Monday, November 12, 2007

flickering light of friendship


Candles have a way of warming up the ambience of a room. Just a couple of flickering candles glowing on a mantlepiece make a room feel so much more inviting. Though I sometimes light them in the summer on the back deck, my real urge to light candles doesn't seem to appear until the fall. Maybe because it starts getting darker earlier. Maybe it's because it's colder outside at night and somehow they make a difference.

Amazing too that only one simple flickering light can make a difference. At the camp I worked at as a camp counsellor when I was young, there was a tradition that was followed every "last night" of camp. After the big banquet dinner, all the camper groups and their counsellors would congregate on the beach to share a letter that each group had written while sitting surrounding a blazing campfire.


As we arrived, we were given an unlit plain white candle with a piece of tinfoil wrapped around the bottom of it. We would circle the beach area with the little ones sitting up front and the older campers closing in behind them. Then, one group after another would have a chance to read their letter to all. The letters varied............humourous, lyrical, serious, but always heartfelt and hopeful..........kids describing the special times that they had shared living together away from home, away from family all the while developing friendships, some of which would become lifelong.

In between the readings, the whole camp would sing familiar campfire songs for the last time. Songs of the kind of spiritual friendship which makes life at a camp such a special place.

And as we shared our stories and many laughs, the blazing fire would begin to die down. The sun would begin to disappear. The evening would become solemn. Once the letters were finished being read, Skip the Camp Director would collect them all. He'd then roll them up in a tube and place them in a plastic container to be buried, only to be dug up the following year to be read aloud during the first night of camp. By the time this ritual was completed, all that would be left of the campfire would be silent embers.....enough though to light a candle.


Skip would then take his candle, bend down to the embers while talking about how one little light can make the whole difference. He would light his candle, and then turn to his wife "Nish" to help light hers. From there, they would pass their light onto the counsellors. The counsellors would turn to light their campers candles. Before you knew it, the cold darkness was gone.

If I close my eyes right now and picture the scene from my memory.......I see glowing faces of the kids quietly watching their own candle flicker from the breeze, in awe of being a part of such a simple yet powerful lesson on sharing. And in the background, the older kids would quietly start singing one more song as they huddled together, holding their candlelight, feeling the warmth of many summers of friendship.

Mmmmmmm I want to linger
hmmmmm a little longer
mmmmmmmm a little longer here with you.
mmmmmmm it's such a perfect night
mmmmmmm it doesn't feel quite right
mmmmmmm that this should be my last with you.

The song ends as soft humming continues. Each group files past the firepit to throw their candle onto the embers. Quietly campers and counsellors head back to their tents for a last night together...............a quick turning glance at the glowing resurrected flames which reveal the tears streaming down the faces of friends......arm in arm......quietly holding onto the magic of the moment.

One flickering light shared.
Flickering hope
Flickering happiness
Flickering friendship
One flickering light spreads companionship.
The warmth of the candle needs to be shared.
The prompt this week on Writer's Island is friendship. I wrote this piece last fall. When I read it again tonight for the first time since I posted it, I was transported back to my camp counsellor days, to the last night campfires and to the warm friends I shared my candle with.

15 comments:

Neo said...

Awareness - That is a great story. I remember a few moments like that with the campfires at camp. There was just something about the fire and being young pondering what the future would bring or the secrets that you could share with friends that seems timeless...... I bookmarked that link and will check it out a bit more later on today.

Peace,

- Neo

The House on Big Island said...

...and canoes, silently floating atop the lake - torches smoking and casting bright, flickering light into the depths and the black of water at night - stopping - turning - around - across - forward and back - with no sound, not a breath, quietly guided by silent paddlers...just blue canoes.

Memories of friendships made and feelings shared...times of lives and maybe some despair...a world long gone but never lost...held in hearts and minds forever.

Camp Kawabi....

Good Night.

Br David said...

All the darkness in all the world can not put out the light of one small candle.

Awareness said...

Neo. You captured the feel and essence of a campfire. I always thought it would be the best setting for counselling because the fire has a way of allowing free floating thoughts and comfort in expressing them.

Daisy. :) I'm right there with you. Beautiful description of silently spoken kinship.

Brother David. Just that one candle carries with it enough hope for us all.

Gypsy said...

What a beautiful story and such a touching ritual. I love candles and use them all the time. They do seem so much more comforting in the cooler weather.

gautami tripathy said...

Candle light does seem to have warmth. One feels so comfortable, more receptive.

Marja said...

Oh your storytelling is a delight. I've got simular memories of the many camps I had as a scouting leader. I was always in the campfire team. At the end everybody got a tealight (hope it's good english) We lighted it and sang "this is our little ...light , I'm going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine all the time. The kids loved it and friendships were formed on these camps as well, also between the leaders.

tumblewords said...

A magical story - full of 'awareness' and friendship! Lovely! The images are terrific, as well!

Open Grove Claudia said...

I love campfires, but here in South Western US they don't exist anymore. The fire risk is too high for camp fires. There are kids who have never had camp fires. Very sad.

Awareness said...

gypsy....it was a very touching ritual....one that I'm sure every kid who experienced it still remembers. Over the years, the letters have been bound into books which are such fun to look at and reminisce over.

marja.....tealight is correct :) Your English is very good. I know the song you refer to. It's one of my favourites. Bruce Springsteen did a version of it during his concert in Dublin which was recorded. I LOVE listening to it.

Tumble...thank you. I took the candle pic late last night after I had decided which story to share. It was sitting on my mantel.

Claudia........perhaps we should have an exchange. I'll take them out to the beach on the Bay of fundy and get a rip roaring campfire going! Marshmallows and hot dogs provided!

Charles LeBlanc said...

Humbug!!!!! Irving is paying ya for this??

:P

Awareness said...

charles! You know the Irvings are too cheap to pay me. I'm simply a volunteer blogger in search of an editor. :)
You're such a scrooge......! Did you get your camera fixed?

Just Jen said...

A year ago? that worked out well for this week's prompt! What a beautiful song, I bet there were alot of tears that night!
Thanks for swinging by my blog, I would love to read that story that boy made up about his soldier. It sounds really good!
The unknown soldier....

Charles LeBlanc said...

lol

just having fun....camera is fine....

I think???

Stay tuned!!!!

Lucy said...

How beautiful and vivid this picture you've painted.
I've never been to camp but now I feel I was standing there holding a candle too. thanks! :)