12th December 2017 – Happy Hanukkah!
Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah – the Jewish celebration of light. Part of the Hanukkah tradition is to light small candles, one by one, for the eight days of Hanukkah and place them in a menorah (candelabra). Two things I find really touching, and meaningful about this tradition are, firstly that the candles are lit in order to give light for its own sake and not to provide light to, say, work or eat by. Secondly, it is the very specific way in which they are lit, with the first candle (the Shamash) being used as kindle for the others as each day goes by.
As I have mentioned before, I am not religious at all but I enjoy and honour the gentle meditative nature of my and my husband’s cultural traditions. Also, I value the way they can bring us together and help us to find joy in a simple act of giving thanks.
For people without children, Hanukkah can be a challenging, painful time as it too is a festival that seems to focus on children. Children are given money or chocolate coins and traditionally they receive a gift for each of the eight days of the festival. But as I light the first candle tonight and kindle the second, I’ll give thanks for the people and activities in my life that bring me light. I’ll also acknowledge that even though I don’t have children to pass any of this on to, that perhaps, even in small ways, I can strive to be a ‘Shamash’ for others – holding a light for anyone who needs it and passing it on when the time is right.