“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you.” —Psalm 141:2
I just blew out my candle on my desk, and the smoke billows upward. I take my palms and catch some of the spindly lines, moving them upward as I add my thoughts of thanks. I didn’t expect this small visual reminder of prayer to touch me so.
I’ve finished planning a retreat for a women’s group, and it’s time to transition to the next task on my list. So I extinguish the candle in gratitude.
And still the smoke ascends. I think of incense and my prayers rising to God.
I place my hands above the portly candle again, allowing the smoke to filter through my fingers. God, permeate my heart, my hands, my work, and my offerings to you.And now I realize that the flame is not entirely extinguished and that smoke has been rising the entire time I’ve been typing this. It relentlessly escapes from the orange tip of the wick. It reminds me of a spiritual truth, as I realize that today would need another 48 hours to complete everything I wanted to accomplish on my to-do list.
I hope I can retain this insight: When you think your light is extinguished and when your hope falters, have faith that a spark is still there. Resist the temptation to give in to despairing thoughts and to a list of unfinished business.
Thank you, Loretta, for your beautiful reflections. Sometimes our prayer is a bright flame, sometimes a glowing ember, always rising upward to the heavens.
How proud our missing Jesuits would be of you! Love your reflections?
It’s easy to give in to despair when you have too much to do. Thanks for the reminder to stop and pray. Taking a few moments for gratitude can help.
Gratitude is a grace that I pray for!
Thank you, Diane.
Loretta, thank you for writing this, especially your comments about to do lists!
I want to put:
Talk and listen to God
at the top of my to do list today!
I have a candle burning near me and I must blow it out for the next part of my day. Thank you for reminding me it’s been there, burning. I’ve only just been able to reclaim a certain part of my life and in that past life, I always had candles and incense burning. It was an acknowledgment of God and a devotion toward Him. I’ve lit them recently out of habit because my past is so far away. Thanks for reminding me of what it’s always meant.
Thank you, Loretta. Your writing of Pryers Rising is one more reminder for me of how to experience prayer in the smoke rising from the candle. Your suggestion of leaving our busyness in the hands of our Lord is also appropriate for me Thank you for sharing your thoughts
We all have plenty of busyness in this world. Thank you for taking the time to comment.
Oh how I needed that today. Now I will forever think of this every time I blow out a candle!
Beautifully written as I was drawn into your experience of prayer as I also visualize my prayers as incense rising to the Trinity. Unfinished business becomes busyness that takes us away from time with our Lord – may we be enabled to leave the unfinished business in the hands the One who created us and gifted us to do God’s will. Blessings.
The examen for today could not be more “right on”. We are planning our 50th wedding anniversary celebration for Nov. 26 & I woke up with my head swimming thinking of all the “things” I need to accomplish today. This examen will be my anchor for the coming weeks.
Roberta, congratulations on so many years of marriage. You are like the candle that continues to burn on and on!
Blessings to you.