Lighting your Candle – Living through the Darkness

candle flame
Image courtesy of foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Long ago, before I embarked upon my own spiritual path, my family used to attend the local Catholic Church. We would go to mass and I attended Sunday school for a while. As we hadn’t been church-goers before, I was baptized, received my first Eucharist and Communion all in one day, when I was 10 years old. It was a “three for one” kind of ceremony (which of course took hours, in true Catholic fashion) that my sister was also a part of.

Up until then we didn’t really have any spiritual or religious teachings in my house, so of course I had made up my own young mind about a lot of spiritual things. I didn’t understand, or perhaps by in to a lot of the teachings they threw at us in quick succession – remember we had lost time to make up for. But I do remember a few things that stuck with me throughout the years.

First, my favorite (and possibly only-known) Bible story was The Good Samaritan. I loved that this man helped others who were in need without a thought of what he’d get in return. The moral of “go and do likewise” became my personal motto for many years. I even painted it on a small rock as part of an art project in school to remind me to always be kind and helpful to others.

But more importantly that than simple yet profound parable, there was a teacher at Sunday school who said something one day that followed me throughout my life. I don’t remember now what the topic of the lesson was, but I remember her saying that there was a light inside each of us, like a little candle flame that could grow bigger and brighter (I’m sure her point was by letting God into our life).

However, that idea of a light inside us was much more profound and eye-opening in a way she hadn’t intended. For me, it meant that there was something inside me that would shine and I had control of it! At the time I felt powerless in many ways and saw the world as pretty dark. But with the concept that I could make my own light shine, a new sense of control and purpose came over me.

I tried more and more to make that flame bigger and brighter and that helped me get through some pretty rough stuff then. Sadly, as the years went on and the world made me more cynical I’d forgotten all about that light. Until I was in the depths of a bad situation in my life and was not dealing well with it, suddenly I remembered that long ago Sunday school lesson and the teacher of the light. I searched within myself for that little candle and found it nearly extinguished, but was still trying to shine!

Once again I put in the energy to make the flame grow and release myself from the darkness. It took longer and more effort than when I was young, but it still worked as before. Soon I was finding the lessons amidst the turmoil of my life and realizing that I still had some control over myself. I couldn’t control the actions of those around me or the toxic work environment I found myself in, but I could still protect that tiny flame that was my light and give it life again.

How do you keep the light alive in your life? What visualizations helped you through dark times?

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