Once, a fairly long time ago, a Catholic friend of mine was pregnant with her third child, planning her first natural birth- and dismayed to find her baby was breech. She had never had a cesarean, and was feeling rightfully panicked. I told her, "I will light a candle for you", and she stopped, shocked, and said, "but we light candles!"
She couldn't comprehend that as a non believer, I might light a candle too!
Why might I light a candle? Even if I don't believe that light is going straight to heaven, I do believe in what light symbolizes. Light has long been a giver of hope. The warmth of a fire in the dark of night warms our bones, and protects us from what lurks beyond. It eases our fears in the dark. Our first experience in this life is light after 9 months of near dark. When bad times end, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and when life ends, many who have a near death experience report seeing a light, whether physical or hallucinatory, and feeling a sense of calm.
When I light a candle, I hold hope in my heart for all who I light it for, whether it be friends, family, or myself. It is a small action, but sometimes just knowing we're being thought of, and taking a small effort- such as lighting a candle, above and beyond pure thought, mediation, or prayers alone, can be very uplifting in spirit.
My friend went on to have her first birth which wasn't induced. Her baby turned just in time. She was able to breast feed for the first time. Was it a result of my candle? Probably not. Did she feel happy and maybe a little calmer knowing a light burned for her? Absolutely.
I light and hold a candle for all of you today, and a few extras for those who need, well, a little extra light.
Breathe, and be happy.