They have finally removed the Christmastime candles we kept in the front windows at Grace Church. They looked cheerful for several months but their time came and went and now they are ready to be stored until next Advent.
But not the candle in the parlor that looks north toward Salem End Road. It's a battery-run candle that has kind of a subtle, orange "flame." It is in the window of our church for the same reason that there is an electric candle in my window here at home.
What's that about? Well, I'm not the first to have a candle in the window. It is a pretty good metaphor for waiting for someone. I think I put it there years ago when we in Needham first knew that a young man from Needham was deployed to Afghanistan to drive the Taliban out and find Osama bin Laden.
The world was caving in. Everyone seemed to think it was a great idea to go to war. In those days some found their place in serving in the military. They chose to put themselves in harm's way.
Maybe it mattered that we knew the kid slightly. He was a lanky kid I maybe coached some long ago soccer season. I'm pretty sure he's still living, so this isn't one of those stories of loss. He is just one of the many "someones" who signed up, and shipped out.
Needham lit up like Christmas. There were candles all up and down every street. Like I said, after awhile, it wasn't about the kid, whom few of us knew. People just needed to wish him well, to salute him, and to demonstrate that they awaited his return.
The lights have gone out in Needham since then. I don't see them outside of December. But I don't know how to say it's no longer a good idea or a meaningful act. There are still those who are away, still those I can't forget about, still those who are awaited. So, as Juliet says, we'll "leave a light on."