Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Light One Candle: The Song We Need

Last night at our choir board meeting, I had everyone share their favorite holiday song. One of the members mentioned "Light One Candle." Yes, this is the song we need right now!

I first discovered this song, written by Peter Yarrow, on the Peter Paul and Mary holiday album. Many years ago, when our beloved Franciscan priest Fr. Matt began conducting peace and nonviolence workshops in partnerships with local priests and nuns, he asked me and Mike to sing this song as the opening for every workshop.

Then, we were asked to sing the song at the funeral of two young people involved in the workshops, Mark and Katie, who died in their prime, while on a hike in the Columbia Gorge. I will never forget that horrible evening...with two coffins at the front of the church. That song seemed apt for their lives, which were committed to peace and justice. Chris was just a baby then--and I remember him waving to everyone in the packed church while we were singing. Later, the grieving family commented that his waves cheered their souls.

Peter Yarrow cast his vote for Hillary, dressed in suffragette white, with just as much hope as the rest of us on November 8. On November 9, he shared this message on Facebook along with this beautiful song he wrote in October (Lift Us Up), also perfect for our times.
We endured a terrible blow yesterday but, now that it’s a fait accompli, we must focus with ever greater determination on doing “the work." The measure of our success will depend upon the strength of our hearts, our love for one another, and our commitment to the principles in which we believe. We must listen to the words and hearts of those with whom we are at odds, empathize with their narratives, and help to relieve their pain and distress. That does not mean, however, that we can or should forbid ourselves to be outraged by acts that seek to injure or destroy justice, fairness, liberty, or the goodness that is within us. Notwithstanding, we must be less preoccupied with what’s wrong and more focused on what it is that we need to create. Onward my friends, with ever greater resolve.
This great folk singer/songwriter, whom I've always adored, is still writing folk songs that are balm for the soul. And I treasure that lingering memory of baby Chris waving at the sad and bereft, reminding them that life goes on, and giving them hope. That's what we need right now...the baby at the funeral, and the candle in the darkness.

Light One Candle
Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that their light didn't die
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker's time is at hand

Don't let the light go out!
It's lasted for so many years!
Don't let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe
And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago
Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts (chorus)

What is the memory that's valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What's the commitment to those who have died
That we cry out they've not died in vain?
We have come this far always believing
That justice would somehow prevail
This is the burden, this is the promise
This is why we will not fail! (chorus)

Don't let the light go out!
Don't let the light go out!
Don't let the light go out!

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