The weak light from the candle was my only companion. Side by side in this dark world, we made our way through our short lives. The candle had been my friend since birth. When all others forsook me, the candle stayed by my side. It gave me warmth and light in the never ending winter in which I lived. Once my only friend had burned brightly; brighter than anything I had ever seen. But now I observed that the thing I held dearest to me was becoming weaker and weaker. Its light which had once given such comfort was beginning to grow dim. Fear filled my heart at the thought of my light dying.
All too soon, the dreaded time fell upon me. Alone in the oppressive darkness I cried. My friend sat before me, its flame getting weaker and dimmer as every minute passed. It no longer gave me the warmth I so desired. The freezing winds chilled me to the bone and added to my misery. I watched over my candle, my companion, with never tiring eyes. My tears ceased to flow as if they were blocked by an immense stone of grief. Tears would have been a relief for me but all hope of relief was gone. My little flame held on longer than I had anticipated it would. But it was still all too clear that the end was near. I longed to do something to make my little friend live; to make my world right again. But I was powerless and inadequate to do anything. The weight on my heart grew heavier as I continued to watch over the tiny flame. Every few moments it would leap and burn brighter, as if it was desperately trying to keep going. But it was, like me, powerless and weak. Finally, after one last desperate effort to persevere, my dear candle let go and I was left alone in total blackness. Panic seized me. I was on my own with no friend in the world. There would be no more heat to warm me; no more light to guide me through the evils of my life. I was totally helpless and abandoned. I had never dreamed that my little candle would leave me as everyone else had. As I sat in grieved silence, a silence too great for words, I heard a deep voice in the distance. It was low, yet filled with power.
“Come and I will give you light.”
I yearned for the light that the voice offered yet I was afraid to trust the one who gave it.
“Come and I will give you light!” The Voice was louder than the last time. It was filled with a deep joy, something I had never known.
I rose to my knees and stared into the darkness before me. Why couldn’t I see the light that the voice offered to give me?
“My daughter, come and I will give you the light that you seek!” The Voice was full of love.
I stood to my feet and again looked into the darkness. This time my heart beat with a strange delight. Yet I could not answer the voice, nor could I move towards it.
“My daughter, how long will you stay in the darkness that you fear? Come to me and I will give you light; light brighter than you have ever seen!” The Voice spoke in compassion and love. Somehow, I knew that whoever was speaking to me knew everything about me.
“I – I am afraid!” I gathered the last of my courage and spoke into the darkness.
“What are you afraid of?” The Voice knew why I was fearful, yet he still asked me; letting me search out my own heart.
I was silent for a few moments. At last, with my eyes lowered, I said softly, “I am afraid of being left alone. I am afraid that I will give my heart to you and you will leave me.”
“I will never leave you!” As the voice spoke, I felt as though something was breaking inside of my heart; the power of the voice was tearing something inside of me apart. I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I sunk to the ground and wept loudly. The great stone blocking my tears had been rolled away and a sudden relief flooded my heart.
As I sobbed alone in the blackness, I desired to be near the loving voice that had spoken to me. I lifted my bowed head and I saw, in the distance, a tiny light. It was very far away, but it moved steadily closer to me. I tried to jump to my feet; to run towards the light. But I could not rise from the cold earth that seemed to hold me so tightly. I struggled desperately to get to my feet but I could not.
“Oh please, please don’t leave me here!” I cried, with a slight hope that someone would hear me. “Come and save me from this awful place!”
No one answered but the small light advanced quickly towards me. Somehow I knew that that light was the light of the voice that had spoken to me. I waited in eager, fearful silence. As the light came nearer and nearer, the cold earth slowly released its hold on me. As soon as I was free, I looked around. It was as though I had been blind and my eyes had suddenly been opened. Everywhere the Light went, life appeared. The frozen wasteland became green and warm. Flowers grew and the air was filled with a sweet fragrance. For the first time in my whole life, I was able to see beyond the light of my tiny candle. I noticed that there were many, many others like me. They all had tears on their faces and they all looked very sad. Some were very old and others very young. I was overwhelmed.
An old man scooted closer to me and whispered, “We all had a candle, you know.” He motioned with his old withered hand to all of the sad people around us. “For some of us, our candle died a long time ago. The Voice called out to us, but unlike you, we hardened our hearts and refused to come to him. We clung to the last piece of our useless candle. The Voice kept calling. Now, I have finally let go and my eyes have been opened to the Light.”
“Do you mean the Light has been here all along?” I asked in a tone of bewilderment and shock.
“The Light has always been here. We have been blinded by ourselves. I am learning that it is only when we let go of our candles that our eyes are opened and we can see the Light of Life. The candle is our own strength. It burns out and fades away. This Light will never fade or grow old. This Light died once. He gave himself for us. But he came back to life and he will never die again!”
Speechless, I turned away from the man and towards the Light. I tried to look at it, but I could not. It was brighter than anything I had ever seen. I shielded my eyes with my hands, overcome by everything that was happening to me. I felt dirty and ashamed in the brightness. My tears lingered on my face.
At last a voice spoke to me out of the Light. It was the low, powerful voice that I was beginning to love.
“My daughter, what troubles you? Why do you weep?”
“It – it’s my candle.” I faltered, looking down at the new green earth underneath my feet.
“Am I not better than your candle?” The Voice was filled with unimaginable love and a strange sense of something that could best be described as sadness, although it wasn’t quite that.
I was silent for a moment and then I nodded. “Yes, you are better than my candle. It couldn’t speak; it couldn’t give the kind of light that you do.” My voice broke. “But I loved that light! It was my only friend for my whole life! But it died and it left me here!”
“I will never die and I will never leave you alone.” The Voice said gently. “You must let go of your own light, your little candle, to have full joy in me.”
I stood, undecided for a minute. I felt as though it would be betraying my only friend if I let go. That tiny light had given me hope for so long. How could I let go of it? And yet, what use would it be to go back to living alone in the cold darkness? This Voice, this Light, was so beautiful! How could I ever bear to be away from it?
I lowered my head in a sign of submission. “I will let go of my candle and follow you.”
I saw around me that others were doing the same. We released our hold on our useless, dead candles and we drew together in front of the light.
“Will our lives always be this beautiful?” One young woman asked timidly.
“You will have hard times.” The Voice answered. “But in those times I will never leave you. Those times will come but with my strength you will be able to bear through them. Come follow me.”
We did. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by something other than my lonely candle. My new companions could speak and love me. But the most joyful part of our new lives was that we had the Light to guide us. We did have hard times. But in those hard times, the Light never left us. He was with us forever.