What even is the new normal?

Earlier this week, a Facebook friend of mine posted a meme about “normalizing” things. It left me rather puzzled. Who waits for things to be normal to do them? Who wants to do normal things? Don’t get me wrong, there’s a certain desirable security in some mundanity, but, as Oscar Wilde put it, “all things in moderation, including moderation.” And normalcy.

I sat in my favorite chair tonight, surfing Facebook for writing inspiration. I happened on the nifty pics one of my ever so talented friends had taken of Comet Neowise. Upon further reading, I discovered that it’s supposed to be visible before midnight. This timing is a plus since I definitely am NOT a morning person. “HEY KIDS,” I bellowed. “WANNA GO LOOK FOR A COMET?”

To their credit, and doubtless due to their familiarity with our impromptu meteor forays, they quickly mobilized and, with Darling Hubby in tow, we all trooped out towards the road. As we cleared the trees and passed the mailbox, we were greeted with a breathtaking sight. The moonless sky arched overhead, the myriad stars all twinkling brightly. The Milky Way spread like ghostly silk across the expanse, and fireflies completed the Earthly portion of the light show.

After checking our bearings and attempting to locate where the comet was supposed to be, we spent a while trying to see through the haze and cloud clutter near the horizon. The breeze was just enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay, just cool enough to be comfortable. As I walked down the road, the fireflies seemed to hang in the air nearby, blinding if you looked at them long enough. It was almost like walking through a Christmas tree.

We gave up finding the comet for tonight, and let the fireflies take the stage. Darling Son caught one and brought it to show me. I could see it lighting his cupped hands from several steps away. Darling Daughter watched the patterns they made, and I almost walked into a nighthawk. Or, I thought it was a nighthawk—something tiny and dark swooped within a foot of my face, and it looked too small to be a bat. Either way, I’m glad it missed me. I’m sure it’s thrilled too.

Eventually, the kids got bored and headed back inside. Darling Hubs and I continued on down the road towards our creek, which was teeming with fireflies. Years ago, my mom used to drive us out from town into the country, to an old washed-out bridge. “Fireflies like water,” she always said. In those days, we’d park and turn off the lights, but keep the air conditioning running. Soon, the car would be surrounded by tiny, flashing lights. We’d sit for what seemed like hours, reluctant to turn on the lights and break the magic of the moment.

Tonight, the magic was up close and personal, at least after the one lone vehicle on our road thundered over the bridge and past us. As our eyes adjusted to the dark once again, we could see thousands of tiny lights in the dark cathedral of the trees. The creek burbled quietly to us, and the breeze whispered gently through the leaves. We were surrounded by lights—some fireflies close enough to touch, some far away and tiny like the stars. They sparkled and flashed in infinite combinations, a light show both shared with us and oblivious to us. Walking out by the pasture and marveling at the twinkling hedgerow, we wondered if the mother deer and her fawn who often rest there were watching too.

All too soon, it was time to head in. Life, normal or not, has to go on tomorrow. Even our conversation was muted on the walk back, even our laughter at “thunder bugs” was low chuckles, to avoid breaking the spell. Each step was a new perspective on the scintillating magical nighttime wonderland that our dusty, boring old daytime road had become. Watching each flash light up a nearby leaf, or draw a pattern in the air held me enthralled until the brightness of the porch light eclipsed the gentle green flares.

A while back, at Bible study, a question was posed in the homework “What makes you happy? Do not give the Sunday School answer.” After some thought, I scribbled “sparkly things.” As my knitters’ guild will tell you, I’m the bead queen. I like to make things sparkly. Well, I got to study that day, and as we went around the table, my heart sank. The other ladies HAD given the Sunday School answers. Mine sounded pretty shallow and pathetic when I said it. I wished I could disappear. But then, one dear soul smiled sweetly at me and patted my hand. “God likes sparkly things too, you know,” she said. “Otherwise he wouldn’t have made the stars, or fireflies, or water.”

It’s OK to not be normal, or do normal stuff (at least sometimes). Sometimes you miss out on a lot of life trying to fit into what you think is normal. Don’t wait for the crowd to catch on, get out there and do it. And remember, if God can make a bug’s butt light up, think of what He can do for you!

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