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Flame in the Heart


Prayer candles

Your true light, alone, O God, burns

to illuminate and not

devour, and such as we would find in

it is everlasting.
—Sister Alma Rose

Once upon a time, we believed in miracles — spiritual miracles. When we were ill, injured, or afflicted with any sort of… [problem], we made appeals to God. We turned to our spiritual guides — our holy men, our priestly purveyors of prayer therapies. We recited prayers prescribed by the church. We turned to healers, medicine men, saints, and the somehow spiritually charged symbols of faith: icons, statues, pictures, and medals. We looked for signs that prayer, faith, religion, belief, and God could heal us. And we found them. Often, they worked wondrously.

Then along came medical science — biology, pharmacology, radiology, and modern surgical practices. Suddenly, we had a pill, a treatment, or an operation for everything that could be cured — scientific miracles. And prayer and faith were shunted to the side, their incredible power forgotten. Never mind that some people got well without science and medicine. Never mind that some people got well even when the treatments and pills failed…. Faith was dismissed as superstition, dismissed with contempt.

Now, everyone has stopped laughing. Now, the very science that they trust is proving what we hoped, what we prayed was true all along. Somehow, for some reason, prayer, faith, and healing work.

Experiment after experiment is showing the connections, raising possibilities, and suggesting that God not only exists and answers prayers, that prayerful “intentions” not only influence physical reality but that prayer, religion, and faith are good for us — good for our health, good for our outlooks, good for our communities, good for our overall physical and mental well-being. The connections are clear. More than two hundred studies prove it. —Kenneth Winston Caine and Brian Paul Kaufman, Prayer, Faith, and Healing: Cure Your Body, Heal Your Mind, and Restore Your Soul

* * * 

The Flame That Is Your Living Soul

fire_in_fireplace_istockWhen Sister Alma Rose was a girl, Daddy Pete would pile logs in the big fireplace of an evening, and Sister Alma Rose and her sisters, Calista, Merrily, and Lorelei, and Vincent and Colleen — who lived with Sister Alma Rose’s family on Hilltop Farm — and their babies, Grace and Henry John and George, would gather by the fire, and Daddy Pete would sometimes, usually, thank God out loud for the peace and abundance and love and health in the home at Hilltop Farm. He always did that in his heart, Sister Alma Rose is certain, and when he spoke the prayer, it was with a voice full of love, and Sister Alma Rose don’t know if Daddy Pete was aware he was talking.

prayer_candles_boxedAnd then everybody would just set quiet and content, even the babies would be silent till they fell asleep, and all those nights the fire would teach lessons without anyone realizing they was learning from that fire.

When Sister Alma Rose was growed up, she set one night by the fire with Cousin Dulcie, and Cousin Dulcie says, softlike, “Look how the flames come together and get stronger.” And Sister Alma Rose looks, and she sees two little flames jump into one flame that’s bigger than the two was when they was separate.

From that day to this, Sister Alma Rose has prayed with candles. She has a little votive in a glass jar for each person she’s praying special for, or sometimes she uses floating candles in great glass bowls.

prayercandlebookShe lights a long taper, and she says, “God, thou art the fuel for the candle that burns in every heart,” and then, one by one, she lights the little candles, and each time she says the person’s name she’s praying for, and she says, “May the candle in thy heart burn brighter, because it is joined by mine, kept alive by the one Source which is our loving God.” And then she prays some more, for their hurts, and when she puts the candles out (she has a pretty brass candle snuffer, she don’t blow them out like on a birthday cake), she says, “God blesses thee, for the flame that is thy living soul burns forever.”

And then she says, “Amen,” and because praying makes her hungry, she goes and fixes herself a little snack.

* * *

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