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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Lights (10/30/08)

TITLE: Light A Candle
By Teresa Lee Rainey


He sat alone in a classroom of twenty loudly anxious students. His heart was racing as the desktop danced to the movement of his jittering knee. Why must he be the unfortunate adult supervising today’s detention?

Looking tentatively around the room, he slowly acknowledged several young faces stealing glances to see what he would do next. None of these students had ever been privileged to sit in his advanced classes and he felt far from prepared for their obvious attempts to ignore any rules of behavior. He remembered another teacher’s words of despair for their futures and wondered if he could possibly be a light of hope in even one of their lives.

Surely there was a way to take control of this rowdy crowd without breaking their excited spirits. After all, there were only thirty minutes before they would be free to go and celebrate the Christmas holiday. It took tremendous restraint to remain calm and not attempt to overpower them. He wondered if his voice could even be heard above their increasing commotion. One thing was certain, something had to be done quickly or he would loose complete control of this crew.

In another desperate scan of the room, he spotted remnants of last night’s Christmas banquet. There, among the scattered remains, was hope. Moving quickly to a pile of discarded candles, he hurriedly placed them, one by one, in a nearby basket. There were exactly twenty-one. As he reached for the final candle, his heart leapt with joy at the sight of a single matchbook.

Realizing that a few students had begun to study his every move, he knew immediate action was necessary.
A brisk walk toward the nearest exit generated harsh laughter from one small group. He heard someone scoff, “He’s so scared of us, he’s running away!”, as he reached for the light switch.

Suddenly, complete darkness silenced the room. Before any commotion could begin, he struck a match. The small flame illuminated his face. The entire class watched as he slowly lit one candle. He took precious care to light the second candle with the first and then place the initial candle on one student’s desk. The same act was carried out with the second and third candle, and again with each candle following, until twenty students sat illuminated in continued silence.

With the final candle lit and in his hand, he returned to the front of the class. After placing an empty basket on his desk, he turned toward twenty faces of anticipation. “I have their attention,” he prayed silently, “please let them see Your light through me”.

Feeling a wave of courage, he began to speak. “Before coming here this afternoon, I heard a rumor that the students I’d be watching were hopelessly wondering toward dark futures. Watching each of you come in this room, all I could see were potential bright lights. I realize you are all anxious to be walking back out that door to begin your Christmas vacation, but please listen closely for the next few minutes.

Think about how dark this room was before that first candle’s light appeared in this room. Imagine that first light represents hope of a brighter future. Once the first candle’s light appeared here with us, it began to shine so brightly that each of you wanted more of it’s light for yourselves. The first candle freely gave it’s light to other candles and they began to shine brightly enough to give light as well. From that first candle, this entire room became free from darkness.

When I was your age, my future seemed destined for darkness. One teacher told me about a light that came to earth as a baby boy, born in a manger long ago. That boy grew to be a brilliant light to be shared with all the world. I chose to take that light for myself that day and my future suddenly became brighter.

As you leave this room today, my hope is that each of you will become as bright as the candle before you. I look forward to seeing each of you return from vacation shining brilliantly. Now you may go, and have a wonderful Christmas.”

His heart still raced as he watched the students slowly stand in silence, pick up their burning candles, and prepare to leave. As each student passed his desk, they simply said, “I’m taking this light with me”. He had never seen more brilliant Christmas lights.

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This article has been read 665 times
Member Comments
Member Date
cindy yarger11/07/08
I liked your theme of reaching out to those who are often just written off. Food for thought.
Mary Alice Bowles11/07/08
Such a beautiful way to show the "Light of the World!"
Carole Robishaw 11/10/08
A very good example of how to shine forth, One small typo

hopelessly wondering toward dark futures.

s/b be wandering not wondering. But it didn't detract from the story at all. thank you