Everyday magic
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Editorial

Everyday magic

It seems to be firefly season again.

I’m not a naturalist or a biologist, and I’m not interested in bugs. In fact, when I come across once, usually I just back away from it slowly, as if both it and I can agree that I didn’t see it, and it didn’t see me. No harm, no foul.

Unlit fireflies are pretty ugly little things, unappealing to the insect-unfriendly.

But when you’re walking through a park at twilight, at midsummer, and orange lights unexpectedly glow, in odd places, from crevasses in the rock walls, from leaves, in midair, and dance, and then they stop and others start, and the world is full of dancing light, and  it’s entirely unpredictable and absolutely beautiful, you know that you’re in the presence of magic.

It’s everyday magic, to be sure. There’s no spell that has conjured them up. You don’t have to do anything, think anything, move in a particular way. You don’t even have to squint. You just walk through the dusk and see the magic.

I’m not sure that there’s any lesson to be learned from the fireflies. They’re neither Jewish nor non-Jewish; they’re local only in that apparently they’re called lightning bugs or glowworms in other parts of the country, but they’re fireflies to us.

But there are things that we can get from them.

Beauty. And from the beauty, we can get  pure joy.

This is a hard time of year on the Jewish calendar; it’s the start of the Three Weeks, the time that we’re told senseless hatred caused the destruction of the Second Temple. There’s a huge amount of senseless hatred careening around the world right now. And there’s a heat wave that will have baked other parts of the world more than us, but that we’re feeling too; when the heat gets so bad that your dog’s paws get stuck in the asphalt, you know it’s time to go inside and thank God for your air conditioner.

And then there is the casual, unsolicited, random beauty of the fireflies. —JP

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