I had a remarkable experience this past Saturday leading a spiritual life retreat on the theme of “Letting Go, Moving On, Loving Life.” At the end of the retreat we watched a scene from the movie Walk the Line. It’s the scene where Johnny Cash wakes up after making a complete mess of his life. June Carter was there, sitting by his bedside, and she had a bowl of fresh strawberries for him to eat. He takes a bite of a strawberry and whispers to her, “You’re an angel. I’ve done so many bad things and I’ve hurt so many people.” Her response was, “You’ve done some bad things, but you’re a good man, John. You’re a good man. God has given you a second chance.”
I love that scene, because it reminds me that there really is a way to let go and move on. To make a change. To love again. To feel again. There’s a way to let go of what is no longer working for us, embrace what needs to be embraced, and then find a way to love life again. That’s what the entire retreat was about, and to symbolize our moving forward, I asked everyone to come to a center table and light a candle. Lighting a candle is a way of praying. So simple. A flame. A candle.
Yet as we started lighting candles it quickly became clear that it wasn’t so simple. First of all, no one, including myself, could really work the Bic lighters that well. You have to push in and pull on the trigger at the exact same time. Some people weren’t strong enough to do it and so they had to use both hands, but that created a problem because people needed to hold the votive candle with one hand. And so people started helping each other light their candles. I had not planned on that, but that’s what happened, and it was a nice way to end our day. Everybody needed somebody to help them light his or her candle. Pretty soon we were giggling and laughing about it. We went from a candle light mass to a candle light mess.
But some days, as I learned last Saturday, a candle light mess can be a pretty good thing. Take a Breath today. And if you have a chance this week, light a candle. (It’s always worth the mess.)