“I wish I gotten you up so you could have seen it, the firestorm!”

I was already asleep that night when Mitch let the dog out. The next morning he added, “The lightening bug show in our backyard was incredible. I can’t even tell you what it was like.”

Okay, I grew up in the Midwest. I’ve seen lots of firefly filled nights in my yards. I remember when I lived in Texas and drove back to visit my family in Indiana. I felt like I was at home when the moon was bright and firefly lights peppered the stand of corn for miles down the road.

My backyard now isn’t typical for city living. A dense stand of evergreen bushes, over 10 feet high block the city park lot next door. On the other side of the yard my neighbors’ house lies a mere 2 feet from the property line; I can watch TV in their family room from my bedroom window. A row of leafy lilac bushes and a garden shed frames the yard on that side and blocks the TV’s glow.

In the back of the yard, it’s dark, I mean really dark. The couple’s yard behind mine is densely overgrown. It hasn’t been mowed in the four years I have lived here. I can barely make out the shadow of our dog roaming, as he sometimes does, through the grasses and weeds that tower over his almost 80 pound frame. Honeysuckle winds it’s way over and around other bushes shielding any view of the houses beyond even in the daylight.

When I let the dog out last night, I witnessed the firestorm. In my backyard the dark is darker at night. The light of the fireflies’ burst like sparklers you stare into on a family fourth of July except that the light didn’t linger in my eyes. The fireflies’ luminescence pierced that dark only for a moment, not penetrating the darkness, but showing up to awe. The only thing I had to do was to pay attention and open the door enough so the dog could get out and I could too.

Joy is grace, a gift like the firestorm, not an achievement.

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