Night Skies and Fireflies

Night Skies and Fireflies

My grandfather Jack loved everything about the sky, weather, stars, space.  He loved flying kites and would often come pick me up and take me to his latest favorite windy spot.  Those of you reading this in my hometown of Salem, VA will remember when “The Hill” had only a few homes / when the first big homes were being built.  That was Jack’s favorite spot to launch incredible colorful kites with homemade kite string winders on a Maxwell House coffee can (easier to reel back in).  Sometimes we would drive there after dinner on certain clear nights to look at the stars and the moon.  He would talk to me about the constellations, how fast light travels, astronauts, and shooting stars.  I was in awe, although I could not understand the magnitude of what I was seeing.  To this day, I am awestruck under a big sky full of stars…reaching to comprehend the beauty, the size, and the traveling light. I feel close to Jack when I am standing under a sky full of stars and I always feel like my sister is standing beside me.  

I have seen several shooting stars in my lifetime, and yes, I make a wish every time. I actually believe in making wishes like that.  I think when we see a “shooting star” we have a jolt of awareness…a rush of immediacy that wakes us up from the normal way of being.  For a split second you know you’ve witnessed something rare and special and you are awakened on a deeper level.  What a completely perfect time to make a wish / let your heart’s truth be known / or set an intention.  I will always make a wish, look for four leafed clovers, and be excited when I find heart shaped rocks.  And I will always, always look for fireflies.  Now I grew up calling them lightning bugs. But that wasn’t as catchy of a title for my new series.  Whichever you call them, I bet your heart skips a little beat when the first ones show up in late spring, back in a deep field or in the thick of brush on the side of the road. I have the same little burst of excitement when I see the little lights flashing so close…like stars coming down for a visit….almost close enough to touch.  

Two separate light shows that have my mind suspended between heaven and earth…feeling part of both, and fully present in the beauty and magnificence of a it all.  I am a seeker of magic.  I watch for the light.  Sadly, I do not have lightning bugs in Phoenix, so I must soak in all their glory on my quick visits to Virginia.  Maybe that is why I decided to paint them now.  Ironically (or possibly by a grand design) I started these paintings as my doctor had me come off of my anxiety medications for the first time in 12 years.  I would learn over the coming months how very much I needed these medications before making the decision to reinstate.  It was a pretty dark few weeks.  My husband was my rock and I am so grateful for his loving support as we navigated the best course.  In retrospect, I was painting dark night skies….for the first time in my career.  I didn’t see a connection until this week, as I am starting to feel like myself again.  I am unbelievably grateful that I do not have to live day to day with that level of anxiety and worry.  I have decided that I was painting these starry night skies for myself…little totems of hope…reminding myself to look for the magic and look to the stars - especially on a dark night.  

I hope you have your own special memories, times you saw a shooting star or tried to name the constellations.  I don’t know how you could be human on this earth and NOT stand in awe at the magnificence of it all.  Perhaps one of this little paintings would remind you the importance of that connection, and to take the time to gaze.

“After all, the night sky is a mess of stars - a million fireflies crammed into infinity. But the mess becomes a map once you know how to use it.” -Emery Lord

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