Hope is What We Do

In the territory of human experience beyond words, just a few symbols are needed. One is the lighting of a candle. It is such a simple symbol. But universally powerfully.

I’ve participated in two events in Watertown recently for those who are grieving or sad during the holiday season. One was the “Blue Christmas” service at my church, and the other was the Candlelighting Gathering at Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Both gatherings were broadly ecumenical. Both included lots of lovely music and words. Really thoughtful choices were made about every aspect of both gatherings.

But in the end, it was all about the candles. As people came forward and lit a candle in memory of their beloved, a beautiful halo of light grew near an altar. Everyone there was united by their need to light a candle, by the ritual of doing it, and by the apophatic mystery of their own capacity to go on after the end of a dream. As a speaker at both events, I felt almost as if my words were in the way. I know they weren’t really — someone had to say something — but anything i could offer would be simply a frame within which people could *do* their hope, by walking forward and lighting a candle.

To all who are grieving at this time of year: peace and healing of heart to you. To those who are watching and waiting in the dark by the light of a candle: may the silence be like a blanket around your soul and the warmth of the candle a sign that spring will come.

Forming a ring of candles in Asa Gray garden, Mt. Auburn Cemetery

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About amymccreath

I'm a pastor and mother who loves to make connections between people, between ideas, and between stuff we label "sacred" and "secular." I aspire to be like a Cedar of Lebanon in the midst of the changes and chances of life, but like most folks, generally find that I can really only navigate the tumult hand in hand with others. Good coffee helps, too.
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2 Responses to Hope is What We Do

  1. Lindsey says:

    Candles and light in this tremendously dark season have great meaning for me too. And Mount Auburn Cemetery is one of my favorite places in the whole world.
    I hope to meet you in the new year!!
    xox

  2. Terri says:

    I remember fondly attending Taize led by Marcus on cold winter nights. For me much of the gentle peacefulness was found in holding that warm candle light and then all of us placing our candles in central place during a time of silence. I’m sure your words were just the framework people needed to guide them.

    also, I sent you an email re: WordsMatter guide – we are revising it….did you get my email?

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