I write this letter just two days from beginning my five-week sabbatical and departing for the Philippines. While I am excited to experience the people and places awaiting me, I am also sad to be leaving just as the holiday season gets going in our community.
This holy time is one of anticipation, quiet moments in darkness, magical moments in candlelight, and of celebrating small miracles of birth and lengthening days. There is much that can nurture our spirits in our winter celebrations.
Yet, we also enter into this sacred time, marked by holy days in the Jewish and Christian traditions rooted in the Middle East, against the backdrop of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas and the humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold in Gaza. Again, our human hearts are stretched as we hold both beauty and sorrow in our midst.
Hanukkah, Advent, Solstice, and Christmas are all holy days that ask us to have faith. Faith that freedom will come. Faith that love will be born. Faith that light will return. Faith that peace will reign over all the lands.
It is hard to hold onto this faith in such dire times and that’s why we need the grounding of community, the grounding of the earth, and the grounding of a greater love and spirit that connects us all.
As you light your candles, sing and chant, laugh and cry in this season, may you find solace in mystery and consolation in human kindness. May you reach your flame towards another to kindle hope in your hearts.