Light a Candle: An Advent Reflection

Updated: Jan 16

Light a candle Let the darkness turn to light Prepare a place for his love to come Tell your friends about it Shout the news to all

The king of hope is on his way Children of the Light Burn your fires brightly Children of the Light Sing your praises loudly We’re waiting for a baby boy To light the way to his Father’s love

We stood in front of a packed chapel, on carpet steps. Our parents and families were gazing at us with tears in their eyes and joy in their hearts. This was before smartphones so there would be the occasional hand-held silver video camera with its blinking red dot in the crowd. When the school grew too big for our intimate chapel we moved our annual Advent program to the St. Charles Church down the road. I do not remember the first time I sang this song but since then I have sung bits and pieces of it to myself every time Advent comes around.

This song was written by my all-girl, primary school principal Mrs. Trant. Her face was gentle and her smile made everyone feel safe. I can still see her today conducting a sea of little girls by swaying and singing along. Christmas always feels magical but I’ll never forget the way Christmas felt as a little girl in green and blue plaid. As each year passes I feel a bit more melancholy than the last without the same excitement as a “grown-up.”

One of the many things that I appreciate about Mrs. Trant was her steadfast devotion to the season of Advent. It was never about the Christmas season; it was all about the Advent season. She even wrote this song to reflect the joy we all felt when lighting a candle on the Advent wreath.

Each day we would light either a purple candle or a pink candle. The purple

candles were lit during the first, second, and fourth week of Advent for preparation. The purple candles called us to “prepare a place for His love to come.” The one pink candle was reserved for the third week of Advent to represent our collective anticipation for Christmas. Anticipation for me always mirrored a jumping-up-and-down kind of excitement. The flicker of the pink candle meant we could “sing” and “shout” our excitement.

While singing this song together, we were learning how to not only praise God but also how to not be ashamed of sharing it. Sharing our light with the world was more powerful than staying inside a church to pray. And yet in that moment instead of attending an advent mass, we were inviting mass to join us, either in the assembly room or in the chapel. We found Jesus in our Advent program in the same way I find Jesus on my yoga mat.

This must have been where my love of candles and light and fire came from.

A few years ago while in my Children’s Yoga Teacher training, I was introduced to candle gazing. I was thrilled because I have always found ways to lose myself in gazing at flames anyway. The exercise was to ask students to gaze at the flickering flame of a (battery-powered) tealight candle instead of telling the students outright to “meditate.” They were invited into single-pointed meditation by looking at that flame.

When I tried this in the training, it took me a few breaths to clear my head. The flame flickered and fluttered like it was dancing. I was once again reminded of this song. The words rang through the static fuzz of many years. The meditation exercise suddenly turned into a moment of prayer. I only needed to gaze at the bright light of a flame to center down into a moment with Jesus. I invite you to light a candle this Advent season, whether you have an Advent wreath or not. Light your candle and read or sing the words of the song. Take a few moments to candle gaze.

What words or phrases stuck out to you?

Where do you see this flame in your life?

When did you first recognize the flame of God in your heart? Has it come yet?

Who needs to hear that you have lit your own candle? Will you help them light theirs?


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