Ruminations: Firefly

There were dozens of fireflies in our back yard one evening. I saw the blinking glow through a window, stopped whatever movie I was watching, and stood looking out at their slow strobing on and off.

Then I went outside to be in the midst of these fairy-lights nearly invisible in the twilight, until—there! A moment of yellowish flash, then darkness. Then, several feet away, another beacon! Then another! Like a yard full of unwired Christmas lights floating lazily in the warm air. Can I catch one gently in my hand before it winks out again?

I could say that I was full of wonder. And explaining bioluminescence to me doesn’t diminish my fascination. Learning that different species of fireflies blink in different patterns and that they can synchronize their signals only compounds my sense of wonder.

What is your first memory of feeling wonderstruck? Where do you feel that sense of wonder in your physical body? How long has it been since you felt wonder?    

This Sunday we’re delving into a set of explorations inspired by Valerie Kaur’s book See No Stranger. As Unitarian Universalists, we say that we are part of an interdependent web of existence, and we covenant (promise one another) to affirm and promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. I imagine that Valerie Kaur would say that promise depends on our willingness to wonder.

Whether it’s another human being or some other bit of nature, Kaur encourages us to think, You are a part of me I don’t yet know. Beginning with assurance of our connection, paired with curiosity, perhaps we can more intentionally honor our interdependence with this great web of existence. 

When we assume that we know all that we need to know about a person, or a firefly, or anything else, we might resist the reality of our interdependence. There are some people with whom we may not want to be connected. Maybe we don’t want our existence to be bound up with the existence of some other people.

After all, not all critters in my yard are fireflies. There are some bits of the natural world with which I’m less enthusiastic to share my space. Certainly there are challenges to practicing wonder.

But what do we lose if we resist our capacity to wonder about others?

Could it be that everything else that exists in this interdependent web is a part of me that I don’t yet know?

If we intentionally practiced wonder as a community, what becomes possible for us?