I just watched a webstream of Vespers at Smith College. One year, when I was at Smith, I participated in the candle-lighting ceremony—it took place at Sage Hall and we lit real candles, one from the other, creating a lovely, flickering chain of light. The program has now moved to a larger venue, with two performances, and the candles are electric; but it remains the same nice beginning to the holidays that I remembered.
At the Benediction tonight, the Dean of Religious Life, Jennifer Walters, asked those in attendance to donate to the Interfaith Winter Shelter. She reminded everyone of the storms that knocked out power to so many in the Pioneer Valley, giving people a taste of deprivation.
Losing one’s home is a reality for more people now than at any other period in my lifetime, and I believe the fear is in the backs of many minds. Still, there is a world of difference between making do without electricity, heat or water and the reality of being homeless. Living through our own 8-day power outage in western RI, I know we entered a survival mode of sorts, but it was the survival of the food we had put away in our freezer that worried us most. We cooked meals on our grill, and ate by candlelight in our own home.
The dean’s call to action, to thinking of others, seems more important than ever. Just as we are personally cutting back on expenditures (including gifts) this was a powerful reminder that we should be extending a hand to those who have truly been hit the hardest.