Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On Fireflies and Gratitude

I'm back in the Land of Pain for a few days, having returned for my son's high school graduation. It's a bittersweet event no matter what the circumstances, and this year's relationship disruption intensified both characteristics.

I am proud of my tall son, behind who's strengthening face I can see the soft lines of a young child. Proud of many things, not least of which is his shouldering through the clamoring voices of those who label me evil incarnate to permit short moments of time with me. It would be easier for him to be pulled completely in and simply cut me off as others have. But he hasn't, and I am grateful. Proud and grateful.

I will have a few hours with him today and tomorrow. And I am grateful.

I don't think I could stand up against the pain if it weren't for the amazing generousity of our great God.

DiDi and I camped the first few days in the area. It's a good way to save money and gain peace. Our final night found the campground deserted. We were the only tent left, a long way from other humans. Cell phones can't get service there. Last year a woman at the site said she'd seen a bear walking through camp.

We took precautions with food and did the right things. I didn't feel at risk, but for some reason DiDi's antenna were twitching. She has keen spiritual feelers and gut instinct, and takes the issue of safety and protection seriously. Something had her warning bells clanging.

I put my own feelers out, listening for the quiet whisper of the Spirit issuing warning or reassurance. I felt peace.

And so we stayed, lifting prayers for protection.

DiDi couldn't shake it though.

We went to bed knowing there was a full day ahead, breaking camp and heading back to Rochester and certain pain. The puppy settled quickly, but I could hear that DiDi was restless, jerking up at snaps and crackles in the underbrush. Sighing and tossing. I continued to feel that we were safe, and prayed for peace to fall upon her so that she could sleep.

He answered the prayer in a magical way.

Near the door of the tent, down low and outside, a firefly began blinking. We watched it for a few minutes, marveling. Neither of us had seen anything like it before, despite both having camped periodically all our lives.

The tent was in a clearing, and the bugs I've seen always stayed near vegetation.

They also stayed low. But this little guy started climbing.

On the other side of the tent, another one appeared. The light show intensified and morphed, with flashes coming intermittently from the side and eventually the top, when the first bug settled there.

The second bug began moving upward as well, seeking to join the first.

And that's when a third firefly appeared.

After a few minutes, all three were positioned at the top center of the tent. They moved around slightly, circling and drifting back and forth but staying basically centered.

I marvelled at the miraculous coming together of His beautiful creation, at a time we needed it.

Lightning bug researchers say that the light may be a defense mechanism, warning off predators.

My first picture book contains a page about fireflies. My second picture book centers around the idea of angels and saints working through nature.

And so He sent a trinity of fireflies to reassure and protect us. Reminding us of His immanence and the particularity of His love.

I fell asleep in wonder and peace, waking periodically throughout the dark night, and seeing that the tiny guardians remained, casting His light in waves singing "I am here..."

In the morning we broke camp, and began driving back north. Once cell phones were back in service I discovered that the time planned with my son for the day was cancelled.

But He sent fireflies, like the rainbow we experienced on the previous trip. Miraculous signs and wonders of reassurance and hope.

And I am grateful.

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