The trees sway back and forth, as the wind howls. The cold is fierce, as are the feelings of endless darkness and despair.
Inside the nearby house, a fire burns. Light, optimism and warmth seem to emanate from inside, where old men to young boys crowd around the table.
I hear the moan of the wind, mixed with the notes of the nigunim (Chassidic tunes) coming from the house. I find myself drifting inside.
Entering the small room, people rub shoulders in order to make room for me. Here, they know that sharing a candle’s flame won’t diminish its light, but actually increase it. Here, there is always room for another.
They finish the nigun they’re singing, and begin another. Afterward, we all raise our small cups and wish each other l’chaim (to life). L’chaim, to a life filled with blessings and the ability to notice and appreciate them. To a life that is alive.
One of the elderly men at the head of the table begins to speak, in soft, yet resolute voice. I don’t hear every word he says, but inside, I am listening attentively. He speaks words of faith, of conviction. Words of gentility and strength.
More l’chaims and nigunim, mixed with words of inspiration, all while the wind howls outside. As a world of chaos rages.
I feel that I have jumped into a sea of joy, from the land of sadness. From the shadows of darkness and despondency, to the rays of light and hope. From the cold of feeling alone in the world, to the warmth of friendship and connection.