Tuesday, 2 November 2010

'Candle in the Wind'

No - I'm not an Elton John fan, but I just thought of the song as I was reflecting on the Service of Thanksgiving we held last Sunday for bereaved people to remember those they have known and loved. As part of the service we invited them to light a candle in memory of those they had lost.

I have a sort of inbuilt evangelical prejudice against candles - perhaps more than a prejudice against the practice of votive candles that are thought to continue your prayers after you have left. But I suppose the thing about lighting a candle is that it can mean whatever you want it to mean, and that is why it is so popular for today's (confused) spirituality.

Lighting a candle in memory of someone might represent the light that they brought into the world for a time, or perhaps our own sense of thanksgiving for them. Perhaps the flame represents the bond of love, or maybe the fragility of the flame speaks of our own human frailty that may be snuffed out at any moment.

The act of lighting the candle seems important, as it allows grieving people to DO something and not just be consumed passively by the paralysing sadness that so often follows death.

So, I may not be an 'up the candle' churchman, but I was touched by the numbers of people who flocked forward to light a candle for their loved ones on Sunday. After they had gone we blew the candles out - health and safety...fire risks and all that - and I had a sense of all those remembered lives that mattered to people and, more importantly, mattered to God.

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