December 8, 2014

Candles evoke a variety of emotions and memories, depending on the season, how they are used, and what shape and size they might be. A couple might use them to create a special mood for a special dinner. A person might light a small votive in a church or chapel while praying or meditating. A family might light a large sturdy candle to light a room when power is lost during a storm. Regardless of the reason or the candle’s shape or size, we use candles to light our way to a particular place in spirit or place.

Everything seems to look softer and perhaps better in candlelight. We no longer can see the wrinkles in a loved one’s face, but the flames catch a twinkle in the eye. Children’s games by candlelight during a storm catch the youthful, sometimes lost spirit of parents and extended families huddled for warmth in a winter storm. The glimmer of a prayer votive draws us into the flames as we talk with God and remember those in need or offer thanksgivings back to God.

But candles also draw us into a time of introspection. The subtle flicker of the flames draws us inward as we ponder who we are, what areas we wish to improve in ourselves, and our many blessings. Whether we light candles on an Advent wreath or put candles in our windows to welcome holiday guests, we create light in a dim part of our lives to illuminate places for change, for rejoicing and for anticipation. Perhaps the candles along your Advent journey will not only light the way for greater outward vision but also provide an inner light and spirit for your own inner journey as well.

The Rev. Theresa Brion is the bishops’ deputy for Western Maryland.

Listen to the audio meditation