Eight Meditations for Hanukkah

an oil light with hanukkah candles
One.
Open your eyes,
see the world around you.
See that you are still in it.
See that there is light, even in the dark.
See that there is joy, even in sadness.
See that there is love, even with hatred.
See that there is time, even if it is short.
See that there is a world,
and see that you are still in it,
because for better or worse,
there may be a reason, and
there may be a rhyme to it all.
And maybe, if we stay,
and see something good each day,
maybe one day we’ll know what
everything is all about.
 
Two.
Breathe in through your nose,
smell the world around you.
Smell the scents carried on the breeze,
and smell the food in your kitchen.
Smell the flowers in your flower pots,
and smell the coffee as it brews in the morning.
Or in the evening. Or at midnight.
Because for everyone there is a season,
and there is a time.
And for some, there is even a time
for a midnight cup of pot coffee.
Smell the air as you go to work,
smell the shampoo as you wash your hair.
Take in all the smells, good and bad,
because that is where life happens;
in the greys and the in-betweens.
 
Three.
Feel every surface around you.
Touch your countertop as you cook.
Run your fingers along your desk.
Feel the difference between a pencil
and a pen in your hand.
Feel how different your pet’s fur feels
when they are dry, or when they
are out in the rain.
Feel the cold metal car door in the winter
and the warm bowl of soup when you are sick.
Feel how you exist in the world,
Because we do not exist in a touchless world.
Our world is not virtual, and that is a gift,
because we can use our senses.
 
Four.
Listen to everything.
Close your eyes, and hear.
Hear the cars pass by your window
in the early morning rush hour.
Hear the water trickle
after you turn off the shower.
Hear the sounds in the background
of your favorite television show.
Listen to all the sounds around you,
because life is not in stereo.
Life is in surround sound,
and somewhere in that surround,
there is someone experiencing joy,
and there is someone experiencing pain.
There is so much around us,
stop and listen to it.
 
Five.
Taste everything you can.
Taste things you like, and try things.
Some things you will like;
maybe peppermint tea in December,
maybe a glass of wine with dinner,
maybe a doughnut for breakfast,
maybe salmon on that special date,
maybe coffee first thing in the morning,
maybe that secret guilty pleasure.
There are so many gift in life,
and food accounts for many of them.
Food is sustenance. Food is life.
Water is life.
We are commanded to embrace life,
so why not enjoy it in the process?
 
Six.
Turn your thoughts to your breath.
Breathe in, and feel where it goes.
Notice your shoulders, your chest,
as they rise and fall with your breath.
That sustaining breath which carries
oxygen to your lungs, to your blood,
To your heart, to your brain.
Breath is life.
Without that breath we are done in minutes.
So take that air, feel it in your body,
and know that it is good.
Torah says the breath of life is Divine,
and just in case it’s true,
we should keep that breath true and holy.
 
Seven.
Turn your thoughts to your community.
See how you fit into your family,
Your friend-circle, your block,
And your town.
Hear what happens on your street at night,
And smell what your neighbors cook
for the Holidays.
Hold your someone’s hand,
And taste your friend’s cooking.
Your community is your lifeblood,
And you are the lifeblood of your community.
We are a people of togetherness,
So do not neglect it.
See your life,
And find what gives you joy in it.
 
Eight.
Turn your thoughts to the world.
See what happens in the news,
good and bad.
Hear the cries for justice,
and hear the stories of love on the tv.
Smell the exotic spices in the supermarket,
and taste the food in that cookbook
from another culture.
Our people does not live in one place.
We are a diaspora of thousands of cultures,
thousands of traditions,
thousands of ideas,
and millions of people.
All of us are still part of the world.
and the world is a part of all of us.
See it all.
Smell it all.
Hear it all.
Touch it all.
Taste it all.
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