Season of Lights
December 6, 2022
First published in Soul Salsa in 2020
The month of December ushers in a season of lights, festivities, and holy-days. Before Christmas ever was, the Jewish faith was on the line. After the Maccabees (a group of Jewish rebels) successfully rebelled against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Temple was purified and rededicated. The miracle in this story was that the Jewish people had barely enough sacred oil to keep the temple menorah – a candelabrum with eight branches – lit for one day. The purification ceremony was to last eight days, with the candles burning. Miraculously, the candles did burn for 8 days straight on that small portion of oil. This amazing incident gave birth to the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah which means “rededication.” Also known as the Festival of Lights, it is celebrated “in remembrance of their struggle for religious freedom and the miracle of restoration, symbolized by the abundance of oil” (Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance).
In the Christmas story, Jesus is born into a Jewish community, through a young, simple Jewish girl who was “betrothed” to Joseph, a Jewish carpenter, but not yet married. It is noteworthy that God is willing to challenge all the societal and religious rules and norms in order to reach us. Although we don’t know all the facts of the story, it is full of symbolism and metaphors for our spiritual lives. Divine Love comes to and through the simple, humble, and willing among us. Light from a star provides guidance and direction for those who seek the Christ child. His life is in danger from the start as earthly kings feel threatened by rumors that a king has been born. The whole story is full of drama, mystery, and miracles.
The holiday lights in our communities, homes, churches and temples continue to bring a spirit of joy, celebration, and wonder to those whose hearts are humble, open, and willing. It is light shining in the darkness that gives us hope, guidance, and courage. The star and the candles represent the light of divine Love within us, regardless of the name you give it or the religion you practice. When we are “enlightened” we are awake to this abiding Presence, allowing it to live and love and move through us. This is what Jesus referred to as “the Way, the Truth, and the Light.” He put the two words “I AM” in front of the phrase, which is the name of God. People throughout the ages have misunderstood this statement, interpreting it to mean that Christianity is the only way to God, the only truth; and as a result have essentially turned from the radical humility, acceptance, and Love that Jesus lived and taught.
The season of lights, miracles, gifts, and abundance is for all of us. It is a reminder of who we truly are, and a celebration of the Love that miraculously continues to burn within us. Perhaps the small portion of oil is like the mustard seed in its capacity. This quote from Simple Abundance wraps it up beautifully for us: “Sacred oil in a temple. Loaves and fishes on a mountainside. Miracles are of Spirit, not any one faith. Miracles are for anyone who believes. That is the heart of Hanukkah and the soul of Christmas. The more we allow ourselves to recognize the wisdom and truth in other spiritual paths, the closer to Wholeness we become” (Sarah Ban Breathnach).