We met up almost two hours before midnight. Warm air cloaked the Spanish city as we wandered the streets, enjoying the hustle and bustle which festivities bring. One of us bought a local treat, and after tasting it, we others did too. We walked and laughed and took some photos before heading to the city square shortly before 11 p.m.
Near the fountain, we secured a good spot, sat down on the ground, and played a few rounds of a card game. Every few minutes, one of us checked the time.
It felt like New Year’s.
Here I was, waiting for fireworks to ring in the official beginning of this festival – a festival I barely knew anything about – with friends I had met merely two months prior, in a country I would only be living in for a few more months.
We concluded another round of the game – which for once I hadn’t lost! – and still we waited. Waited for the hands of the clock to creep to midnight, for bright colours to light up the sky.
My phone was ready.
A Momentary Explosion of Sparkles
Finally, it was only five more minutes. Then two. Then one. All around us, people counted down the seconds. I held up my phone and started filming. At midnight exactly, one spark shot up into the sky, exploding into golden pieces of glitter. The show had begun.
The one explosion was followed by another and another. I held my breath and watched in wonder as colours, twirls, and lights sprinkled the sky. A treat for the eye.
One of my friends looked over and we caught each other’s gaze. We couldn’t speak – the sound was deafening – but even if it had been different, no words were needed. We both agreed that this was the biggest and most amazing firework show we had ever seen.
The Hesitation Inside of Me
I continued to watch and film and take the occasional picture. I wanted to capture the memory, to be able to share it with others precisely how it was, to never forget this moment. But as I did so, I found my mind wandering. I couldn’t focus on what was in front of me. Instead, I felt worries creep in and fear take over.
Fear of forgetting. Fear of not appreciating.
People all around me shouted and cheered. I loved it, and yet, there was a part of me that felt like I was doing something so very, very wrong.
Ten minutes of sparkling explosions and booming noise later, the show concluded with a grand finale, lighting up the plaza and shaking the ground, before leaving the sky once again dark. The moment, once enjoyed, was over.
The crowd around us started to dissolve, trickling into the surrounding streets. My friends and I reached for each other’s hands so as not to be separated. We wove our way through the city square. After a little while of holding back yawns due to the late hour, I waved goodbye and headed home.
Reflecting on the Moment
The next day, my mind drifted back to the fireworks. The memory was still lingering in my mind and the sound still ringing in my ears.
I pulled out my phone and scrolled through the camera roll. Photos, videos – none could show how truly amazing it had been. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I had the niggling thought that perhaps fireworks were meant to be enjoyed in the moment, not to be stored for later.
None of the photos could rightfully capture the moment. And to my dismay, I mainly remembered those 10 minutes as me desperately trying to document them. Trying to document something that was not meant to be documented but instead was meant to be temporary.
I went about the next two days unable to get it out of my head. Everywhere I went, everything I did, couldn’t erase the fireworks that were on my mind.
It bothered me, and scared me, even, that I couldn’t see them as clearly in my memory as I wanted to.
But maybe that wasn’t the point of fireworks.
Enjoying the Temporary Gifts
Two days later, I was once again on my way to see another firework show for the festival. The crowd that had gathered was huge – even bigger than the last time, it seemed.
Ten minutes before the starting time, one lone explosion shook the night. The firework countdown. I hurriedly wove through the people to where I wanted to stand. When the explosion to mark five minutes came, I was ready. And though tired, I was excited.
This time, my phone stayed in my pocket.
As firework after firework shot up, I did nothing but stand and watch. Too much light, too many explosions to take them all in. The fireworks were beautiful. Magnificent. Stunning.
Yet even in the beauty of it, I couldn’t help but think that C. S. Lewis was right when he said that “[i]f we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
That thought, that reality, didn’t make me sad, though. Instead, it was comforting.
Fireworks of the Temporary
I wasn’t made for the fireworks in this world – no wonder they didn’t satisfy. But in not trying to capture them and cling to them, but instead simply living and enjoying them, I was able to savour them much more than I had the last time.
In only a few short months, I would no longer be living in this city, or this country even. I would probably never again celebrate this festival. Chances are, I will probably never again see such a splendour of fireworks. But at that moment, it didn’t matter.
I was slowly understanding that the fireworks of this world – the good gifts from God – are meant to be enjoyed in the moment, but not clung to. So very soon they will fade and maybe leave behind a sweet memory. A memory to enjoy and look back on, but not to hold too tightly.
On my way home that night, I was deeply content. I didn’t have photos or videos to prove what I had seen. Only memories. Memories that would probably fade over time and one day, perhaps, be fully forgotten. But I realised that was okay.
If the memories faded, I wanted to let them fade. The fireworks were part of the temporary, and I didn’t have to hold onto them. For deep in my heart, I know they cannot satisfy what I am longing for. I am longing for more.
As I closed my eyes that night, I saw again the glitter-dusted sky, and it made me smile. To me, it was a beautiful reminder to look forward to the fireworks of heaven. For those will not be temporary.
TCKs for Christ: Writer & Email Manager
is an MCK from Europe who is fluent in both English and German. She has cried many tears over the question of home, mother tongue, and identity, and wants to use these experiences to encourage others. Aside from writing, she loves reading, butterflies, and sunsets. Sarah wants to live her life for Christ and writes to glorify Him. You can connect with her at Truth & Hope.