As a kid I loved certain aspects oftime at my grandparents house. They lived in Savoy, Texas. Population 841. A tiny town. One flashing light and a stop sign. The best part of it for me was that my grandparents lived on a few acres where I’d spend my days exploring, shooting my bb gun at old cans and fence posts. But the best times of day around my grandparents’ place came when the sun had set and darkness had taken over their East Texas plot of land. After we wrapped up dinner I’d swipe a glass jar from my grandma and head outside into night’s darkness where my adventure would begin. Against the dark backdrop of the night sky a tiny light would spark, just for a moment then disappear only to flicker again elsewhere. Then another and another would light up the sky. Light after tiny light would blink itself on and off again, over and over like a visual game of Marco Polo. Fireflies were dancing on the night air.
The game was on. Swing and miss. The firefly slipped my catch. On to another. My hands clapped together feeling the buzz of a firefly as it bounced from palm to palm. Lowering my eye to my hands I’d carefully open a slight gap between my palms to watch. Only darkness at first. Then, in a moment my hands would blink full of a bright greenish yellow to slowly burn out and back again to have light again fill my hands. I’d drop the firefly in my jar and return for more. I’d repeat the hunt again and again until I had a jarful of light. Once content with my catch I’d take a seat in the cool night air, sit and watch the light dance within my jar. The container of light captivated my mind, filled me with wonder and awe as the day’s light slowly faded from my eyes calling me to bed only to return the following night to start the adventure anew.
I think we treat hope and joy like fireflies. I know I have. Things to be caught, contained, enclosed and held tightly. If only I can catch them then I will be full of light and life. What are those metaphorical fireflies? Love, faith, accomplishment, safety, money, health? I’ve run after so many things quietly believing if I’d just catch them they’d prove to contain the elusive hope and joy I’d for so long chased. Like blinking lights in the East Texas night sky, these things have proved difficult to catch. They surface then disappear. How often do we run after them hoping this time they will prove to be the lights that survives the night, that have longevity.
Have you ever thought, maybe I’ll finally get the sequence right and I’ll crack the code, I’ll be happier. Maybe I can back my way into this. Maybe? Maybe next year’s bonus will be bigger and then I can step out into a new adventure. Maybe I’ll get in better shape then I’ll be able to enjoy life. Maybe I’ll get this right for God? Maybe the answer is on the other side of this? If I just get this right, then…then it will come to me? Won’t it?
Maybe not. Maybe hope and joy are not the pot of gold at the end of making the right decisions. Maybe they are discovered and built slowly, collaboratively, in relationship, in life, in darkness and light. Maybe they’re the found in shared experiences, isolation, the tears, laughter and life of living. Discovered through experiences not the reward to correct action. Maybe hope and joy are here now. Maybe they require perspective, slowing down and experiencing what’s right in front of us. Maybe?