The most overtly religious thing I do, aside from prayer, is take out the family menorah every December.
I love to handle its sturdy stem and graceful arms, and I love the ritual of lighting it, when we are home, when I remember.
I am a Christian; we have two or three Ganeshas around the house; I still glow from interviews with the Dalai Lama years ago. It all flows together, particularly in this country founded on freedom and multiplicity.
The menorah stirs feelings that are ancient – the same connections I sense in Brooklyn when I gaze at the Hasids who, of course, make no eye contact whatsoever. I feel they are kin, somehow, through my father, who was adopted, but I spare them from telling them so.
The menorah touches deeply because it speaks of survival and courage. When the candles flicker through our front window, they say, Here Too, More of Us, whatever us means.
The past year, lights have been glowing in parts of the world where it takes extreme bravery to congregate, much less protest. Light a candle for people of courage. Happy Hanukkah.
With the arrival of LED lighting, which costs so little to burn, every house has become an island of illumination, every city a blazing forest fire of artificial light. In my own backyard, it’s hard to enjoy the full moon because so many of our neighbors now leave their lights on all night long. And that’s without the holiday displays, each one bright enough to guide an airplane from the sky and land it safely in the middle of our street.
---Margaret Renkl, The New York Times, Dec. 21, 2022.