Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pitiful Offerings

"I hate lighting candles."

Those were my gritting my teeth thoughts this morning as dearest one lit the two prayer candles on the table; watching as the new candle inserts grabbed the light and stood straight up. New inserts mean the old ones, all 168 hours worth, have burned out.

We are in the habit of lighting candles for people who are in need of prayer. We have a collection of coloured glass receptacles....the green one I call my hope candle, the beautiful light blue I call my Mary candle. There are purple, green, gold, deep blue and red ones, too. Some days every single one is lit and as I light them I say the person's name outloud as flame and wick connect. Most days it fills me with peace and some days, like today, it seems like such a pitiful offering and totally fucking futile.

I was sitting at the computer this morning, having told you all about my day yet to unfold, the one where I was receiving my 21 year medallion in AA, where there would be cake and good folk to eat it with. I hit publish post and went on my browsing-the-internet way. Right then dearest one's cell phone beeped. It was laying at my elbow so I turned and looked across to see a message from youngest son. He named a young woman from our community and said she'd been killed in a car accident last night. Her mom babysat for us 25 years ago so the connections run deep.

All I could do was grab the cell phone and make a pitiful noise in my throat. I went to the kitchen and showed dearest one the message. What a weird time we live in. We immediately went back to our computers and signed into Facebook, looking for information. Right there was confirmation that what we'd just heard was indeed, true. We then scrolled down screens to read the last FB exchange between mom and daughter just a few days ago before the road trip began. Thoughts of drive safe and I love yous there in black and white.

Shortly after reading this dearest one got up and went to light the candles. The very first time we lit candles for someone was when dearest one's brother was killed, nearly five years ago. We let those candles burn day and night for days. They were little flickers of hope that reminded us of a God bigger than circumstances, who we clung to when life made absolutely not one iota of sense.

There was something in dearest one's actions this morning, maybe the particular way he bent over as he reached the flame to wick that reminded me of that day and I cannot describe how much I hated lighting the candles right then. It's not a stretch to say that there have been thousands of hours of lit prayer candles in our home the past 5 years. Typing that makes me want to cry and cuss at the same time.

My mind was full as I later navigated icy roads a good part of the way to town. Travelling far slower than the speed limit, I had nasty thoughts as people passed me in a hurry to go God knows where. I don't look forward to getting up and talking at my AA birthday meeting, ever. I suspect it's an ego thing and maybe one day I'll have a lesser one than I do now. I don't know why people get all impressed with years of sobriety. Or maybe with my particular years of sobriety. I think I feel pressure to be some poster child for AA. What rubbish on my part. But still I feel it.

A young woman spoke at the meeting today of having previously thought that perhaps when one attained so many years of sobriety they had a perfect, put together life and how much she appreciated that really, we were still so very human and not put together at all. God bless her.

The one thing I do remember saying today was that it wasn't about having a perfect, put together life, but about knowing Who to turn to when life happens; because life happens to us all.

And so I continue to light candles.


Anonymous said...

One more broken-hearted family tonight. Lord, have mercy. I pray.


steveroni said...

Oh, Hope...I was so happy for you yesterday--well, I still am. But sad, also, that your 21st Anniversary date was marred in such a tragic and personal way. God's will be done. We pray for the family, yours and theirs.

Steve E.

lucy said...

i have lit a candle with you.

Owen said...

As one for whom paraffin has been burned up a fair bit I can tell you every candle and intention of the heart matter.

And, what Steve E. has said above.

Owen said...

lucy, I am humbled. You have done what I should have done. I will now do so.

Heidi Renee said...

praying here.

mile191 said...

The one thing I do remember saying today was that it wasn't about having a perfect, put together life, but about knowing Who to turn to when life happens; because life happens to us all.

This is a beautiful part of what you have written, and I must take this little piece of you and put it with my thoughts today. Thank you for sharing this story. I am sorry for the pain you have felt, and endured. But knowing you have endured it and come up with such a beautiful message gives me HOPE.