The fireflies used to lead us down, single-file, through the woods. Onto the bridge. Over the lake where Kelly tried to save the fish she couldn’t bear to see die after one of the campers took to long on the release part of the catch & release policy. Past the amphitheater lit up paranormally, as if the light was coming straight out of the core of the wooden slab benches and the cross itself. Past the empty cabins that would soon be filled with campers who had found their way back by the light of the fireflies.

The sound of a firefly darkness is a thing I can’t describe with words. Maybe not with paint, either. Nor song. Maybe it takes all these things. The sound of the silence that isn’t really silence–if you listen closely, you hear the bullfrogs down by the lake and the buzz of insects you don’t want to know the names of and the shuffling of shoes through the dirt and the sniffling of someone trying to stop crying after leaving the tabernacle and the rustle of campers reaching for their new friends’ hands. But for some reason, your brain still lets the silence claim these sounds. They belong to it, they are right at home with the silence and the dark.

The dark that isn’t really dark. There are stars in the sky and that ephemeral glow of the cross that seems to come from nowhere and the reflections of it all in the lake and, of course, the fireflies. The fireflies that belong to the dark. The fireflies so small and dainty that you can only notice them when it is this dark. So dark that you swipe three or four times before you make contact with your best friend’s hand. So dark that the lake seems magical in the way it can grab onto the smallest of light and propel it back out into the world to be seen. So dark that the light is almost an offense.

Only in a dark, silent night like this, do you even notice the fireflies. Only here, as you make your way back to your empty cabin from the joyous tabernacle, do you realize how amazing the smallest contrast to your surroundings can seem. How little you actually need, to find your way back to where you’re supposed to be. How big the light can seem, once you quit being afraid of the dark.


I am convinced that the universe needs me to be at a certain level of desperation on a daily basis in order for the galaxies to remain harmoniously aligned.

I am convinced that if I hadn’t recently freed myself of self-inflicted guilt about giving up on relationships that I clearly can’t salvage without divine intervention, I wouldn’t have old relationships seeping stealthily back into my days, bleeding guilt right back into the scrubbed-clean parts of my psyche.

I am convinced that if I hadn’t gotten so close to being caught up at work, we wouldn’t have had a surprise audit last week.

I am convinced that there are people in my life I need to spend more time with, and that if I hadn’t had the luxury of spending time with those very people recently, I wouldn’t be feeling so badly about the people I haven’t spent much time with.

I am convinced that if I hadn’t started cleaning my house as soon as I got home today– doing the dishes from last night, washing towels we used over the weekend, and scrubbing the shower that was still fairly clean from its last scrubbing–the sewer would not have backed up an hour ago and ruined a bunch of our laundry.

I am convinced that I’m cursed by a God of hilarity, humility, and all things in between.




When I was very young I attended church camp every single summer. Yes, I know I cuss like a sailor and drink like a fish but just hear me out, okay?

I did. I went to church camp. We played games and sang songs and camped and canoed and played in the rain and stared up at the stars like we couldn’t imagine something so divine being right there where we could see it. Like we were looking at something we weren’t supposed to see, a universal secret we were all supposed to pretend we didn’t know.

One of the games we played when I was very young made us split into 8-10 teams and each team got one carpet square and we were told that the first team that got every single member of their line across the field without any team member stepping off a carpet square would win.

So we all tried, like good little soldiers, to get our entire team across the field while dragging each person across on the square, or hopping and jumping across without leaving the square and then flinging the square back to our line. Each of our little teams just a little island of determined people looking for the answer to this stupid riddle. All of us hot and sweaty and beginning to think the rec counselors were playing a grand joke on us, we were their entertainment for the afternoon.

Until someone said, “Can we join each other?”

And another kid said, “No of course not! That’s cheating!”

And I just stood there thinking, is it cheating? I don’t think they said anything about that being cheating but to be honest, I was probably not paying attention all that closely…

And then another kid said, “Yeah! Let’s all get in one line and use all our squares and make a bridge across the field, and if we run out the person in the back can pick up the last one and pass it down!”

But there was still that one cocky little shit of a kid that thought he could do it all by himself like he was proving something to himself or God or maybe the hot older counselor chick. And it took a while, but we finally convinced that kid to shut the hell up and get in line with us because we weren’t all going to make it across with his shitty little attitude, and we weren’t going to be able to go to the snack bar and get ice cream until everyone had made it across, so we couldn’t just leave him alone on his side acting like a jackass.

