Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Mindful Monday: A Speck of Light

candle light 2.jpgIf I counted up all the minutes I’ve spent staring into a flame, I wonder how many years of my life that would be. Certainly more than the hours I’ve spent brushing my teeth or combing my hair. It would probably even surpass the combination of bath and shower time.


For some reason (like most Catholics) I assume God hears me better if I stick my face in a hot glowing body of flame.

Is that because Jesus calls himself the “light of the world” (John 8:12)? Because Paul instructs the Ephesians to “walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8)? Because Christians light the Paschal Candle on Easter as a symbol of the risen Christ?


Or is it because something about a flame on a candle soothes me in the same way that David’s ratty blankie comforts him. The scarlet blaze generates a feeling of hope, of fierce tenacity, that whispers: “you’re not off the hook yet…hang in there.”

During my severe depression, a good friend reminded me to look for the light. “No matter how black your darkness is, there is always a speck of light. Keep your eyes on that light.”

At first all I could see was the tiniest blip of brightness, like a speck on a photograph that isn’t supposed to be there. With more time and prayer and drugs and therapy, light began to trickle in, filling the shadows here and there. And then, ever so gradually, my vision was truly illuminated, so that I not only wanted to be alive, but I could perceive goodness and beauty and love in the people and things around me.


Fire and light take us back to the beginning: to a world that began as one big gas explosion (divided into seven neat days, of course). Sometimes I wonder if my body remembers that–when fire bore life–and reconnects with history in front of a flame.

In each candle I light, I pray for a tiny crumb of hope. I pray for a beginning of light, or a dawn, like the one John of the Cross described where “the mind, in sweet tranquility, is elevated above its comprehension to a divine light.” In other words, I pray to feel good and right, though I might not know why that is.

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  • Christina W

    I too pray and am not sure sometimes “how” or what to say. My words sometimes ring false, like I am still hiding my true self from THE one that knows all about me. There are times, many times to be honest, I can’t see “the point” in anything..trying to keep current on the house payment, trying to find a job I can balance with my depression/anxiety, responsibilities to my self, my pets, my husband – who really doesn’t understand what it is to live with – very moment of everyday – fear – though he tries. I ask God sometimes, why? When all I want to do is give back, try to make the world a better place, why am I reaching the point I’ve given up everything except a small sliver of obligation to keep hanging on and hanging around. I don’t know if medications help, hurt or are neutral. I don’t know if there is anything that can cut away this never ending issue of struggling with wanting out/wanting in, feeling like an alien around most people, so anxious sometimes going out to the grocery store can be a major deal. But, I pray – everyday – multiple times – and maybe that is what keeps me going though – like this post – I have no idea why.

  • Peggy w

    You expressed this feeling of hope in such a beautiful way. I enjoy reading your column every day. You really know how to capture a feeling.

  • Mary Anne

    you already helped me by putting into words,what I feel. I was not even able to do that . you talked about struggling wanting out/wanting in, feeling like an alien, and the struggle to go to the grocery store.We are in such a similar place that it’s a wonder that we didn’t “bump” into each other. I’ve been thinking of keeping a journal of thoughts but I could never express myself as well as you have. I hope you continue to write

  • Susie

    You inspire me. Thank you.

  • Stephen

    To Christina, for whatever it is worth. I am someone who has suffered from depression all my life. I look at other people out there and realize I am different…..they are not carrying the load I am carrying. And I wonder what it would be like to be like that. Obstacles that other people seem to just glide over sometimes pull me into a dark hole. Just know that you are NOT alone. Sometimes, it comforts me to remember what my mother (who also suffered from “melancholia”) said. “If everyone who lived on our block could wrap their troubles and problems up, then set them out in the street for everyone to see – you would look at everyone else’s troubles and rush out to pick up your own package!!!!” I trust that is true. I don’t think you want to trade your life for anyone else’s. They have issues you don’t know about.

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