Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

I Pray For Dawn

If 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.”

Last year, when I wanted to die as urgently as babies want to be born, 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.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Karen N.

    Yes, Therese, no matter how bleak the world(and life istelf) seems, there is always light…we must keep looking for it. Bless you for your posts, they are truly lights to be searched for and read.

    Thank you again,

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mary

    Thank you Therese…Wish i could spend a week with you :)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jennifer

    Thank you for this post. I am going through a very dark period in my life and many times I see only the darkness.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Margaret

    Thank you for this. It is very powerful in its honesty. I feel concern for you and your well-being. Perhaps another point of light could be that there are others, besides myself, who are praying for you. You are not alone. Of course God is always with you. We fleshy ones are also.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Your Name

    I’ve been in this same place, Therese. I always have a blessed, beeswax candle to burn…It does help…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Corky

    thank you, Therese. you remind me that this is a daily struggle and to not give up when some days it feels as though the light is all but extinguished.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Margaret

    Ah Therese. I know how it feels. We must remember, that even if we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is ALWAYS there.

    God has PROMISED to always be with us.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment steve

    The Pure Land Buddhist tradition refers to its central Buddha, Amida, as the Buddha of Immeasurable Light (and Life). This Buddha has so much in common with the salvation history of Jesus, as understood in the Christian tradition, it is uncanny. A chapter in 1 of the 2 most important books about Pure Land, “River of Water, River of Fire” by Taitetsu Unno (paperback, and easily available) has a fascinating little chapter on the symbolism of Light in world religions generally, Pure Land Buddhism in particular. (The 2nd book is “Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn Into Gold,” also by Dr. Unno.) I happen to be E. Orthodox Christian, and the symbolism of Light — Jesus as Light of the World, God as the Uncreated Light — is central to the Orthodox tradition as well. That’s the reason for all the candles in “typical” Orthodox worship space, above all at/around the icons; and for the gold, too.
    Personally, I too pray “best” (by my standards, not necessarily God’s!) when I have lit and am focused on 1 or more candles.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment barb

    dear therese, if you never get this email until some day in the future, at least i know i have written an answer to your post. you are prayed for every day and your posts are like our light to keep us going daily. i lost a dear friend 6 weeks ago and her light was illuminating. she lived for Jesus, and we do the same. please always listen to your friends and focus on the light. this world would be a worse place without you. i too would love to spend a week with you! love and prayers, barb

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nidia

    Thank you for your post. I am also Catholic and with recent bad news I feel like everyday I’m living in fear but when I light up my candle it gives me peace of mind and hope also the feeling that I’m having a one on one with God and I’m being heard! I will pray for all of us going through trials and tribulations! Let’s stay strong together!

  • Patty Taylor

    I can relate to “the tiniest blip of brightness. When I was in an outpatient program about 15 years ago while in the depths of a depressive episode, part of the therapy one day was to paint a picture. I painted the entire page black and left in the center only the tiniest speck of white paper showing through. I explained that the tiny speck of white was all the hope I had that the blackness I was living in would go away.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment SundaysChild

    signs, signs, everywhere signs .. and the sign says: “tenants shall not have candles burning in their units”.

    ahh, but I shall overcome! I’ve discovered the soothing joy of salt lamps! With a clear bulb inside, they give off a light similar to a candle, but without all that pesky fire hazard stress, or the dear kitty catching herself on fire. ouch ..

    Anyway, I like to be alone and miserable sometimes. I don’t want a knock on the door, a phone call, don’t want to go out for groceries, a ride, to the restaurant .. just want to be alone. thank you. And I’m okay with it, what’s wrong with not wanting other people yap yap yapping in my face, sucking the air out of me and making me feel like a caged animal? There’s too much pressure on people to smile, be happy, get along with others, be pleasant, be outgoing, be friendly .. blah blah blah. Well Just for Today … I don’t want to be.

    Hugs, if you want one, Julie Andrea

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment khuram

    Hi dear im live in the muslim country butt im belive the God it site for prayer for all world is very nice page for our life God bless you with

Previous Posts

Seven Ways to Get Over an Infatuation
“Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild ...

posted 12:46:43pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

When Faith Turns Neurotic
When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate ...

posted 10:37:13am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

How to Handle Negative People
One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from ...

posted 10:32:10am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

8 Coping Strategies for the Holidays
For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a ...

posted 9:30:12am Nov. 21, 2013 | read full post »

Can I Say I’m a Son or Daughter of Christ and Suffer From Depression?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What if we aren’t glad, we aren’t capable of rejoicing, and even prayer ...

posted 10:56:04am Oct. 29, 2013 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.