It has been the perfect hot and humid weather for the fireflies. Most of us remember magical clouds of them appearing on summer nights when we were children. I had never seen them before on the northwest corner of my well mowed little lawn at Kendal. But Friday night, after I turned off the lights preparing for bed, I was about to lower the blind on my open window and there they were. They were not exactly blinking in a mass but there were enough to spark joy in the spectacle. I sat down on the floor beside my bed and watched their flashing dance as an invitation to meditate.
Eventually I began to grow sleepy and so lowered the blind and settled into bed. A couple of hours later I heard the growl of thunder. I rolled over to sit up and close my window in case of rain and noticed repeated flashes of light in the sky as if someone were rapidly flicking on and off a light switch. I opened my blinds to check it out and saw lightning captured within storm clouds well to our north. It was dramatic to see even with no actual zigzags of electrical discharge visible to me. In fact, the storm slowly moved away from us altogether and I saw only damp ground in the morning with a few glistening drops hanging on the leaves.
This became a metaphor for me- the microcosm of tiny lightning bugs presaging the macrocosm of lightning in a thunderstorm. The planet receives forty-four lightning strikes every second. Beyond the light of hope that I endeavor to hold within the small microcosm of my personal window on the world, there is always a concurrent release of light elsewhere in the macrocosm. This sort of light is not recorded by satellites or material instruments, but I have faith that there are millions of other small lights holding hope and taking positive action in the midst of the tragedy, destruction, injustice, ignorance, and fear that surrounds us.
I am not alone in seeing opportunity within the dark revelations that the spotlight of outrage has revealed. As frightening as the uncertainty of chaos may be, there is also an uprising of many people taking a visible stand for real change around the globe. I am well aware that the destructive ripple effects of these historical events will be with us for a long time. Substantial change may not happen in my lifetime, but then again, I also did not foresee this level of crisis due to the pandemic in my lifetime.
Because of changes in the environment, fireflies have been disappearing, but they are not gone. Addressing the losses of planetary health and freedom and justice for all people is hard and uncomfortable work. Fortunately, there is no going back to what was considered normal. The foundations for a new way forward are not gone but still there to be built upon. Meanwhile, I look towards the gradual accumulation of millions of small lights, hoping we will one day re-cover our wounded world.