Relinquishing Our Candles

Christmas candle

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.—1 PETER 3:8 (NIV)

“I’m never attending Christmas Eve candlelight service with Grandma again,” our nineteen-year-old son, Cory, proclaimed. “She nearly set me on fire!”

My 92-year-old mother’s advancing macular degeneration made seeing in a darkened room especially difficult. But with her fiercely independent, can-do personality, she refused to admit she was no longer capable of doing certain things.

The following Christmas, my mother was thankfully still with us. Several days before the candlelight service, I broke the news to her. “Mom, this year you won’t be getting a real candle.”

“Why not?” she demanded.

“Because you nearly torched your grandson last year.” She denied having done such a thing, but I stood firm. “I’m sorry, Mom. This year you’re getting a battery-operated candle.”

She finally agreed, if she wouldn’t be the only one with a plastic candle. “Okay,” I said. “I’ll hold a plastic one, too.”

As we all sang “Silent Night” at the Christmas Eve service, our counterfeit tapers flickered in the dark sanctuary along with everyone else’s. Mom was grateful to participate in the ceremony, but seemed a bit sad. To the rest of us, it was just a candle, but to her it was another simple pleasure that aging forced her to relinquish.

That night I added a new prayer to my repertoire:

Today's Prayer:

Lord, make me more sympathetic to the pain that aging brings to others, and when my time comes, please help me relinquish each candle with grace.

Adapted from Strength & Grace: Daily Devotions for Caregivers, a new publication from Guideposts