Some thoughts of the season, shared with others elsewhere:
Friends of ours have a darling baby girl just over a year old who's undergoing surgery in Philadelphia while her 3 older siblings stay here in the DC area with loving family. They are devout Catholics; friends and family have been sending messages of love, support, and prayer on their CarePage. Part of mine from Friday afternoon:
Love, Faith, and Light
You are surrounded by the loving thoughts and prayers of so many of us who cannot be with you in person. I draw inspiration from what others have written, and say with them: "May God's love surround you and you see miracles in the upcoming days."
Tonight will be the first night of Hanukkah. The candles shine as a light of hope against the darkness, little by little, increasing each night until the menorah is ablaze with light. When we light the candles, we say: "Praised are You, Lord our God, Ruler of time and space, who accomplished miracles for our ancestors in ancient days, and in our time." There are miracles small and great every day--your love for each other; your lovely children. May we continue to know the miracles done in our time for us, and may your daughter have a good surgery and a speedy recovery.
Hanukkah is a holiday of prevailing against the odds, of seeking and finding strength in faith. Tomorrow in synagogue one of the readings comes from the prophet Zechariah, which couples his vision of the menorah with these words: "Not by might and not by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord of Hosts." May you be sustained by God's spirit, and by the love that we all have for you and for Gabbi. The Psalmist says, "In Your light we see light" (Psalm 36:9); in the light of the love of family and friends for you, we see God's light.
"Hope in the Lord and be strong; Take courage, and hope in the Lord." (Psalm 27)
On the commonalities in observance of the "holiday season," various as those holidays are:
Everyone could use a little more light in a dark time--all of these mid-winter holidays are about trying to increase the light against the darkness: from the menorah to Advent candles and Santa Lucia's blazing crown of candles (her day is my birthday!) to the Kwanzaa kinara, lighting candles often serves as the symbolic expression of this wish. The more the merrier, say I!