Last Lent, the children and I were part of a church group that took several months to study the meaning of the items in a typical Orthodox Christian home prayer corner. We took an interactive approach to each part, learning about icons, incense, the Bible, and candles.
For the lesson on candles, the focus was on how we offer ourselves to God when we light a prayer candle. The candle is a sort of self-offering. To explore the idea, we used gold beeswax sheets to make little designs that we could stick to small beeswax candles. In our family, the little candles became a staple on birthday cakes and Vasilopitas and Name Day cakes and feast day cakes. The children connected to the ideas of the candles as self-offering and beautifying our lives through prayerful, virtuous living. This year as Lent began, I realized those well-loved candles had burned down. We were about ready to decorate new candles, when I came across this beautiful Orthodox Christian children’s book on a friend’s blog. I immediately ordered a copy.
In the Candle’s Glow by Elizabeth Crispina Johns fit perfectly with my family’s practice of decorating feast day cake candles!
This beautifully illustrated book shows a prayer candle from bee to billowing prayer. The little girl protagonist, Felicia, is so like my little daughter: She has a hard time being still, though she’s reverent; She thinks concretely about prayer. For a concrete thinker like my dear daughter, the metaphor of the candle flame containing and lifting Felicia’s prayers to God was apt and meaningful.
Since it was time to refresh our special beeswax candle supply, we made an evening of reading the book together and decorating the candles. My daughter loved the story and seemed to connect especially to the way Felicia’s prayers were represented in the candle’s flame. She and I have met twice now to read the book and make more candles. It’s become a way for us to talk about the sacred in terms that are easier to grasp.
In the Candle’s Glow Candle Decorating Activity
In the Candle’s Glow by Elizabeth Crispina Johnson
Small Beeswax Candles (such as these)
Cut small strips of beeswax from the larger decorating sheet to make crosses, dots, Chrismons, and other patterns. Warm the wax between your hands and press onto the beeswax candles.
We save these decorated candles for special cakes at home or to burn in our home prayer corner.
Options: If you would like to use this method to decorate a baptismal candle, adjust the size to a large taper candle. Though the golden decorations are still beeswax, it’s probably best to consult your priest before burning a decorated candle in the prayer stands. It could be a meaningful way to help concrete thinkers (such as persons with autism or persons stuck in grief) to offer themselves more fully in prayer.
I did not receive a free copy of this book or any compensation for this review. I wrote it because I want to share every way I can find to help children with autism connect with the Orthodox Christian faith. The links throughout this post are Amazon affiliate links. Please consider shopping through the links to help support this blog and my family.