Wednesday, March 28, 2012

One Small Light

"Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared." -- Buddha

Tonight was a dark and stormy night.  I didn't want to go.  I wanted to put on my jammies, snuggle up with Patrick and Caroline and call it a day.  But, instead I got into my cold car, alone, drove through the pelting rain and walked into a chapel.  Mary Kate was on the first night of a four day retreat and her high school asked that the parents attend an evening prayer service on their behalf.  Other rain-soaked parents drifted in.  Some were alone, like me.  Some were together as a couple.  It was obviously uncomfortable for some and painful for others -- another reminder of past sorrows. The evening began like all good Catholic ceremonies: with a prayer and a song. The irony of the opening song was not lost on me: Come Down To The Water...really, the water had come to us...I wasn't feeling the need to come down to it...but I sang it in my head and looked down for fear of rolling my eyes to anyone nearby.

Kairos is a Greek word.  It means "time".  But not the measured time that we are used to.  It mean's God's time...the unencumbered luxury of time without measure or limit.  This retreat was to allow busy high school girls a chance to breathe and take note of "God's time".  I can't say much more than that...there's a mystery surrounding Kairos.  A surprise element that holds the imaginations of those that haven't gone yet. That needs to stay sacred and whole.

What I can tell you is that in the dark, on a rainy night, next to parents that I didn't know in an unfamiliar chapel I lit the very first candle and thought of my daughter.  We were asked to think of small graces that we could hope for our daughters.  We were asked to hold those close as we lit the flame.  I thought of friendship and peace, a chance to feel God's holy presence, an opportunity to break down walls and open up hearts.  I watched that tiny flame and felt its glow.  I watched 58 other candles get lit one at a time.  Some parents came up together, some alone.  Some of us were tired, wet and bedraggled.  Others looked professional and business casual.  Some had tattoos.  Others had younger children in tow.  We were parents with a daughter the same age, in the same location, at the same time but that was it.  Yet we all felt the need to take the time and make our way in the rain through the dark of night to light a candle and sing a song.

I thought of the many, many times we have been up in the night with our daughters: as newborns needing a night-time feeding and change, with a feverish toddler, with croup, with the stomach flu or nightmares.  If only we could have seen the other candles and known who was alongside us in the journey.  Later on, we've been up with the same girls with worries over friendships, boys, tests, the uncertainties of life, social media, midnight texts, or waiting up for the drive home from some adventure 
-- a dance, a party, a football game.

Where was our candle light to guide us?  Where was our kinship?  

Parenting is hard stuff.  We blow it all the time and still we have to get back at it.  Pick up the pieces, mend the broken hearts and find the strength to light the candle.  
Just one tiny light on a rainy night.

That warm, cozy glow at first lulled me into wanting to take a short nap...but then it refueled me.  I looked up and smiled at strangers.  I bathed in the gift of getting a chance to stop and pause and consider my daughter: this amazing, incredible teen-age girl on the cusp of being a woman.  How had so much time passed?  How had she grown so much? 
Tonight, I relished in the beauty of unmeasured time and a line of candles glowing brighter because of each other.  

For the rest of this week, we are supposed to light the candle.  
I think I just found a new favorite hobby. :)

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