Friday, June 21, 2013

Looking for Light(ning Bugs)

It’s been a good year for lightning bugs.

One of my summertime delights is to grab a cup of coffee and sit on my porch step in the settling darkness, looking for the little beams of life and light that rise from the grass of the front yard to the sky. It’s a moment of peace and tranquility that I carve out for myself if ever I’m home at that time of night. With late night work schedules and a packed calendar on my days off, those moments seem to be increasingly hard to find. Even on those seemingly free evenings there are duties galore demanding my attention, but I work with one eye on the clock and stop just after the sun goes down for that half-hour time slot that is so easy to miss.

A schedule change found me unexpectedly at home last night, and I knew in my heart what I wanted to do. When nine o’clock rolled around I got the coffee ready, and then minutes later I stepped out of my busy life for a few minutes, leaving Game 7 of the basketball finals going strong on TV, the basket of laundry to be folded beside the coffee table still overflowing, and the piles of clean clothes waiting to be put away left in my wake.

The quiet I sought wasn’t to be found outside, either. Several loud BOOMs echoed up and down the street as a neighbor tested his fireworks inventory for an upcoming Fourth of July celebration. The lady across the street yelled repeatedly at her dog, even as her father-in-law on his motorcycle roared out of the driveway and headed on home. A train’s horn blasted across the countryside as it approached the nearby small town. One by one I shut out the distractions and focused on the little lights rising to the sky.

My spirit did the same, rising to meet the Friend who waits to meet with me in those moments that I set aside specifically to pursue and enjoy our friendship. Together we reflected on the day gone by, what I had done, and the things I didn’t find time to do. Deliberately we looked for those moments that surprised us, delighted us, or were somehow worthy of a second look, a rerun on the mental video screen.. A firm believer of ending the day on a happy note, I followed the Biblical mandate to think on things that were pure and good and lovely. My days are simply filled with little moments of God’s light and presence, glimmers of life and hope and happiness that rise in the darkness surrounding me, and it’s those that I look for to reflect upon when I step outside of my noisy, busy world for a moment and notice them as deliberately as I do the fireflies.

I’m grateful that it’s been a good year for both.

“And he said, Go forth and stand on the mountain before Jehovah. And behold, Jehovah passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains, and broke the rocks in pieces before Jehovah. But Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind was an earthquake, but Jehovah was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake was a fire, but Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire was a still, small voice.”
(1 Kings 19:11-12 MKJV)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Vacation Vibes

“I’m leaving, on a jet plane…”

Goodness, how that song dates me! But it’s true. I’m headed off today, flying even as I type, headed for a family wedding in Phoenix. I’ve been in vacation mode since the start of the week, but it’s this trip that changes mere days off from work into a vacation in every sense of the word. There’s something about packing the sunscreen, the bathing suit, and mentally planning one’s wardrobe rather than a dinner menu by the days of the week that puts a smile on a face and a skip in a step. Who doesn’t love a few days away?

This morning we set out, having kissed the dogs and the duties goodbye, all but cheering as we headed up the drive. Determined to enjoy every moment of the trip, we marveled at springtime blossoms that lined the roadways, pointed at farmers busy in their fields, and discussed the chances of running into rain as we headed for darker skies ahead of us. Parking at the airport was no problem, and we had barely gotten out of the vehicle when a bus pulled up to transport us to the terminal. It was all systems go through security, to the gate, through the wait for the boarding call. And that’s when all forward progress stopped as we learned the airplane had suffered mechanical problems of some sort and was only just leaving distant Dallas for the people waiting to board in Indianapolis.

A change in plans. No matter; there just had to be a few changes made to the itinerary. A few phone calls later it was all systems go again. We’ll board a different flight in Dallas, meet the family at a different location in Phoenix, and still have a fantastic time on the journey.

Now we’re on the plane. I took a quick nap, reminding my husband to nudge me should I snore. When I woke up thirsty, it was just in time to see the refreshment cart rolling down the aisle. In short, there hasn’t been much to dampen my mood. Watching cotton-ball clouds float by outside, I note that emotionally I’m flying as high as the airplane I’m riding in.

My life follows pretty much the same course as my travel diary entries above. It’s a journey, as well, and some would say I’m pretty much in vacation mode all the time. I haven’t had to struggle with many of the things other people have to deal with, and while I’m grateful, I also feel a little guilty at times about my good fortune. Just yesterday my good mood wanted to express itself in a particularly joyous Facebook post, but I held back, noting that some of my social networking friends who might be reading the online news feed were at that moment struggling with life-threatening illnesses in a hospital, dealing with the threat of divorce, struggling to keep businesses afloat and children out of jail. Aside from personal problems there were ones of national interest as well filling the news feeds, a huge tornado having just touched down near Oklahoma City causing loss of life and the devastation of a large area. Maybe it wasn’t the moment to be so happy…or certainly not to talk about it.

But perhaps I am happy for such a moment as this. Sometimes people need to see the sun streaming through a break in the dark clouds surrounding them to give them a bit of relief from the darkness and instill some hope for better days ahead. Perhaps when we’re joyful it’s not just for our own benefit but to bless and encourage somebody who’s traveling through life on the same flight as we are but might be having a much more difficult time.

Our captain just announced that our flight is in a holding pattern, bad weather ahead preventing our landing at the present time. He assures us we have plenty of fuel to ride out the storm below. Some lives surrounding me are in that same place - circling without making much progress toward their destination.  A smile on a face is not out of place when it fuels patience in travel companions to smoother skies and a safe arrival at the final destination.

“A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
(Proverbs 17:22 MKJV) 
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