Last Friday was the anniversary of my mom’s death. Friends recommended that we light a yahrzeit candle (or soul candle in Hebrew), a Jewish tradition where you commemorate a loved one’s death by lighting a candle for 24 hours on the eve of their passing. I was talking with a friend in the Princeton art community about how I was considering adapting this tradition in light of the fact that my partner was concerned about leaving a candle unattended while we were sleeping. I brought up the idea of burning a candle each time I’m working in my workshop until it goes out. My friend, an expert in grief and grief counseling due to the number of people who have passed in her life and how she’s worked it into her art and her work, shared that she lights a candle for loved ones who have passed every time she works in her workshop. I loved this. I loved it so much.

And there was also another dimension that fit here – with the heavy world of ours and so many people around us entering another holiday with the great contrast between love, joy and abundance and the cold, loss, and scarcity it brings up for people, I come back to the vision I often hold for the holidays – one of lighting our flames, shining our lights into the winter, or not quite winter dark.

Yesterday I was exhausted from a very long week last week. A lot of us had a very long week last week. I was too tired to work in my workshop. But as I talked with some friends about another friend who is struggling this holiday season, and I recalled all the people who struggle right now, whether it is because they are missing loved ones who have passed, or are far from home, or don’t have enough to eat or share gifts, or who have nowhere to go to celebrate the holiday with others – I felt compelled. Go light your candle – my heart says. Go create light. I can’t say why this will help our friend who is struggling or anyone else for that matter. But there is something that is bigger than ourselves in the work. That in creating more light – in cultivating our own light, we somehow create light for others.

So please, go light your candle. Go create light. Or if these are not possible for you at this moment – take a moment to appreciate the light in others.

Reid