December is a time of observances —many religious, some secular.
When daylight grows short, we opt to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.
Years ago, I was touched and honored when a friend asked me to light the candle on his family’s menorah one December evening. Candles are featured in the celebration of Kwanzaa, as well, of course. And for centuries, candles burned on Christmas trees. We’ve found safer alternatives, fortunately, but candles flickering on mantels and in frosted windows are part of this season of lights and love.
The solstice is a turning point, one marked for centuries. As we head into the dormancy of winter, the days grow colder, but the daylight starts to lengthen and we head toward rebirth.
The life that seems to have ended rests, waiting to renew itself with a few turns of the calendar and a gradual and welcome warming.
“Out, out, brief candle,” Shakespeare wrote in describing life’s inevitable conclusion. Some candles burn anything but briefly. Like the lamp that burned in the Temple for eight nights with only one night’s supply of oil, they endure. They glow within us, brightly and warmly, long after the flame is quenched.
Sleep in heavenly peace, Annie.