My dog anxiously stood by the door, his tail wagging, tongue out, ready to go sniff and snort all of the good night time smells. My anger that I’ve held for the last few weeks has started to fade a little and tonight I was left with a muddled numbness. I didn’t match my dog’s excitement and clipped his leash on with a heavy sigh of being burdened by his bodily functions (darn dog) and opened the door.
The air was cool and the breeze slightly more than just a breeze. My dog tumbled out of the door and became obsessed with the first blade of grass he came to. I sighed again and rolled my eyes at his bouncy eagerness. Darn dog.
I looked up at the stars and felt a little anger coming back. I was angry at the stars tonight. My entire life has been spent looking up into the stars for answers and inspiration. We look to our astrological sign for clues and guidance in our life, we look to the stars and constellations for direction, both physical and spiritual. We look to the stars as if they hold the spirits of our ancestors and sometimes we speak to them. We give them so much meaning and they hold so many different things for all of us. But tonight I was mad at them. They never change. They are always there and I guess if I had an optimist standing next to me in that moment, they would’ve pointed out that the very consistency in the stars was the comfort. But tonight I disagree. And most cynics will tell you that much of what we see from Earth is satellites. That the International Space Station shines brighter than most stars. Tonight I agreed with the cynics.
Until I saw them. Fireflies.
I’m 37 years old and have never been in the right spot at the right time to see thousands of fireflies in their glory. As a young girl I would run out into the summer dusk to catch one, two, maybe three and watch them light up in my hands. I don’t think I ever looked up; I was too focused on catching the light in front of me and letting it go.
Tonight, I looked up.
First, let me explain my view. I live on a humble piece of land that has a nice yard and no neighbors close by; we are all separated by either trees or hillsides. On one side of the yard, there is a steep drop and a hollow with no houses. Because of the steep drop, you can stand in the yard and feel like you are in the tree tops. There is no light pollution from the city; it is as dark here as the stars and moon allow.
And tonight, the stars paled in comparison to the fireflies.
It felt like there were millions of them. A million bursts of delicate, beautiful light in the trees. Living lights. Unpredictable, untraceable, beautiful living lights.
Maybe that’s what life is like. Maybe it’s not standing back and looking at the stars, those celestial things that scientists have named and defined and can track for the next century. Maybe it isn’t focusing on fireflies one by one to catch and watch a single light and in effect, creating a sense of control by catching and releasing. Maybe it is watching those fireflies up in the trees and learning to give in to the randomness. Maybe it is the God-given unpredictability of our lives that is what is beautiful, even in times of pain or uncertainty.
I trust that we all have purpose in this world. Unfortunately for me, my path and purpose that I thought I had have changed significantly in the last two months and I am trying so very hard to recover and understand. I sometimes feel like one of those fireflies that has been caught and stuffed into a jar. My husband has sealed it tight and placed my son and I on a shelf for catch and release control. But maybe that is the beauty in it.
In our deliverance, we will not always be delivered to where we want to be. We will be delivered to where we need to be. Sometimes it is good but sometimes it is uneasy and uncertain. This is my uncertainty. My unease. It has humbled me more than I ever thought imaginable.
In my marriage, I worked so hard to define things. Our relationship, our love, our story, our commitments, our friendships, our family. Looking back, I think I tried to define those things because I was trying to give myself purpose and reason in a very tumultuous and emotionally abusive marriage. I dissected each piece of us and tried to define it, justify it, and repair it. Meanwhile my husband was trying to dismantle and knock down anything and everything he could.
But tonight I felt some freedom from all of that and I allowed myself to trust in the big picture. I allowed myself to look at all of our lives like those fireflies, the thousands of individual twinkles and the sparkles that created this absolutely beautiful and unpredictable night light. And I needed to watch and listen through the process. I believe that God is in all of life’s landscapes… we just have to look a little harder sometimes. I was creating my story, yes, but I need to also let my story create me.