“Only in silence the word,
Only in dark the light,
Only in dying life:
Bright the hawk’s flight
on the empty sky.”
– Ursula K. Le Guin
On the fifth night of Chanukah, my love and I sat in the glow of six candles. The shamash – attendant or caretaker in Hebrew and also the root of the word for sun, is the first candle lit each Chanukah night. Once the blessings are sung, the shamash shares its light with the others, lighting a candle for each of the eight Chanukah nights, and so the Chanukiah/Menorah burns brighter and brighter as the holiday unfolds.
One of my favorite parts of the ritual is to turn off all the lights and ignite the shamash in complete darkness, its light all consuming, enchanting. We do not work by the light of these sacred candles, instead we sing, we eat, we play, we let the warm glow illuminate our fires within and let stories of miracles and resistance arise. “Only in dark the light” (Ursula K Le Guin, 1968), a teaching I have cultivated from Judaism, is echoed by beloved sci fi author Le Guin in The creation of Ea; there is light amidst the darkness. Each enables the other to exist. In turn, grief, loss and struggle cannot exist without joy, awe and connection.
The Hebrew word Chanukah translates to dedication. The story takes place in the second century and tells of a difficult time when Jewish people resisted oppression and worked hard to rededicate the holy temple after it was destroyed once again. It is said they found enough oil amidst the wreckage of their sacred temple to burn for only one day, and it miraculously burned for eight. In the month of Kislev, the third month of the Hebrew calendar when Chanukah is celebrated, we are invited to open to that which is beyond our expectations or even what is logical. We are inspired to realize our deepest dreams and embrace all possibilities. To know our deepest dreams, we have to listen. Making space for deep listening we allow our light from within to come forth and show us our way through the darkness.
The light of Chanukah invites us to see even the ordinary aspects of life as miraculous. I am so fortunate to embody this teaching in my Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy practice as well. Each time I begin a session I am blown away by the unique festival of lights that unfolds within each system that invites me to be of witness. Our existence is simply miraculous.
I am so grateful to each of you who have chosen my practice as a step forward and a leap within, on your path toward wholeness and healing. I want to express an additional thanks to those who have been so gentle and understanding in receiving my cancelation notices over the past month. Each of us has to decide how to best respond to the current public health recommendations and I have made the difficult decision to put my practice on hold to minimize risk in our communities as best I can. I also work in the school district, which carries with it a whole other set of variables and uncertainties. I strive to be accountable to my clients and to the Heart and Hands community and I will continue to tune into public health announcements and very much look forward to reopening sometime in the New Year when it’s safe(r) to do so. Our most vulnerable community members are very important to me so I have decided since there’s so much we don’t know, why not be as careful as possible?
We are each experiencing these pandemic times differently depending on many factors some of which include wealth, health and housing. Not everyone has the luxury of working remotely and not everyone has a home to isolate in. The same poor and racialized communities who were vulnerable before Covid are still vulnerable now. This pandemic has not changed the reality of systemic injustices, it has simply amplified and made them more visible. Let’s continue to show our gratitude to the vulnerable workers on the frontlines who may not have the agency to choose safe(r) work: the postal workers, school staff, hospital workers, care aides, grocery store clerks, etc. who risk their lives to provide essential services and to keep the wheels of capitalism turning.
“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words” (Ursula K. Le Guin 2014 National Book Awards speech).
With these words, and in the spirit of Chanukah, I invite you to rededicate yourself to that which serves you and our communities. It is a time to sing of miracles and share our light with others. It is a time to rise up and resist oppression.
What do you want to rededicate yourself to? What miracles have you witnessed lately? What will you do to resist oppression and rise up?
Whatever you choose, may your light and the lights of each member of our communities burn bright,
Aviva Ciplinski, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist