Home > chanukah, diary, judaism, politics > Chanukah – first there was one. First evening.

Chanukah – first there was one. First evening.

Happy Chanukah to all who celebrate it.

Not sure if I’ll keep this up all week, as its a bit spontaneous, but just in case I manage, I’ll post my ponderings.

Rarely has light been needed to chase away darkness so much as now. I have felt despair and hopelessness more this year than ever before. Climate change. Racism. New wars and ongoing ones destroying lives and communities. Austerity destroying lives in the UK. Who can imagine what horrors the refugees currently fleeing to Europe must be trying to escape to instead “choose” to pile themselves and families on to unstable boats and then facing grim fortress Europe as winter approaches? And then what “welcome” they get from us, noble and beautiful exceptions apart.

But thanks be to chance and the universe and life force, I have reached again to this holiday. How fitting that it is the festival of oil, when so much of the horror of above, from wars to gain control of oil rich regions, to climate change, to the resources disgusting Daesh have, could be blamed on “black gold”? And yet even the role of oil in humanity’s road is not clear cut – certainly I am glad for the agricultural gains that allowed more to eat, though were it not for the economic and political macrosystems more would have benefitted.

I do feel a bleakness inside me. And yet still I lit tonight that first candle. Why? Why did I choose to do that? Because it feels good and right. Because maybe somewhere deep down, almost smothered by despair, there is a flicker of belief that each night, I will light one more, until my menorah is radiating heat and light. That this is something worthwhile. That even in times of despair, incredible and beautiful things do happen that demonstrate the power and nobility and potential of the life force. Connections, serendipitous happenings, love,  rebellions, resistance, cracks through which a better world can be seen. Are these the first, tentative lighting of candles, which will chase away the darkness? Let us celebrate them! Let us foreground them, proudly displaying them in our windows and hallways! Let us not mourn that they are so singular, but see them as being part of a tradition that has the potential to grow and multiply, steadily, night by night, until the darkness is lit up.

But tonight, there is just one, well, one and the shamash. The helper candle, easy to ignore in pretentious pontifications such as this one, and yet who kindled the rest, and especially tonight, especially when there is just one other candle that it shares the menorah with, is so crucial to the light giving. How easily we overlook those that do not have easily glorified roles. And yet where would our love and light and hope and solidarity be without those who are there first to lay the ground and help light up the rest?

I think if I’d thought this through I’d have kept some of the themes above for later nights, but I’ll trust to tomorrow inspiration for then. For tonight, maybe these thoughts have began to relight some hope and belief in me, though the despair and horror are still so deep.

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Categories: chanukah, diary, judaism, politics Tags: ,
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  1. December 31, 2016 at 7:47 pm

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