Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Ash Wednesday moved me to light them, a litany of sorts to begin Lent. It makes the room feel open and bright, but also small and safe. Between the two stalwart flames, I look out and see a garbage truck blinking madly, coming down the street that cuts perpendicular to my line of sight, beyond the park. Cars speed by. Owners walk their dogs, some toy-teeny, some bear-big. The world cannot wait, not on this rainy Wednesday or any other day. Even I must go out and join it, after the last stick-to-your-bones bite of oatmeal and apple-y swig of tea.
But for this moment, I sit and wait. I watch the birds chase each other through silhouettes and the stark still tree branches dark against the white-gray sky, which now seems fresh and bright with morning, but will trudge on and on until the day feels thick and musty. I breathe, and eat my breakfast. I set my full mug flush against my stomach, savoring the steaming warmth. The candlelight stands tall and calm.
The flames have stretched, I think, since I first lit them. And I notice, too, that as each wick grows shorter, more of it melted away, its flame grows taller. The more the solid disappears, the deeper the light shines.
I take my last bite, slurp my last swig, and snuff them out. (They smell like campfires, like Christmas on this gray Lenten day.) I know I will light them again tomorrow.
Here in the jungles of our waterpipes and iron ladders,
Our thoughts are quieter than the rivers,
Our loves are simpler than the trees,
Our prayers deeper than the sea.
- Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours
(Read my Ash Wednesday post from last year here.)