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Lighting Candles

Lighting Candles
Andrew Webster

As we go separate ways for the next two weeks, I wish you all peace, joy, and rest.

We have arrived at the cusp of the winter solstice and a holiday season that for many brings joy, the warmth of being together with loved ones, and religious and cultural celebrations. For many it is also a season tinged by sadness, melancholy, and even grief.  So much of the most powerful aspects of human experience are contained in these days, and it is healthy to honor any of these emotions that prevail for us.  I wish you all joy and warmth, regardless of what mix of emotions the season brings you.  

Major holidays in this season where darkness reaches peak prevalence all feature the lighting of candles, both a literal and symbolic act of resilience and faith, of continued hope.  I am always intrigued by cultural practices that extend around the world, which tend to serve as stories we tell ourselves.  Recently, my mother sent me a photo of a poem by Howard Thurman that featured in a church service she attended, and I wish to pass it along to you.  It's always a good idea to listen to mothers.  Howard Thurman, if you are not familiar with him, was an influential minister, author, and civil rights leader whose ideas of radical nonviolence were influential upon many social movements and leaders of the 20th century, including Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

The poem is entitled I Will Light Candles this Christmas:

I will light Candles this Christmas;

Candles of joy despite all sadness,

Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,

Candles of courage for fears ever present,

Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,

Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,

Candles of love to inspire all my living,

Candles that will burn all the year long.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, another holiday of the season, or no holiday at all, I hope you find a universal message in the poem.  Let us all create joy, hope, courage, peace, grace, and love all the year long.