Creating hope and light

In the middle of a cold December, it can be hard to focus on light and hope. But there are ancient stories to remind us that miracles come at the most unexpected times. As Jews around the world prepare to observe the eight days of Hanukkah, all of us are invited to celebrate the fact that we can find light and warmth at even the coldest, darkest times of the year and in our lives. Discover how to cultivate that possibility throughout the year with these simple steps.

Hanukkah Means Dedication
It refers to the re-dedication and re-opening of the Temple that stood in Jerusalem until the year 70 of the Common Era. Take a moment to consider those things to which you are dedicated. To what might you re-dedicate yourself with renewed commitment? To whom can you turn for support in doing so?

Miracles are Closer than We Often Think
The classic tale of Hanukkah describes the miracle of a small jar of oil used to light the Temple’s menorah (candelabrum) lasting eight days instead of only one. What resource, skill or passion lies within you, like the oil in the jar, just waiting to be released? Try letting it out and don’t be surprised if miracles happen!

Liberate Yourself Spiritually
The odds were against the Israelite soldiers and they are often against us as well. But we can find some of the liberation we seek by worrying less about the odds of success, in a new relationship, practice, or any other endeavor, and focusing instead on the importance of trying.

Rededication Leads to Heroism
Judah Maccabee and the other ancient heroes were not famous or special. They became heroes by deciding what they cared about most and pursuing it fully. Each of us can become that kind of hero by doing the same thing.

Ancient Stories Inspire New Greatness
What stories from your past, that of your family or found in the teachings of your faith still inspire you? No matter how dark things may be for you, those stories live in you. Tell them now and feel how they empower you.

Seeing the Miracles All Around Us
Seeing the miracles all around us is the surest way to find new and even greater miracles in our lives. What Miracles have you witnessed this year? They don’t have to be supernatural to count, they simply have to give you that sense that something unexpectedly wonderful happened. Share the stories of those miracles, and more will come into your life.

Remember that Play is Sacred
Make time to play, not as a break from the “important stuff” but because doing so is important stuff. Whether it’s dreidel (a traditional Hanukkah game) or Scrabble, try getting down on the floor, especially with those younger than you are, and playing a game – it’s a holiday gift you can give yourself.

Indulge Yourself… a Little
Enjoying a treat, even if it’s not so good for you, is really important. All out denial of the things we enjoy, especially those guilty pleasures, is rarely the way to go. And often enjoying a little of something, can help us from giving in and having too much.

Share the Joy
Whether in person, on the phone or on-line, let the holidays be your “excuse” to reconnect with a friend or member of your family. We all need the light and warmth of the holidays and will actually have more of each when we share them with others. Perhaps that is the greatest Hanukkah miracle off all – the awareness that like the oil in that ancient jar, the more joy is shared with others, the more there seems to be for us.

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is an author, radio and talk show host, and the president of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Visit his blog: Windows & Doors.

Article courtesy of Beliefnet offers daily inspiration with news articles on faith, religion, politics, health, family entertainment, sustainable living and more.