Keeping lit the candle in the niche of our hearts can be hard. The holes in the walls of our interior lives can let in the fiercest of winds which threaten these gentle flames. We see around us the devastation of envy, greed, betrayal, unkindness and we begin to weaken like aflame whose wick is simply too short.
Lent is a good time in which to ask questions about what stone-eating worms of acidic doubt are eating away at the chapel walls of our heart. To watch and be aware of these worms with teeth able to eat rock and bodies slithering through the holes is to be attentive to the care of our souls in a society and a church like those in which we live.
Asking for the blessings of our angels, our friends, our spiritual mentors is the way both to kill the worms and block the holes from the scorching and freezing winds of life which threaten that gentle flame we hold in our hearts in vigil for the coming of Jesus. The coming of Jesus in our prayers. The coming of Jesus in our study and thought. The coming of Jesus in our sacraments and the final coming of Jesus in the end of days.
Until then we wait, tending to that little flame lit by life and for which we are responsible until life is transformed for us into a different source of light, life and love. This is hard work. Tending our gentle flame is so important and is an act of hospitality to the self like the arms of the father to the prodigal son. Jesus did not say ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” He said “Blessed are the gentle.” So different. So vulnerable.
There is a gentleness required for the acre of a candle flame – the soft touch of the wax walls, the gentle trimming of the wick, the soft hands around the flame in a breeze. This is the work of Lent. Abstaining from chocolate or wine might just be another form of anesthesia.