National Cathedral Washington DC
“It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt1
Candles are symbolic, they bring light to a dark space, the smoke of a candle rises taking with it the essence of the room, pausing to light a candle gives one time to think good thoughts. I am not a practitioner, or for that matter a real believer in any organized religion - but I like pausing in churches to light a candle. The symbolism of stopping to think of something positive, and too bring a flicker of light into a sea of darkness, makes a difference for me. The first time I lit a candle in a church was in Paris. The first "Gulf War" had started just as I was leaving on that trip. I was in Notre Dame, I lit a candle with a wish that the war would be short and merciful.
Jay jokes, that he is the Catholic, but I am the candle lighter, maybe I am channeling his mother. I do it because it makes me feel good. I always make a nice donation, I hope that the funds are put to good use, and not used to spread fear or hate.
Some of the churches have done to electric lights instead of candles. Electric is cleaner and less of a fire hazard, but for me it is not the same. There is something essential about the physical act of lighting a candle and watching it flicker and burn, and watching the candles exhaust the wax and flicker out that electric will never replace.