Lightning and Lightning Bugs

Photo by Timothy Kirkpatrick 2011

One evening, I watched as fireflies danced with rhythmic streaks of golden illumination. In the distance, lightning jumped from cloud to cloud, spreading indigo tendrils through the darkness. The fireflies produced cold light and the lightning heat. The first one signaling to attract. The second tearing apart atmospheric gasses. One a function of an intricate biological system, the other of the physical properties of temperature and charge. Both are a surprise to our human senses. Both challenge our minds to contemplate the opposing qualities.

I love to catch lightning bugs in my hands, to fold my fingers around their luminescence as little legs tickle my palms. It is an exercise in grasping at the intangible. This beauty is something that I am not capable of keeping for long. If I open my hand to take a peek, the lightning bug will fly from my grasp. Again and again, I try to keep it, this light, this attraction, this miracle in darkness. In holding tight to this the biological treasure, I am at the same time prevented from beholding its soft illumination. What if I slowly opened my hand and the phosphorescent creature stayed? Could I dare to hold the Creator’s surprising beauty in the palm of my hand, and still allow it freedom? What if people did the same for each other…to hold loosely and to be grateful for another’s light?


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