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.
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.