Not everything we do as a Grove is directed by the Grove; some things happen spontaneously and sort of fall out of the blue. This is one of those things.
This past winter, there have been many people who feel that the light has gone out, that darkness has crept in, and that hope has been lost. We’ve noticed that feeling, as a community.
Our Grove serves marginal communities particularly: those who cannot find a place in “mainstream” society, who feel like outsiders and are often rejected for everything from who they love to who they are. There’s room for everyone in our work, and our circle of trees we call a Grove is stronger because of them.
In particular, those communities have been the ones who have felt most like the dark has settled in.
We want to support those communities, because they and the people who inhabit them are important.
I’ve been describing this idea as “something that fell out of my head and onto Facebook” for a bit, and that’s still the best way I can describe it. As it grows, it’ll get some definition, but here’s the thing:
Sometimes, the least of things you can do is the brightest: starting at noon on Friday, January 20, 2017, I lit a candle honoring hope at an altar, the first of four years’ worth of daily candles. 1,461 candles, in total. Here’s what that it looked like (with some explaining of the background) when I lit the first one:
The idea, of course, is to create the light that people need in their life: something to banish despair and bring in hope, no matter how small the light is.
The response has been amazing. People who felt marginalized by recent events feel like someone has noticed them. Members of our community who have felt scared have lit their own candles. Overnight, 250 people “liked” the Facebook page.
In addition, other Priests from other Groves have gotten in on the work, kindling a flame of Hope in their own ways. Rev. Melissa Hill, from Cedarsong Grove, ADF, published this post at the same time I was lighting my candle:
It’s been both surprising and gratifying to see the number of people who have stepped up and said, “Yes, I will light a candle with you.” It’s been amazing to see the number of people who feel that this work benefits them directly as well. I was not expecting the outpouring of support or meaning that I’ve experienced here, and I’m glad to be a part of that.
The work we do as individuals within the Grove can have wider ripples: our tradition of work is public, which means that part of our aim is to bring the work to others as we do it.
I feel blessed and honored that a some have found that the small light I have kindled has brightened their life, and I look forward to continuing to brighten the world in my own way, joined by so many others.
You can join the work, too, on Facebook: TendingTheFlameOfHope is the page.
-Rev. Michael J Dangler