Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Lighthouse in Wintertide

Sean Harris BGN
It has something to do with light.

Candles, bulbs, roaring fires and the stars above; this time of year is heralded by them, cutting through the darkness of a Winter’s night. Mankind has always followed the illuminated path for eons as we search for light in the darkness of insanity.

They not only light the way, they are the way. Singular candles hold vigil in households beckoning loved ones safe return. We watched 26 lone flares disappear in the chilled night sky, snuffed out by the darkness between the stars. Cathedrals and roadsides are adorned by a congregation of candles lit to honor the memories of the lost. The Maccabees saved their tribe's tradition by coveting the flame. Churches, Mosques, and open hearths draw diverse peoples closer to the warmth. 

Stars are nothing but the brilliance of our past; events ceased long ago; memories hanging in the night sky. They have embellished many a nation’s flag inspiring hope. The very twinkle of that which may no longer exist lights the way for all to wish to deliver either exotic spices or goodwill.

Not all candles are so hallowed. Some sputter more smoke than light. These candles forged long ago are cast of poor tallow. It is a reflection of generations of starless nights. If their lone spark hasn’t been extinguished there lies hope. Otherwise the smoldering ash is a child of the unbridled wind.

The world is a calamity at best, randomness we spend lifetimes forcing symmetry to. How can one stoke this sacred flame when the reckless winds of time are so relentless? We have all seen lives pass away and new ones begin in this dark Solstice. We’ve seen flames that once burned bright falter and cease. Like remembrance candles, each flame will eventually be snuffed out by the passing of time.

Then I look into a baby’s eyes as they perused the
beauty and complexity of our world. There the flame burned the brightest and the most pure, its glow reflected in her parent’s eyes, their parent’s eyes, and in all who bear witness. How can such a fragile entity capture such power so effortlessly?

I spoke with a person whose loss was as raw as a freshly scraped knee in a schoolyard. Despite her melancholy a glow came over her face as tales were told, warm memories rekindled, and as words were shared a smile not thought possible moments before shone.

Then I got it. What broke through the shadow of her smile was not solely hers; it was that of her deceased loved ones. Their legacy was passed on in her every thought, deed, and grin. In those moments we are at our best; reflective, resilient, and humble. It was the same flame burning bright in that child’s eyes, a reflection of her soul and those of all who preceded her. In the shadow-play cast by that dancing flame, I believe I saw God wink.

Shelter that flame. Remember when it burned brightest and pass that memory forward. No darkest night, no tempestuous wind can permeate its glow. Don’t worry if it withers down to a spark. You are never truly in the dark. You still possess the makings of a righteous fire.

May you find safe harbor led by the light that burns within. Hold your loved ones close, be them by your side, away, or in the hereafter. Shine. Then passion enflammée; your passion will reawaken. Then you too can look into a fire through a child’s eyes and get it.

It has something to do with light.

(special thanks to Lotti, Amy, Shelagh, Charles Bukowski, Nick Lowe, and Newtown.)

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