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Maggie Ciskanik, M.S.July 9, 20181 min read

The Language of Lightning Bugs

Depending on where you grew up, it is highly likely that tucked away is some treasured childhood memory of chasing, capturing, and collecting these luminescent lightning bugs.

In this delightful post from EarthSky, not only will you learn why fireflies light up (due to a chemical amusingly named luciferin) and that the pattern of their flashing lights is a “language”, you can enjoy beautiful images captured by nature enthusiasts with a few star trails adding to their charm.

Still, I am left wondering why we will so quickly call the winkings and blinkings of these mini nighttime wonders a “language” but hesitate to stand in awe before the power and beauty of the musings produced by human language?

The following excerpts plucked from Goodreads reveal our unique capability to capture our experiences and emotions in words.

lightning bugs at night in forest

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,

And here on earth come emulating flies,

That though they never equal stars in size,

(And they were never really stars at heart)

Achieve at times a very star-like start.

Only, of course, they can't sustain the part.

Robert Frost,The Poetry of Robert Frost


“It was still twilight when they reached the flat rock. They sat, and the stone still held the warmth of the day's sun. At first there were only occasional sparkles, but as it got darker Chuck was lost in a daze of delight as a galaxy of fireflies twinkled on and off, flinging upward in a blaze of light, dropping earthward like falling stars, moving in continuous effervescent dance.”

Madeleine L'EngleA Swiftly Tilting Planet


Fireflies, to me, are nighttime butterflies,

Dazzling the night with magical flashes of light.

When I see these teeny tiny sparks dart in the night,

I am overcome with a sense of comfort and calm,

Same as when a butterfly flutters

around me during the day.

I’m drawn to the dance of both astonishing critters.

They remind me of life.

They remind me of hope.

Melody Lee, Moon Gypsy

Fueled by the magic of words we can fly into the night sky. Something to ponder tonight under the stars. With the fireflies.



Maggie Ciskanik, M.S.

Armed with a B.A. in Philosophy and a minor in science, Ciskanik landed in a graduate nursing program. With the support of her enthusiastic husband, an interesting career unfolded while the family grew: a seven year stint mostly as a neurology nurse, 15 years as a homeschooling mom of six, and a six year sojourn as curriculum developer and HS science teacher (which included teaching students with cognitive differences). These experiences added fuel to her lifelong interest in all things related to God’s creation and the flourishing of the human spirit—which has found a new home on the Magis blog.