Sunday, May 9, 2010

Light a Candle: Happy Mother's Day

One of my mother's favorite sayings was "it is better to light one candle, than to curse the darkness." My mother, Jane, lived this creed better than most, and better than I ever could. Most sources attribute the origin of the proverb to the ancient Chinese. The Bible, Romans 13, says, " The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light." The saying became the motto of the American Christopher Society, and gained further currency when John Kennedy said in his Presidential nomination acceptance speech in 1960, "We are not here to curse the darkness; we are here to light a candle." Then in 1962, Adlai Stevenson gave the phrase new fame, when he said of Eleanor Roosevelt in a speech the the United Nations, She would rather light candles than curse the darkness, and her glow has warmed the world.

But I still think of this as my mom's saying, and when I get angry and ready to criticize or find fault, but hold back despite myself, its my mom saying to me still, "don't curse the darkness, Jerry." I like to think of my mom as an image of that candle, burning inside, passing its flame to her children, and lighting new candles whenever it can. Hate, anger, fear, skepticism, greed, can consume us for a while, my mom believed, but that candle keeps on burning, passing its flame one to another. We cannot see our way out of darkness with even the most powerful anger and fear, yet a small candle can bring the light.

Happy Mother's Day.


Candle

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