Happy Holidays, Everyone!
Our liturgical theme for December is “The Path to Wonder.” That path invariably leads me to contemplate sources of light – the stars, the moon, the sun, the torch, and the candle in the window.
Research estimates that eighty to eighty-five percent of our perception, learning, cognition, and activities are mediated through vision. No wonder we associate darkness with death and destruction. When it is dark, we either can’t see at all, or we are seriously limited in our perception. When it’s dark we feel vulnerable and fragile. We fear what we cannot see. It is also not surprising that we associate light with life and safety. Where there is light, we are resilient and strong. We are capable of co-creating the world we want.
I think of how Jesus spoke metaphorically to his disciples when he said to them: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others. . .” What Jesus said to his disciples is also applicable to us. We can shine brightly, warmly, and with welcome. Not only can we shine, but we can put a candle in our windows, as well.
While the reasons that people place candles in a window are many, the effect is very much the same – that pinpoint of light radiates outward and not only diminishes the darkness immediately around it, but also the darkness within us. There is a lightness of heart that comes upon us when we stand in the dark and contemplate the wondrous sight that is a lighted candle in the window:
- Jews place the menorah in a window to celebrate and share the miracle of light despite a lack of oil.
- At Christmas a candle in the window signifies the star that led the Magi and welcomes guests.
- Near the train tracks, a candle in the window identifies houses offering refuge to transients.
- The USC’s WWII logo, a flaming chalice, now symbolizes Unitarian Universalism.
- Blacks in South Africa placed lit candles in their windows in a mass gesture of opposition to apartheid.
What is most wondrous about these examples beyond the nature of light and its effect on darkness, is that each represents one human being reaching out to another, making a statement of unity and compassion. If this were a Sunday service, it would end with everyone singing Hymn #306, The Human Touch Can Light the Flame:
The human touch can light the flame which gives a brightness to the day, the spirit uses mortal flame, life’s vehicle for work and play. The lover’s kiss, the friend’s embrace, the clasp of hands to show we care, the light of welcome on the face are treasured moments all can share. May all who come within our reach be kindled by our inner glow, not just in spirit’s words we preach, in human touch love’s faith we show.
Now, I ask you: What’s more wondrous than that?
Rev. Lee Anne