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The Lighted Candle by Peter Menkin

by Peter Menkin  
1/18/2009 / Poetry

Sunday, February 18, 2007:

As we Enter Lent before Easter, a reflection and Poem on a Mystery I experienced.

Ash Wednesday and Lent itself are coming very soon. I look forward to being in Church, the ashes marked on my forehead, the acts of devotion and even penance in preparation for Easter. The poem posted is an older one you will find on my website, . The story behind it is of an experience at All Souls Church in Berkeley, California USA. Berkeley is near San Francisco.

At All Souls there is a Chapel where communion is given. A friend of mine, Jan, who with her Guide Dog attends Eucharist there from time to time (atttending Eucharist three or four times a week and then on Sunday) likes to light a votive candle. I was with her, sitting nearby, waiting for communion to begin. As she lit the candle and prayed I noticed a new religious experience. This unusual, mystical experience came over me as I prayed and realized the prayer she offered through the flame spoke. I did not hear the words, but an ethos that was connected to the communion preparation. So this poem:

by Peter Menkin

Listening to the lighted

candle. The flame

communicates devotion,

prayerful notices.

These conversations

from vigil at Easter time remain.

An engagement with God,

fiery envelopment.

You Holy Spirit

elicit embrace of unknowable vastness.

First the flame listens;

later all week the heart be open,

love invites

on the road. Feed us;

in the breaking of bread.

Take the cup.

A moment and minutes

that love offers;

this is the sweet enduring spirit.


the ongoing conversation.

In my lay work as an Oblate of New Camaldoli, and in my related licensed Lay Ministry Work from my parish in Mill Valley, California, I visit people bringing communion. I am moved by the intimacy of these private services offered with "The Book of Common Prayer," and communion with wine and wafer. These words from "Communion under Special Circumstances":

"Jesus said, 'abide in me, as I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love'" (John 15:4-5a, 8-9)

I am moved by these words every time I hear or say them. Perhaps you know them, too.

Audio reading of the poem by the poet is here:

Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA where he writes poetry. He is an Oblate of Immaculate Heart Hermitage, Big Sur, CA and that means he is a Camaldoli Benedictine. He is 64 years of age as of 2010.

Copyright Peter Menkin

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