From Darkness to Light
I grew up in South Florida and I currently live in Southern California. As you might have guessed, I’m not a fan of the winter. I mourn the loss of daylight. I miss the warmth of the sun’s rays on my back. I spend most evenings indoors by the fireplace, curled up with a warm blanket (yes, even in Southern California).
Then Chanukah beings. Each night of the holiday, we light one additional candle, culminating in a fully lit menorah on the eighth night of the festival. Without fail, the words of Light One Candle by Peter, Paul and Mary comes to mind and my mood changes. I begin to take a fresh look at the loss of daylight. Though the song was written about the 1982 Lebanon War, I have always interpreted the lyrics as a reminder of the Chanukah Story, a common story of the Jewish people: In every generation, we have been persecuted. We survived.
Yet, I wonder why the song continues to resonate year after year. Is it because I am a queer Jew who lives with the persecution my people faced more than two thousand years ago? Is because, as a Jew, I am called to bring light into the world? Is because as a social justice advocate, I see suffering all around me. Or is it because it is always important to remember that from darkness comes light. Indeed, this is my personal triumph story. It is the story of my people.
Each night of Chanukah, a holiday that reminds us that from darkness will come light, I remember the words of this song. These words then remind me of the words from Pirket Avot, “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
While winter reminds us of the cyclical nature of darkness, simply living in the world reminds us of man-made darkness too. We have the power to shed light on the darkness. You might be wondering how you can do this in your own small corner of the world. First, just be kind. You never know the silent battles that people are waging. Second, stop judging others. We have no idea what it feels like to walk in the shoes of another person. Their decisions are not for us to judge. Third, just show up and be present. So often, we try to be fixers. Other people don’t want fixes, they want someone to show up, to be present, to be empathic.
All of us have the capacity to change the world, simply by offering authentic connection.
How do you bring light to the world? How will you commit to continuing the work. What suggestions do you have for others.
I’d love to hear from you.