For all of us, 2020 can’t come to a close quickly enough. I know that we hope and pray that 2021 will be a year of health and healing for the world. I’ve been thinking about Chanukah starting this week, about lighting the candles and the symbolism of those flames, of those lights in a world that has seemed so very dark.
Working in long term care, feeling responsible for the health and safety of elders and staff, has been especially difficult and complicated. We have had times of incredible challenge and have also known success. But this COVID enemy is a tough one to fight—treacherous, devious and pervasive. And so we win battles and we continue to push on to do what we must and what we will—win the war.
Last week was the anniversary of my brother’s death. It is predictable that, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, the memories of that December 1 begin to sit heavily on me. They’re like a physical presence as the sense of loss and the feelings of grief weigh on my shoulders. I kindle the flame of the Memorial Candle with an ache, and a hole in my heart that will never heal. This year, I lit the candle as I always do but this year the candle burned far longer than the 24 hours it is meant to burn. I watched this little flame, surprised to see it holding on and I thought, maybe this is my brother’s way of telling me something—telling me hold on, to be optimistic and to remember that nothing is impossible.
As we head into Chanukah, I can’t help but see some additional symbolism in the candles that we will light. Yes, we celebrate the miracle of the oil and the festival of lights, but lighting each candle also symbolizes bringing light to the darkness in our world. Each flame, even for the moments that it burns, lifts the darkness. I hope that each of those moments of brightness helps all of us to remember that it will be light, that there is hope and that, together, we will overcome whatever challenges lie ahead.
May we all carry that light into the darkness and may we all find the hope and strength to move us forward.