Quakers tend to speak in terms of light. They look for the “inner light” of everyone — what other people may term the “God spark” or the inner goodness of even the most hopeless-appearing person. “We’ll hold you in the light” means “we’ll be thinking and praying for you”.
Their ceremonies often involve light, as well. This morning I witnessed one celebrating the transition of high school seniors to people nearly ready to start college. They all know they have a semester left, of course, but this kind of ceremony marks the beginning of the pre-June countdown and effort (classes and Senior Project deadlines await and loom).
Among fellow students, faculty and staff — and parents — the seniors entered, each with a lighted candle. They formed a circle, then as each was ready they placed the candle upright in a prepared basin. After all candles were placed, they sat . . . on the floor, as no chairs were available.
Quaker religious services are silent, except for the words of those who wish to speak. As time went on, and silence deepened, the candles burnt down. Soon their flames could barely be glimpsed by those on chairs. To those seated on the floor, the flames were invisible — yet their light reflected from ceiling and from the basin.
How apt for transition. These students will be gone next autumn, off to college or work, but their light will be reflected in those they leave and in the work they accomplished.
“Remember,” said one speaker, “that sometimes when you cannot see the light, it’s because you’re the one shedding it.”