Monday, May 30, 2005
The Ancient Lamp In My Hand
This lamp is sacred to me. It connects my microcosm with antiquity and eternity. It lifts me beyond time.
An object at once both common and rare, the equivalent of a candle in a modern home, it is found in abundance in every Middle Eastern archeological dig. My parents bought two such lamps as registered artifacts when they participated in an educational dig. One lamp was perfect, soft orange clay in colour and possessing its handle. One was this lamp. It was not in a spirit of preferring one another that I chose this lamp. I had fallen in love with the lamp which showed most clearly the marks of its use. My brother received the perfect lamp.
It was a lamp like mine, which Jesus warned the disciples not to hide, but to set out where all could see. It was a lamp like mine which the virgins in the parable carried to the wedding feast. One can understand why it was so important for the women to carry extra precious oil. Just a few drops fill the lamp.
The flame is smudgy, reminding me of incense, of prayers going heavenward, of praise and cleansing. I wonder if some ancient residue of oil has survived. Could I be mingling my twentieth century prayers with the practical thanksgiving of some first century homemaker?
Let it be so. Let there not be a limit to prayer. Let it flow backward and forward through time and across the barriers of space and limitations of place. Let there be Light.