It’s late July. The Northeast is rolling with the peapod-scent of cornstalks rising and clouds reflect with perfect symmetry in the stillness of the reservoirs. Two of my friends have shared with me their epiphanies of a sort, of seeing fields of nighttime fireflies, one in the state of New York, and the other in Massachusetts. Magical. Breathtaking. That many fireflies, hundreds, it was dazzling. I long to behold this, and as I drive past farms and uncut fields at night, I slow down and search for them. I, too, want so many fireflies switching their lights on and off in front of me that I gasp. I always want more. But I cannot find them anywhere. Now it’s one o’clock in the morning and I’ve stayed up too late writing. I slip into bed, and pull the chain on my bedside lamp. At the exact moment I begin to let go into sleep, the plush gray-black of my room is suddenly aglow and my room changes color. An orb of emerald green surrounds a tiny luminescent center. There’s a firefly in my room! Right above me! I can’t believe it. How did it get in? I do have a slight bend in the metal frame of my window screen, a slip of an opening. But where did it come from? I haven’t seen a single one in my backyard. It blinks above me, and I’m amazed at how its light fills up the entire room. One perfect firefly. I struggle to stay awake with it, to celebrate the two of us being together, but I can’t. I fade away from its glow. In the morning, of course, the firefly is nowhere to be found. Yet I feel changed by its flight. I think about the fragments of the loaves, how it symbolizes God’s care and protection of us, how we say give us this day our daily bread because we always seem to be worrying, to want more and more. Like the wish for a whole field of lights. But what if, sometimes, the abundance isn’t in the numbers, the amount? That what we need is already near? That one little firefly found me, burning brighter than I had ever known a firefly could burn.
—from the book Gather the Fragments: My Year of Finding God’s Love
by Maureen O’Brien