When you move to a new house, the most oft-used word is “Where”:
Where is the flashlight?
Where did we put the dishwasher tabs?
Where are the scissors? the boxcutter?
Where is box #37?
Every day has its collection of small victories (Look what I found!) and defeats. Some things, once found, disappear again. It’s as if objects know they don’t yet have a firm new spot to call home.
So when we arrived at the first night of Hanukkah on December 16th, we naturally asked:
Where are the candles?
Where is the menorah?
We were doubtful about finding these items, used just once a year and not high on the list of “we’ll need this immediately!” But I knew I had packed them — lots of them! — joking at the time about how silly it was to have so many extra boxes of candles to move. I expected to have to search for hours, but when I went out to the garage and moved a few boxes, I quickly saw a bin that held everything I needed — candles, menorah, matches (and a dreidel to boot).
During Hanukkah we light candles for eight nights, a tradition linked to the Hanukkah story. In its briefest form, the story is this: King Antiochus of Syria prohibited Jews from practicing their faith, and he took over the holy Temple. A small group of fighters, the Maccabees, reclaimed the Temple through years of battle. The Temple was restored for worship but only a small amount of oil was left in the eternal light in the sanctuary. Unexpectedly (and miraculously, the story goes), the lamp burned for eight days, allowing purification and rededication. Whether one considers the story myth or miracle, Hanukkah is a time for exploring themes of freedom and creating light in the world.
Moving from one house to another disrupts daily life and challenges one’s inner balance. Finding our Hanukkah gear was a little Hanukkah miracle for us, helping bring the light of tradition, memory, and family into our new home. Each night when we light the candles, we discover an oasis of sanctuary and connection. Regardless of what we cannot find, we remember with gratitude that we have all that we need.
Questions for Reflection: Whether or not you celebrate Hanukkah, what connections do you find to a celebration of light and freedom? What parts of your life would you like to expand with more light? What will give you greater inner balance or sanctuary?
Writing Prompts: “When I open myself to the possibility of freedom, I find ______” (then keep writing); “In this dark time of year, I would love to bring light into my life by ______” (then keep writing); “My gratitude expands when I reflect on ______” (then keep writing).”
note: In the picture at the top of the post, the menorah has been lit for night three (the uppermost candle, the Shamash, is an “attendant” or “helper” candle and does not represent the number of nights). See, however, that the middle candle is offering two flames. I was struck by this — more light than expected! Even a single candle offers its abundance.