When I was a little girl, fifty-odd years ago, my mother marched us all to pre-church every Saturday. A few minutes behind the screen confessing to a voice, and time in the center aisle repenting, then she'd give each of us a few pennies or a nickel to put in the jar, so we could light a candle.
I was supposed to light ONE and pray. But all those little wicks were waiting, so every single week I cheated and set several to sparkling.
Recently I've taken this woman's habit on, to start each day by lighting a candle, pouring a cup of something hot, sitting so I can see the bird feeder, busy with activity, outside the window. A celebration of another day, my little corner of the living room transformed to a holy place.
Then when the day is over I put the rubber stopper in the tub, pour in bath salts and bubbles, set out a towel, and light another candle. For awhile another corner of the world where I am an island. When I'm sufficiently melted I grab a fluffy towel, blow the candle out.
Flickering light as bookends to my day, sentries guarding my world.
Lighting candles because I can remember to blow them out. I am self-sufficient, for now. Twenty or so years from now I may well be in a different place, where my son or daughter has removed the knobs from the stove, as I did for her just a few weeks ago. No forgotten candles on coffee tables. None beside tubs full of too hot water I can't get in and out of.
Twenty years changes everything. So does ten. So does five. Nothing stands still. For now I celebrate my life, and hers, by lighting candles, morning and night, remembering that everything is a fleeting gift.