Joyce Rupp | One Candle Lights Another
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One Candle Lights Another

One Candle Lights Another

Just as one candle lights another and can light thousands of other candles,
so one heart illuminates another heart and can illuminate thousands of other hearts.
(Leo Tolstoy)

Once in awhile a brief encounter impacts us and lingers for a long time. Three weeks ago I
was driving to the post office. As I turned a corner, I caught a glimpse of movement, looked
to my right and saw a young bearded man, probably in his early twenties. He was
propelling himself in a wheelchair on the sidewalk. No sooner had I glanced over than he
looked straight at me, his face alight with a radiant smile. Just like that, the happiness from
his smile came flying into my spirit like a gentle lightning bolt. I kept driving but I knew
something changed inside of me. The “hurry hurry” slipped away. A sense of wonder arose:
“I move effortlessly on my way, while it takes such exertion for that person to do so.
However could he give me that beaming smile?”

Synchronicity always surprises me. Two days before that swift encounter, I came across the
Tolstoy’s quote . Then, the same week I read an article by Marcia Pally in Commonweal. She
refers to the creation story of Isaac Luria’s from the Jewish Kabbalah, sometimes described
as the “shattering of lights.” According to Luria, creation occurred when “sacred vessels
that originally contained God’s light shattered under God’s brilliant power.” Creation
became a “divine bioluminescence.” These endless sparks of divine light spread
throughout all of creation.

Pally concludes: “…we become who we are through networks of relation with all those, near
and far, who have had an impact on our lives. Thus, our flourishing requires that we see,
and see to these relations. Thriving means attending to the well-being of the persons and
networks that form us.”

We are now into the first week of Advent. (From the Latin, Ad-veni, meaning “to come.”)
Once again, we turn our awareness to how the spark of Christ-Light comes and enters our
lives. It is a season of intently re-awakening to “the Light of the World” and to remember
that we, too, are amazing sources of the divine radiance that kindles our hearts with love.
Ever since seeing the bright spark of joy coming forth from the young man in the
wheelchair, I’ve chosen to focus and act on a motivating question of Mark Nepo’s in The
Book of Soul: “How do you carry your one soul, your one pilot light, so it might illumine all
you touch and not go out?” Consequently, I’ve paused each evening to recall how I’ve shared
and where I’ve welcomed the Christ-light.

Imagine how the twinkling Christmas lights can lead us to recall the Christ-light within and
among us. I suggest you light a candle each Advent day. Sit quietly for a while to recall and
restore the strength of divine light within you. Listen to Velma Frye’s song “The Lantern
(“May the lantern of my life move…into all the places where light is needed.”) Then, go forth
with renewed intention to be a source of illuminated kindness.

Abundant peace,
Joyce Rupp