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One candle can light thousands more

Detroit Lakes Newspapers columnist Lynn Hummel recently published his fourth book, "The Last Word," a collection of some of his favorite columns from the past 40 years.

In the news last week, we saw pictures of thousands of students, parents and community members in Parkland, Florida, attending a vigil expressing grief, anger and frustration as a result of the school shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 dead, including 14 students. The mass murder was carried out by a 19-year-old former student using an AR-15 assault weapon purchased legally. When arrested, the shooter had multiple ammunition magazines in his possession.

The students and others were crying and comforting one another. The vigil was after dark and the mourners all held candles. This article is not about the insanity of the AR-15 and the insanity of assault weapons in this country, it's about the power and meaning of lit candles.

Lit candles have the power to convey joy, celebration, love, romance, worship, grief, meditation, mourning, comfort, anger, protest and solidarity.

Before a child is two years old, she knows the joy and attention of birthday candles and the fun of making wishes and blowing the candles out.

There is a certain drama that shines from a burning candle. The candle signals that this is a significant event — take it to your heart: It's Christmas; This is a New Year; It's Easter; I love you; Will you marry me?; We are celebrating the life of a person we respected; You have graduated from high school/college; You got a job; Happy Anniversary; I respect you; Let us join forces and march together; I need to be alone to think about this; I will miss you when you're gone; You're a great neighbor; I'm proud of you son/daughter; I'm going to use my candle to light yours and I'm asking you to pass it on. The list goes on — all from the heart.

I have the feeling the candles burning at Parkland, Florida, have not gone out and will not go out. As it is often said — it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Many thousand candles can be lighted from just one. There is too much pain to go away and be forgotten. Time will tell where this story leads.

Order Lynn Hummel's new book, The Last Word (171 articles, 310 pages) by sending $15 plus $3 postage ($10 plus postage for additional books) to Pony Express Books, 1948 Long Bridge Road, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501, or order at: bevlyn@arvig.net.