I love candles. The glow of a single flame banishing complete darkness in a single ring of light. One our way to meeting/church, I pointed out the sky to my daughter, a spot where the black rain clouds were broken and streaks of brilliant blue sky showed through. The light beyond the darkness, the sun waiting after the rain. I love a rainy day as much as the next introvert but in that moment, it was a lovely reminder of the vividness of hope, even the smallest notion of it. We can cup our hands around hope’s candle flame, feel the warmth of it, heat that could burn if one gets too close but can deeply warm if held gently.
As we enter this time of Advent, of expectation in the Christmas season, I want to take your hands, Friendly Reader, and place a bit of hope in them once more. Hope is always present, always available in whatever moment we need it, but particularly powerful in its small doses. Just enough hope to fill a candle flame is plenty, because that means that it is not totally dark. There is light. There is hope.
Our eyes hold on to light, they seek it out, even the merest pinprick of it. In 1941, vision scientist Selig Hecht, worked out that, with a clear, unobstructed view, the human eye could see a candle light flickering about 30 miles away. As long as there is light to be found, there is also hope. Hope of leaving the tunnel, hope of morning after a night of storms, hope of finding what has been lost. Our eyes cradle light, for we cannot see without it. So, in a sense, we are always on the lookout for hope, to find it, cradle it, and let its light dance in our eyes like a candle flame.
Stepping into Advent, into the beautiful chaos of the holidays, I want to cradle hope’s light, to hold it close against the darkening days of winter, against the difficult responsibilities and realities. I don’t only want to cradle it for myself but to share it with those who may also need it, those whose candle flame feels weak and sputtering. Hope and light are ultimately meant to be shared. Many little flames can create a great light, as we all know. May our cradled lights create a glow of hope that breaks up the darkness and remind us in love and faith and gentleness that everything will be okay.
No matter what holiday you celebrate, if any, hope is for you, Friendly Reader. No matter what you are expected or yearning for, hop is there for you. Here in your cupped hands, your candle flame, your light of hope is right here. Hold on to it, but keep an eye out for those whose light is low. Let’s help each other hold on to hope.