Vigil Lamp Supplies and the Tactile Nature of Prayer

Yesterday I received my Old Believer floats in the mail. (With enough wicking on order to last me the rest of my life. I ordered a bit much. But, hey, how was I to know? I’ve not been given any “vigil lamp” lessons.) They’ve been on the “to order” mental list for some time. Not quite a year ago I purchased a standing vigil lamp in which one could put either oil or a votive candle. For some time I’ve been wanting to use an oil lamp in my icon corner (which is actually the mantle of our non-functioning fireplace), but I was pretty sure the floating cork wick holders would be too big for my vigil lamp, so when I came across the “Old Believer floats” I was definite that that was what I needed. Still, I kept putting it off. I even tried to get advice from our priest on how to use oil in a vigil lamp, but he discouraged me from it saying that candles were plenty fine. And anyway, using oil was messy, one had to take care to trim the wick, and so forth. So candles it has been for more than a year.

But there’s something about burning a cotton wick suspended in olive oil, that just isn’t captured when using a candle. For one thing one cannot dip one’s finger in the candle wax and anoint the forehead of one’s family members “for the healing of soul and body” as one can with the olive oil of a vigil lamp. For another, the proper burning of a oil lamp emits a flame that does not flicker, but burns steady and a bit more dimly, something definitely more conducive to contemplation.
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