As any of you who have stopped here before are aware, I usually try to build my entries around one of my photos or to take one to match the topic. In this particular instance, however, I was unable to capture the image. No combination of shutter speed, aperture and sensor sensitivity could duplicate what the eye so readily sees, so I will simply try to paint the picture in words – in hopes that your mind’s eye will see the beauty and feel the awe, as imagination creates what the camera cannot.
My last entry touched on the topic of celebrations and included pictures of fireworks from the Fourth. Those photos were actually taken during a local community celebration the weekend before, so that on the night of the Holiday I was home. As the sky darkened at the end of the day, the air became alive with the sound of celebratory explosions from surrounding towns and I wandered onto the deck to absorb the joyous cacophony.
At first, my attention was drawn above the treeline, as the sky lit randomly from the distant explosions – much as lightning will illuminate the clouds from great distance. But as my eyes adjusted, my vision shifted to the valley below – and a sight that is my recurring favorite memory of summer since moving here, and which will always conjure awe and joy in my soul no matter how many times I am blessed to witness it.
The air was still and warm as the night became alive before me. For in the trees and all around me – some near enough to touch, some far away – glowed hundreds, seemingly thousands, of fireflies. Their tiny lanterns beamed for an instant, always replaced by the glow of another in a new location – and my mind linked the tiny lights before me with the explosions reporting in the air to create a July Fourth spectacle for my eyes and ears alone.
Minutes passed and the thunderous echoes slowed and died as grand finales faded, yet the light show before and around me continued in mute silence – to my mind becoming all the more beautiful and poignant. Sometimes the sheer spectacle of an event is so overwhelming that the combination of sight and sound and feel crowds out the ability to think – and when the sounds slowly dissolved into the silence of a summer night, the light itself and the quiet wonder of nature it represented was permitted its opportunity to permeate and become fixed to the soul. Mesmerized, I not only saw, but felt each pulse of light – and the celebration moved from the external to deep within.
I neither know nor care the duration of my experience, but I know that my heart was at peace when I returned inside – a personal gift beyond price. Whether it originates in a smile from a stranger, the laughter of a child, the comforting hand of a friend – or the simple glow of a firefly – I hope that same peace fills your heart, soon and often.
(More fireworks pics in the album in the right column)
It seems the Spring and early Summer carry the majority of the year’s celebrations. Beginning with Easter and following almost every two weeks like clockwork, there seems always a reason to celebrate: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day and now Independence Day – with Flag Day thrown in for good measure. While some of the dates are fixed in history, perhaps it’s the changing of the seasons and the return to ‘outdoor times’ for much of the nation that provides the timing of some of the major ‘non-official’ holidays. But regardless of the reason, an opportunity to gather with friends and those we love is still a gift to be cherished and enjoyed to the fullest.
But between these scheduled occasions, we should always be on the lookout for smaller, more personal reasons to celebrate – and to take the time to give them the recognition they deserve as well. A new job, a passed exam, good news from the doctor all deserve to be recognized – if not perhaps with a gathering and a feast, then at least with a toast and a smile or a moment taken to write or call.
And then there are the celebrations of a more personal nature – the kind that can pass us by completely if we do not take the time to see and feel and appreciate. The laughter of children in the park, an unexpected call from an old friend, a beautiful blue sky, a glimpse of a newborn fawn taking its first tentative steps, a remembered moment that touches the heart. When we are busy, these moments can pass us by in an instant – and we, caught up in the latest crisis or drama or scheduled activity, can continue blissfully and hurriedly on our way, none the wiser.
But life is made up of countless such moments – so many more than those celebrations rigidly fixed on the calendar. And the more of them we allow to pass us by, the poorer our lives become – small bit by small bit.
So gather together in these coming days. Have picnics and share fireworks and squeeze your loved ones tightly to you. But before - and after – take a moment to slow down every once in awhile. Don’t just run from the house to the car to the store and back, but smell the freshly mown grass, hear the individual sounds of chirping birds, delight in the exuberance of youth where you encounter it, look up at the sky. These are celebrations we all can find – no matter location or circumstance – and each small celebration will ultimately shape who we are and the face we present to the world. How many times will you celebrate today?