One of my favorite “on the road” spiritual practices is lighting candles in Catholic churches (real flames, not electric). I’ve lit candles for our marriage and future children while on our honeymoon in Italy. I’ve lit candles for loved ones in New York City. I’ve lit candles for many reasons all over the place. While I am not Catholic, I love many Catholic spiritual practices – plus, all Christians were Catholic once by faith family genealogy (pre-reformation that is!).
A spiritual woman said that spirits are attracted to candle flames, as it is a focus for energy. Other traditions focus on how we can burn written prayers, or even human bodies, to release them to the heavens.
In this vein, I’ve started my own “Candle Prayers”.
I’m almost constantly on the run, and even when I’m not, I’m often thinking about what I should be doing. So in the morning, to help me center, I have started lighting a candle. Some mornings go so quickly I do not get the chance, but most mornings I do. I took this candle out of storage, something I had bought years ago at a south Chicago grocery store and had never used. I’ve placed it on my kitchen counter, amongst the clutter that never go aways.
I take a few seconds to light it with a prayer, then go about my routine. I let it burn until we leave the house, which may be a sort time or hours later. Each time I glance at it, I feel a little calmer, a little more whole, a little more centered. My son asked me why I was lighting the candle, I told him that it was praying for me.
As secluded monastics around the world pray for us, as our friends and family hope for us a life of joy, and as God loves us unceasingly, this candle has become a reminder that in the midst of my hectic, amazing, stressful, and glorious life, I am not alone.
God, help us to find ways to center on You in the midst of our cluttered and chaotic lives.