Fire plays an important part in the spiritual practice of humans. We've been lighting fires to invoke our gods since we figured out how to strike a spark. It's a common thread in humanity's effort to connect with the Transcendent, whatever name and face we give it.
As Episcopalians, many of us have lived out lives in churches with candles burning. Newer Episcopalians find this practice a beautiful addition to their worship experience.
The Christian use of votive candles as an act of private devotion is centuries old and as new as the most recent tragedy. The grassroots expression of feelings too deep for words are commonly expressed by flowers, notes, photographs, stuffed animals and candles left at the scene.
Visit the Canadian Chapel, on the south side of the Narthex for our own votive station, pictured here. If you have never used votives in your personal devotions, there is no right or wrong way. You can light candles for people, pets, world peace, healing, gratitude, etc. God doesn't need the reminder, but often we do. It can be a comforting gesture in the midst of a difficult or grateful time, especially remembering that our small flame is part of a gentle global blaze of faith.