Candlelight Metamorphosis

May 17, 2010
By , lexington, MA
The decision was between two colleges. “This could change my life forever”, she thought.

One college would lead her to continue a life of high pressure, anxiety, and utmost performance. She could be guaranteed an excellent job after college. She would receive and extraordinary education. People would revere her. Well, the blind ones would.

Or she could choose to be mediocre and go to an easier school. Average. Fight for a job out of college. Get a good education. Be relaxed. Enjoy life a little. People might see her as only ordinary. Well, the blind ones would.

“You’ve worked so hard up to this point! Isn’t the choice obvious?” her friends would say. Her answer was, “I have worked so hard up to this point to realize it’s not worth it. Life’s not worth this craziness.”

Maria stepped onto the newly waxed beige tiles of the high school. Panic arose in her chest, raging in all directions, and spreading rampantly like a wild fire. It did every time she was reminded of the place. Pressure swirled around her, misting all her senses with uneasiness and fear. Walking through the crowds of the hallway, the words SAT, GPA, and Ivy League bounced between her tired ears. She was driven, diligent, and relentless. But she was also blind.

Maria was sensitive, gentle, and compassionate. She had struggled with anxiety for years now, with bouts of severe depression and hopelessness that came along with the pain. Every day was an immense struggle. She felt trapped in a dark forest with no path outward path. Somehow she always persisted. She worked hard to earn those A’s in school, but she always wondered, “Is it worth it?”
It was the Saturday before Easter and the whole family was at the Easter Vigil mass. All Maria could think about was how much homework she had and how little time she had to do it. She stared at the crucifix before her as the lights went out. The sanctuary went black except for the hundreds of tiny lights that glowed across a sea of believers in the pews. As the first reading began, her candle flickered before her eyes, pulling them closer, mesmerizing them. As the angelic words surrounded her, Maria’s mind crept farther from its worries. She wandered free from anxiety for a moment, and breathing the sweet incense, she drifted away from the cruel world. But instinct then kicked in. Maria felt a cold punch in the face as she found herself pulled back to her thoughts of school, the pressure to do well, and the intense competition. It was so sudden, she instantly forgot the feeling of tranquility.
As the second reading began, she felt something hot on her finger and glanced down to see her candle wax dripping meditatively. Immediately, the candlelight caught her attention again. This time as she stared into the flame, Maria could feel not only its light radiating, but she could feel the warmth of her family sitting next to her as well. She remembered her childhood: curling up on her parents’ comfy laps with her little brother, listening to them tell make-believe stories of fairies, witches, and trolls. She closed her eyes and felt their kindness, comfort, and protection. There was something magical about it. More slowly this time, her thoughts returned to her worries and panic. A calm sensation lingered in her blood for a moment before it seeped out of her body like when a child holds water in his hands, but it escapes through the cracks of his innocent fingers.
By the third reading, Maria was instantly captivated as her candle called to her mind. She watched it as she heard the lector’s words sink into her ears and all the way to her heart, filling it like a hot air balloon.
She felt something she had never felt before. It felt as though warm liquid flowed through her muscles, cleansing them along the way. As though there were a shield surrounding her entire body and nothing bad could enter. It felt like her heart was no longer filled with longing or pain. Tears trickled down her soft cheeks in the darkness when she realized what it was. It was God’s unconditional love. She felt it wrap around her as a fleece blanket would swaddle a newborn.

The choir began to sing and as she chimed in, she heard her family and the rest of the Church join together in unison. She was almost certain she could hear a faint choir above them all, composed of a multitude of angels. It was a secret sound, something only she could hear.
Stepping through the Church doors, the choir of angels did not disappear. They remained singing in her heart forever after. She realized why she practiced her religion in the first place. She understood how God fit into her life. He loved her no matter what. She would love others as He loved her. Maria lived for God, not grades and school. God and her life were no longer separate; they then joined as one. And so, when the time came for the college decision, Maria turned to God. She knew who she was now, so it didn’t matter what others thought. Maria was drawn toward true happiness and meaning of life. So when she chose the easier school, it was at this moment that Maria was no longer blind.

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