Light a Candle for Community | University of Portland

Light a Candle for Community

candles lit in grotto with logo that reads University of Portland Pilots Give Back Spring 2020At dusk in Pacific Grove, California, UP parent Cari Rotoli takes her nightly neighborhood walk. The streets are still, but houses hum with quiet life within. Every evening, porches and front windows radiate the soft glow of candles or outdoor lights, sending an incandescent warmth into the spring evenings.

The idea came from a post in the Next Door app. A neighbor extended an invitation to light a candle as a symbol of unity and an offering of “peace, healing, and community.” The post resonated with Cari and her family, who are new to the neighborhood from the Bay Area. “It seems small, but having just moved here a couple of months ago, this has been a wonderful way to feel part of the community,” she says.

Across the city, the lights spread. “We try to get out and walk at least once a day; as we walked around the neighborhood, you can definitely see a difference, people have gotten creative,” she says. Some neighbors light candles; others put up Christmas lights or electric candles. “We opted for a star with twinkly lights.” 

The sense of community is the sweet to the bitter-but-necessary medicine of quarantine. In uncertain times, the humble light of a candle in a neighbor’s window is a comfort.