Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dipping Candles

In the last few months my mantra has been "dipping candles," "dipping candle." A funny phrase, but this is how it came to be:

When I was about ten or so my mother took my sisters and I on a very memorable field trip to Old Bedford Village. (Did you know I was homeschooled?) I think we each got to pick two different period crafts to learn and one of my choices was the candle-making class. Oh I could almost be in that cold, dark, drafty, 19th century home right now! A woman in period dress stood by the vat of hot wax with her long strings of wicks and showed us how to dip the wicks into the wax and wait for the wax to set before dipping again, and again, and again. Then it was our turn to try.

It took me by surprise the patience required to make one candle. I'm sure I wondered if we'd ever get anywhere and if I would leave the class with a finished product. Sure enough, by the end of the class we each had a candle (and true to my nature, mine was probably the largest -- don't laugh sisters). I kept that candle for years and years.

Now I think of it almost daily -- when I feel what's the use of reviewing times tables one more time, or calling a child back to fix a chore one more time, or sitting to listen to a struggling reader one more time, or praying for change one more time. Or I wonder what is the use of doing a science lesson when my kids will probably forget most of it (as I sheepishly admit was the case when I was a kid). Over and over ideas of what's the use run through my mind despite knowing the truth that these things matter.

But it's like dipping candles, over and over, the repetition, one more time, a little wax sticks, one more time, something else holds on. This word picture is helping to hold my impatience at bay. My kids, my own life, isn't an instant finished product (if only!!!).

And I'm my own case in point -- do I remember all the details of that field trip more than twenty five years ago? The dates that were recited, the information I was supposed to remember? No. But something stuck. Another layer on the candle that became a deep love for experiencing history. Most important of all, the principle that things take time stuck deep inside and resurfaced in the past few months, helping me to keep dipping candles so to speak with my children.

So thanks, mom, for persevering with us! By God's grace I will keep up this work with faith that every time I dip the candle just a little more wax sticks.


elizabeth said...

that's so true and so needful to remember! it is being faithful 'in the little things'... take heart!

Home Meadows said...

What a nice post and so true!