In Canterbury Cathedral, I lit a prayer candle.
At first I saw the lit candles, I saw the sign which discussed the reasons why to light a candle here, I saw the unlit candles, I saw the donation boxes, and I looked for a match or a lighter. I looked for some time. I wondered whether I could light the candle somehow by using the donation box. I wondered whether you dropped a coin in the box and out came a match. I thought of asking several people for a match or if they had a lighter. Then I realized, sweepingly, that I could light my unlit candle from one of the prayer candles already lit. And whether that is obvious to you before I wrote it, or not, it seemed as if it should have been obvious to me, but it was not, for
I am not used to being faced with many lit prayer candles. I am used to lighting the first candle on my own, or having it lit before my eyes by someone else, and then lighting the other candles from that. But I am not used to entering a room and lighting from a burning candle.
It seems so simple after I realized it — and then I lit my prayer candle from an already lit candle, and placed it — yet I wonder, and was wondering, and am still wondering, metaphorically, other ways in which there are already lit candles in a room and I have walked in, or am in, or will walk in, to the room and look around for a match or a lighter, when all I need to do is approach an already lit candle — to light my own.
Then there was a basement in the cathedral, and many, many, many prayer spaces, and a board where we could write our prayers down on Post-It Notes, to be posted “Tomorrow at noon.”