Posts Tagged 'candles'

Set the Table

My dining room table ready for women’s group.

My Mom used to have this “trick”: Five minutes before my dad was due to come home from work (you could set your watch by his arrival, it was so predictable,) she would quickly set the table for dinner and put empty pans on the stove.

“You need to give the impression dinner is on the way.” Was her explanation. Sure enough, it worked. Dad seemed satisfied by the hope of dinner and one task was already done.

I still use the same principle. Not to “trick” Tom or anyone else but to still announce, Something good is on the way!

There is something about a table set to serve that wakes up more than appetite. A feeling of invitation, welcome, careful preparation, and honor are some of the things I feel when I see a table set for me.

What is your response to seeing a table set for you?

Table on the island.

A breakfast table can have the same effect.

Come and get it!

Or an outdoor one.

Feast in New Mexico with my son and daughter-in-law.

Somehow, once again, it’s the little props, the candle, type of napkins, the choice of color, arrangement of plates that paint the picture. Nothing costly or elaborate, just a bit of forethought to elevate eating to dining.

Feed your spirit as well as your body. Set the table, for your family, your friends, yourself.

Bon Appetit!

Hope for the best,


Candle Prayers

IMG_3353When I was a girl, my mom would often tell me she would “light a candle” for whatever prayer on her lips that seemed to need a boost. Sure enough, I would watch her slip her dime into a box and light one of the red candles on the rack in the back of church.

I didn’t think much about candle prayers again until I attended a baby shower where each of the guests grabbed a votive candle as we left. We were to light it when the labor began for the mom to remember to pray for her. I loved the idea and lit it as soon as the text came in.

A few years ago, I visited the beautiful Holy Cross Chapel in Sedona, AZ. To my surprise, I found myself reaching in my wallet for a couple of bills to put in the box so I could light a candle for my urgent prayer request in that season. Just like my mom. A few months later, that answer came.


Recently when one of our daughters asked for prayer for some little boys who were missing in a forest, I pulled out one of my battery candles, sat in on the kitchen table and turned it on for the duration of the vigil. My prayer remained as steady as the burning light until they were found. Back in the drawer it went until the next urgent need.

Is the candle magic? Not at all. Does it help me pray? Absolutely,

My candle is going back on the table soon. Of course I’m already praying but the glowing flame will keep me focused on the eternal light.

Do you use candles in your prayers?

Hope for the best.


Small props = Big Help

I just turned over my beautiful sandal-wood hour-glass to write this post.  I could easily look at the clock or set a timer to gauge the hour but using this prop is a more delightful measuring of time.

In my jeans pocket is another one of my props…a pedometer.  Like most of us, I am trying to get more exercise and watching those steps tick out one-by-one is a great motivator to park the car a little farther away or take the stairs.  Of course, I would still be trying to “walk more” but this little device makes it so much more fun.

“Prop” : a person or thing that is a source of support or assistance. (Oxford Dictionary.)  I need a lot of props to get through a day.

My morning prop of Chinese tea in a colorful mug along with a ½ of whole wheat English muffin with blackberry jam initiates my hour with God. The “Secret Garden” Pandora station prop tells me it is time to write. A hand-painted crystal goblet keeps me hydrated. Draping my colorful stole around my neck informs me I am a chaplain now.

In my book, Rhythms of Renewal , I wrote…  Many rituals include props of some sort to help enhance the experience.  Some more examples are:

  • Candles: Candles are lit at the beginning of a ritual and blown out at the end.  The Jewish Sabbath meal on Friday nights begins with this ritual.  Many dinners, personal ceremonies, conversations start this way.
  • Clothing: Marking the day to evening transition by changing into comfortable clothing, stepping into stretchy clothes before a morning exercise routine, donning a fun apron to start preparing food are all examples of clothing as props.
  • Food/drink:  Sharing a toast, breaking the bread, and pouring the tea are all components of certain rituals.  Think of the role of a cake in a birthday or wedding celebration, oyster soup on Christmas Eve, ham on Easter. When food is scripted, there is usually a ritual involved!
  • Music: Many rituals include a background score.   Lacing up the shoes and choosing the playlist gets many a runner out the door.  Classical music eases bill paying, dining can be enhanced by jazz in the background, creative writing encouraged to flow with movie soundtracks, and praying more focused with Gregorian chants.

Most of  life’s tasks can be accomplished perfunctorily but why not add a pleasant prop?

I would love to hear about some of your props in the comments section.

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