“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
     — Edith Wharton

It is winter.  The days are short, the clouds are plentiful, and the world certainly needs some light.

As I sit here, recovering from a sinus infection, my energy just a bit low, I am reminded that no matter how we might wish we could light the whole world, there are limits to how much one person can do when she does it alone.

Sometimes we are the candle; and our light and love and energy just overflow, touching everything and everyone around us.  Sometimes our personal flame burns low — and sometimes that is our norm, especially when we take on a lifestyle that demands a huge amount of energy, tolerance, and love.  It is good to know just how brightly our candle is burning each day so that we do not take on more lightbearing responsibility than we are able to deliver.

Sometimes we are the mirror.  I’ve always thought of this as a sort of sun and moon relationship, where the sun contributes all of the light and the moon just sits there passively and waits for the sun to light it up.  As I thought of being the mirror today, I realized that the mirror has many opportunities to deliver light to the dark corners.

It is not a cut and dried, cause and effect, one-on-one relationship like the sun and the moon that gives the mirror purpose.  Sometimes, especially when the mirror feels low on energy, people with the energy to be the candle make frequent visits and bring their light with them.  It is not important for the mirror to take in enough light right now to assume the role of the candle.  What is important, as the mirror collects the light of a thousand candles, is that the mirror remembers to let that light bounce in all directions and to be the delivery system that spreads good things to the world.

Last year at this time, I had asked a whole bunch of people to join in a card shower for my dad’s 91st birthday.  I wanted to do something special for what turned out to be his last birthday celebration; and I simply did not have enough energy to do it on my own.  A whole bunch of candles joined in and sent their love, their encouragement, and their stories of how we became friends to my dad.  I was only the mirror that captured their light and reflected it in another direction; but when the event was over, Dad’s own candle burned brighter — and so did mine.

I think about this today, because a good friend (you know who you are) is planning a similar birthday milestone celebration for someone she loves dearly.  I can see, more clearly that I admit in myself, how hard this woman works every single day to bring love, light, compassion, and energy to her family.  I can’t imagine how she could conjure up enough celebration in the dark days of winter to satisfy her desire to celebrate the life of someone she loves.  Instead, she has given many of us the opportunity to send a bit of light and a lot of celebration to her sister.

And I know that my friend, the mirror in this celebration, will capture the light that arrives with each card and send it bouncing all over the room.

Thank you, my friend, for reminding me that being a mirror is not less than being a candle.  Sometimes it makes us just radiant.