Being Servant Candle: Strongest When We Help Each Other

At my children’s elementary school, there was an annual Solstice pageant. One of my favorite parts was when someone read an adaptation (by Monique Bourgeois) of Judy Bressler’s Servant Candle, which I offer here, in part:

image by ptooey stock
image by ptooey stock

A candle alone is a small thing.

But one candle can light another

-and see how its own light increases

as it gives flame to another.


Light is the power to chase away the darkness.

Throughout history, darkness has tried to smother the light.

But always in the end it fails.

For always, somewhere in the world, the light remains,

ready to burn its brightest where it is darkest.

And every free people in the world has remained free

by resisting those who would extinguish this light in people’s hearts

-the light of freedom, of truth, of love.

I write these words just days after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, the ongoing violence in Baghdad, so my heart is full of break. My heart is full of yearning for words that remind us to look for the helpers; remind us that sometimes, often, we must take the long view to believe in the light, in the love, that will win out.

I want to turn them into a salve that I can smear on the palms of my hands and the cranky calloused skin of my heels, passing them to my fellow humans as I shake hands or walk the hallowed ground of the earth. I want to make of them a balm infused with eucalyptus and arnica, a healing comfort in the midst of bruising chaos.

Let us treat these words like tattoos on our hearts. Let us be as the Servant Candle instructs:

Each of us is such a light.

Each of us has the power to chase away the darkness

-in ourselves, and in others.

And we are strongest when we help each other.


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