On lighting candles

I have also enjoyed candles. I think I particularly enjoy late fall and winter because it gets dark earlier and I like to go around my house lighting up the darkness. Lighting candles is a spiritual practice for me. It began quite a long time ago, but I became more prayerfully intentional about it about 7 – 8 years ago. At Off the Map we had a prayer station, prayers for the missing, where we would think of someone we knew who we felt Jesus missed, and light a candle for them. Then, when traveling in Europe and visiting Catholic churches I would notice, or at least became more aware of, the practice they have of lighting candles. When I was in Krakow, Poland, I bought a small votive candle holder that is made of glass. I wasn’t sure at the time why it caught my attention, but it did. It  holds a tea light, is rich in cool colors – red, blue, green – and has some etching of homes around the sides. It sat at home for awhile, empty. One one day a friend of mine became very ill and I decided to pray for her while I lit the candle. It became my ‘suffering’ candle. People in Poland have suffered incredibly throughout history. I had also visited Auschwitz while on that trip, and that was a profound experience, that I somehow wanted to hold onto remembering. Now, my ‘suffering’ candle holds anyone that I know personally who may be going through a difficult time . While I light the candle, I think of them and ask God to surround them with His light, even in their very deep darkness. I like the smaller size of the candle holder because then I also practice thinking of them while the tea light burns, and then goes out. It helps me with entering into suffering, and letting go, a very good spiritual practice for me. I have other candles in my home that hold different prayers. At my desk I have a candleholder that my mom gave me: it’s a native american eagle in glass, in dark blue. It speaks to me of many things as eagles hold a special place in my heart related to peace, strength, and vision. The candle holder itself also speaks to me of the suffering that the Native American People have endured and reminds me to hold them in prayer.  My butterfly candleholder speaks to me of growing into freedom and my three red candleholders remind me of the continual presence of God both in my life and others.

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