Spirituality for Today – September 2013 – Volume 18, Issue 2

Work of Fireflies

Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

A photo of fireflies in a jar

One of the great events of summer manifests itself, regrettably, to only a fortunate few. Author Jennie Ivey is among them. She writes about what many consider a miracle of nature. For a brief period during the summer, the species of firefly known as the photinus carolinus puts on a magnificent display of synchronized patterns of light that grace the Great Smokey Mountains: "In between the ancient trees, the fireflies lit up. Hundreds at first. Then thousands. Maybe even millions. It was impossible to count them all. A giant cluster of fireflies would twinkle like tiny white Christmas lights for five or six seconds before vanishing in the dark. Five or six seconds later, they would twinkle again. Up and down the steep mountain road for as far as I could see, a great rolling wave of soft white light. Like an Academy Award-winning special effects but completely real, completely natural. A perfect miracle. I sat completely still. A peace seeped through me, from the top of my head to the soles of my hiking boots, as if my soul itself were aglow. Lord, make sure I have time for the important things, I remembered praying. Now, it seemed, I had his answer: Make sure you have time for me." Scientists theorize that the synchronized flashes of light might be part of a mating ritual. For Jennie, It represented a much more profound message. [Source: Guideposts, Spring 2012]

On many levels, Jennie Ivey's reflections invite thoughts about our labors. We all perform our particular tasks and, for most of us, our appreciation of them is clear and straightforward. Others, however, may be affected by our work on a number of grades of understanding and significance. Poets are a prime example of this point: Edwin Markham viewing a man hoeing a field. As human beings, our work carries with it motivations that are capable of covering a multitude of needs. Work can fulfill our passions, provide support for our families, give inspiration or training to others, and provide some service for numbers of persons all at the same time.

Recognized or not, there is a work that goes on twenty-four hours a day throughout the world; its significance is beyond measure and its product is of the highest quality. This "work" is the living witness of the members of that global community we call the Church. I refer to those persons of faith, those people of good will who make life bearable and spread the presence of Christ in the good they do. I pray that we are speaking of ourselves. Uncontestably, we are a number who stumble and fall, misrepresent and confuse, fail and sin, but we, much more, strive to bring the love of God to an aching world.

Christ-likeness is a daunting task for the spiritually frail and feeble persons most of us are. Yet, Jesus must have seen something more in his disciples, in the men and women of faith throughout the centuries, and now in us. In our time, many promote the idea that the Church is irrelevant and that those who insist on believing ought to keep it to themselves. Those who espouse this theme have forgotten that Christians were born of wind and fire. It is humanity that must be relevant to God and, as far as keeping faith in the closet, the command of Jesus is to proclaim the faith to the world. The salvation of Jesus Christ is not the possession of an elite few but meant for all. By that definition, the Church is relevant in all ages and must be proclaimed in all ages. Now, it is our time to fulfill that mandate.

By life's end, will we have accomplished the work that God deigned us to perform? We only can will ourselves to live daily in a manner we truly believe to be pleasing to God and to regularly examine the content of our characters. To know if, indeed, we have pleased God in our daily life and if we have forthrightly examined our consciences and have resolved to correct what we must is too high an assessment to make, we can be assured that our efforts count and that the Lord knows our heart.

The refuge from pessimism is the good men and women at any time existing in the world, they keep faith and happiness alive.

Charles E. Norton

One may conceive of the Church as a whole and as individuals. The whole Church may be represented as a mosaic of God's people who, as an entirety, create a magnificent picture, but one that needs each small, uniquely colored piece to make the whole beautiful and complete. Like a million synchronized fireflies, we may brighten the way for others to see, know, and fulfill the work of God.