1) The Sanctuary Light (just like the one pictured right) had gone out
2) There was this bizarre residue - a sooty filament remainder of the original wick that stretched from the bottom center of the tall glass votive to rim-height, rigidly standing in place.
I looked at the parishioner and noted that the light had gone out and she confirmed that it had been still burning when we began prayers. Then I showed her the "residue" - and we both said, "how funny - how strange." Could this be a miracle? OK, no. But...
It set me to thinking and the passage from 1 Samuel, chapter 3 came to mind where Samuel was ministering to the Lord under the old priest Eli: "the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision...Eli's eyesight had begun to grow dim...[but] the lamp of God had not yet gone out."
There have been many times when I've felt like this about the church: where it seems that we're not hearing from God (because our ears are stopped up with our fingers?) - where there's a real lack of vision (because we've turned our heads away from what's right in front of us?) - and as a result, our ability to see what is there begins to fade away. It worries me that we might comfort ourselves by saying things "well, yeah, but - the lamp hasn't entirely gone out." The problem with that attitude is that when the lamp has burned that low, we probably won't notice when it does go out. If there's a miracle here, it's the fact that even when the light does go out, that there is still some residue, some possibility of a remnant that is present and visible - if only just. And we are surprised by it.