If the God I love gave me any talent whatsoever, (aside from being an awesome mother of boys, of course) it's being a good listener. I know plenty of good talkers. But not a lot of good listeners. Listening is a commitment. It requires pushing the pause button on your brain and giving someone else your undivided attention. Good listeners hear incredible things. We feel deeply for the speakers who talk to us. And I think that's what makes me an able story teller.
I'd like to tell you one now.
I wish you could listen and not read this, because I'd ask you to close your eyes and let your mind create the images I'm about to describe. It's a short story, but it's a delicious morsel of life's incredible feast.
Last evening was a naked night. You know the kind. When the air feels as warm as your skin. When you could walk around outside in perfect comfort without wearing a stitch of clothing. The sun had been down for more than an hour but the glow from its memory turned the sky a deep periwinkle blue. There wasn't a breeze but the air wasn't still, either. Joe and I seemed to be in a gentle swirl that smelled nearly as sweet as the wild honeysuckle I grew up with in the southern California canyons.
And then the air started to dance.
Joe rushed inside and called for The Littles. He grabbed their dollar store plastic boxes with bright green handles from the drawer in our garage and had the look of Christmas morning on his face. "C'mon! Hurry, guys! This is the best day of the year for them!" I heard a muffled stampede of feet race through the kitchen as our three youngest sons hurried outside for one of life's magic moments.
There were fireflies everywhere.
Our kids gasped.
I sat down in a swiveling chair beneath the basketball hoop in our driveway and watched – and listened – to it happen. My husband, helping the boys gently scoop the insects out of the air without squishing them and then carefully tapping them off their fingers into the boxes. Our sons floated through the yard as if they were on clouds, delighted to capture a flicker of light in the palms of their hands. Murphy pranced alongside them, puzzled by all the excitement.
The moment between twilight and darkness is fleeting, yes, but it is so very enchanting. The sparkling and twinkling of fire flies as far as I could see made my head dizzy, like I was a little girl again, lying on the floor next to my sister, mesmerized by the dancing white lights of my mother's Christmas tree. Our yard looked like a fairytale. As though the flickering that floated across the lawn were the eyes of little creatures blinking at us in the darkness.
Ten minutes was all it took. The sky turned too dark and the sweet slice of time passed. The flies stop firing and the boys opened their boxes and let their captured go.
And I felt full.
Joe and I have taken our sons to some extraordinary places. We've seen breathtaking vistas and have splashed in tropical seas. But it's the sweet adventures that I'll remember. They cost nothing and are worth everything. A simple night of magic with four of the men I love amid an ocean of twinkling lights.
The listener in me wants to hear it all over again.