Three Ways to Find Your Inner Light by Debbie Gutfreund
Chanukkah is a unique time for accessing the sparks of light within and thereby light up the world.
Some of my prayers have been answered right away. When I was frustrated as a parent and I prayed for patience, I found patience. When I felt stuck in a habit and I prayed for discipline, I found discipline. When there were challenges in my marriage and I prayed for love, I found love. When I could not understand a client or a situation and I prayed for wisdom, I found wisdom.
These inner miracles happen every day, but Chanukkah is a unique time for accessing these sparks of light within us. Here are three ways to find the light within us.
One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve seen for how to cope with the pandemic in the coming winter months is to make sure to spend some time outside. There is no substitute for the way that nature opens up our eyes. The bare branches of the trees remind us that there is an essential force of endurance pulsing through life no matter what season it is. The infinite expanse of the sky reminds us that we are part of a galaxy that is one tiny part of the billions of galaxies that exist. The water teaches us about depth and flow and reflection.
When you’re outside, look up and pray for awe. Awe fills us with gratitude for the beauty and possibility in the world around us. Awe reminds us to be humble and to recognize the brevity of the years of our lives on a cosmic scale. But most of all, awe reminds us that God has placed light within us and all around us as a gift, waiting to be noticed every day.
Loneliness was a global health issue before the pandemic began, and it has grown exponentially worse over the past year. Even people who are surrounded by family often feel isolated in their homes.
We need to feel connected to others on both an emotional and a spiritual level. Video call a friend or family member. Write a hand-written note to someone that you think will appreciate it. If you can find a way to safely meet outdoors for an activity with friends, make it happen even if it’s for a short period of time.
When you are lonely, ask for a way to find connection. Sometimes even just praying for others connects us to them in miraculous ways. Connection reminds us that even though we are all so seemingly different on the outside we share a common, precious humanity that can unite us in the most challenging of times. Connection reminds us to get out of our own heads and reach out to those around us. Most of all, connection reminds us that when we each give of our light to the world, the darkness is that much brighter, and the warmth can be felt by others in ways we may never know.
Our default instinct is to give up when we can’t see a way out of a situation. But some of us have been fortunate enough to know how to persevere through life’s storms. Hope is a learned behaviour. It’s not something that we will have without seeking it out and learning it. Hope is something we need to pray for and find every day because without hope, we have nothing.
Whether it’s your loved ones’ health or your children’s education, have hope not only that the future will be bright and full of possibility but that we can do our part to make it better. My grandmother used to tell me that if you are breathing, there is still hope for a better tomorrow.
Hanukkah is the ultimate time to find this hope again. We light the candles each night with the hope that the flames before us will inspire us to find the miracles in our own lives today. We look into those tiny sparks of light to see the reflection of the infinite lights that are within us all.
Help us find the awe. Give us a way to connect. Show us that there is hope in the darkness. He who created miracles for us in the past will create miracles for us today. This Hanukkah, as we watch the flames of the menorah grow and climb before us, let’s re-kindle together the hope that can light up the world.