Light One Candle
As the holiday season approaches, I muse on the 1983 Peter Yarrow folk song “Light One Candle.”
It’s a song that narrates the Hanukkah story of a small band of believers who were up against the Syrian Army for the right to practice their faith.
It’s an epic tale of a band of brothers, who with their father, are able to gather others in a common mission to fight for the beliefs that grounded and gave meaning to their lives.
You are probably familiar with the story: the small band is able to defeat the giant army and to take back the temple, and to relight their sacred flame. But the army had defiled the temple, and had contaminated the olive oil used for the sacred flame. They find one untouched bottle, enough for just one day and, miracle upon miracle, it burns for eight days, which is enough time to make more oil to keep the light burning.
The song is hopeful. It reminds us that we can light one candle—in thanks that people have a hard-wired impulse to find meaning.
It’s a great song for our time because, in one sense, we can feel our own sense of disconnection to the values that have always rooted our community, our nation, and our world.
It tells us we can light one candle for the pain people endure when their right to exist and to find meaning, is denied.
We can light one candle in appreciation, as the lyrics suggest, “for the sacrifices that freedom and justice demand. And for the wisdom to know that the peacemakers’ time is at hand.”
In rural living, there are a lot of ways to light one candle.
To some, lighting a symbolic candle might be volunteering at the library, at an art organization, being a member of a church, fire department, ambulance or the PTA. It might take form in being a high school band parent or serving as a member of a town or township board.
Lighting a candle might be simply insisting that your family sit down sometimes for a home-cooked meal.
Lighting one candle might be taking a moment of self-care and calming our minds before entering into whatever fray might be happening at this moment.
Lighting one candle might be the presence of mind to consider that your interaction in our community is like a candle and adds just a little bit more light to our darkened world.
Click here for a link to the lyrics.
See link below for the song.