thoughts

Fireflies and Stars

I remember catching fireflies in my backyard as a child. I would run around in the calm night air, cupping my hands and trapping them, carefully peeking between my fingers to see it flash up close before sticking it in a jar. I’d be smiling and laughing the whole time, enjoying this magical experience that could never happen during the day.

As far back as I can remember, I loved being out at night. I would just look up at the moon and stars, and I would feel a sense of peace wash over me. There was something about the night air, the small amount of warm light that spilled out the windows of the house into the backyard, and the sound of crickets chirping all around me that made me feel safe. Even though I was scared of the dark inside the house, it brought me comfort outside. Even though there were always mysterious noises and shadows whose cause was always just out of sight, somehow the entire world seemed to be resting. It felt like if I stayed there laying on my back looking at the sky and listening, the earth would tell me a big secret, or the meaning of life, or maybe just something worth knowing, but it seemed my parents would always call me inside before I was finished hearing whatever truth I was being taught.

Things have always seemed more real to me when they happen in the night air. I feel that the daylight is deceiving; it’s supposed to show things more clearly, but really it only sheds light on those things that come forward- it casts a shadow on what is in the background. But in the night, everything blends together. Nothing is more prevalent unless you go up and focus on it. …And you can see the stars at night… Light does not illuminate everything. Light is distracting; it pulls your attention to what’s easiest to see. But in life, the easiest things are rarely worth the attention they are given. It’s what is hidden, or underneath, or behind, what is not easily visible, that matters most. It’s the connection you feel to the author’s words hidden beneath the cover of a book that moves you to tears. It’s the thought behind the gift hidden beneath the fancy wrapping paper and bow that brings a huge smile to your face. The things that matter most are hidden in the shadow of something else.

That’s why I like the night. All the shadows get to come out of hiding, and join the rest of the world. The things we pay so much attention to during the day seem so much smaller and less important. It’s only at night that the stars, hidden by the sun all day, get to shine and show their beauty. The sky seems clear and empty during the day. Sometimes clouds obscure our view of it, but clouds are fleeting, and never stick around for too long. The daytime sky has nothing to reach for. But the night sky hangs billions of stars for us to see. The night sky shows us billions of other places that exist in the universe. The night sky is never empty, but always shows us the possibilities we can’t see when the light of the sun is obscuring our perspective. And it shows  those possibilities night after night, without fail.

Those fireflies I used to catch in my backyard were little stars to me. Stars I could reach out and grab, and peek at up close and personal. Stars I could keep for myself, or share with someone, or that I could set free. Or, I could just run through them, with the freedom and security in knowing that they were there for me the catch when I was ready to take one and see it’s light up close. But they didn’t come out during the day. I couldn’t experience the magic of holding a star in my hands during the day. I actually never thought about them when the sun was out. When I was focused on what the sun illuminated, I forgot about the magic stars I could hold in my hands. Light has a way of distracting us from what the dark can show.

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