Lightening Bugs (& Perhaps Even Beer)
It was sometime last week, and it was every Summer cliche your mind could generate: My friend and neighbor, Audra, walked over for a visit. We stood in the driveway together and talked about upcoming weddings and vacations. All those events that define Summer. Our husbands, arms crossed and beers in hand, complained enthusiastically about a host of topics which included (but were not limited to) the local recycling center and the high cost of home repairs. Our sweaty children turned flips on the trampoline until the lightening bugs signaled, through their Morse code of green flashes, that it was time to come down and play in the grass.
“Look, Miss Ginger,” Audra’s youngest said, her clasped hands and bright smile aimed upward to me. “Look, I caught a lightening bug!” Her wrists touched, formed a hinge, and as the scallop shell of her tiny hands opened, every conversation momentarily ceased. The insect took off. We visually trailed it’s flight until, at last, it began to blink and glow.
It is often said (and I would agree) that children are gifts from God. I like to think that lightening bugs are one of God’s gifts to children. They are impossibly easy catch. Consider how low-to-the-ground they linger. Think for a moment about how slowly they fly. How densely they fill the air. And always in Summer, when bed times come a little later. Always at dusk, when the abating heat of the sun, in combination with the pressure of an impending bath, inspires one last hour of outdoor play. That is when the lightening bugs come out. They don’t bite, and they don’t sting or smell. They glow. They blink. And their blinking, the anticipation of it, causes us to be still. To focus. To watch and wait.
I have a clear understanding of, and respect for, natural selection; for the way in which it shapes each creature on Earth. There is, I know, a perfectly reasonable explanation for why these insects fly so slowly. Why they circle two feet above the grass. Why they illuminate. I feel that there is something divine about them too, though. About the lightening bugs. Something divine, also, about time spent with our friends and our families. About all there is to enjoy in the Summer. Maybe even about cold beer. And they are so easy to catch, these moments of joy. If we will be still, and if we will watch closely, we will see that the light of Heaven is here on Earth. It is dense, on level with us, and blinking all around.