Week of November 24-30
Elisabeth Meadows, OSB, Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman, AL
I am afraid of fire. Maybe it goes back to the time when I was five or six and my family and I, along with all our neighbors, were standing outside in our bathrobes in the middle of the night watching a nearby structure burn to the ground. Whatever the reason, I am skittish around fire and flame. So when I entered the monastery and was assigned to the sacristy, I found myself feeling some fear as day after day I worked with matches, lighters, candles, and wicks. Yes, I was afraid. And yet there was the necessity of my assigned work.
Somehow, over the years, at the intersection of fear and necessity, I developed a way with candles. Somehow I learned how to coax recalcitrant candles and how to tame ones that had become a bit overwrought. I don’t know how I do it or how I know what to do. I just take a candle and work with it. And somehow, the candle responds. Some in the monastery have called me “the candle whisperer.”
It happened again tonight. Two Sisters tried unsuccessfully to coax a shy candle into flame. I went up, looked at it, and stirred a bit in the wax. I tried again to light it, the wick caught, and the candle began burning steadily. “What did you do?” I was asked. “I don’t know,” I replied. Because somehow, at the intersection of fear and necessity, I had become a candle whisperer, and one can’t explain these things.