I had this awesome essay about Chanukah and light all worked out in my head. Oh, the wondrous tapestry that I wove, in these vibrant jeweled tones and of scarlet and blue. The words and the color and the sheer light of it all all twisted and tangled exactly right, a tightly woven fabric that deftly connected the festival with light.
It was Uh. May. Zing - hanging in free=float perfection there in my head, just waiting to go from thought to pixel to screen.
And then I got my eyes dilated. So much for that mythical, mystical essay.
Talk about a whole new concept of light. What at any other time is serviceable, and sometimes bordering on the dull-please-get-a-higher-watt-bulb now has an intensity that is almost painful. Even at this time of year - mid-December, with its infinite shades of gray, where you count the minutes of light that dwindle every day, and you wait and pray and tell yourself that you just need to make it to December 22 and all will be well again - even this late afternoon half-light is too bright.
Right now, the light positively glows. Right now, the light - the lamp, the sun, the source doesn't matter - the light is different. I am pulled out of my unnoticing, so that I have a chance to see.
That's as far as the metaphor will stretch; my apologies. It's not the dilation that is driving this verbose introspection; the light does hurt, even as it is all glowy and fuzzy. No, it's Chanukah itself that's causing this reflection on light (no pun intended, and so you know, I've practically burned out the delete key, in my efforts to avoid this too-obvious but unintentional pun).
We go about our days, filled with work and carpools and groceries to be put away and fresh laundry to be folded and dinner to be made. There's homework in there, and correspondence and bills to be overlooked one more week. We run and we do and we go, an ever-moving faster pace that keeps us hurtling forward. There's planning to do and calls to be made. It is never-ending. ANd don't get me wrong - there's a whole lot of joy in all of this, along with great stretches of nothing much of anything - the "normal" cacophony of emotional noise that flits and flutters through our heads and hearts. It's life, and it drives us along pathways that are at once familiar and comfortable and ignored.
But for these eight nights, the light is different. For these eight nights, I get to stand next to my son and pause as we light the candles of the menorah. I hear the scratch and sizzle of the match, I see the flickerflame of the candles - one more each night - dance atop graceful pastel tapers. I get to chant a blessing that feels as old as the sun, and that hangs in the air in weightless beauty, as if lingering, too, for just a few seconds more, to watch the light dance and flow. And my son and I, we stand, and we watch and we linger just a fraction of a second longer before the rush of our lives returns.
For these eight blessed nights, I am given the gift of light - a light that shines differently, a light that dances and glows and allows me to pause and share something ancient and holy with my son.
Blessed are you, God, Ruler of the All, who sanctifies us and commands us to kindle the lights of Chanukah.
Chag urim sameach!