Monday, December 22, 2008
The Longest Night
Tonight, the longest night of the year is also the coldest and we begin to live in winter again. After the big snow, the deep chill has arrived – and now the darkness.
It’s time for reflection, for staying warm, for staying safe from the bitter cold. The longest night, the deepest reflection, these are the messengers of winter solstice.
This year, tonight also begins the first night of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.
After marrying into a Jewish family, I clearly remember my first Chanukah, each night another candle added to the menorah, the candleholder. The first night beginning with two candles: the shamash – the helper candle and one other candle representing the first night of the 8 day Jewish Festival of Lights. The light from these two candles filled the darkened room with their small glow. The next night another candle was added to total three, making it a little brighter. The following night - another, with each night growing brighter as a little more of the darkness was lit. Finally on the eighth night, the room was ablaze in light.
This dark and bitterly cold night my family gathers around the table once again to light the menorah. A Christmas poinsettia shares the same table. We sing the song in Hebrew for the growing light. We sit in the darkness of the longest night and listen to the biting wind outside. We lean close, relying upon each other to get through this time of darkness till the light returns, until the warmth returns – as it always does. And we wait.
This Little Light of Mine - Mavis Staples (she sings it with a lot of heart)