red candle burning in darkness
By Nancy Bell

This piece is part of a series offered by the GilChrist team during the month of October about practices of healing, in honor of GilChrist’s 25th anniversary on October 15.

Candles have been part of the daily life of our neighborhood since monks came to St. Gregory’s Abbey. Long before the current residents came—hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago—early people sent messages to the Creator by way of smoke from their Spirit fires.

At GilChrist, our main vigil candles are three: for all those who are ill (red candle holder), for those who have died (blue candle holder), and for blessing as we all go about our everyday—and sometimes not-so-everyday—lives (white or clear candle holder).

As I light these candles and see them glowing brightly, I am aware that energy—if not smoke—emanating from the warmed air rising from these and other candles lighted in spiritual centers and private homes throughout our neighborhood is carrying loving intentions that “all shall be well” to what Leonard Cohen called “the Great Beyond.” Warmth and love reach out in ever-widening circles throughout our immediate world and into the vast cosmos. How can we not be well when the simple beautiful act of lighting a candle with love connects us across space and time to all life?


GilChrist retreat center logo with white pine sprig

GilChrist is the public retreat center of the Fetzer Institute. We support the Institute’s mission of helping build the spiritual foundation for a loving world by preserving a contemplative environment for healing self, society, and the natural world. We warmly welcome both groups and individuals and people of all faiths and affiliations.