“Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.” — Albert Schweitzer

This quote has been reverberating in my consciousness in these opening days of January 2009. It seems so easy for our inner flame to go out.

The flame that is our hope, our tender dreams, our belief that the world is a lovely and precious place, that we are needed and are precious too. It only takes a moment — an encounter with a vibrant and loving person for the flame to spring back to life. It’s like magic isn’t it?

I’m sure you have experienced this too. It may be a dreary day, or a spate of inner bad weather when nothing is going right.

Maybe the pain re-emerges, or it feels like the arthritis has you by the back of the neck and won’t let go. Then the phone rings, or you open your e-mail, and there is a word, a voice, a message.

Sometimes it isn’t from a human being, but comes from your window, your pet, a flash of color, a half-remembered dream. You read a passage in a book, you see a painting, or hear some music. In that moment you are re-connected to life.

In spite of everything you feel the phrase, All is well. Your inner light flickers and then steadies.

Schweitzer reminds us to be grateful to those people who make this happen.

Oh yes — that means we slow down and receive what is given, and offer a breath of thanks.

His words also suggest  that we notice when someone is contributing a gift. That can be the trickiest part — we get habituated to our inner dimness; it begins to feel normal to live in a half-light.  When the breath comes to light the flame, we may resist. It feels as if too much is asked of us.

What would it be like for you to allow that light to emerge? To receive the gift of hope and love and openness?

One of the immediate benefits that I have seen is that those who receive light become the ones who can share it. They re-light the lost flames of those they come into contact with. I know doctors who do this, and nurses, and especially other arthritis sufferers.

You are probably one of those folks — the CreakyJoints community is full of them. But we remember that it is a two-step process. In order to pass on the flame, we need to receive it, feel its warmth, allow ourselves to bask in the gift, and give thanks to those who re-light our faith and hope.

Offer your gratitude, spoken or unspoken to someone today. Then be in the business of lighting the flames of others:  your children, your co-workers … the cashier you are handing your credit card to, the friend who calls needing to talk.

It’s a two-step, and you can dance this dance anytime you choose.