This Little Light of Mine

This Little Light of Mine

I love the holiday season. Whether in the subway, on the streets, or even at airport security, people are gentler and kinder. I know I look into people’s faces more often during this period and see more smiles, more understanding, and more connection.

The myriad lights of Hanukkah menorahs and Christmas trees and all the other lights of sacred days from Kwanza to Winter Solstice bring out the best in people.

And the stories in the air do the same. Hanukkah’s message that no matter how dark it gets, or how impossible the situation seems, there is always a light of hope that we can ignite and a spark of possibility that we can fan. Christmas with its message that no matter how coarse and hardened we get, the birth of a child can evoke irrepressible empathy and inspire life-transforming compassion. Hope, kindness and possibility are the currency of this season of the year, so no wonder we simply are better people.

Perhaps the true miracle of this time of year, whatever tradition we happen to celebrate, is that we get our light back – the light that inevitably diminishes during the year past.

The goal of any tradition’s sacred days is to alter our consciousness and behavior beyond those days. One of the commonalities between menorah lights and the lights on Christmas trees is that we actually don’t use them for anything other than to look at them. They have no particular utility. We look at them simply to see the light, and to see one another’s faces reflected in the light. We intuit and feel that we are safe, needed, and loved – and that, despite the chaos that swirls around us, there is some meaning and purpose to our lives.

I wonder what it would be like to bring some of the light of these celebratory weeks into the holiday-barren days of January and February, as well as the rest of the year. Would we discover in a year at holiday time that we have different faces – more enlightened – if every day, for a couple of minutes, we forgot our problems and stresses and just thought about what favor we could do for another person, and then did it?

Perhaps the true miracle of this time of year, whatever tradition we happen to celebrate, is that we get our light back – the light that inevitably diminishes during the year past. We get back our dreams of a world where love really can win out. We recover the courage and will, not simply to light candles, but to be candles. We remember that we are created to bring our light into the world.

 


Irwin Kula

Irwin Kula is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Irwin's writing has been featured in The Huffington Post and the Washington Post. He is the author of Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life and a co-editor of The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices. Irwin has appeared on NBC's The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The O'Reilly Factor and PBS Frontline. Irwin also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.

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