In the Dark, Being Still

Hanukkah candles-8th night 5777_optIt’s the darkest time of the year: a few days past Winter Solstice; one day after Christmas; and this evening is the third night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. Many of us mark this season with traditions of coming together to share time, eat special foods, and light up the darkness.

As we gather with friends and loved ones this year, we are sometimes finding ourselves confronted with political conversations that seem weightier than they ever have before.

If we’re gathering with like-minded people, conversations can take on a hushed, serious tone. “How did this happen? People I know are afraid. I am afraid. What are we going to do?”

If we’re gathering with friends or family with divergent views, we might be hoping against hope that the subject doesn’t come up—and strategizing about how to respond if/when the conversation turns political. (Or racist, or sexist, or homophobic.) Do we keep the peace by laughing it off, staying quiet, or changing the subject—or do we speak up?

No matter who you’re gathering with or how your conversations go, I hope you are able to find some time to pause and notice the dark stillness of this season. In between the rush, the travel, the cooking, and angst over this political moment—and before we dive back into “normal” life in the New Year—let’s stop, take a deep breath, and just be for a bit.

I know it’s hard. There’s so much to do, all the time! And it’s all important. There’s work and family and friends—errands and housework and…our new political reality.

Sometimes, though, our souls need a break. This time of long nights and dark skies, betwixt and between holidays, offers us a natural time to rest—if we’ll let ourselves.

So go outside. Notice your surroundings. Listen. Appreciate a child’s laugh. Read a book. Take a walk. Take a nap. Breathe.

We’ll jump back into the fray soon enough. When we do, we’ll be better equipped and more grounded if we’ve let ourselves be still for a bit first.

“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.” –Chaim Potok

How are you being still this season?

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