“Look at how a single candle can defy the darkness” wrote Anne Frank.
Candles are wonderful and fascinating. Children, and older people, all over the world love them. We like to stand by candles, pause and look. They play a significant part in many world religions. Shabbat candles usher in the Jewish sabbath. Candles are are significant feature of Hinduism, above all at the great feast of Diwali. In many Buddhist temples candles burn. Recently I lit candles with many Muslims at the local Pakistani Consulate as a sign of prayer and remembrance following a tragedy.
We light candles as a sign of hope. We light them as a sign of prayer, often ‘for’ someone. Sometimes we light candles because we feel the need to do something at a time of difficulty or darkness. Often people light candles as a sign of remembrance, perhaps for a loved one who has died. We may light a candle near a saint’s statue showing we share light with saints and holy ones.
The candle we light brings light to where we are, and to others. For Christians candles are a sign of Christ, the Light of all that is, the Light of the World. When we light the great Easter Candle at the Easter Vigil we each light a candle from that light, allowing the light of the risen Lord to be shared, passed on and spread.
Quite simply lighting a candle is an act of love and hope for ourselves, for others and for the world. A popular saying sums up the imagery and our action of lighting a candle: