At one of the many turning points in my life, a generous friend gave me a beautiful candle.
Girls love candles.
It was a stout, cream-colored, 4-inch tower in a pretty smoky-gold crackled-glass holder. The kind I would never, at the time, spend money on for myself.
And it changed my life.
Let me revise that … I changed my life. The candle was just – I was just – we were just – in the right place at the right time together.
With all I was going through – a lost marriage, a breakup, struggles with finances and habits, a new job, and the prospect of building a house through a low-income program that would mean working 7-days-a-week for a full year between job and construction, I knew the concept of living in the moment was what I needed to survive. Literally.
I don’t know what happened, but the candle sparked something in me. (No pun intended!)
Up to that point, I had been trying (pretty darned unsuccessfully) to meditate, to even BREATHE, to walk the beaches to calm myself, to find some inner peace I’ve heard so much about from the numerous books, websites, people and ideas I was trying to surround myself with.
It wasn’t really working.
Then I received the gift of a candle.
I wanted to look at it every day. My friend had such a calmness about her, that I felt it was infused with her friendship and love.
So I decided to make it a part of my daily ritual. To actually try to create a daily ritual.
Tentatively at first. I lit the candle and sat in front of it for a few minutes in the morning with my coffee, silent and breathing.
But one day led to three and seven, and even with stops and starts, I found that a daily ritual of lighting a candle, of breathing, of taking a few minutes to calm my mind, began to change my internal world.
“A schedule defends against chaos and whim.
It is a net for catching days.”
That one candle was substantially larger than all the tea lights I had grouped around it on the little shrine I began to build. Pebble by shell by Buddha figurine. So I made a circle around it.
Three small candles for “yesterdays”. I’d light them and say: Thank you, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I survived you.
Three small candles for “tomorrows” – Thank you, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Get me through this thing.
“What used to be a hunch gradually becomes
a working part of the mind.”
And then I’d light the BIG candle, the one I knew I needed to focus on, right here, right now, standing at the head of the circle. The chairman of the board, as it were.
The “Today” candle. This ritual seems so simple, but for me, this simple act led to a cascading effect – of helping me focus daily on a process of finding peace – and eventually focus and productivity in my life. And art.
The Today Candle led me to my art – which literally would never have happened if I hadn’t started setting some time aside to sit quietly and listen to myself and slowly figure out what I really wanted.
Do you have something in your life like the Today Candle? Something, that when you look back, you realize it was a turning point?