Come light the menorah…

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We lit candles on the chanukiah tonight and watched them during our sit. It was incredibly lovely, especially watching them each burn out, one by one, returning us to darkness. I’ve been thinking so much about bringing light into dark places, and yesterday during the practice day with Rabbi Jeff Roth, he brought up something that shifted my thinking: we don’t just light candles to bring light to the darkest time of year; we are also reminding ourselves that we’re in constant motion, things will change, dark leads to light and light to dark, and there’s some comfort in that.

I think the scariest part of feeling lost, anxious, depressed, sad, is that we fear that we’ll feel that way forever. Of course, we know, rationally, that this isn’t going to happen, but in those dark moments, it’s hard to see the light or even the possibility of light. So we light candles and remember our ability to create light, joy, peace, love, and also that darkness precedes light and light goes to dark and back again.

We learn in the Chanukah story that even the holiest place, the Temple, could be desecrated, that the eternal light can go out. How heartbreaking that must have been for the people of that time. And, if that’s possible, what are the chances that our fragile, human hearts could ever stay whole and holy for our whole lives? Just like the Maccabees rededicated the Temple and searched through the rubble for light, I’m using this holiday of Chanukah (dedication) to excavate my own heart and life, rededicating myself to creating within my heart a dwelling place for holiness.

May our practice be a source of light, as we search through our own rubble and rededicate ourselves, and may our practice also light us from within and allow us to radiate outwards, during the darkest time of the year and always, bringing light and peace to ourselves and the entire world