We Light Candles

I will light a candle for you (photo take at University of Notre Dame's grotto).

I will light a candle for you (photo take at University of Notre Dame’s grotto).

In my family, we light candles. Often a rite, sometimes a figurative nod. In either case, what results is something far greater than light.

“I will light a candle for you,” we say.

But with those words, we really mean, I love you. I miss you. Wherever you may be, I’m there, with you. I want you to achieve everything and anything, whether it is peace, friendship, solace, or success. I will pray for you. I will laugh, cry, and pace the room, if that is what it takes. I will endure some of your sadness, celebrate your kindness, grip my heart and hope for your happiness.

I will light a candle for you.

In my family, candles erase boundaries. In the shadow of a naked flame, we can be anywhere we are needed; anywhere we need to be. We light candles, because sometimes we need more than just light to close the distance between us. We say, “I’ll light a candle for you,” because it is an easy way to say all those things that we really mean.

This piece was inspired by “Memorial II,” an article in JAMA by Janet M. Torpy, MD. She writes: “Lighting candles, a ritual in many religious traditions, is an act of prayer, a moment of intention. A deliberate, conscious gesture of placing flame to wick slows time, forces reflection, and engenders stillness inside one’s heart, bringing the noise and chaos of the external world to a halt. Candles can symbolize a vigil, a lamentation, a request, gratitude, celebration, or simple union with other believers.”

My father sent me the link to the article (by link, I mean he tore it out of the journal and mailed it to me) and we both agreed, she pretty much nailed it. But it got me thinking, in our family it is perhaps something more. Maybe the difference, to me, was a simple explanation that the “other believers” are my family.

Categories: Creative Writing

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17 replies

  1. We light candles, because sometimes we need more
    than just light to close the distance between us.

    thank you for sharing this article, ha, and thank your dad for his ‘classic’ share too. i guess envelopes and stamps are still an effective way to convey a message these days. and maybe that’s what i took away from your well written piece, that it’s about your family and how fortunate for you that it is.

    and thanks for liking my poem today, encouragement is always really appreciated.
    (oh, and have you written any more poetry? )

    • No, thank you – for kind words and for writing your poems. I have to stop myself, at times, from reading more than writing. But some days it swings that way – there really is some great stuff out there, yours included. I’m so grateful for the blogging community – the encouragement is appreciated on all accounts.

      So I have something in the works. I’m new to the game, but not afraid to get my feet wet. Thank you again…I might just have to hit publish on one this week!

      • yes, i completely agree about the WP community, i would not be writing poetry if not for the overwhelming encouragement. and as for reading, i’ll publish maybe 3 times a week max, just to leave days open to read and read and be inspired and amazed.

        i’m so glad to hear there’s something brewing, i’m all ears! *smiles*

  2. A new light on life, thanks

  3. I light lots of candles; now I will add a new ritual to the event.

    • Thank you! It’s funny – sometimes I spend hours upon hours on a post – this one just kind of wrote itself. Thanks for leaving a comment…I certainly will repay the favor!

      • I know exactly what you mean – sometimes the best posts (and best writing of any kind in fact) just need to come out and so write themselves with ease (or at least it feels that way at the time). My most popular posts were all that way it seems, although the ones I spend hours on can do pretty well too. 😛

  4. A solemn tradition that I might instigate in my own family. As an atheist, I have a hard time expressing all those things. This can help. Thanks.

    • For me, lighting candles is secular but spiritual, whatever that means. It is a way of connecting to something – for me, generally my family in the past and present. What I love about it is it can be fit for purpose – we blow out candles on our birthdays, we can do the same when we simply want to convey certain things to certain people. It says something, doesn’t it?!!

  5. A moment of intention – never heard it better put than that! Lovely


  1. We Light Candles | The Community Storyboard

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