How to Catch the Light

I hope the fireflies show up for you.

Like they did for us when our feet ran through the damp grass of my grandparent’s backyard on summer evenings. When we reached the walkway, the little pebbles would dig into our heels. I still have a scar on my left hand from the branch that snapped during one of our adventures through the woods.

I used to think that their back porch would always be there, that those same faces always around the table to greet me, playing cards in hand. That I would spend all my years running through and slamming that screen door.

I sometimes still wonder if the fireflies wait for us there, think we’re coming back and scoop them up in our little mason jars. But time doesn’t stand still, the light of fireflies fade, and not everyone who used to sit around that table could still be there if we went back.

But I’ve been realizing even after all those people are long gone, the thing that will be stuck with me, is all the light they left. Those are the fireflies still hanging around when we’re all grown up and the tables have changed.

What I remember most is the way those people loved me, the way they kept me laughing. I remember how my Great Uncle took us outside and bent down close, taught us how to gently guide the light into those jars. He taught how to hold onto it, but then how to set it free. When the world was busy, he stepped outside with barefoot children and taught us how to catch the light.

Last week I met a stranger while buying a book. I laughed harder that day than I have in a long time. We didn’t change the world with political ideologies, theological debates, lengthy equations, chemical experiments. We simply found ourselves laughing over something inconsequential. We left one another with beaming smiles and kind words.

I drove around that night telling God that sometimes I feel like I’ve been missing the point.

Inside of me sits a little girl who remembers standing in the hallway of her elementary school, hearing the whispers of other kids, “Why does she always stare at the ground? Someone told me she was mute.”

I remember learning back then, what I am learning now: I don’t want to waste this voice. Or try to give God the excuse that that using it is harder than it is.

Because really, I think it is just fighting to become brave enough to open our mouths. It’s just looking up from the ground and saying something kind, something intentional. I don’t want to live with a mouth, voice, a chance and only ever use them when it feels easy or convenient, or when I deemed the opportunity or person worthy of my effort.

Sometimes it takes getting over the hurt, the fear, the things that followed us for years. It’s knowing that value is not always the big things that everyone applauds. Sometimes it is learning how to make someone else feel like they’re funny, interesting, worth listening to, a good storyteller.

It’s just teaching little ones how to catch fireflies. It’s just making a joke with a stranger. It’s just love. Teaching someone else how to catch the light.

Sometimes that seems so small, so insignificant and yet, if that were the case I don’t think it would be so hard. But when confronted with the challenge of loving difficult people, strangers, sometimes even those closest, it’s hard. It’s hard to put down our phones, clear the schedule, say the apology, reach for the hug, sit with someone in grief, knock on their door, be inconvenienced, feel awkward. If it was so small, or easy, more people would do it and the world would be different.

It matters. And every time you do the thing that feels so incredibly uncomfortable and insignificant it changes them and it changes you.

One day you wake up and you realize that saving your words and efforts for bigger and better things, waiting for more, waiting for that one big bright moment was just a trap to stop you from all the light surrounding you right here and right now. It just takes catching all the little moments right there in jars. Because all of the little chances, if you grab them, make a great big light.

 

 

 

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You Stand Before a Harvest

There is no disappointment like sitting in the dirt.

Knee-deep in mud and glaring straight into the pain of barrenness brings an incomparable grief. Sometimes it feels like that’s all you’ve ever known, and when it fills your entire frame of vision, there’s only one option.

Stand up and step back.

When you do, you will see that you stand before a harvest.

It was the dirt and the mud that made this ground rich enough to produce crops that stretch farther than your vision can hold. You will see its richness came from every pain and every heart ache you have ever known. You will see how it has grown the seeds of love in you, ones that know the risk of giving your heart, and that still give it anyway.

In the way you are able to forgive and in the way you are able to return, you will see you are standing in a field of harvest.

You are surrounded by more than your belly could ever consume. You have produced something that will feed every person that walks into your life.

You stand before a harvest when you look into your own heart.

Abundance leaks from your veins. There are seeds and seeds of redemption that have been sown into every crook and crevice of your being since before you were even born.

You’ve got love down inside of you that knows how to hold its ground and how to let it go. You’ve been cultivating a garden that can grow the kind of love that will nourish the nations, and you’ve got the heart to give it away. Because you know in your bones and in your ligaments, even when you’re worn, that you’re giving from what you’ve been given.

You were born to give away the love that made you, the love that was always too big for you to hold for just yourself.

So when someone steals from your grain, or they pluck every last piece you seem to possess, know that you pull from an endless garden of grace. There won’t be anything that can be taken from you that you cannot let go of with joy, because redemption won’t fail to spring up in your fields! They cannot take one single thing from you that your Father won’t hand back to you. He is the finder of lost things, the Father who multiplies the lack, who brings the dead things back to life again.

I hope you really know that.

When you only want to wrap your arms around what you’ve lost, hold on. Because joy is going to well up inside of you and you’re going to be handing out your harvest by handfuls. Oh, you’ve got mounds and piles of love! You’ve got enough to go around, even to your enemies.

Your field has got some stalks that Jack ain’t ever even thought about climbing.

You’re going to feed the multitudes with your fields of favor because your Father doesn’t withhold. So lift your eyes from the dirt. There is more here than what your eyes currently see. When your eyes finally adjust you will see that the times of pain and plowing have caused you to be standing in a field of abundant harvest.