A Ritual of Hope
For years on Christmas Eve at my home church, a ritual of hope took place. Near the end of the worship service, our Pastor stood at the Chancel with a single lighted candle. Two ushers came forward and lit their candles from his. As the congregation began singing the age-old lyrics of Silent Night, they proceeded down the center aisle. With the lights of the sanctuary dimmed, the ushers offered the light from their candles. At the end of each pew, one person extended their candle to receive that light. Then in succession, each member of the congregation touched their candle to the lighted one next to them to receive the light and ignite their own flame. By the time we reached the last verse of the traditional hymn, “wondrous star, lend thy light“…the sanctuary was filled with light from the host of individual candles all emanating from a single flame, now glowing as one.
As I sang, I received the light, and then held my candle steady as my daughter touched her candle to mine to create a light of her own. I watched as my wife received the light from her, then passed it on to our son – fulfilling the blessing of our family. Like we had done so many Christmases before, we celebrated the light coming into our world and our annual renewal of hope and faith for the new year. Each person received the light from one who offered it. As each new wick came to life, the soul holding it was illuminated and the spirit of each was refreshed. But the light was not theirs to keep, so as stewards of hope, each passed it on to the others who were waiting. Then, just after midnight on Christmas morn, we were sent into the darkness knowing we each carried a glimmer of the light and the wonders that came with it.
My Annual Renewal
Today, before Christmas Eve arrives, I reflect upon that annual ritual of sharing the light. For me, embodied in that light is the “power of presence”. So, as I have done before, I ask myself: “This year, what will I do with my light? Will I keep it to myself, or will I offer it to others? Will I use the gifts and talents I have been given to let my light shine? Will I have the courage to venture into the darkness?”
In the coming year, opportunities will be laid before me and Be There Dad to take the “power of presence” into the world. I will have the privilege to let others touch their candles to mine and renew their spirit for guiding their own children. Participation in the CMS Male Engagement Network will allow me to offer my candle to many throughout our community. Ongoing requests to start new dads groups will allow us to share with newly engaged dads. The army of current Be There Dads will receive the light again as they have before. In turn, they will carry the light to car pool lines, clean up days, mentoring relationships and other places that will benefit from the illumination. Articles, emails and Facebook postings will shine our light using my stories, my perspective, my questions and my journey.
Stewards of the Light
As I share, I will remember my responsibility as a bearer of the light. Just like my Pastor, I did not create the light. The power of presence was extended to me long ago. I am only the steward of its brilliance.
I pray that dads will recognize their roles as stewards of the light and their responsibility to pass it on; for in the light are the lessons of life and the comfort which allows children to fulfill their purpose. I hope that as Be There Dads they will be present and willing to share their own light with those in their care. I hope that their children, like my daughter on Christmas Eve, will reach out and receive the light offered, then carry the flame with them.
If my wishes come true, one day the sanctuary of our world will glow with the light from the souls of children everywhere set aflame by dads and dad like persons. And, if by chance, one day the lights of all the children in the world are lit; in the collective brightness, we will see the power of our presence shining in all their lives.