Summer Lights

The sound of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lit up the world… -Psalm 77:18

The commonplaces of our childhood

still shimmer freshly in memory: the ozone tang

borne on the wind, petrichor

of a prairie thunderstorm boiling up on the horizon, 

coral, vermilion, lavender backdrop

alabaster clouds blooming like smoke, heat

lightnings dazzling, dust cyclones dervishing

before the cooling rains drives them to ground.

The cottonwood leaves turn their leaves over in supplication,

a prayer for rain, the sizzling rattle

of willow leaf and branch bent in faithful contemplation over arroyos

tracing a line through fields of grain, 

dancing before the cooling breeze.

And O, as twilight approaches

the sudden blaze of fireflies rising from the freshened earth, reversing

the fall of Lucifer from heaven,

bearing light upward in the call of love—

our dad’s ever-present pocket-knife

would punch holes in mason jar lids

and we would dance through dewy grass,

chasing beetles swirling and eddying in our wake

now here, now there.

We’d gather our golden treasures 

and throw ourselves down under the locust tree

rasping cicadas sirening a song of summer joy,

watching the semaphores of luminescence, 

as we ate dinner outside in gauzy nightgowns and dusty feet,

then released with gratitude to continue their courtships,

drawing our eyes upward

to the lightshow of the Perseids 

as we tumbled into bed.

Holding hands, my sister and I

would breathe our prayers to the God of the overlooked,

as we drifted off to sleep, sighing, “Jesus

loves the little children,

and the lighting bugs,

and the turtle’s red eye,

and the monarch butterfly,

and God’s wonders strewn across the night sky,”

and so to sleep, safe and sound,

summer lights flashing under the heart-shaped leaves

of redbuds, grace, and gratitude

 jeweled with dewdrops.

And now we plead with monarchs 

to reverse their decline, planting milkweed

as a treasured contribution

rather than a weed to be uprooted, stem and branch,

and holding fast to a faith, 

and rejoice at the wonder

of a resurgent summer symphony

of fireflies defying 

the dying of the light, knowing

that God walks among us in morning dew,

calling us to guard the precious summer light

that lights our way toward the heavenly mansions.

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