Inspiration Short #3: Dine by candlelight

by Danielle Charles

The darkness of autumn  has begun to creep it’s way into our long summer evenings, coloring the sky with night long before I quite feel ready for it.  But as a consolation for our loss of light, the merging of our precious summer into autumn creates the most spectacular lavender twilight, and paired with a table full of flickering candlelight, helps to befriend and welcome the darkness into our lives.

I often forget about the candles scattered throughout the house, until a heavy snow or thunderstorm knocks the power out and forces me to light them from necessity. I always marvel at their beautiful flickering light, and wonder why I shouldn’t light them just for pure enjoyment. How silly that they sit there collecting dust on shelves and tables, rather than getting used for their true and beautiful purpose.

So this week, as the light diminishes into dusky twilight and you sit down to dine – whether alone, with a sweetheart or at a table full of familiar and loved faces – turn off the harshness of the overhead light and fill the room with the flickering glow of candles. There is something so intimate, so gentle about the way a candle lights a room – casting a warm glow that is completely transformative to our perception of the world.

I could try and attempt to describe that feel, the way that candlelight seems to bring out the complex and shadowy beauty in the face, brings a new level of intimacy to our vision , but John O’donohue does it best:

Before electricity, people used candlelight at night. The ideal light to befriend the darkness, it gently opens up caverns in the darkness and prompts the imagination into activity. The candle allows the darkness to keep its secrets. There is shadow and color within every candle flame. Candlelight perception is the most respectful and appropriate form of light with which to approach the inner world. It does not force our tormented transparency upon the mystery. The glimpse is sufficient. Candelight perception has the finesse and reverence appropriate to the mystery and autonomy of the soul. Such perception is at home at the threshold. It neither needs or desires to invade the temenos where the divine lives.

So, befriend the darkness this week and explore the shadowy and flickering beauty of candlelight perception. Your eyes will adjust just fine.