The counselors were so proud, gave us the big lecture about teamwork and no man is an island, all that great stuff. And probably they didn’t really think it’d make a huge impact on any of us. Maybe they didn’t realize one of us would take that one day in summer camp and think about it from all sides for years to come, analyze it, turn it into some grand metaphor about life that extended beyond teamwork.

But maybe this is all religion really is, maybe this is all that life really is: taking everybody from all walks of life and bringing them into our line and handing them our scraps and squares to step on so we can all make it across the chaos together. Maybe all the Christians can’t get across without the Atheists, or the Muslims or Jews or Buddhists or Hindus or any of us. Maybe if only one group keeps trying to get across on their own, no one is going to get any fucking ice cream.

So in closing: We’re in this together, so try not to be a dick, and help everyone else get in line and cross the field even if they don’t look like or talk like or pray like you do.



I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to ignore the shit-show that is the Presidential election this year. It isn’t possible. I’m an American, I pay attention, I read, I have an IQ over 100. I can’t shut up anymore.

I grew up in a very loud, very passionate family. I remember heated debates around the Thanksgiving table growing up. I remember listening to politics before I knew what politics were and I remember feelings sometimes getting hurt, but then those feelings being healed again. I learned, from my parents’ and aunts’ and uncles’ examples, how to argue (mostly tactfully) and I learned that you can love someone and still disagree with them.

But this election is completely insane. I find myself on the other side of the aisle from the same people I’m always on the other side of, but this time it’s different. This time, it’s too hard to ignore the cognitive dissonance dulling the eyes of my loved ones with whom I disagree. It’s too hard to let certain arguments slide. It’s too hard to say, “I disagree with your stance but I understand how you arrived at it.”

Because let me be real clear: I do not understand how some of you have arrived at your stance this time.

We have, right now, at this very moment, people tweeting that one of the candidates is a satan worshipper and a baby-killer. We have, at this moment, another candidate being endorsed by the oldest hate group in America. We have, at this very moment, sound bites of a presidential candidate that are unsafe to listen to at work, are unsafe to let our children listen to. We have pictures of a prospective first lady that would get most people fired from their job for looking at. We have a presidential candidate standing trial for fraud in November, and for raping a thirteen year old girl in December.

So your moral high-ground stance is a bit muddled for me. I mean, I was no fan of Romney or McCain, but I never feared for a complete and total breakdown of society if they were elected. But right now? I’m scared. Because the candidate endorsed by those who claim to be the most morally-sound in this country, is a sociopathic liar with a clear agenda that has nothing to do with bettering our country.

I know, I know. It’s all about the supreme court! The supreme court! We need a pro-life appointee. Because this tactic has worked so well in the past. I have yet to see a Republican Presidency, since the passing of Roe v. Wade, that resulted in less abortions. In fact, abortion rates actually go down under Democratic presidents. So if we’re serious about stopping (or at least slowing) the number of abortions in this country, why not vote for the party who actually tackles the socio-economic issues that make abortion feel less necessary? And why, if so many of you are pro-life, are you against saving refugee children from countries torn apart by wars they had no say in?

Which brings me to my next point: Christians. Come on. I mean, come on. We have big-wig Christians like Franklin Graham coming out with strong rhetoric about the only path for a Christian nation, talking for the “faithful.”

But some of us have news for you: You don’t speak for us. You don’t represent our beliefs, our wants, or our religious interpretation of what a Christian should be. I know that bugs you, I know you think you’re the only one with any understanding of the scripture. But you’re not. You are a very small, very loud minority. And I know that’s scary, and I know that has resulted in the fear-based attacks against those of us who disagree with you. It’s uncomfortable to suddenly find yourself outnumbered, I get it. But you know what? Tough. Suck it up. Be a part of the solution to bring our country together instead of further splintering it.

It shouldn’t be that hard. It shouldn’t be that difficult. My kids can do it, they can argue and take turns listening to each other, and argue some more, then cool down and come together with a compromise that benefits everyone in the family. And they’re kids. Not even teenagers. If they can do it, I know you can too.