Light One Candle

IMG_2435I hadn’t thought about Diwali in years, not since I took a graduate course in myth and legend and read the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. There, I learned the story of Lord Rama and Sita, his wife, their exile, and subsequent return to their home. It’s that return, some say, that Diwali was meant to celebrate.

Today, Diwali “celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness,” according to an article in The Independent.

Gallivanta, at Silkannthreades, wrote about Diwali yesterday and about lighting a candle, as was tradition in the land of her youth, Fiji. Gallivanta ended her post by saying, “Join me, if you will, in lighting a candle, for the night is black, and we need all the light we can get. Happy Diwali and may the light of the lamp burn brightly in all our hearts.”

Yes, the night is black.

It seems exceptionally black right now. Not just the fading light of autumn, here in the Northern Hemisphere, and the longer nights, and the snow and cold that keep us isolated from one another.

The news of the world makes the nights feel exceptionally black and dark and cold. The fear of disease, and of fear itself. The fear of unspeakable horrors that humans inflict on others. The fear of wars, and rumors of war.

I’m feeling very sad about Canada right now. I live just a few miles from her border; I love her capital city and its beautiful Parliament, with the Peace Tower and Tomb of the Unknowns and Books of Remembrance.

Canada always seemed a place apart to this American. A little apolitical, a little innocent, a little safe. A little sunny.

But recent nights have been black for Canadians, too. They know darkness now, as they did not before.

The world provides so much to keep us anxious, so much that seems to hide in the shadows and whisper, “Be afraid.”

But then I think about Diwali and how humans, from all cultures, it seems, have used fire and candles and lamps to dispel those shadows and fears, and replace them with light and hope. It’s not only Diwali.

So many fire festivals, in so many lands. So many songs to honor the sun and light and fire, and to bring the light of the human voice to the shadow of silence. So many metaphors that play a key role in human language, and so many ancient places built to admit the light of the sun on transitional days. So many candlelight marches and perpetual flames at graves.

So much light, literal and symbolic, to combat the dark, and push it back, and replace it with the hope of trust and peace.

So, yes, Gallivanta, I will join you in lighting a flame, to celebrate the good and to refuse to give countenance to darkness and evil.

And I will reiterate your wish, “Happy Diwali and may the light of the lamp burn brightly in all our hearts.”

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32 thoughts on “Light One Candle

  1. Kerry, this is lovely and your lamps are exquisite. So glad you could join me. I tried to take some photos of my candles but they didn’t turn out well at all even though they looked very special on my table. Would you mind if I used your last image as my skype avatar for Diwali? I would love it to be part of my Diwali greeting on Skype.

  2. Today October 24th is also United Nations Day. I see that in 1971 the United Nations General Assembly recommended that the day be observed by Member States as a public holiday. Hmmmm….don’t know any country which does have a public holiday for UN Day…..such a holiday could be a powerful symbol of unity across nations and faiths.

  3. So well said, Kerry. There are days, that I find it hard not to feel burdened and almost defeated by the news of the day. And the horrid happenings in Canada are close to home, with the years we lived there, our sons in Toronto ( they expect a terrorist attack there for years already, and it is indeed such lovely, safe city!) We know Ottawa so well.
    However I also believe that we should indeed bring light into the world, keep on doing that no matter what! Every morning I light a candle in a latern in my kitchen, as our day begins to symbolzie that. Your post helps too, it realy does! There is indeed a reason that somemany traditional feasts are centered around the symbol of light and the goodness it brings!

  4. Thank you for this reminder Kerry, light and hope hand-in-hand. It is a frightening time, but it’s so good to connect with others and share our ideas, hopes and dreams. I will light a candle tonight for the future, for hope for our neighbors and friends.

    • It’s funny, isn’t it? Sometimes it seems easier to find like-minded people here than in our day-to-day lives. I hope lighting a candle made you feel a little better!

  5. This is such a beautiful and thought provoking post Kerry! If we could all take our attention away from the media and turn it to the actual real events of each one of us in the here and now, life would be very different. I do not follow the media. It is there to distort information and keep the populace fearful, angry and ready for war. The language it uses is designed to incite more fear and hatred and ‘popular’ stories revolve around [mostly made up] gossip about celebrities, most of whom do nothing to make the world a better place.

    When we look outside of the media we find stories of people doing good things to help other people, people serving freely and giving of their talents with no media hype to be seen. We find stories of those who forgive and over come and go on to help others. The world is teeming with good people. But our collective attention goes to one severely disturbed individual with a gun. And the media will keep our attention there for as long as it is viable. You know what they say, where we put our attention is what we get more of……

    I believe we should all light a candle every morning and turn our attention to being peaceful and content and spreading that circle of light out into the world as fa as we can. This is our work.

    Please excuse this little rant – your heartfelt words awaken such a passion in me for us to move more strongly towards true freedom of thought.

    • I like rants! And I like to rant. The media–that’s a topic I have very mixed feelings about. I believe in the American concept of the importance of a free press and I admire many old-school journalists. But I do loathe the sensationalism of much of what is on TV today–pandering to our baser instincts.

  6. I was shocked and saddened to learn about this madness reaching Canada, which has always been a beacon of kindness to me. I suppose I should be grateful only two lives were lost, but it’s two too many. I need to think about lighting up the darkness through my own actions as a counterweight to evil.

  7. Reading this after reading the updates on the school shooting in Marysville, WA, only a few hours away from Portland. Sounds like there were two casualties (one of whom was the shooter) but several kids are still in the hospital with serious injuries. It’s just so hard to wrap my head around how common these things are becoming. The incident in Ottawa is equally horrifying and sad, but your post made my night a little bit brighter.

    • I just saw that another one of these kids died–it’s so heart-breaking! And, yes, when it hits close to home, like Marysville for you or Ottawa for me, it seems to wake us up a little more. 😦

  8. A very moving post. I think there is horror and hope, evil and good everywhere. I know I’m trivialising things by mentioning a Facebook page, but I think that the Humans Of New York page brings this home so powerfully, especially the author’s recent tour of struggling and war-torn countries. T’was ever thus, and I suppose it always will be the case. AND YET the news at the moment seems particularly frightening. The horros of IS in Syria/Iraq, the Ebola crisis, etc etc. Sometimes I feel guilty for blogging about such trivia as knitting and crochet, but others have tackled more serious subjects more knowledgeably and eloquently than I ever will.
    Sorry to ramble, but I couldn’t ignore your post. Wishing you peace and safety and joy in this mad fractured world.

    • It’s funny–I think us blogging about the normal, warm things that make us normal, warm humans does do something to offset the madness. If nothing else, it reminds us that there ARE normal people around–to listen to the news, one might get the idea that the world has gone insane.

      • True. And there’s nothing wrong with a bit of escapism. But it’s hit me most when I’ve noticed people reading my blog from Ukraine and Syria, and I’ve felt awkward for withering on about knitting stitches.

  9. Thank you for this lovely post and for your consideration of your neighbours to the north as we experienced darkness this past week. Certainly it was not 9/11 … not even close … but it was a shock and change will come. I am so pleased Margaret21 left your link on my blog.

    • Let’s hope nothing ever comes close to 9/11 again! Thanks for visiting here and commenting–I love when other bloggers pass links of interest along so we can all make new connections!

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