July 18 – A Firefly of Love – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“Who knows that in the depth of the ravine of the mountain of my hidden heart a firefly of my love is aflame.” Abutsu-Ni

This quiet Japanese woman’s confession to herself almost a thousand years ago tells us that the most important things begin so far inside we can hardly hear them ourselves at first. Or that we keep the most important things so tucked away that they barely have a chance to grow. Probably her sigh of heart bears witness to both. Please. Read her lines again. Now.

These are not just words, but the heart cloud of a living being, catching herself alive in a moment that has repeated itself in everyone who has ever known or wanted to know love. And, though I’m not sure how, we can, in the snap of a guarded moment, in the wince of an unexpected hurt, be a mountain away from what we feel. But if we own the separation, we then begin the arduous pilgrimage back to Oneness.

Somewhere along the way and often with good reason, we learn to fear putting our feelings out in the open, out in the weather of ordinary air, as if our small piece of love will die for exposure to the elements, as if our true feelings will not survive the gaze of others.  Yet we all know so very well that without air nothing can grow. So what are we to do with our tiny little firefly?

It is a beautiful irony that in confessing her hiddenness, Abutsu-Ni has given us a way. For isn’t it her firefly that has fluttered all the way up from the ravine, up from the mountain of her hidden heart, flitting to moisten her eye and wag her reluctant tongue? Isn’t it her little firefly of love that has kept its tail lit for more than nine hundred years?

It doesn’t have to be pretty or smart, just honest and true. For many a dance starts with a trip, and many a song finds its opening through a cough.

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