"We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own." ~ Ben SweetlandI remember being in New Year's Eve services where the congregation took small white candles held in crude paper holders to catch the hot wax drippings and formed a large chain around the sanctuary. Near midnight the organ would start to play an old hymn and we would begin to sing while the leaders in front began to light their candles. Each person received the flame and passed it on around until all were basking in the golden light. Voices raised together to ring in the New Year.
I've seen candlelight gatherings in remembrance of loved ones lost, vastly different from the joy of a new year and yet it seems even more appropriate. Sadness can become oppressive and all light seems gone from life..but the lit candle, even if only one or two, brings light back. The light dispels the darkness just enough to let us see and process our memories and remember with joy those that have left us.
This particular gathering is a tradition at William and Mary. The night before graduation the Seniors gather for humorous speeches, serious speeches, songs and a general good time... with snacks of course. They gather in front of the Wren building in cap and gown.... at the very end, the candles carried by each graduate are lit... from one to another.. they are lifted high and in one voice they sing the Alma Mater. These lights are hopeful, lights to show the way to the future as well as to remember their time spent here. I've wondered which tradition my daughter loved best at William and Mary... perhaps she'll tell me sometime. I thought this was lovely and was thrilled to have been there.
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