Recently, as I helped set up class for another teacher, I took a few moments to light a long line of candles. As I did so I found myself watching quite closely to see what it looks like when the wick lights...what can I see that tells me the candle is lit? I see a bit more brightness, just a bit more light. Sometimes a tiny and slightly separate flame appears. It only takes a few seconds, and the signs of the new light are small, but visible if I watch and wait, even if only briefly.
As I was doing this, it occurred to me that this is a bit like teaching someone something new or sharing an idea or a belief with someone that is new to them.
Like connecting minds or hearts. I let my mind imagine teaching a child in particular and think about how you see the light of understanding appear.
What are the signs...head nodding, smiling, taking on the learning themselves. So like a candle, I felt kind of amazed. Yes, just like the small signs of the unlit candle taking on flame. The child or person, whoever you are talking to or teaching, shows small signs of taking in what you extend, the light begins to show. Then they take on the flame themselves, the signs of a separate light, they repeat, or take on the activity. They start to tie their own shoe, or say “yeah I know what you mean.” Of course in yoga class we see this and do this all the time.
As I moved from candle to candle I noticed that once lit, when I removed the lighter, the flame diminished and flickered a bit as it took hold. This was especially true for the new candles that had never been lit before. The ones whose wick was used a bit took the flame quickly. But did I need to take the lighter back to these candles?
No, we know we don't. At least not right away. This also seems like human connection to me. Where we had connected with light before, the light takes again quickly. Where we are setting the flame for the first time it takes a moment, and it is natural that when left to itself, unsupported the new light diminishes a bit as it builds on its own. But give it a few seconds, and it will.
Also, just like teaching and learning, the child or student left on their own wavers in their new skill or thinking, leave them to find their own resources or strength, their own oxygen, and their flame will burn bright as well. But you must watch, because if the flame dies, it will need to be lit again.
And there are all kinds of candles, right?
Sometimes the candle is burned way down in its container and you have to turn it on its side and reach your light far inside to get it to light…some people are like this. If you are outside or face a breeze or other disturbing forces, you have to protect the light with your hand to transfer it from one to another.
So interesting…makes me think about how we transfer our light from one to another. And how and whether we remain to let the flame grow or light it again.
But what about me? Who lights my flame? If my light diminishes or burns out, do I have someone watching who can relight the flame? Am I doing the same for others? Holding light available, watching with patience, but still nearby, available to offer light again, but trusting others to shine with their own flame.
And what about the cardinal candle rule…never leave unattended! Do we do that to each other? Are we watching? Are we present? Is someone attending us…are we attending ourselves?
Maybe this is a good simple life rule...Light with Care and never leave unattended.
What do you think? Please share below in the comment sections so we can all learn from each other.