Is Your Candle Lit?

by Pat

 

One of the loved dialogue lines in Beauty and the Beast is in the episode Dead of Winter, the story of Winterfest. Vincent looks at Catherine and asks if he can ‘lead her through the dark’ and she replies, ‘there is no darkness when you are with me.’ And later in the ceremony, Father intones the words, “even the greatest darkness is nothing, so long as we share the light.’ Just what are we sharing when we ‘share the light?’ Why could the presence of one individual banish the darkness for another?

The centerpiece of Beauty and the Beast is love. This theme is underscored time and again throughout the show in a variety of ways. “Love is everything,” points out Samantha, one of the tunnel children. Catherine says more than once, “with love, anything is possible.” The light that is shared and whose presence within can banish the darkness for another cannot be anything other than love.

Mention love and many think of romantic love. The giving of two hearts, each to another, is a deeply felt love. This total commitment to and complete acceptance of another can truly light the way to a life filled with joy and contentment, regardless of the vagaries that life presents along the way. Not easily attained, but richly won, such love is to be treasured, protected, nurtured and celebrated.

Yet Beauty and the Beast would not be such a memorable show, so beloved by many, if all it was about was a romance story. Instead, this show teaches us about the many facets of love, and the power that love has to change lives.

In the beginning, the tunnel community weaves together a tenuous fabric meant to provide safety and survival. ┬áTogether they learn how individual threads are strengthened when woven together in support of one another. As Father tells Eric, the child in A Children’s Story, one of the important rules of the tunnel community is the one where you must promise to help others when needed, and to accept help from others when it is offered to you. This simple sounding rule requires us to love our fellow human beings in order to offer compassionate help without judgment and to love ourselves to share our vulnerability when we need help from others. Together with this love, the community is stronger than any one of its members. The life they weave together becomes more than mere survival. They gain riches most of us envy, and their lives are filled with purpose. It is this love that shines the brightest light at the darkest times as we realize we are not alone.

If you have ever met a person in whose presence you feel both an amazing energy and a peaceful serenity, you have met the power of loving acceptance. It is a gift to be accepted where you are in your life’s journey and as you are in your personhood. Vincent embodies this type of love. He accepts his fellow tunnel residents and sees them as they are, not as he might wish them to be. He supports them as they may seek to grow and change; he lends a compassionate ear to listen; and he celebrates other’s good fortune even when the outcome is unobtainable for him. Vincent celebrates the life he has been given, even if he cannot understand why he was given it. Vincent wants nothing more than to embrace love in all its myriad forms, and with love, to embrace life in all its richest potential.

Perhaps this is why the character of Vincent is so inspiring to the fans of this show. He casts such a bright light of love that many who experienced darkness in their own lives found their lives brightened, even if only for the hour while viewing the episode. Vincent has a way of helping us to look at our lives differently, and to encourage and inspire us to love.

It is the Winterfest celebration where the community acknowledges the power of love and what love has meant to the community. It is a celebration that remembers the time before, when each was adrift upon their own sea of uncertainty, and the time after when ‘I’ became ‘we,’ when alone and weak became community strong. They chose the candle with its bright flame as the symbol of what they had learned. Likewise, they chose to pass the flame, one to another, spreading the light both literally and figuratively. The candle for them is a fitting symbol of love sending out rays of hope in any darkness it encounters.

How bright a candle can you light? And whose darkness have you helped brighten today?

 

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