Whenever we go to the mall, or even just to some of them, you can find me in one of two places. The bookstore or at Yankee Candle. We love the Housewarmer candles at my place. Even when Madame Wife and I were just starting our life together and working at fast food joints, we’d wait until there was a sale on votives, and then leave with a tray of them. I bring this up because I’m starting a thoughtful reading of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s “Transformation in Christ” and his first chapter titled Readiness to Change is deftly illustrated by an image common in my home.
Here’s Dietrich: “Readiness to change, taken in this sense, is the first prerequisite for the transformation in Christ. But, in addition thereto, more is needed: a glowing desire to become a new man in Christ; a passionate will to give oneself over to Christ. And this, again, presupposes a state of fluidity, as it were: that we should be like soft wax, ready to receive the imprint of the features of Christ.”
Wonderful thought. If you have ever held wax in your hand until it was warm enough to become pliable, then you know what he is saying. Solid, yet yielding, in that state you can leave the mold of your fingerprint on its surface.
But speaking further, von Hildebrand says, “the more one is transformed in Christ, the deeper and more unlimited his readiness to change beyond the point reached, the more he understands the dimension of depth in which that transformation must extend…”
What will the Beloved require of me?
When the wax is warm and able to hold a fingerprint, it isn’t far from cooling off and becoming hard again, or from being wiped smooth so to receive another imprint. But what about the candle that has long been at the task of being burned? When the flame is first set, the wick climbs high until its base comes in contact with the wax, and a small pool forms beneath. As the flame mixes oxygen with wax, the pool spreads out in width and depth. Leave it long enough, and you’ll find that all the wax has liquefied and the whole house is filled with the scent with which the wax has been infused.
If you would be a candle, that flame is the Holy Spirit and the wick is your willingness to change; your passion to completely surrender. It should run straight through the center of you, down to the very depth of who you are. That tiny tongue of hot light affixed to your constant will, shall dance until you consciously choose to blow it out.
I want to keep the flame burning until the whole jar is nothing but fragrant liquid.