Go Light Your Candle

By Lisa Logan

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

We would sing that song around the bonfire in my grandmother’s backyard during summer evenings. Our voices rising and the song reverberating miles down the dirt road. So much happened during those warm summers. I still have a scar on my left elbow from when I fell riding my bike too fast. I used to think that those summers would never end and if they did, they would return for me the following year. That I would yet again find myself scrubbing dirty ankles from playing in the dirt, we would still be lighting fires in the backyard pit and the same faces and places would be there waiting to greet me.

But time doesn’t stand still, summers grow into fall and not everyone who used to sit around that bonfire in my grandmother’s backyard would still be there if I went back. We’ve all grown up, some move away and some passed on but instead of grieving the past, I’ve realized what’s really important is the imprint they’ve left on me, how they have shaped me and the memories that we’ve shared. The way they made me laugh, how they helped me in my need and how they helped me become who I am today. That is the candle that continues to shine when the bonfire has been put out and those faces are no longer seen.

What I remember most is the way we loved each other and the way we enjoyed the company. I remember how my uncle Derek took me in his arms and we jumped over the bonfire. I was astonished the flames didn’t touch us. I remember how he made time for us children, taking us down to the river and camping out. When the world rushed about, we sat around the fire, singing songs.

Last week I met a stranger behind the counter while buying coffee. We found ourselves conversing about similar interests, exchanging smiles and laughter. I left that coffee shop with joy in my heart and a smile on my face.

I walked home that day reflecting on how I worry about things that are inconsequential. That all it takes is opening my mouth and saying something kind, something intentional. I’m realizing that we may not get another tomorrow, that we must live to make difference today. I’m learning that value is not always in the big things that the world seems to applaud, it’s in making someone feel good about themselves, that they’re worthy, that they’re funny, a great coffee maker, storyteller, that they’re interesting. It’s love. It’s lighting the candle for them when it’s growing dim. Leaving an imprint on them after I’ve left the shop, like my uncle left one on me after my childhood summers ended.  

Sometimes it’s the seemingly small, insignificant things that truly matter in this life. It’s learning to love difficult people, strangers, family members who have gone astray. It’s hard though, to set aside our busy schedule, our phones, our Facebook, to apologize, to sit down for coffee, to sit with someone who is hurting, sick, dying, or alone. To be inconvenienced and to feel awkward. If it were a small thing, trivial, an easy thing, we would all be doing it. But it’s hard. It’s what keeps the candle burning bright and changes you. It changes the world around you.

One day, when you help that person in need, smile at the barista, sit with someone suffering, go for coffee with an old friend, you realize that saving your time and words for big things, waiting for more and more, was holding you back from the candle that was waiting to be lit now. All it takes is starting with lighting a small wick, because when you do, it lights up a whole room.