Candle in the Wind

(Written September, 1997)

She was born in 1910, in what is now Macedonia, as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. We came to know her as Mother Teresa, who gave her life to the poorest of the poor in countries around the world. She lived a full life of eighty-seven years unlike Lady Diana Spencer, who lived a brief thirty-six years, after having been born into English aristocracy. The Princess of Wales was commonly called “Di” by her admirers, who made her the most popular woman in the world. Di became the major player in the troubled and talked about royal family and lived among the rich and famous.

“Mother”, as her staff commonly called her, began to share some things in common with Diana in recent years, but their lives consisted mainly of dramatic contrasts. Curiously, they died within a week of each other. These events have caused the media to make many comparisons and all of us to pause and consider what made each of their lives so special as to attract the attention of the world.

“You were the grace that placed itself where lives were torn apart. You called out to our country, and you whispered to those in pain…and it seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind…your candle’s burned out long before your legend ever will.”

Elton John penned these words for Diana’s funeral in revising his earlier version of “Candle in the Wind”. However, these words could just as easily have been written about Mother Teresa. Our focus has been on a princess and a nun. The princess was one with whom any of us would have liked to change places so that we could live the outer life of royalty and fame with all of its excitement, power and wealth. But each of us would be afraid that we could not handle the inner pain that she endured. We would secretly hope that we could retain some inner stability and not be pulled down by the tremendous pressures. Mother Teresa was one whom many of us greatly admired, but we would be fearful that we could not handle her outer life of self-sacrifice were we to be in her place. However, each of us longs to experience the inner joy and satisfaction that she obviously possessed. We fear that such commitment as hers would not be in us, and that we could not give up everything to live such a life.

God cautions us against comparing ourselves with other people. Superiority leads to detestable pride and inferiority leads to despair. But we are to learn lessons for our own lives from those who have gone before. If we are honest, we will discover both the strengths and weaknesses of these that we examine. Both women were criticized. In Diana’s case, faults were widely covered by the tabloids. In Mother Teresa’s case, the some women greatly resented her strong stands against birth control, abortion, divorce, homosexuals, and her refusing to contest the selling of the young girls of India in marriage.

Both ladies shared compassion for the less fortunate and for children. Each helped raise our consciousness for society’s untouchables, the homeless, the handicapped, and the victims of terminal diseases. The two were a mystery to us in different ways. Mother Teresa and Diana both jetted around the world and associated with the world’s powerful and wealthy. However, Mother Teresa returned to the poor and Lady Diana returned to the roller coaster life of the royalty. After many years, “Mother” learned to use her notoriety to build a substantial gift base for her ministry. Di learned quickly that she could use her fame to build huge bank accounts for the worlds unloved. An Oklahoma City thirty-six year old mother of two writes in her diary, “I do not see a jet setting princess, a caring ambassador, or even a shy or embittered woman. I see a blonde, thirty-six year old mother of two children. We shared similar hair styles and my china pattern bares her name. I cannot help but see myself…the world has lost a princess, but most importantly, my heart cries out, her children have lost their mother.”

A nun from a poor background lost her dad to death at age seven, while another seven year old from rich aristocracy saw her dad leave in divorce. They were from totally different backgrounds, yet their paths intersected four times. While mostly loved by the world, each one had her critics.

The book of Proverbs tells us that “a pretentious life is an empty life and a plain and simple life is a full life…the lives of good people are brightly lit streets.” The Psalms promise us that “God will lighten our darkness.”  Jesus told His followers that they were “the light of the world,” and Paul admonished them “to live as children of the light…in the midst of a polluted society.” He challenged us “to carry the light giving message into the night.” Isaiah comforts us that “God will be our everlasting light.”  Finally, Jesus summed it up when He said, “You are here to be light bringing out God colors in the world.” Princess Diana and Mother Teresa sought to be lights in each one of their darkened worlds.

Most of us will never be a princess, prince, or a minister to the poor in the slums. Yet, each of us can light a candle where we live. Every one of us is truly a “candle in the wind.” The evil forces of life seek to snuff out our influence for good. We don’t know whether we will only live half our seventy years or much longer.  But we can learn that the only way to continually light the darkness in our corner of the world is to allow the Light of the world to live in us and shine through us. Others, who have gone before us, have learned the secret. May each of us be challenged to let our candles burn brightly regardless of the wind.

Lighting my world,

Matt 5:14 (Message)
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”

Also read:  Psalm 18:28, Ephesians 5:8, Isaiah 60:19



About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

One Response to Candle in the Wind

  1. John Long says:

    Excellent, Kent! I really like the way you are contrasting the INNER and OUTER lives of these two great people. And I like the ending of your article by emphasizing the importance fir each I us to keep the candle lit regardess of the wind. God bless you! John Long

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