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  • Writer's pictureMJ Rodriguez

Ode to an Oil Lamp

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

O thou purposeful piece of art! How did you come about? I imagine you in a past life, serving in a humble abode, shedding light for a child as he hovers over a stained book that has been passed down from generation to generation. Offering enough light for a weary mother to finish the last stitches on a wedding dress for her daughter who will wed in style despite the poverty of the family who bestows such love on her that she blushes at the thought of it.

A commonplace object you may be, but such beauty you present as you take your place on the lampstand behind the chair, or in the center of the table amidst a meal prepared by a peasant but fit for a king. Such simple lines and curves add to your grace as your light shines forth to cast away the darkness which would otherwise cover the beauty of a room and the inhabitants thereof. You are always placed out of reach of the child who gazes at you with wonder, and the family pet who never notices how hard you work. You never complain, even though your content of aromatic oil is often burned out and your wick blackened from overuse.

Would you have chosen to be born a candle, or perhaps a fireplace? I think not. You faithfully shine to illuminate the world for others. Your life is one of servitude as you are carried from place to place, never calling attention to yourself, but always showing the beauty of another who would not be seen if not for you. Unlike your ancestors, modern mothers revel in your ability to add décor to a lovely table in the hall, and fathers look to you only when a service suddenly fails. and darkness prevails.

Your companions, richly designed paintings and aged books which have long lost their attractions, like you, sit idle in today’s world. Together you mourn for what might have been if not for progress. Perhaps you long for a catastrophe to bring you back to life—to cause someone to light your wick—to open your pages. Oh, just once more to loosen the boredom that dominates the atmosphere and to remove the dust that daily accumulates, hiding the beauty you once displayed.

What most do you fear, oil lamp? Is it the lack of oil for your belly, or the great need for your wick to be trimmed? Could it be that you fear never fulfilling your purpose in life? What is your greatest desire? Perhaps that someone would take pity and clean your chimney? Or that the electricity would go out so that someone would notice your usefulness?

But I have noticed you. Your beauty inspires those around you, even when you idly sit in your lamp-hanger on the wall. Oh, the likes of you when the lights do go out and you are called to duty! Hail to thee, O Oil Lamp!

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