It begins just after dark.  A few rise from low in the undergrowth.  And blink their lights slowly as if testing the night; the air; the wind; the darkness.  On their signal, others rise and join them. They too do a flight check and a light check. Soon more come out and signal their presence. Their signals –their blinks—are signs to us who wait and watch to still our conversations and to open our eyes to the darkness and to the light.   Thus, the synchronized fireflies of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park begin their nightly ritual.  And we who have joined them are invited to be in an amazing event.

If you know where to go in the Park, you can stand in their midst as they light up the woods.   They surround us and we are center stage to the show.   We are on the stage and they are the performers swirling around and even among us. And they blink.   And blink.   And BLINK by the thousands.

Soon small groups of them are blinking in rhythm. on on on on on on on and ON. OFF Off off off off off off. on ….   And if we who have joined them remain in darkness, with even our “red lense only” lights off, their rhythm grows.   This small group joins with that small group and those groups and those over here and those over there.   And soon it is a synchronized wonder.   Incredible wonder.

The why of it all remains a mystery.   Scientists come to study and explain as a mating ritual; as a communication sequence; as an unknown essential to their character.   I’m down with the bar scene picking up a date by blinking idea.   I also have been known to propose that this is a giant concert with music we can’t hear and they are waving their lighters or, generationally, their cell phones to the music. Maybe it’s their Woodstock or Bonarroo. My friend Stephen says they are a band—with a conductor trying to get them together –brass on this side, percussion warming up over here, woodwinds there. And the trombones always come in late, thus the repeated practice. (I think he is describing his own Junior High Band where the saxophones are always in tune and always on time.) Mystery.


And then there is the simple explanation of the Psalms:

“Praise the Lord, O my soul;

All my inmost being;

Praise his holy name.”

Psalm 103: 1


With all of who they are; With all of who they were created to be; With all of their God-lighted souls and tails; With all of their energy. They blink and they praise.

And in their individual praise, they invite others to join. And they too praise. And soon they are all lighted heavenly hosts praising.   In congregational rhythm and heart and hope and light. They praise. And we who stand in their midst are moved. And we too praise. Awesome wonder.

From Fireflies To Discovery

June is the month of discovery for Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries.   Discovery of fireflies and National Park adventures.   Discovery of a new ministry team and of ministry assignments. Discovery of new friends who are here to work and to play. And discovery of God’s hope and plan for us all.

Pray that we are bold in our adventures and open to those discoveries that move us beyond our comfort zones and into God’s wide and wild world.   Pray that we learn to synchronize our lights that we may reveal the Holy light for all to see.


Above photo originally found here.