Thursday, December 6, 2012

Candle Lighting across the World

It is better to light the candle than curse the darkness.  Eleanor Roosevelt

I've been thinking about the significance of candle lighting, and how it is a part of so many different cultures. In Judaism alone, every week we light Shabbat candles to usher in the Sabbath on Friday evening, and light a braided Havdalah candle at its conclusion on Saturday night. After a loved one has died, we light a special Yahrtzeit candle that stays lit for a week and we light a memorial candle every year on the anniversary of our loved one's death. The glow from a candle can help shed a little light onto our darkest moments. Its flame is thought to represent the human soul and reminds us of both the fragility and beauty of life. Like us, some candles last a long time while others are short lived; but all eventually fade away.

This Sunday, December 9th, as we gather to celebrate the second night of Chanukah, my family will also be lighting a remembrance candle for Matthew. For this Sunday, bereaved families across the world  will be lighting candles in a Worldwide Candle Lighting Ceremony to commemorate our children who have passed too early. I had never heard of this until the first December after Matthew died in 2010, and I think it's a lovely way to honor our children.

This is the 16th anniversary of the Worldwide Candle Lighting started by Compassionate Friends to remember and honor those children who have died. Held on the 2nd Sunday of December, it offers a chance for parents to stop and reflect upon their children's lives prior to entering into what can be a terribly difficult period for families-the holiday season.

Lighting commences at 7:00 pm local time and continues for an hour. It starts in New Zealand and circles the globe one time zone after another creating a virtual 24-hour wave of light. This is believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on earth. Bereaved parents all over the world will be lighting candles  to remember their beloved children. Some will do it in the quiet of their homes; others will come together in candle lighting ceremonies. If you are interested in finding out where the closest ceremony to you is, here's a link to the Compassionate Friends page.

As we move towards the Winter Solstice and the longest night of the year, I find myself coming home from work and lighting candles around my house. Their illumination gives me hope, and reminds me that it is possible to light up even the darkest of nights.  Their glow casts a warmth into the room far beyond the reach of their tiny flames. So for those of us mourning the passing of a child, we stand in solidarity on Sunday night when we light the candles in the blessed memory of our beloved children. 
Havdalah Ceremony at Matthew's Bar Mitzvah

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for reminding everyone about this event. I plan to attend my local event this Sunday evening, though I know it will be heartbreaking.