Wonderful and strange.
Here in the new Bouder Jewish Community Center, a community-wide celebration unfolded which might grow into a tradition: Klezmer music and Chinese food.
We began with the lighting of the candle of the first night of Chanukah.
I participated as one of the singers---both the two Yiddish songs I chose, and backing up another glorious singer with harmony. The musicians were fabulous. The wife of one led folkdancing as well. The crowd listened and talked and children played and danced. In any other context, I imagine, it could have been perceived as a rude audience. In this case, it felt more like a party, for which we happened to be performing.
It was a rare synchronicity: Havdalah, first night Chanukah and Christmas Eve coinciding.
I came home feeling vaguely unsatisfied and uncomfortable, and realized: although the celebration and camaraderie were excellent and heartwarming---
something about the coincidence of the end of shabbat, the beginning of Chanukah, the turning again of our planet towards the light, which will now begin to increase, and the celebration of the birth of the holy child in the darkest time of the year (all new beginnings which have been gestating)---all of this calls for something deep and holy, a shared turning-inward. Something beyond mere celebration.
I came home hoping for a midnight mass I might visit, but did not find one.
Instead, I checked the post-shabbos emails.
Now that cetainly gives inspiration for prayer.
So I will go upstairs now to the spot where I look out at the mountains, and write by hand in unlined journals, and open my siddur at random to find the inspiration for that moment; where I sit and meditate, where my beloved and I used to sit together, now and then, and read quietly near each other, and talk before bed.
I will be praying that G-d save us from ourselves, and save this wondrous world. I will be praying for the softening of hearts, and the opening of hands. And of minds. I will be praying that the peace we so badly need rest upon us and remind us what it feels like so we can feel our way towards it.
I will be praying that the holy child each of us carries inside make itself felt and heard, and that those miracles that we need now be empowered, by our yearning and the light in our hearts, to come to us.
Blessed first night of Chanukah; blessed Light in the darkness; blessed lengthening of the days.
May we merit to be part of healing our world, whether we see our way there, or stumble into it.