Charles Cowling

calvary-candles-c-zyzy

 

If you’re out in Soho on a Saturday night chances are, as you reel from one nightspot to another, that a fresh-faced young person will greet you with the somewhat discordant question, “Would you like to light a candle in a church?” 

Being idealists, these gentle, big-eyed souls are used to being rebuffed by all manner of derision, indifference and obscenity. But they keep going because they know that, sooner or later, someone’s going to say yes. 

When they do, they are conducted to St Patrick’s church where they duly light their candle and either sit in the calm for a bit or even read a bit of scripture. They pop in for a moment, all sorts of people, some maybe for a bit of a laugh, but they often stay for up to an hour. By the end of a typical evening, more than 300 candles are dancing and flickering. 

Those who come are not sold religion. The space is as soothing for atheists as it is for holy folk. For them the church is a haven of serenity, somewhere to enjoy a time out from bustle. 

The project is called Nightfever. It started in Germany in 2005 and is catching on over here. 

Logo (1)

 

You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Yes, let’s take it further. What a good idea it would be if churches of all denominations were to offer this invitation to bereaved people: Would you like to come inside and light a candle in memory of someone in our church? 

Funeral directors could offer the same invitation. 

And have you noticed how crematoria are happy to offer you somewhere to stash your flowers, but nowhere to light a candle? They should do it too.

Yes, yes, fire risks, terribly dangerous, insurers won’t have it, etc. 

But if churches can, crems and undertakers can. Do it. Lighting a candle in memory of someone who has died is a powerful thing to do. And there is fellowship in all those dancing flames. 

 

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Lol Owen
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Lol Owen

I used to offer all my clients the option (at no cost) of a personalized pillar candle to be lit during the ceremony. It was personalised by a photograph of their loved one being printed on to a special film which then sticks to the candle and can be safely burnt afterwards, Truth be told it was too time consuming to do for all once I got busy, and at some crematoria even if there are candles allowed, sometimes they are so far out of sight they are meaningless. We did offer a candle lighting at this year’s Xmas service… Read more »

tim clark
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tim clark

Lovely idea, very powerful.
In one of my local crems, you can’t light candles, or rather you can’t extinguish them (smoke) because there is a smoke alarm high up in the roof that can’t be switched off.
Really, you couldn’t make it up…..

Quokkagirl
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Quokkagirl

Symbolic, distracting, focussing, calming …endless adjectives spring to mind when thinking of the value of lighting a candle at times of inexpressible pain. A candle corner would be lovely in crems. Good idea Blogmaster.

Richard
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Richard

Candle lighting does seem a very effective ritual any time, any place, so often symbolising something to someone.

As for inviting Soho revellers to church, I’d be useless at such street evangelising. I’m even embarrassed for street preachers when they’ve approached me. Good effort though. We’re often too frosty to strangers regardless of their reason for ‘invading our space’. Random pub chats being an exception.

Kathryn Edwards
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Kathryn Edwards

Nice (both sorts of forum).