Colorado’s 2001 Tree Lighting Ceremony
Brenda Flowers, Memory Tree of Lights 2001
(to see photos, click here)

December 4, 2001 located at Chapel of Our Savior Church — Evening stars brightly twinkled and shined through dark clear skies and a nippy crispness found each of us clutching more tightly to our winter clothing. We gathered our hurting hearts, our hopes, and expressions of love together so we could embrace the lighting of Colorado’s Memory Tree of Lights in memory of our loved ones lost to suicide.
The names of departed grandparents, parents, children, siblings, and friends were lovingly tethered to this deep green pine tree by similar, but “surviving” grandparents, parents, children, siblings, and friends who are forever affected by such devastation of loss. Over 60 of us, who had been affected by suicide, gathered around this majestic tree as we waited for its lights to be lit. Silver ornaments were lovingly created and strategically placed throughout the tree while strands of unlighted mini-lights gently adorned the graceful branches of this evergreen. Its branches, as if they were arms, reached out as if to beckon and call out to us “use me, I am yours.”
Speaking, the director of Suicide Prevention Partnership, the president of Heartbeat, the pastor of Chapel of Our Savior, and the founder of the Memory Tree of Lights each took turn to share a perspective of how suicide affects each of us and how we can gain so much comfort through various support opportunities. Sadly, and contrary to how we may feel at times we are not alone. I looked around at each of one us and noticed how the porch lights from the church gently reflected expressions of deepest love, pain, tender heart, and hope from emotionally strained faces of the visitors. We introduced Colorado’s Memory Tree of Lights 2001 and let the electrical current contribute its part in bringing radiance to these little lights of hope. We aaah’d and ooo’d and listened to an occasional whisper as more tears welled and fell upon the winter earth.
The night’s cold breeze picked up its pace causing the festooned branches and lights to dance. It was almost as if the tree had its own personality and wanted to show off its new attire, or maybe to express glee because of the audience which had gathered around.
With reluctance, some of us pulled away from the tree to go inside the building for the candle lighting ceremony bringing with us comforting thoughts that we could return to the tree for more visits. We sat upon chairs arranged in a large circle. I suppose some wondered who lost whom and how long might it have been for another since seeing their loved one. We rarely ask one another “how,” because “how” is not important to any of us. All that matters is that we suffer from the same premature and horrific loss. We each held a small white candle, which was inserted into a circular board to catch the dripping wax which eventually accumulated upon the cardboard layer after layer telling us how many wax droplets have fallen-so unlike our tears we shed too many times, which evaporate so no one every really knows just how many layers of tears each of us cry.
The room’s aura was warm from the heavy woods used in the early 1900’s. The sconces on the walls depicted an era of its own. The room was made dark and a large three-wick candle poised and glowed upon a tall brass pedestal. We sat in a silence-heavy in spirit, and receptive to any comfort extended to us that night.
A beautiful message was given which officially started the candle lighting ceremony. One by one a trembling hand, which carefully held a lighted candle would turn to the person seated next to him or her who’s heart, so filled with agony, would stretch his or her unlighted candle toward the warming flame. When the barren wick touched the lighted wick they not only became one, but they shared their pain and the gentleness of this quiet ceremony set our salted tears into motion. Blue eyes, brown eyes, hazel eyes changed in appearance as pools of water reflected and magnified the gentle glow of that small yet very significant flame. There was no more holding back . . . no more time to be brave or put up false “I am strong and doing just fine” images. We sat within the realm of trusted friends and strangers and allowed our wounds to open in order to receive the healing we so desperately needed and wanted. As we lighted our candles, we each spoke of whom we were lighting our candle in memory of. Some of our voices trembled as we spoke while some of us could not complete our sentence at all. We completed this gentle ceremony and recognition of having and needing one another became more accentuated.
Our social time was warm and comforting and we took comfort of the holiday season’s traditional warm beverages and desserts. Slowly people departed from the evening of fellowship. I wondered how many visitors wished they could hold on to the moment forever, or how many of them dreaded going home and then getting up in the morning. I quietly prayed for each dear soul to be blessed with a peace and comfort that would linger with them for as long as necessary.
In the cold still of the night, as I drove away from the grounds and looked back upon the lighted Memory Tree of Lights, I smiled through my tears as I thought about how the squirrels will bring frolic and playfulness amongst the names of our loved ones in the light of the day. And in the crisp of the evenings, how those of us left behind will return to bring our dearly departed the greatest of Christmas blessings and love!
Home | Vision | History | Story | Coordinators | Perceptions | Poetry | Guestbook | Archive | Contact Us

© 2002, Memory Tree of Lights, all rights reserved.
Please report any technical problems encountered on this website to the webmaster.