We light six candles tonight. Six multi-colored, short candles standing in a tray filled with glass beads so the lovely colors of dripped wax won’t make a disaster out of the table.
For eight days we light candles, adding one more each day, until the menorah stands bright and flickering in the darkness. Sometimes we light them with prayer and sometimes as an afterthought because we are deep like that.
Hanukkah is an eight day reminder of a time when obstacles were insurmountable, grief more than could be realized in several generations and when, finally, a father and his sons dared to trust God, stand up, and do something.
This time of remembering keeps our attention on the glory of a God who heard, who answered and who provided what was lacking when those who looked to Him reached out, reached up and did all they could to obey.
But I’m not here to rehash the story of the Macabee revolt, the atrocities of Antiochus Epiphanies and the rest of the story. Certainly, while the celebration of Hanukkah remembers the events that led up to the miracle it doesn’t stop there.
The eight days of Hanukkah are not about the revolt, the bloodshed, the horrific blasphemy or the evil perpetuated on the Jews for seven years. Hanukkah celebrations are about the cleansing and the dedication of the dwelling place of Adonai.
That is the truth I keep holding onto this year.
The simple story that I’m sure we can all recognize.
Evil encroaches, righteousness rises up, and a battle ensues. Finally, holiness triumphs, the fruit of repentance is shown in the willingness to remove all traces of the sin which had found refuge in the holiest place and in the quietness that follows one little light shines. Just one little light. It’s all that remains of what had been sanctified before and in the aftermath it is all I can muster.
There will be more, as obedience bears its fruit, but today?
All I have is one little light.
Yet, beautifully, that’s when the miracle happens.
Suddenly, in the darkness, I am no longer on my own. Instead of one light shining bravely, there are two lights, then three, four, five… Until I am surrounded.
By such a cloud of witnesses, you might say.
This is the miracle of Hanukkah I remember this year. And this is the resolution I make to re-dedicate His temple, my heart, and ask His help to light the way into the New Year with all its challenges and complications.
So, today, I light one more little candle. And looking forward, backward and all around me, I can see that we are never truly alone.