Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Little Light

"All it takes is a little light, a little hope to get started. Every year, Hanukkah comes around the winter solstice, at the darkest point of the year, when we are often feeling most tired and most hopeless. But it is also at this point that things begin to change, and the light begins to increase, little-by-little, like the candles in the menorah. There is a very deep teaching from the Jewish mystical tradition that we need to remember in our darkest hours: just as the Jews who cleaned the Temple found one little cruse of oil to burn amid all the wreckage, all of us have a yehidah, a tiny point in our souls that is always pure and in contact with God, no matter how much the rest of us feels broken-down and destroyed. There is always something -- a little spark of divinity, a little oil to make a ray of light to shine in the darkness -- something we can take hold of and use to re-build our lives.  
This Hanukkah, let's all remember that holy point within us, that little light that is always pure, that gives us a hope that we can share with everyone around us. Let's practice the miracle of re-dedicating ourselves to a purpose, whether it be to helping others re-build their lives, or to starting again in our own lives; because that's where the happiness of Hanukkah comes from."
-Madisyahu and Netanel Miles-YĆ©pez; read the full article here.
(Also watch Madisyahu's awesome video here, or if you prefer a live version, here on Jay Leno.)
This article, and this excerpt in particular, spoke to me in so many ways.  While I am still deeply rooted in Christian faith, I cannot help but love and identify with this Jewish perspective - for, in fact, we are not so different.  Without knowing how quite to name it, I've been collecting little bits of light these past few weeks, seeking out the bright shine of Christmas amidst the troubles and worries and irritations and frustrations.....

Taking a whole new approach to decking the halls this year, I unpacked all of our decorations but ran out of time the first day to actually get them in place.  The low countertop in the kitchen simply overflowed with Santas and snowmen and nutcrackers and nativity sets, a visual chaos of Christmas.

The next morning, I discovered this, lovingly and tenderly arranged by Aidan:
(I just love how all of the figures are oriented toward the Baby J. - even the donkey and sheep!)
It was a bright light that harried, frustrating morning.
Leaving the craft store one morning after a particularly trying time with Pax and an equally difficult time locating supplies I needed, Pax insisted on taking the elevator and I obliged.  When the doors opened to let us in, I quickly realized the need to step back and make way for the elderly couple exiting the elevator.  The passageway was crowded with merchandise in a tight little corner of the store.  The man, wearing a bright red, festive scarf, looked at me and said, not unkindly, "Could you give us a little room here?"  I think it was the red scarf that made me notice the twinkle in his eyes, for when I looked at him and replied "Of course!" with a smile that hid the frustrations I'd felt during shopping, he returned my smile with a cheerful grin.  He turned slightly to address his wife behind him.  "Young Lady," he began.  She beamed at him, amusement and love exuding for her beloved.  "Would you hold the elevator for these fine folks?"  They shuffled past us and we boarded the elevator, each of us calling to the other,
"Merry Christmas to you!" 
"Have a wonderful day!"
It was an ordinary exchange that felt wonderfully extraordinary in that moment.  I don't even know how to describe it better, or more fully, except to say that it was a shining light that filled me with warmth for the remainder of the day.  Perhaps the bright, cheerful, festive, happy scarf the man wore that day mirrored his inner self, and my mood became a reflection of his own light.  I sat in the car and did nothing but drink in the warmth and the light of that moment before eventually driving home.
Of the many joys of finally having a very verbal three year old, one that thrills me the most right now is the interactive storytelling we both enjoy.  For days and days, I've told and retold the story of the Baby Jesus, using a small, chunky, child's nativity set for the telling.  Pax loves to swoop in the Angel Gabriel and tell Mary, "You not be afraid."  He does not like, however, that there is no innkeeper in the nativity set.  So he improvised, found his own stand-in for the innkeeper.  Can you spot it?

(...and the Great Knight, playing the part of the Innkeeper...)

Shining His Bright Light on beautiful mornings.
We visited Santa Claus yesterday.  It was possibly the most fun visit we've had (playing hooky from school and lunch with Grandma certainly helped), with shining light on both ends.  When we first arrived, Santa had taken a short break to feed the reindeer, so we slowly cruised the mall until he returned. It didn't take long until we spotted him, however, so we went over to say hello.  Santa was kindly and sweet to the boys, inviting them back to his chair and leading us in a bit of a parade.  As we started walking, I noticed a boy in a motorized wheelchair that had come up from behind, and it was clear he was trying to reach Santa.  Too many obstacles kept him from catching up, so I called out to him, "Santa!  I think there is a boy here who would like to say hello to you."  Santa stopped, turned, and gave the boy a high-five and a cheerful greeting.  The boy beamed with joy as a classmate of his rushed up and gave Santa a big hug.  Their excitement was infectious, and their joy was so pure.  None of us among the small gathering of people - not even the 5 grownups - doubted that Santa was Magic, and that the moment was filled with light.

My heart swelled as my giddy boy Pax climbed into Santa's lap and chatted him right up.  He told him all about wanting a robot, and that he was there with his brothers Aidan and Leo, and that he had pizza for lunch.

On our way out, all three boys wanted to ride on the 3-horse carousel near the exit.  They mounted their steeds as I fished out a dollar bill, but suddenly a small boy rushed up to the carousel. It was clear he wanted a ride. Without hesitation, Aidan jumped off his horse and said, "Here, you can go ahead and have my horse!"  I was stunned by his kindness, by his selflessness, by his generosity.  Stunned. Aidan has struggled recently, finding difficulty in expressing the kindness and loving spirit that is in his heart.  We have struggled, trying hard to guide him and nurture him to express his love and kindness, often feeling like we're failing.

Aidan's favorite song from church is "This Little Light of Mine."  That day, boy did he let his little light shine.

"...let's all remember that holy point within us, that little light that is always pure, that gives us a hope that we can share with everyone around us."

1 comment:

Susan said...

Anne, once again, I am so happy for your family. You and Jeff are giving your boys such important gifts by teaching the how to care for others in a loving spirit. Even when those boys are yitzing with each other, they clearly love one another. And, I love reading your reflections.