What could be sadder than seeing a worn wooden box marked “Donations for the Poor” at the back of your church? Dropping your coins in and hearing them hit the empty wooden bottom with a hollow clunk.
Maybe it fills up fast and they empty it on the hour, I told myself when it happened to me today.
Then I stopped at the rows of candles in the alcove by the side door and was faced with a dilemma. I had a bunch of people I wanted to remember, but there was only one unlit candle left.
I decided that even though none of these dearly departed souls had ever met each other, they were all linked through me. And I’d be the one lighting the candle, so maybe they wouldn’t mind sharing. Strange logic, I know.
So lit it I did. Then I prayed they were all at peace.
It’s funny. Lighting a candle seems like such a small gesture, so inconsequential really, and yet it feels so big, so significant at the same time. Is it the bringing of light from darkness? Watching the flame flicker higher? Seeing the dead wick come alive?
Whatever it is, a lot of us must feel it. For when I walked away, all the candles were burning bright ….
P.S. One website, Gratefulness.org, has created a lovely, peaceful website that allows you to a light candle online — really. As the opening page on Light a Candle says, “A solitary candle brings light to the darkness and serves as a reminder of the power of the human spirit.” Check it out and light a candle, it’s pretty cool.