Fire in the Sky

We walked out into the fields at sunset, just as the sky was turning dark. I’d picked a moonless August night right after a thunderstorm so that even the stars would be hidden. That’s the best way to explore mysteries.

Even God seems to think that way. The ancients claimed when God created the world and felt the need to people it, he differentiated sparks of his own soul within himself and then encased those sparks in the darkness of material bodies so they wouldn’t be blinded by their own light.

Thus mankind was born. Deep down inside, we still long to see that divine flame again, to free our souls and know ourselves. For some, it’s a nagging feeling at the back of their mind. For others, an emptiness to be filled with religion, family, work, hobbies or drugs. Everyone finds something. We have no choice.

For me … well, let’s just say it’s sort of a quest. On this particular night, it was leading me down a damp path through wooded fields as mosquitoes gathered for the kill. Swatting another of the bloodsuckers away, I glanced back at my companion. She was coming along more out of curiousity than anything else. She knew I’d been looking forward to this trip for weeks, but I hadn’t been able to explain why.

Finally, we reached the gap, a break in the trees where a canal crossed the fields behind my parents’ house. We stopped about 10 yards from the water in a clearing where the path widened out among the trees and the water became a small, still pool. I dropped down cross-legged on the ground and closed my eyes.

“Now what?” she asked.

“We wait,” I said “Rest, meditate, whatever. When it’s time, you’ll know.”

It may sound a bit cruel, but I wanted her to discover the secret of these woods the same way I had a child … by surprise. What was coming, the mystery about to unfold from the damp, dark heat of the Louisiana bayou country, was too important to trivialize with words.

So we waited in the darkness, with the whine of mosquitoes in our ears as the heat died and the sweat cooled on our skin. Just as it seemed the whole trip was a waste of time, just as the ground was feeling a bit too wet and the mosquitoes a bit too annoying, the first one appeared.

In a few moments, he was joined by another … and another. After that, they came faster … flickering through the trees by the dozen, setting the clearing ablaze as the danced and spun and flew among the leaves.

I heard my companion gasp and nodded at the gap, where the fireflies were mirrored in the dark water of the canal. Tapping her on the shoulder, I gently motioned her to turn. Behind us, as far as we could see, the path we’d followed was alight with the tiny flickering shapes.

If you ever need proof of God,” I murmured, “there it is.”

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