by Jarmila V. Del Boccio
Ahhhh. Summer nights! I sat on the top step of our lighted front porch, feeling the pitted concrete beneath me. Clasping a mason jar, I waited patiently, scanning the night sky for a telltale blinking gold light.
Caught! I was mesmerized as I watched a greenish-gold fluorescent glow emitting from my closed hand, as the insect pulsed its light.
I grappled with the metal lid. I threw the glowing insect inside, screwing it closed before it could escape.
Grabbing a handful of cool damp grass, I dropped it in, thinking it would comfort the firefly. New mown grass. Fresh and vibrant. It smelled summer to me.
But, firefly summer was about to end. Fall was around the corner, with its own brand of sensory memories.
There was one last outdoor ritual I treasured, and the crisp fall air mingled with the scent of smoke and fire brought on the memory. My chest expanded as I breathed it in, bringing a refreshing but nostalgic burst of energy. As the weather cooled, the leaves on the maple trees in our yard turned vivid shades of yellow, red and orange. Some were soft and pliable. Others, brown and crisp. I loved to close my hand around them and listen to the crunch. Then I’d release my grasp, watching the pieces fall.
Our front lawn was blanketed with them by mid-October, so out came the rakes. My mother and I gather the leaves into neat mounds, then push them off our curb and onto the street. There the mound grew, as we raked every last leaf.
Mom lit the stack. First one leaf, then two or three, and soon the entire stack ignited. I watched the flames shoot higher and higher, sending trails of fire upward to the starlit sky. Our street was lined with these glowing mounds, sending multiple signals towards the heavens. The smell of burning, smoldering leaves still scented my clothes as I took them off before bed. The magical, sensory night was over.
Many years later, I began equating my lifetime with the cycle of seasons. After snuggling in the womb of winter, childhood burst on the scene with spring. Teenagers and young adults were in the summer of their lives, full of vim and vigor.
As I headed towards middle age and retirement, I framed that decade as the autumn of my lifespan. And of course, old age . . . truly old age, was winter.
I began to accept and finally welcome the cooler temps of autumn, willingly saying goodbye to summer. Not only the leaves were changing. So was I. Seeing not the regrets and restrictions of my autumn, but the possibilities and promises of this corresponding time in my life helped to ease the transition. I pondered.
Being much older and wiser, I could use what time God deemed left of my days on earth, to glorify Him in an array of colors. Not only in the clothes I wore or via my decorating skills, but in my actions, words, and use of the gifts He has given me.
In Psalms 92 it says, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree . . . like a cedar in Lebanon . . . in the courts of thy God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing . . .”
I had to look up the definition of flourish. I was pleased to see how it paralleled my thoughts. According to Random House Unabridged Dictionary, it meant:
-to be in a vigorous state;
-to be in one’s prime;
-to grow luxuriantly, or thrive in growth, as a plant.
-to add embellishments and ornamental lines to writing, letters, etc.
I wanted to flourish. To be vigorous. Grow luxuriantly. To send upwards a sweet smelling savor of a holy and acceptable life, as the fires of my childhood autumn. To touch those around me. To add embellishment with joy. Brightness. And words of wisdom.
But how? Romans 12 admonishes us to offer ourselves to Christ. Not to conform, but be transformed by a renewed mind.
His mind. His heart. His will. And, until the last leaf falls from the tree, I will accomplish it only through His strength.
Deuteronomy 33:25b “. . . as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”