On the first weekend of Advent, Ken and I lovingly placed, on the kitchen table, the Advent wreath we bought last summer in Mexico City while on pilgrimage to Guadalupe. That night, before dinner, we lit the first candle and then proceeded to enjoy our meal. The next morning, I made a horrifying discovery.
You may have noticed in the photo, there is one candle that is brand new while the others are from last year. That’s the candle we had to replace the following morning.
You see, Ken and I escaped tragedy that night after we forgot to blow out the Advent candle. When I sat down to eat my breakfast the following morning, I noticed that the candle we lit the previous evening was missing. Upon inspection, I found the candle, or what was left of it, adhering the wreath to the table runner with a mountain of hardened, purple wax. My heart caught in my throat. Did we really do that? Did we really leave the candle burning all night? I knew I hadn’t blown it out, Ken confirmed that he hadn’t blown it out, and the evidence was right in front of us.
We vowed that it would never happen again, and I replaced the candle with a slightly off-color candle I found in a drawer. I hesitate to admit that the following morning… there was another pool of dried wax around the empty candle holder.
When Katie came home, she asked why one candle was so much taller than the others. We told her the truth: without her and her sisters at home, we had stopped lighting the candles because the girls weren’t there to blow them out!
For many, many years, the lighting and extinguishing of the Advent candles was a special job for our daughters. They took turns lighting the candles and fought over which child got to blow them out (I so loved the week when exactly three candles were lit each night)! Without the girls there, Ken and I have nobody reminding us that the wreath is even there. It’s embarrassing, to say the least. I’ve been afraid to light the candle, afraid we would forget it again, afraid that we would not be so lucky a third time.
What a shame that I am afraid to light the candles. How sad that we haven’t allowed the light of our Advent wreath to illuminate our meals. It feels like we are missing something in our preparation for Christmas this year, and it occurs to me…
There is a metaphor in our unlit candles. Many are walking this world without a light to show them the way. There are those who light candles but forget to tend them, and the light burns itself out. There are those with the ability to light candles but don’t out of fear, perhaps fear of repercussions from society, friends, even family members. There are people who are content to sit in darkness and people who sit in darkness because they know no other way.
I pray that, this Advent season, I can be a light for others. I pray that all believers, all who know, understand, and cherish the real message of Christmas can lead others into the light. I pray that somehow, some day, our world will live in light, shedding the darkness of despair, poverty, war, substance abuse and dependence, and all other things that rob us of light or make us fearful to light the way.
May we each find a way to let the light of Advent bring us into the full glory of Christmas. Let your light shine brightly. Show the way to those who are in darkness however you can. No matches are necessary.
For now, go check your Advent candles!!
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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Make your Own Hallmark Story This Christmas.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, is based, in part, on her family history and is garnering many five star reviews.
Book Three of the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, is now available! Purchase your copy today of the “book that was a joy to read!”- Ann on GoodReads.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).