“Where Does the Light Go When the Candle is Blown Out?”

Dear Reader:

Long before the invention of electricity… when candle light and fires were the only lights to be found at night…medieval mystics wondered and pondered the question in nightly darkness… “Where does the light go when the candle is blown out?”

I had a moment of wonder myself, concerning the subject of light recently, which had Luke falling all over himself laughing when I told him about it.

*But first let me give you some precursor information on the electrical wiring (or lack of ) in my home. It was built back in the late 70’s by one of the coaches back then who was doing construction/real estate on the side.

To say he cut corners when it came to saving money on construction is an understatement….I wonder if he didn’t use high school kids to put the electricity and plumbing in actually…because this house has lots of idiosyncrasies…especially when it comes to electricity.

Every time Luke comes over to change a ceiling bulb or front porch light for me and asks if the switch is off…I think to myself…your guess is as good as mine…sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. For example I have one front porch light that stays off…until it doesn’t.

There seems to be a pattern to the craziness of it all….three nights off, two on, three nights off, two on. I never know when it will turn on when I flip the switch. I told Luke I would wait until a whole week has gone by before getting him to replace any one of the porch light bulbs permanently.…(that term being used lightly.)

My den and kitchen lights sometimes require me running back and forth between two different sets of outlets across the room or even in different rooms to find that special combination that will turn the lights on. It can be frustrating when you are in a hurry to cook something.

The strangest episode of all, however, happened about a week ago. I was watching television one night and fell asleep on the sofa which happens occasionally…no big deal..I keep an extra blanket on the sofa for just this occasion if needed. I stirred around 5:00 a.m….realized what I had done… got up, turned the blue screen on my television off and fell back asleep on the sofa.

Right before dawn suddenly I experienced it. The brightest light filled my closed, sleeping eyes….suddenly in my dazed state…I felt like I was swimming in light. As I struggled to open my eyes a sense of wonder engulfed me…and I immediately thought…”Is this it…is this the light I have always heard about…leading me to that next world?” As beautiful as the flooded light around me was…I was also nervous. What if this was it…suddenly the faces of everyone I loved flashed through my mind….and it took every ounce of courage I had to brace myself and open both eyes.

I was still in my ‘Happy Room’ (Whew!)…the shutters were closed and pre-dawn shadows filled the room except for the two large ceiling fan lights (3 bulbs per fan) beaming down on me. One fixture was directly over the sofa with all three bulbs beaming down right on top of me…and they were on the brightest/highest setting…mystery solved …It was the bright lights that  had awoken me.

But how? How did lights that had been turned off for weeks prior to this bizarre event suddenly turn on…all by themselves?

When I re-told the story to Luke when he got home later that same day…I said, “All I could think about was…I’m not ready Lord…I want to see my foot completely healed, I just got my new car and still have lots to learn about how to work all the “extras” on it, I have a doctor’s appointment and I haven’t given them 24 hours notice that morning, and I planted five Japanese Maples that I wanted to see completely grown…for each of my grandchildren. Do we get one turn-down option and can throw the card back into the pile?”

Luke was chuckling loudly and assured me that he and Chelsey were certainly glad I had not followed a crazy fan light to the life hereafter.

I replied, “All I read about in magazines today is how the sixties are supposed to be the new “forties”…I am beginning to think it goes the opposite way…the sixties now are the new “eighties!” 

So until tomorrow…I don’t know where the light goes when the candle is blown out…no more than the medieval mystics did…In fact I don’t even know why the light can suddenly appear all by itself…just because it can… I reckon.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Speaking of the five Japanese Maples….here they  are…looking like each survived the coldest weather, none the worse…and I can hardly wait to see how much growth takes place this spring and summer. So much fun watching them grow!

*It reminds me of a favorite quip…“At my age one doesn’t permit oneself two things: young wine and small trees.” *( I guess I am just hopelessly optimistic that I will see them all grow tall and strong…the children and the trees.“)

From the oldest to the youngest: (L to R) Eva Cate, Rutledge, Jake, Lachlan, and Eloise.)


  • A shout-out to my niece, Bekak…who started her first day at Fort Dorchester High School (yesterday) as an assistant teacher. Congrats and good luck!



About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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