Keeping the Candle Burning

Dear Reader:

Haven’t we seen the candle used as a metaphor for life many times…particularly in celebrity passings? In popular culture it has made a come-back with its symbolism of the short passage of time we each are allowed.

 In Walking in Wonder ….remembrances of John O’Donohue’s eternal wisdom for a modern world…O’Donohue remembers the symbolism of a candle used at funerals while growing up in the Connemara region of Ireland.

He always believed that at the “heart of darkness we will discover there isn’t darkness but the ‘eternal candle.’

In Connemara, a popular phrase used during a funeral was an Irish phrase meaning…“His candle is quenched.” (His life is over) One day O’Donohue asked an old man why he used that expression at a funeral and he said, “I often heard as a small lad that when you’re born, there’s a candle lit for you in the eternal world, and the length of your life is the length of the candle.”

Most of us remember Elton John’s famous musical eulogy to Princess Diana when he re-wrote the lyrics to “Candle in the Wind” in ” Good-bye England’s Rose.

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never fading with the sunset
When the rain set in
And your footsteps will always fall here
Along England’s greenest hills
Your candle’s burned out long before
Your legend ever will

I remember one professor I had used to write Edna Vincent Millay’s famous line of poetry on the board for the Monday 8:00 a.m. classes as bleary-eyed students gazed back at her.

“My candle burns at both ends, It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends, It gives a lovely light”

(Burning the candle at both ends is definitely part of the college experience…I am glad I did it but I am also glad I survived it!)

The grandchildren love the Christmas Eve Service for the highlight…for them…the lighting of the candles…while singing Silent Night. For once they have permission to hold a live burning candle and their eyes are lit in delight each year.

Perhaps Father James Keller said it best…”The candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. “

So until tomorrow…Shouldn’t we share our light with as many people as we can for as long as our candle burns…we lose nothing by sharing our light…yet what a joy it is to illuminate another’s life.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh



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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2 Responses to Keeping the Candle Burning

  1. bcparkison says:

    It is always to start with one candle lit and then you help your neighbor and they help theirs and soon the whole room is a bright light from one little flame.


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