Cleaning the wax off the Sabbath candle holders tonight, I couldn’t remember the last time I had had seen them shiny. I had forgotten how beautiful they were, the words, “Holy Land” carved above little houses built into the hillside. “Is it Friday?” one of the kids asked when they saw what I was doing.
“No, it’s Saturday,” I said. Normally we light the candles on Friday but I’m not all about rules. Because if we aren’t keeping the Sabbath in our heart, then we aren’t really keeping it. The point is, if it isn’t meaningful, why do we just go through the motions? It’s what we do, I suppose, go through the motions sometimes when we get tired, lazy, bored. I’m as guilty as anyone. I’ve been on autopilot for years, it seems…. just going through the motions. But I’m done with that. Like the years of wax I cleaned out of those candle holders tonight, I have remembered that I can shine too. It calls to mind a poem by Marge Piercy, If They Come in The Night. I forget that’s what we are meant to do and then when I come back to center, I remember. When I look at my children, my husband… when I connect with others in a meaningful way and remember the divinity in our humanity…..I remember.
If They Come In The Night – Marge Piercy
Long ago on a night of danger and vigil
a friend said, why are you happy?
He explained (we lay together
on a cold hard floor) what prison
meant because he had done
time, and I talked of the death
of friends. Why are you happy
then, he asked, close to
I said, I like my life. If I
have to give it back, if they
take it from me, let me
not feel I wasted any, let me
not feel I forgot to love anyone
I meant to love, that I forgot
to give what I held in my hands,
that I forgot to do some little
piece of the work that wanted
to come through.
Sun and moonshine, starshine,
the muted light off the waters
of the bay at night, the white
light of the fog stealing in,
the first spears of morning
touching a face
I love. We all lose
everything. We lose
ourselves. We are lost.
Only what we manage to do
lasts, what love sculpts from us;
but what I count, my rubies, my
children, are those moments
wide open when I know clearly
who I am, who you are, what we
do, a marigold, an oakleaf, a meteor,
with all my senses hungry and filled
at once like a pitcher with light.