In winter, the sun doesn't rise overhead but slides around the sky like a sidearm pitch. It doesn't reign above, king of the day, high in the heat of noon. It short-cuts across the chill sky as if hugging the horizon, as if embarrassed that it's days have become short.
Winter is night in the vineyard. This is when the grape vines sleep. Nothing bends toward the diminished sun. The bare canes rattle in the wind.
No leaves. No green. No fruit.
The ground is moist. But prune a vine: it doesn't bleed. There is no pull of life in its veins. The roots are numb to the ground around them,
indifferent to the water that in the summer feeds urgent new growth.
The emptiness of winter enters into us. We long for life. Sometimes with calm, sometimes with sadness we wonder, "Where is life?" During the year
the natural world, in mood and metaphor, alerts us to life in its seasonal ways. Now is the season of its sleep.
In such a time of darkness the holiday of Chanukah brings light, another kind of light. Not the summer light that stimulates the vitality of growing things, but a light reflected down through the ages, kindled by our own hands, through our victorious efforts, commemorating a rededication to
holiness, holiness within and above the vitality of the natural world.
At this time, many years ago, one day's natural oil gave eight days' holy light.
Today the miraculous lights of Chanukah glow and rejoice the heart at a time when the world is dim and the vines are bare. They are the lights of victory and spiritual purity that encourage the soul when all around is darkness. They are the lights of faith that illumine a way to a time of new life.