Where I come from, west of the Rockies all the way in the LA basin, fireflies were part of the magical world of Disneyland. Some mythical land, somewhere was alive with them, but I was only able to see them in the caverns of “The Pirates of the Caribbean” ride.
This summer’s visit to Omaha awakens that magic again, sitting on the front porch with my merry daughter. Those creatures are real, towing their flickering lanterns as they dart in and out of the Magnolia Tree.
Stories I have heard about or read about in books of faraway mystical lands bring the same feeling of enchantment that these little bugs are stirring in me. “It’s true! It’s true! There really are fireflies in the world!”
Traversing parts of our world, especially far-off Central Asia and India, exploring ancient ruins in bone dry deserts and strolling through colorful bazaars in bustling towns with exotic names awakened similar feelings. The bazaars were real, with all the dazzling colors and variety of goods I had read about. The magic wore off as I shopped regularly for fruits and vegetables, haggling over prices with the stall keepers. There never was any magic in the meat and fish section with the pungent smells, in fact I had to avoid them in Taiwan when I was pregnant with my firstborn. Leave that kind of shopping to my strong stomached husband!
The magic of a volcano became real to me when my family was able to spend three months on the big island of Hawaii. Kilauea produced a different kind of awe in me than these fireflies. Something like, Wow! Maybe we shouldn’t be so close to these fissures in the ground, and I definitely want you kids to stop jumping over them, even if your father is leading the charge!
My most vivid experience of this kind of awe happened when I was seventeen. I went to a concert put on by some Jesus People in my home town. I had never been to such a concert, but was so curious about these people. Little did I know this one small event would lead to a major shift in my life that continues to this day. I remember awakening the next morning with this powerful sense of God’s love for me, just as I had the night before. The same sense of wonder, that something I longed for was true, strongly surrounded me. “Jesus loves me this I know…”