“Blessed are the gentle in spirit; for they shall have the earth for their possession.” Matthew 5:5
Even from your TV screen, you could almost hear it as if they’re happening right in your neighborhood. They
bring some chilly sensations down your spine. Before you know it, the adrenaline of anger starts to accumulate in your brain. It’s the voices of violence we hear these days – from the gory killings by gangsters in Mexico to the carnage in Mindanao volatile enough to slip into Muslim-Christian skirmishes; from the rift over territory in Georgia to the psychopathic murders in British Columbia; from the Buddhists’ crackdown in Tibet to the massive protest in Thailand. Voices of violence as palpable as those bloodbaths around us or the bangs of bullet exchange. Those voices certainly sag the spirit, demonic enough to wear out the already exhausted working human being. And in a minute or two of stillness, we hear the clamor of our soul, the other side of our seemingly indefatigable, antsy busy-ness. It is the voice of the gentle spirit in us.
Ah, but the gentle spirit also manifests in what we often relegate to as minute, trivial, irrelevant beings hovering around us. If you don’t mind, let’s focus a little bit on fireflies.
I admit some information simply move me as if a tuft of spiritual messages I need to untangle. The news of the disappearing fireflies in that part of Thailand flashed on the web last week has left me with some tinge of sadness. While this country remains stucked with news headlines on war and corruption, our neighbor Thailand is asking how and why the fireflies are disappearing, almost in the same way we endlessly demand justice for the desaparrecidos of this land. I guess this is one saddening part – when we can’t seem to take off the proverbial millstone we tied around our neck and tilt our attention to the seemingly insignificant but in truth, equally necessary for our survival such as fireflies or bees or bats.
The more personal saddening part was how the news has brought me to the heel of childhood reminiscence. When was the last time I played with fireflies? Frolicked with its flashing lights? Touched it with all the tenderness I could muster? I guess 25 years ago. Sadly been a long time. Sadly because the loss of close encounter somehow bespeaks not only of what the Thais point to as the havoc of urban sprawl and scaring them off by overlighting a place. The loss of encounter bespeaks not only of the slipping potential for fireflies as aid to curing cancer. It somehow signals a degree of loss of a sense of awe and wonder. It is getting out of a playground where I can frisk with those gentle spirits. Playing with fireflies is tapping the gentle spirit within. Sure, it is not the only way of reclaiming childlike innocence. But if all the gentle creatures around us vanish one by one, aren’t we living too rigid as adults at the expense of our happy survival, never actually owning a peaceful portion of the earth as our possession?