Every year around this time, the lightning bugs start their dance in the darkness. It’s another mark that summer is beginning in earnest, and out in my new rural surroundings, their light shines even more brightly without the competition of city lights. With every intermittent glow, there is a memory that pulses through my mind and heart that never fails to serve as a reminder of something important.

When I was about six, and my little brother Keith was three, we lived in a two-bedroom house and shared one of those bedrooms. It looked as you might imagine; two twin beds placed on either side of the room, and in our case, the piece of furniture in the middle was a little girls’ vanity table. That little beauty was a Christmas gift to me, and was in the French Provençal style that was so popular in girls’ furniture at that time. It had a nifty hinged top that you could open to reveal a mirror, and under which you could store all your make-up, etc. Since I didn’t wear makeup at six, it was filled with playmakeup and assorted other stuff that I hoarded and stuck in there.

One early summer evening, Keith and I went out in the backyard after dinner. There were lightning bugs everywhere! We both just stood there for a second, but it was one of those situations that seemed to call for action. I ran back in and got two jars from Mom. Then, I proceeded to show my three-year-old brother how to catch lightning bugs in a jar.

We loaded up and were surveying our catch when Mom called us in for bed. There we sat with those jars aglow, not really knowing what to do with them.

Then, it hit me.

I told Keith to go tell Mom he needed to potty. I needed a distraction. Amazingly, he pulled it off! I smuggled both jars into our room, and looked lovingly, knowingly, at my vanity. It waited with an open ‘stuff’ compartment, as if it had known all along its ultimate purpose. Before you could say ‘turn on the lights’, those lightning bugs were dumped in that vanity and the lid closed, our secret safe within.

After baths and prayers, we were tucked in for the night. In the quiet darkness of our room, I reached over, and opened the lid. And there we sat, two little kids in awestruck wonder at the seemingly millions of lights glowing all around our room.

“It’s pwetty, Sister!”

Indeed it was.

Honestly, I don’t remember what happened next. Well, I do remember my mom coming in when she heard us talking, and to say she was surprised would be an understatement! But, after that, my main memory is the wonder of it, two small faces glowing in the light that pierced our darkness.

When I think of that time, I’m reminded of the lights that pierce the darkness all around me now. The kind word of a friend, the helpful salesperson at the store, the knowledge that people are praying for me, even a sweet comment on a blog from someone I’ve never met. We all have the capability of being “light” in our world. Especially those of us who claim to be followers of Christ; the very LIGHT OF THE WORLD inhabits us. Are we letting that light shine through, or are we closing the lid on it?

This dark ole’ world needs light! Lots and lots of light.

Let yourself shine.

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on the hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)Photo credit: Steven David Johnson