Friday, September 18, 2009

Catching Fireflies

She used to love to catch fireflies, chasing around the yard on a summer evening. Those were the best days, the sun up so long, and even after dark you could stay outside because it was warm, buzzing with humidity. And she would laugh to be alive, regular brown hair bobbing as she ran, transformed by the dusk into elven innocent beauty. What could be more fetching than a girl cupping living light between her hands?

But she moved away and started growing up. She didn’t play in the mud anymore, or hold summer bugs in her palms. Butterflies were safe to land on a nearby flower and she would only watch. Dandelions were enemies to uproot, not fairies to set flying on the wind. Sitting behind a desk with a computer and a cell phone now, weeks and months went by without remembering those days of childhood glory.

A few quirks remained, nothing to hint to a judging world that anything of her elven self truly remained. As the clock displayed numbers corresponding to the month and day of her birth, she celebrated. Her clothes demonstrated an independent taste: dark earth tones punctuated every so often by a royal blue or coral. She always had something to say for a dessert that layered chocolate. And mythical monsters like Bigfoot and Nessie never lost their interest.

Then it happened. Enough of her stable, grown-up life fell away; just as she was ready to take a leap into a real responsibility the freedom of childhood reentered her life. She fled to the country, to the remnants of summer twilights under the stars. Seeds, formerly inserted in precisely dug holes round a circumscribed flower bed, flew from her hands into the fallow ground. Rain fell and she learned to dance, not shivering from the night breeze, but turning her face towards it.

Had she grown out of the child she had been, or had her world trapped her in a box of expectations and limited possibilities, a prison from which she had finally escaped?

To God be all glory.

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