This week, in the middle of the labyrinth that is the background image for the Cultivating Sacred Space project, is a link to lighting a virtual candle. I am copying the link below to this wonderful, interfaith site so you can visit it directly:
I actually became a little giddy when I discovered this website. There is something about lighting candles and seeing them lit in community that makes me feel deeply and spiritually connected to others. The creators of this web-based organization had a vision to take that radiance and share it in virtual community. Brilliant.
So, I was thinking tonight about candles and how they are so much a part of this Seeing the Light theme for me. Here are a few of the reasons I light candles, and how candles help me see the light:
Remembrance: As someone who has experienced and companioned grief, candles are my favorite symbol of remembrance. I have worked with children and adults to form candle holders from modeling clay; I have stood with lit candles amid others with lit candles spreading waves of memory; I have lit private candles of remembrance, watching the flames dance as if I could catch a glimpse of memory in the flickering light.
Comfort: We light candles in our house every night. We light candles on our dinner table as the table is set, and in our living room when we recline and relax to process the day. They are everyday, but not overlooked as ordinary. I think of candles as my hearth, the warm fires of comfort and security of home. I love candle holders…I probably have too many of them…and the shapes and scents of hand crafted candles. I have made and gifted candles, hoping that the comfort they bring me finds its way to others as well.
Gratitude: I personally light candles most often during my prayers of gratitude. I know that candles are often associated with intercessory prayer, but for me they are expressions of divine grace and gratitude. I see each flame reaching upward, like my thoughts, reaching out like an arrow pointed to the heavens, with radiance that extends across the earth and through the air. Candle light, like gratitude, is both gentle and strong. Gratitude softly illuminates the space nearby, but can pierce through even the deepest darkness to show a path on which to take one step at a time.
Ritual: Through weekly Eucharist and liturgical cycles, candles frame my faith rituals in community. Candles also mark my solitary rituals, my times of meditation and my stillness of spirit. Lighting a candle is a deliberate action, an opportunity to invoke light into darkness. The symbolism of that light holds meaning across many faith traditions, reinforcing the meaning of the ritual of Seeing the Light.
So many reasons to light a candle. I will light one virtually tonight until I can be back home tomorrow, with my hearth fire burning and my prayers of gratitude extending upward, small points of light reaching to divine heights.