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A Prayer before Candle-lighting, by Chaya Kaplan-Lester

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Please God
Let me light
More than flame tonight.

More than wax and wick
and sliver stick of wood.
More than shallow stream of words
recited from a pocket book.

But rather with this touch of torch
and spell of prayer
let me light a way towards You
let me dare
to radiate
a rapt request
that with this lamp
the world will rest
a stilling hand on pounding heart
and take a breath
– a pause
– to start
to appreciate
the state of things
…just as they are

And spill this light
to stain the sheets
so feverishly inscribed
with what the future will bring.

Washed away in what’s today
– present, patient, allowing space.

The ache for arrival laid to rest
our wreck un-rectified…as of yet.

Yet rest us well
in humbling fact
that we are made replete with lacks
The future’s but an ornament
on bounding limbs of present tense.

All force and foist
of fists and fights
flooded out by candle-light
incandescent with acceptance
– allowance made for imperfections.

We offer up our Sabbath rest
Forbearance on our table set.

A chance for us to savor food
to honor all
to prize, to prove
that there’s matter higher
than a week of labor
than lofty goals and courting favor.

For a match-box and a bit of wax
can top and tumble all of that.

So as sun sets
we raise a blaze.
We offer praise.

As light leans in
and grips go lax
our ache for future
slips into the past.

Arrival, a candle.
Impatience, in vain.
The World to Come
has come and come undone
by flame.

We are grateful to Chaya Kaplan-Lester for graciously sharing her prayer for candle-lighting with a CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported license, along with her d’var torah for the parsha Ki Tissa.

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