Tag Archives: memories

catching fireflies

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When I arrived, she was painting with water on the driveway.
“We’re painting, see?” she yelled when I closed the car door.
“I see! Awesome!” I said, halfway faking excitement, and halfway excited because she was.
She then led me to a small raisin snack box on the bumper of her mother’s car.
“I got a new pet!” she yelled! She grabbed the raisin box.
“You did? What is it?”

I had recently been invited over for dinner by her parents, and arrived with a fish. She named it LuLu. It died a month later.

“See?” she said, opening the raisin box revealing a lady bug crawling around the almost white cardboard.
“I see! What’s her name?”
“Anna. Do you want to paint with me?”

Looking in that tiny raisin box at that sad little lady bug, knowing it’s fate would be much like the fate of LuLu the fish, I remembered this time of year as a child. My grandfather owned a printing company, so our home was filled with paper and paper boxes. I would take a paper box, cut holes in the right places, line it with plastic wrap, build walls inside with cardboard and rolls of scotch tape, and catch fireflies to put inside. The plastic wrap windows made the house a home in my opinion, and mom would give me orange slices to put “in the kitchen” so the lightning bugs would have something to eat when they were hungry.

So they could live a long time.

The fate of the fireflies was much like the fate of LuLu.


It’s been a week filled with real life.
Rides with the windows down and the music up.
Dinners with laughter and tears and arguments.
Meetings with questions and difficulties and projections and risks and hopes.
Nights with questions and friends and acceptance.

Everything in me wants to catch it.
Box it.
Package it.
Remember it.
Put it in a box with plastic wrap windows
or the almost white walls of a raisin box
in an attempt to capture it and then remember it when I’m not sure why I’m doing all this, or why we work for all of this.

But I know what she doesn’t know yet as she shows me Anna in the cardboard box. I can’t capture it. I can’t trap the moments where things make sense and time feels right and answers seem clear even though I desperately want to. My only hope is to be present enough in those moments where I know and feel and understand and trust something true enough that I can remember it when I’ve lost my mind or lost my reason or lost my hope that good news can ever be true.

I can pause the lighting of the firefly long enough to remember it, but not long enough to keep it forever. Faith ends up being the jump between what I remember and what I hope. That’s the only way to keep the fireflies alive.

Pine Tree Dr.

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thin of a second

it’s sometimes in the thin of second
you get a breath
a shove of breath into your gut
up into your head

it clears your mind for
only the thin of a second

and all is well
and you see the world as if through a glass clearly

then it’s gone.
but the second itself, the thin of it,
changes everything.

and your lungs take a bit deeper of a breath
and your head lightens briefly
lightens in weight and in brightness

and all will be well.

Pine Tree

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let us turn our thoughts today

“…Let us turn our thoughts today
to Martin Luther King.
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood…”

I’ve been grading papers and cleaning up the house today, enjoying an almost-full day at home which is rare and therefore celebrated.

I had headphones on listening to James Taylor because the day felt right for it, and I froze the moment I heard the above lyrics.

They are from a song of JT’s, someone whose music I was raised on and therefore have ingrained somewhere deeply in my subconscious, called “Shed a Little Light.”

What made me freeze, I think, was the memory that the song immediately brought to the surface in the ways only music can. Frozen, trash bag in hand, I could see it crisply.

We would drive to the beach every year in the summer as a family, grandparents, cousins, everybody. And whenever the four of us, Dad and Mom up front and Jamey and me in the back seat, I remember when this song would come up on the tape player. We immediately split into parts, and sang the whole song through. Maybe it’s just the beauty of remembering, but I think we were pretty good too.

“…We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound, and we are bound…”

In my frozen state today, it became clear to me the power of shared values that make themselves at home somewhere deep within us, and as we grow, they influence all we do for better or for worse, and sometimes without our even knowing what is happening.

I stood frozen, headphones on, dogs staring, singing my part at the top of my lungs. Those lyrics came out from somewhere deep within me, and I was amazed at how they continue to reflect what I value most deeply, or at least what I want to value most deeply on the days where I’m more the person I hope to be.

“…There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest..

Shed a little light, oh Lord.”

Here’s to childhood road trips, to family, and to the things we’ve forgotten we will always remember.

Pine Tree Dr.

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