight of a delicious potluck dinner. My sister, the master planner of this shindig, did a bang-up job.
The next evening the Baton Rouge Sparkette and my dad went into the garage to take down some balloons still hanging in there as decorations. I was busy inside when they came back in.
“There’s an awesome sunset,” the Baton Rouge Sparkette informed me. “We’re going to see if we can see it better from the backyard.”
I immediately dropped what I was doing and followed her and my Dad out into the backyard. It was our last night in Ohio and I didn’t want to miss a good Ohio Valley sky.
We found ourselves a bit disappointed by the view. The trees and grown so much that they blocked all but some of the color higher in the sky.
“In the winter we can see straight through,” said Dad. “The leaves really change things for the summer.”
We stood a moment, admiring what little we could see. And then Dad got an idea.
“We could hop in the car and drive up to the top of the hill to see it there.”
“We could do that?” the BR Sparkette asked hopefully.
“Sure. Let’s go!”
We sped back through the house, slipping on shoes as we headed to the car. Within a couple of minutes we were at the highest point in the neighborhood, and…more trees.
We once again tried to mitigate our disappointment by admiring the color high in the sky. And then the Sparkette got an idea.
“Could we maybe drive down towards the river to see if we could see it there?”
“Sure,” Dad said, immediately turning the car to head down the hill. We left the neighborhood and crossed the highway for a clear view of the river valley. No trees blocking our view. Just pure, glorious color lighting up the sky as the hills around us and the cornfield in front of us slowly settled into dusk.
But I couldn’t get a photo to do it justice. The bridge right in front of us didn’t even show up on any of the photos.
Dad tried, too.
I did get a nice shot of the Baton Rouge Sparkette. She is easily as pretty as a sunset.
We stood for a while, watching the sky grow brighter as the cornfields in front of us grew darker. Traffic whizzed by on the highway behind us, but we barely noticed. We were too enraptured by the show in front of us.
And then came the dancers.
Up from the grass in front of us arose a troupe of the stars of the ballet of the summer evening: fireflies. Or as we call them, lightning bugs. They lit the fields with their sparkle and glow, gracefully arcing across the landscape with an enchanting blink…blink…blink…
In that moment I thought I must surely be the most blessed woman on the face of the earth. I was watching the splendor of a glorious sunset with my Dad and my daughter in the place I call home (even though I haven’t actually lived there in 28 years) as the cooling damp of the Ohio River air crept across the cornfields and lifted a chorus of illuminated dancers into the air right in front of us, accompanied by the chirp and buzz of crickets and other nighttime singers.
If this isn’t abundance, I don’t know what is.
And it all started because a quick glance at the sky told my dad and my daughter that there was something at hand worth pursuing. Worth leaving what we were doing, worth heading outdoors into the backyard, worth putting on our shoes, worth getting in the car, worth driving up the hill, worth driving down the hill, worth getting out of the car, worth waiting, worth watching.
I have to wonder how many times God flashes potential abundance before us and we miss it because we do not recognize the worth of the bit of potential.
Had we accepted the limitations of our back yard view, it still would have been a good evening. We would have thought the sky beautiful and we would have been glad to have seen it. It would have been enough, and we would have been grateful for it.
But the simple act of chasing sunset transformed enough into more than enough. Into abundance.
Into life with overflow.