God moments. That’s what I call them. Those moments of which we are made aware of the Divine. One happened to me this past Sunday, in church, during our routine moment of fellowship. Our pastor, Rev. Owens, had just reminded us that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, and he encouraged us to go and light a candle for someone in the congregation as we greeted them. I like these few minutes of standing face to face with someone in our church family. It’s an opportunity to share a smile, a hug, words of encouragement. But, sometimes, for me, it’s just a chance to get up and move around a bit. I had seen her before, over the years, as she visited with her grandmother and Aunt Monica. However, I don’t think we had ever officially met. She was sitting in the pew behind me, so I stood, turned around, and said something like,” Good morning! What is your name?” “Tarin,” she responded as she took the hand which I had extended to her. She looked at me. I mean straight into my eyes. And I saw in the little furrow that formed between her eyebrows, a question. Teachers notice these things! She sort of tilted her head to the left, her eyes rolling, following the tilt, possibly in an attempt to form the budding query. She sighed a little, and then asked me, a stranger, this question: “The pastor said that we should light a candle. But, shouldn’t we pray?” Now, I don’t know why this seven-year-old little girl decided that I was the person to whom she would ask this question. Maybe she saw in me someone who thrives on questions; someone who at that time had serious questions of her own. Maybe I was the first person to speak with her after her question came to her. Nevertheless, I was chosen. “ That’s a great question!” I responded. I thought for a few seconds, and I offered this to her. “Maybe when Rev. Owens was talking about a candle, it wasn’t an actual candle. Maybe he was talking about being a light for somebody else; being a caring person like you are for your little sisters, and maybe that is sort of lighting a way for them. Like a candle!” She looked at me, quizzical. I thought some more. And I asked Tarin, “Do you have someone that you want to pray for?” She said she did, and it was one of her friends. “So, maybe when you pray for Ally,” (I think that was the friend’s name), “and you are caring for her and kind to her… maybe that’s lighting a candle. Showing her that you care. Making her feel better.” “So, lighting a candle is like a prayer?” she asked. “Hmmm… what you think?” Anybody who knows me knows that I am good at answering a question with a question. A tentative smile crept across her face, and finally she responded, “ Yes. I think so.” I smiled at Tarin, truly in awe of this little girl, and told her that I was so glad to have met her and to have talked with her, and told her never to stop asking questions. This “God moment” with Tarin reminded me of a lot of things. First of all, I was reminded that it’s okay to be where I am on my spiritual journey, and to live and struggle with my own questions. And that in living and struggling with my questions, I live my prayers. Light my own candle. The other thing that Tarin really got me thinking about is intentionality. What kind of candles do I light as I live? As I am finding my way, am I intentionally lighting a way for others? And finally, I thought about children, and why I love to be around them. Children ask the best questions! I mean deep, personal, philosophical, spiritual questions. Children are natural candle-lighters. “ … and a little child shall…” light a candle! So, thanks to Tarin, a seven year-old illuminator, I am offering the following, as they are to me, points of reflection and commitment. What are the prayers that you live? The candles you light? How do you, as you see your way through dark places, light a way for others? Where do you find light? In a child’s eyes? In the warmth and security of your spouse’s caring ways? In your mother’s words of wisdom and love? In a sunny day or a brilliant sunset? So, from this “God moment “ with Tarin, my personal candle -lighter, the prayer I offer is that you not only find light, but be a light as you move through the shadowy paths along life’s journey. Blessings!
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