Saturday, February 5, 2011

Candle Glow

Today was a little boy's birthday.  Surrounding him was his family, two grandmothers, family friends and some friends from school.  We don't know this family very well but we are always up for a celebration and the rule in our house is if you're invited, you go.

The preschoolers had fun playing outside on a sunny day...the parents made simple conversation.  For a moment I was pulled out of the party and came back to see everyone gathered around the table, a little boy bathed in the golden light of a handful of candles.  His earnest face enjoying the moment, the kids voices innocent and so very sweet -- love filling the room.

So many candles, so many birthdays where my own heart has welled up in pride as I watch the face of someone I love with my whole heart glow in that candlelight.  Some religions ask that you not celebrate a birthday.  They somehow feel that the personal celebration could dull the celebration of the Lord.  For my money they couldn't be more wrong.  How can celebrating the delicious joy of your baby's birth be anything but a chance to move the joy along and notice the gifts given from some greater source?  How can seeing the eyes reflected with candlelight and the love of family and friends be anything but an extension of God's love?

As I think of the many candles in my own life, I can feel the perpetual glow.   Sometimes we need someone to stop and light our candle...we feel so dim inside, so alone, so cold.  We need someone to pause and acknowledge the joy and glory in our existence.  We need someone to notice.  Funny how we are good at lighting the candles of children...their own joy is so contagious and effortless they barely need it.  We really need to take the time to light the candles for the rest of us...a teen-ager full of angst, a twenty-something making his way in the adult world of work and relationships,  a thirty-something busy juggling the craziness of young children and the rest of life, a forty-something dealing with being "sandwiched" in the caregiving departments of both children and parents, a fifty-something addressing the realities of aging, a sixty-something who knows about loss and disappointment and redemption and renewal, a septuagenarian, an octogenarian and if you make it to 90, there will be a celebration, guaranteed.

These days that we circle the sun should be noted. The candle should be lit and the song sung.  It doesn't matter the language, the flavor of cake or the person bathed in the glow. Birthdays are for celebrating, every single time.  So, take a deep breath, make a wish and bloooooow!  I'd love to know whose candle you are going to light? I'd also love to know who has lit a candle for you.


  1. Sorry I missed the opportunity to wish him a Happy Birthday. That's a lot of candles :-) Happy Belated BDay, Patrick.

  2. I LOVE birthdays for so many reasons, many of which you beautifully captured here. I love nothing more than reading your posted when I need some inspiration. Oh, and at my current student teaching, I have students who don't celebrate birthdays--it makes me want to teach in Catholic schools that much more--where you have the chance to celebrate SO much with others who believe the same. LOVE this, as usual.