Within reach of where I sit at my desk is a candle. I keep it nearby for those occasions when I want to keep a prayer concern going for longer than I can remain focused on it consciously, and where the flame (and sometimes the fragrance) will catch my attention over the course of its lighting to bring me back to the reason I lit it in the first place. It's my version of Paul's admonishment to pray without ceasing. Well, it's one version.
This morning I lit the candle for Shelby Wilkie, the niece of a friend and colleague. Shelby was killed by her husband two years ago, and this week he goes on trial for her murder. She was in the process of leaving him as his physical abuse toward her not only jeopardized her life, but that of their infant daughter.
It has been agonizing to witness the impact of this tragedy from afar (my friend lives in Michigan, her niece was in in North Carolina), but distance does not lessen the importance of being present to and for my friend in whatever way I can, nor does it prevent me from adding my voice to those who seek a world where anger doesn't translate as violence, and every human being is empowered to feel significant and worthy.
As the court seeks justice for Shelby, I invite each of us to do at least one thing today to affirm a person whose confidence may be low, to extend a hand to someone who is isolated, to embrace someone who has withdrawn, to speak for someone who can't find his or her voice, and to love, by whatever means available, those we hold dear, and those we keep at a distance.
Connect, smile, hug, reach. For the Shelbys of this world, and for us all.