There are several traditions at this time of year which have to do with Light. From trees to mantles, altars to special candle holders, lights are used to add a festive touch and symbolize a deeper meaning to many rituals, religious holidays and festivals. One tradition is that of the Advent Candles. Although it is a Christian tradition, the meanings attributed to these candles are universal.
In the Advent tradition, there is a candle lit for each of the four weeks leading up to Christmas. In some places, there is a fifth candle lit on Christmas Day itself. Each candle has a specific meaning and it is helpful for those lighting the candles to reflect upon each meaning as Christmas approaches. The four wishes are: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. These are not concepts specific to only Christianity. They are universal wishes shared by the masses!
If you have been in the Centre lately, you will have seen the Holiday DVD that our Beverley has created from multi-media sources . One of the vignettes she has included is called The Four Candles (sorry but we do not know who wrote this story). In this story, the candles have slightly different meanings to the Advent Candles, but the themes are still universal. The story goes like this:
The Four Candles burn slowly (there is a picture of four candles burning) The ambiance was so soft, you could hear them speak.
The first one said: I am Peace!
“However, nobody can keep me lit. I will go out”
Its flame rapidly diminishes and goes out completely.
The second one said: I am Faith!
“Most of all I am no longer indispensable, it doesn’t make any sense that I stay lit any longer.”
When it finished talking, a breeze softly blew on it putting it out.
Sadly, the third candle spoke in its turn: I am Love!
“I haven’t got the strength to stay lit. People put me aside and don’t understand my importance. They even forget to love those who are nearest to them.”
And waiting no longer, it goes out.
Suddenly, a child enters the room and sees three candles not burning. “Why are you not burning? You are supposed to stay lit till the end.” Saying this, the child begins to cry.
Then the fourth candle said:
“Don’t be afraid, for while I am still burning we can re-light the other candles. I am Hope.”
With shining eyes, the child took the candle of Hope and lit the other candles.
May the Flame of Hope never go out for you!