A Candle for hope

December is upon us, the first advent candle is lit and the countdown to Christmas has be gone. No doubt, most folk this week will make an attic or storeroom trip, if they haven’t done so already, to retrieve the entire Christmas decor that was wrapped up and carefully packed away just over a year ago. Regardless what grownups think, the kids love it… the Christmas tree…the Advent calendars…the candles…and who can blame them? Winter is dark and dreary, and the chance to light it up with a bit of holiday cheer is irresistible. It’s also irresistible to Mowgli too but in a different kind of way.

For long enough taking Mowgli anywhere where there were advent calendars hanging and candles burning was a bit of a nightmare. The concept of having one treat a day for twenty four days is wasted on him. If he finds an advent calendar it only takes a matter of minutes to get to Christmas Day, much to the annoyance of the owner of the advent calendar. Regarding the candles, Mowgli’s ‘let’s blow out the candles’ stage has lasted years now. He can’t resist a flickering candle on top of a birthday cake, a decorative candle on a romantic table for two or my fireside Christmas candles that makes everything cosy in contrast to the darkness outside the window.

Mowgli has also been known to blow out ever burning candle standing in the chapel, including all the alter candles and the little ones folk light to offer up their prayers and intentions. I’ve been known to carry a lighter with me at all times, just in case, because I spend much of my time supervising and relighting candles everywhere. The advent season is no exception. I have to be on high alert around the Advent Candles that burn bright to reflect Hope, Peace, Joy and Love during the Advent season. However, they just seem to reflect fun and mischief to Mowgli who is not quite over his obsession yet! He just can’t resist blowing out candles and I can’t resist lighting them. It is one thing I love at this time of the year,

I remember as a child, mesmerised by the light of penny candles all lined up, row by row in our small country chapel. The flickering light of each candle held a promise and cast dancing shadows over a more subdued background, At Christmas time there were even more candles and for me, along with the Star of Bethlehem, it remains the classic spiritual image of Christmas time.

A candle is a simple thing.  In ancient times, they were used during ancient winter solstice celebrations a way of remembering that spring would soon come. Today they are used universally as a symbol of light in many faiths. Almost everyone who lights a candle has an intention in mind – whether to perhaps heal a loved one or manifest a blessing, or indeed create a little light.

Some days, no matter how many blessings you count in your life, the world seems dark. Depression, fear and a sense of panic that your world is falling apart all contribute to feelings of weariness; even despair. At this time of darkness it is worth remembering that the small flickering flame of the first Advent candle represents hope and to quote Francis of Assisi, All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle. And neither can Mowgli because I’m just going to keep re-lighting them!