Reflection: Glow Up

It had been years since I’d been in the kind of yoga class where the room is dark and lit only by a handful of candles, but that’s where I found myself this morning, and it reminded me of this past weekend when we had friends over around the patio and saw fireflies in the yard.

I don’t remember seeing fireflies with any consistency in our yard, and it feels like I would have remembered it, because certainly my then-little kids would have been utterly transfixed by such an occurrence. They were the type of little kids who would’ve run giggling for glass jars, the starting line to a grand adventure of capturing lightning in a bottle. They would’ve made up a story about it, too, probably involving pirates.

There was a children’s book we loved at that time called Leo the Lightning Bug, by Eric Drachman. Leo was a little guy, and he was frustrated because as hard as he worked at it, he just could not make a light, like Larry or Lester, or even Louise. Leo’s Mom encouraged him to keep practicing and to give himself time, but it wasn’t until Leo was out flying during a thunderstorm that he discovered his own light. 

And something about all of that had me thinking about the glow of our own souls, and about what it takes for us to learn how to let the light that’s inside of us really start to shine. For some, it might be found in learning something new, or in doing a thing we were made to do. For Leo, the glow came from a storm and self-acceptance. For sure, life’s storms can change and realign us to the point that we finally experience our own glow. We all have those stories, hard as they are.

As I rested in savasana this morning, I wondered at all the places on the Earth where my little soul has glowed over time, and what that light might look like if you looked at a global map with a God’s eye view. When were the times when I felt truly myself, and that I was enough and right where I was meant to be, and when were the moments when I felt wonder and awe that I could not explain? When and where did I glow?

Like Leo, my glow took a while to find, and then to recognize. But I remember glowing while walking on a bridge in Prague, and while sitting in a pew in Rome. I glowed while sitting on a carpeted floor of a children’s room at the local library while picking out books with my young kids. I glowed while on a beach in North Carolina next to my then-teenage son. While ordering in broken French in a restaurant in Quebec City. While making a charcuterie board with my daughter. I glowed in NYC, sitting in the third row for an original Broadway cast production of Hamilton, and while standing among tulips in a Dublin garden. My soul glowed while standing at a podium and telling a group of women about how God has worked in my story, and while locking eyes with particular students in music class. My soul glowed when I saw that I had just one mile to go in a half-marathon in Rhode Island, and when I read The Alchemist for the first time. I’ll often feel my glow while singing or looking at the sky.

And I wonder what all that light looks like, and the difference it makes when combined with your soul’s light, in all of the many spaces and places and times that you have glowed. It seems to me that all of that light makes a substantial beacon in the darkness, don’t you think? And it can take work, sure, and time and practice, too, to find and to recognize our own lights and to glow as best we can, but I guess I’d want to say today, it’s worth it, because as anyone who’s been delighted by the surge of a firefly’s light or experienced the peace of a single candle in a dark yoga room can attest, the smallest light can help someone else to find their way, and that can make all the difference.

Leo the Lightning Bug Slideshow

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