This essay was originally published in the Sun several years ago.  Because we need some childhood magic now more than ever, I hope you will enjoy.

By Jennifer Lynch, Ph.D.

When I was young, I loved the 4th of July. The 4th seems to mark that time in the summer when certain smells and memories are simply etched in our being. It is the time of year when honeysuckle blooms and the hot air smells sweet and delicious.

It’s the kick off to summer marked by parades and fireworks, mosquito bites and snowballs. It’s dancing and twirling barefoot in the grass, and artwork burned into the inky night sky by sparklers. Most importantly for me, the 4th of July marks the beginning of firefly season.

There is nothing like running, jumping, and squealing in delight, deep in the chase for bits of pixie dust floating in the air. The art of the hunt, the thrill of the catch. Catching a firefly is like catching a star, a mystery, a pixie, a fantasy. The night stands still, holding its breath…waiting. The slow unfolding of the hand, the blackness in the palms, until…THE BURST of light that moves slowly on the fingertips and then floats effortlessly into the darkness. It is a magical event that captures the beauty of childhood, the spirit of happiness.

Much of that had been lost for me. Times are busy and somehow the demands of everyday life have eclipsed the brilliance of sparkler art.  I can’t identify when I lost that untamed happiness. For me, there wasn’t a defining moment but more of a series of events that shaped who I was, what I thought, and how I perceived the world.  I am, however, moving  to a space with a deeper purpose, a more serene contentment. I am learning to live in the moment, accept myself, take deep breaths, and drink in joy.

I am washing off the dark, sticky tar of guilt and unworthiness.  I am doing the hard work of being kind to myself and finding peace and acceptance in my life.  I am recapturing those brilliant moments of happiness, those that appear magically like fireflies to light up the night sky.  I am learning to coax those moments gently in my hands and then sit quietly and appreciate their brilliance, only to let them go back into the night sky. I am fulfilled by the hunt, and the glory, of catching magic while enjoying the warmth of the moment. This summer, I hope you will find some fireflies as well.

Dr. Jennifer Lynch is an elementary school principal. She may be reached at

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