Firefly Time (June 2018)

I love summer time. In the evening, the sun hangs low and makes impossible shapes filled with gold and green. The sound of lawn mowers dies away for the day. People come out to walk their dogs and water their gardens. Friendly neighbors call out to each other across the street.

Then, as the sun goes down, birds relay good-night messages to each other from tree to tree. The corners of the yard turn to shadow. And here and there, one by one, the fireflies start to come out.

I’ve loved fireflies ever since I was a little boy. When I was 5 or 6, I would go out barefoot in the in the field behind my grandparents’ house and catch them every evening. My cousins and I would follow the fireflies and count their flashes. We would stare at them in our cupped hands and then let them go.

Like every other kid, I caught a dozen or more fireflies and put them in a Ball Mason jar, and brought them inside at bed time to see if they made enough light for me to read by. They never did, but it was a magical time to lie there in bed with my jar full of fireflies at eye level on the bedside table next to me.

Years later, when I was newly married, I caught a bunch of fireflies and let them loose in the bedroom. The magic was still there – the pale fire, blinking and glittering in the night. (Catching them the next day and letting them go was another story.)

I’ve often thought that fireflies are one of God’s special gifts to the world. You never see them during the day time. I don’t know where they go – do they hide under leaves, or burrow into the ground, or camouflage themselves against a tree, or what?

But at night they come out, and call to each other across what must be (to them) vast distances in the yard. I imagine them calling out to the rest of the infinite world, “HERE I AM! HERE I AM!”

I wonder about how much our lives are like the fireflies. By comparison to God’s time, we’re here for such a brief while. Most people never even try to let their light shine. But every so often, you meet someone whose life calls out to the rest of the world, “HERE I AM! HERE I AM!” Maybe God sees us, and loves us, in the same way that we enjoy the fireflies.

Summer is a good time to sit back and enjoy simple things, to laugh and have fun and be a kid again, to read a book, to paddle a canoe, to sit with friends and talk together over a cold drink and a hamburger, to watch the stars, to learn the names of flowers, to remember days gone by and plan for days ahead.

Summer is a good time to feel the grass under your bare feet, to be lazy at the pool or at the beach, to feel the warm sun on your shoulders and see the majesty of the lightning and thunder, and give thanks to God for everything.

School is out, and there are lots of new things to do and different things to learn. Lessons from the fireflies, lessons from the clouds. Most of what I know about nature, and a lot that I know about life, came from the summers I spent at my grandparents’ house.

Church services have a different feeling in summer – people are more relaxed, no one wears a tie, there are cookouts and social times and special programs for the youth. It’s still church, but somehow it’s more easy-going.

Summer is for enjoying all the new fruits and vegetables as they each come into season. Fresh-picked strawberries or a sun-ripe tomato, new sweet corn or a crisp, cool watermelon, are all part of the blessings of summer. God is here, and we are a part of God’s world.

– Josh Brown