The Gleam of the Firefly

“Let’s extinguish our lanterns!”, suggested Blink. But would that be the wisest way to flee from the assaults of that wicked serpent?

The bright daytime sky that seemed gilded with purest gold, gradually became streaked with rose and then orange tones. As twilight set, in the hues deepened. Little animals took shelter in their dens and the birds settled cozily in their nests. The moon waxed strong that night as the sun slipped silently below the horizon.

Accompanied by the twinkling stars, her attendants, the moon seemed to be observing the great expanse that fell under her wide-open and attentive eye. It was a clear and cloudless night, so that the dome of the heavens glittered in all its splendour, a true marvel to behold.

Suddenly – how very intriguing – hundreds of other lights started to appear. No, they were not stars of the heavens, but of earth: little lighting bugs. Two of them – named Spark and Blink, were zooming side-by-side over the meadowlands, enjoying a pre-view of the most recently sprouted spring flowers.

Losing courage before the serpent’s rage, Blink extinguished his light, never imagining that this would be his ruin

Then Lady Moon spied a narrow-headed snake with a spiteful look. It was springing menacingly into the air as if trying to sink its fangs into a victim. After some placid reflection, she came to the conclusion that the snake was striking at her and the stars. She asked quizzically:

“Don’t you realize that you will never reach us? We are light-years away!”

“I know that!” fumed the cobra. “And I hate that! You receive the light of the sun, and the stars are a reminder of it in its absence. I despise the sun, because its light lets my prey see me and flee from me. And all of you do the same during the night. Since I am powerless against the great sun, I lash out against you!”

The moon did not lower herself to respond to such foolishness. She knew that no sensible word would be capable of convincing the snake in its furious state. She decided to simply ignore it, turning her gentle gaze to the friendly lightning bugs.

She found them racing over the marshes. Blink and Spark had such energy that their lanterns were brighter than usual that night. They flitted randomly without a care in the world, until Spark heard a sound coming from the ground, close by…

“What’s that?” he asked his friend.

“Nothing important… Try to catch me!” responded Blink.

A little further along they heard the sound again, but could not discover what was causing it. However, as they were flying low over a clearing, they finally caught sight of… the snake!

“Oh, that’s all it is,” said Spark in relief. “We don’t need to worry, for snakes don’t eat lightning bugs.”

They nimbly flew off to another meadow, but the snake followed in pursuit… Seeing this, Blink made bold to ask:

“Are you looking for something, serpent?” But it gave no answer.

Becoming a little nervous, the lighting bugs flew faster. When they had gained some distance and judged they were safe, they paused for a rest. But turning around, they found that the snake was almost upon them, so again they spoke up:

“Serpent, why are you chasing us? We don’t understand! We are not in your food group!” shrilled Spark.

But the attempt to get an explanation was futile, for the reptile kept silent. The low-flying insects knew that their only choice was to flee as fast as they could, or something bad would happen. It made them shudder. So, on and on and on they went as the snake slid stealthily behind them through the tall grass at incredible speed.

“He won’t stop, Blink! We have to do something!”

Taking a daring stance, Spark stopped mid-flight. His companion did the same. He boldly turned on the enemy and ordered in a demanding voice:

“That’s enough, serpent! What wrong have we done to you? Is this some sort of prank or silly game? Why are you chasing us?”

At last, the snake replied angrily:

“You shine… and I cannot bear it! That is why I want to destroy you.” And, with a sudden leap, he almost swallowed them.

Blink countered:

“But our lights are so weak! How can they harm you?”

Between clenched fangs the serpent hissed:

“It’s not that you harm me! What I really detest is the sun, the moon and the stars. But since I can’t reach them, I strike out at the fireflies, since you symbolize them!”

With this, he lashed out at the two little bugs with renewed fury. They tried with all their might to lift themselves out of its reach, but the snake could leap higher. More than once they were almost devoured!

The bugs pressed blindly on ahead, with as much speed as they could muster. Blink began to lose his nerve. He turned and said:

“Spark, let’s extinguish our lanterns, so the snake won’t see us any more, or hate us without reason.”

“No, don’t do that! If God made us like the heavenly lights, what have we to fear? Turning off our lights would show ingratitude to our Creator!”

No sooner had he uttered these words than the enemy lunged at them once more.

“You see? I don’t want to turn into snake food.”

Blink gave up the fight and turned off his light. He vanished from sight and the snake stopped chasing him. Only Spark was left.

“You will not escape from me,” the serpent threatened.

With redoubled speed and cunning, it launched an all-out attack against the lone firefly. But Spark did not back down. “God made me to be a little star on earth and I won’t give that up!” was his inner cry.

The struggle went on. But just when Spark saw himself at the brink of collapse, he saw a strong shaft of light. It was not the sun, for dawn had not yet come. And in fact, this light was many times brighter than the sun.

Terrified by the dazzling burst, the serpent turned tail. Mid-flight it came upon Blink who was flitting aimlessly about, dazed for his want of light. The snake swallowed him in one gulp and then slithered spinelessly back to its burrow in order to hide in the shadows.

Spark thought “Turning off our lights would be an ingratitude to the Creator, who made us like the heavenly lights”

Within that splendorous brightness, Spark could distinguish three figures: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! The Three Divine Persons beckoned the victorious insect, who then became wondrously luminous. It rose higher, higher, and higher, until it reached a throne in the firmament alongside the other heavenly bodies.

The Creator had rewarded that humble creature for its perseverance and fidelity, making it into a beautiful and shining star!

*     *     *

Just like the serpent, evil hates the light of those who are good, for this light comes from God, from Our Lady, from the Angels and from the Saints, in comparison to whom we are simple fireflies.

Remember this, dear reader: never be ashamed of being good, and never fear the attacks of evil; the Almighty will raise you to Heaven on high, where you will rejoice in the eternal light of the children of God. ◊



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