Saturday night we did one of my favorite local things and caught a Louisville City game. LCFC is temporarily housed at Slugger Field (to the chagrin, I know, of many a local baseball fan) while a new stadium is being built in Butchertown.
Slugger Field sits just downtown along the Ohio River. If you are in the right section of seats, and happen to be catching an evening game on a clear night, you’ll get the bonus of a gorgeous sunset while your team plays. Saturday was exactly such a clear night–and just as halftime was coming up for the City men, I looked up, and saw that the tallest points of the Abraham Lincoln bridge, normally a steely gray, were burnished pure gold in the fading light of the sun.
For two blessed seconds, everything else blurred and went quiet and all I could see was the pink and gold and peach fire of the sun settling down across this town I love so much, turning everything in its evening path into something beautiful.
I am long overdue for a early morning beach sunrise or a mountain sunset or just getting lost in a small tourist town and discovering something lovely where you least expect it. And maybe I’d be feeling that overdue-ness anyway (because work and life and middle school and everything else), but I suspect I am not alone in this keen sense that, these days, beauty is hard to find.
There is very little around us testifying to real beauty. Oh sure, there are advertisements. And TV shows. And social media posts telling us how to be better, fast, thinner, whatever-er. But none of that is real. And on top of it is this vicious layer of broken relationships and hate and mistrust and shouting matches and finger pointing. And, at least where I live, heat, as the world’s most stubborn summer refuses to go gently into the good night of fall. Things feel angry. Chaotic. Unsettled.
Meanwhile, we’re missing sunsets. And moon rises. And the simple goodness of a still backyard, early in the morning, before the world is quite awake, when for even the tiniest moment my heart is able to remember what it means for something or someone to truly be beautiful. We’re missing the hearts of our children expressing themselves in art and song and poetry.
We’re missing the very thing we are wired for–physical connection with one another and with the earth that sustains us.
Last night at a busy and noisy restaurant, I sat across from my own tween and our sweet friend Livy–two twelve year-olds, both of whom were caught up in YouTube videos as dinner wound down and folks were getting up to say goodbye. Suddenly one of them squealed, “Looookkk!!!” and began flashing around her phone for all to see–a meme depicting Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse, two characters who are not generally seen together. But the essence of the meme told a story of Mickey having shared his clothes with Pooh Bear, such that Mickey now only wears red shorts and Pooh now only wears a red shirt–shorts and shirt that were, so the meme indicated, once one outfit that is now shared between friends.
“It’s so sweet!” they both said. “That’s such a great way to look at it!”
See? Beauty. In a new story of old characters. In two middle school girls who understood that the new story mattered. In a depiction of deep friendship, where what one friend has is shared with another friend in need.
Y’all, we are aching for real relationship. And we are aching for the beauty of a stellar sunset. Because far too much around us is ugly. Mean. Selfish. Greedy. Fake.
And we’re going to have to open our hearts and eyes far wider, with much more intention, if we’re going to notice that all around us is evidence of goodness in the world, of grace on the job, doing its merciful and salvific work, of love refusing to bow down to the voices of hate.
All around us are normal things like steel bridge supports being made into sacred and beautiful altars to a just and loving Creator, when we’ve eyes to see that even in our darkest moments–as people, as communities, as a nation–there is light pulsing within, begging to be seen.
Light a candle or sing a song or breathe a prayer or hold a hand or take a walk against what’s ugly today. Insist on searching for beauty. I know…it seems a lot to ask on a gray Monday morning when there is so much to do and so much to fear and so much to worry about.
Do it anyway. Because my hunch is that none of us will have to search very far.