Tonight we will light the fourth candle in the menorah for Chanukah, and right now, miracles are on my mind.
This has been quite a year, what with losing Father Henry and my great-grandmother; witnessing my father’s suffering and death; surviving a hellish time in New York City and a horrid time of painful poverty; spending most of the year separated from my family; warring with my teenage child; seeing the world go to pieces thanks to the activities of a certain selected charlatan; and so much more. Now, I have a new job — outside of my field, with an inhumane and unjust corporate employer I fear naming — that feels like the worst one ever. Can’t complain too much — many people have no work at all, and this job, though soul-crushing and not lucrative in any way, at least keeps a roof overhead.
Bottom line: I am drowning in a sea of despair.
So, miracles mean much to me, even if I only can ponder the possibility of them, much like a hungry person peering through a window to see a wealthy family’s sumptuous feast. This is why I love Chanukah so dearly: This period of eight nights is a reminder that real miracles have happened. And it offers hope that perhaps one day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, there is a miracle out there for me. Will it be finally seeing Jackman on Broadway? A new pair of shoes? My daughter caring about school? A new job in journalism? The means to expatriate? Marriage equality in the US? A progressive president? And end to hunger and homelessness? Or peace, real peace, throughout the world?
A girl can dream. And when not toiling 70-80 hours a week — including Christmas Day and the days following it — at an absolutely loathsome job, this girl dreams of miracles.
When the Maccabees experienced the miracle of one night’s ration of oil lasting eight nights, they strenghthened their commitment to maintaining their unity. Chanukah is the celebration of that uncommon occurrence, but the holiday is about more than that. Anything worthwhile requires work, commitment, perseverance, courage and dedication. The Maccabees remained faithful to their beliefs and principles, and they received a miracle — likely because they were open to it.
From Chabad.org: “The question we should ask is not whether miracles do or do not happen today, and why, but what effect miracles have upon us. Miracles show man that G-d is master over nature, over all the world. Miracles are a form of communication, but communication needs two partners. To be sure, G-d can perform miracles, but how would we react to them? Perhaps, when we are ready for miracles, when we are able to recognize a miracle when we see one, it will be given us to witness miracles.”
So, as I light the candles each day — usually while the sun shines or in the wee hours of the morning, and often all by myself (thanks, boss) — and recite the prayer, I think about my deeply held beliefs, about those whom I love, about the work that must be done, about my need to be dedicated and strong no matter how rough and punishing the terrain. I give thanks for my children, my two ambulatory miracles. And I hope for miracles that will put an end to our suffering and the world’s, praying that I will be capable and worthy of seeing them.
I hope so… God knows I need ’em.
To all who celebrate this magnificent holiday, may your home be bright and filled with peace, love and joy during Chanukah and throughout 2004.