Wandering through cobblestone streets and over countless foot bridges above winding waterways, the Venetian August furnace bears down on my body as sun stroked flesh responds with an outpouring of glistening sweat. Beads of liquid pour uncontrollably from my limbs as the sheen of it clings floral, flowing summer dress to damp body. Almost there. Push past tourists, all dazed in the scorching heat, brains bubbling, vacant stares all around. Occasional bursts of ice cold air from tiny merchants’ shops offer temporary relief from the oven as I pass them, tempted to step in for a while, but I must press on. Up, up the wooden planks of the Accademia Bridge, it looms large and tauntingly impossible to conquer as the humidity’s thickness adds an invisible extra coat to seal in the crushing temperature. I climb determinedly, wiping pools of perspiration now gathered in every unpleasant crevice. Finally, I feel a sweet breeze as I reach the summit of that landmark bridge, thankful for the respite, but my journey must continue. After winding through a snakes maze of more narrow passageways, I am met with my glorious destination, Santa Maria Della Salute Church. So in awe of it, I forget the near-debilitating journey, the exhaustion, the unforgiving fire I’d battled to behold this spectacular sight. Slowly I climb the many stone steps, worn smooth by the thousands of travelers before me, and make my way to its entrance. With a mighty exhale, I am met with the rush of ancient cave-like coolness that can only be found in centuries-old holy places encompassing massive marble caverns and broad chambers, multiple alters carved into the rock adorned with holy biblical depictions. Heavenly high ceilings offer windows, clear and stained glass, streaming soft sunlight, the only natural light cascading through this miraculous place of wonderment. But man must add to the beauty of the scene, and after placing my Euro offering in the rusted old box, I carefully selected a small votive candle, and with connecting the wick of it to the glow of a flickering candle among the hundreds offered before mine, I added my little illumination to the sea of dancing flames. Each candle represents a prayer, a wish for help in the life of the one who ignited it, or mercy and strength for a loved one. Unlike candles on a birthday cake, when wishes are made and the breath that blows them out offers a feeling of fruition, these shining, brilliant candles continue to burn bright long after their silent longings are expressed. To snuff them out would prove to extinguish their ability to offer divine intervention for those seeking their comfort. I couldn’t help but be moved by the rows and rows of swaying splendor. Each candle tells a story. Each candle lit with hope. Overcome, tears haphazardly fell from my weary eyes. If only these luminous gifts could be granted. Somehow, seeing them banded together gave me solice that regardless, we are not alone. Together the small tin lights create a bonfire of unity. Until prayers can be answered, at least we can find the glow of love in each other.