For as long as I can remember, I’ve held a candle on Christmas Eve. I’m not sure why this memory warrants mention. Perhaps because so often that candle is held during verses of Stille Nacht, where the hair on my neck raises ever so slightly, a signal, perhaps, that generations of my German ancestors sing simultaneous harmonies somewhere unseen.
Tonight, after the second Silent Night verse my grandmother inserted, “The Lord said make a joyful noise. He never said you had to be in tune.”
Germans may be stubborn, but not without humor. Stubbornness, like flames, like 93-year-old grandmothers, have the potential to burn you.
Candles, when lit, offer a controlled burn. A warmth both free and intentional where flames turn the potential of wax into the certainty of heat. Activity often surrounds flames: around them, stories are told; above them, food is prepared; below them, fuel is destroyed.
While practical, fire also bridges beauty with turmoil. What other enigma can symbolize the spectrum of emotion from compassion to indignation? In a way, it rages. Rage can be beautiful and quiet—silent, even.
And with that, the rumination of a simple flickering light concludes. May your evening be full of wonder, silence, and a peaceful rage. Much like these candles, burning somewhere, burning bright.