The rock we sat on seemed to grow harder and harder as the sky around us grew darker and darker. The air was damp from a summer misting earlier in the day. The forest was quiet except for the swiftly running creek and the beat of my anxious heart full of expectation and wonder.
We waited. Dusk fell and was blanketed by the night sky. Two or three fireflies danced about. Still, we waited until I could not wait anymore.
I slid down from my perch on the rock. My feet felt like lead as their impact with the earth shook me into reality. It’s not happening again. Again, I will leave Great Smokey National Park without seeing the synchronizing fireflies.
As we walked slowly down the trail, I blinked hard to keep the tears from spilling out. One foot in front of the other. Deep breaths of disappointment.
It seemed to happen instantaneously. First one flash, then one hundred. All around us in a brilliant display of radiance. Nature’s light show swirling through branches, and bushes, and my emotions. They lit up in unison, and I was their director. My heart swelled with each pulse. I forgot about sorrow and burdens and time. I was completely overwhelmed by the moment, encompassed by appreciation.
He walked a few steps behind me, respectfully. He was close enough to emanate his support, yet far enough away to allow independence. I walked slowly through the arches of flashing lights, flashing beauty, flashing wisdom.
At the trail head, he spoke softly.
“Was it everything you were hoping for?”
“Yes.” I replied.
He smiled at me with love and warmth.
It was everything I had hoped for. But what was it?
It was happiness. Genuine happiness that had washed over me on that trail. A feeling I hadn’t allowed myself to feel for quite some time, but was now rushing back into my veins.
The fireflies didn’t heal me with their powers. They didn’t clench their little legs around my burdens and hoist them up into the heavens. They didn’t anoint me in light with blessings and second chances.
They reminded me that I hold the power. I have the power to heal myself, to loosen my own burdens, to find blessings and second chances as they come. The fireflies reminded me what it was like to be happy, to deserve to be happy.
At that moment, I knew I would eventually heal, and until then, I could be happy through the wounds and through the scars.
And thus, a chapter was complete…
And she smiled.
Fireflies Aren’t Meant to Live in Jars.