Nicole Barchilon Frank: A Time To Connect – January 18, 2011
A series of unfortunate events over this last month have had me in bed and in pain, as well as at the doctor’s and hospital. I’ve also had incredible healing massages, chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture sessions. Meals have been delivered, dishes done by others and now I am completely well and grateful with an increased sense of the profound blessing of community in my life.
Another side effect of being trapped in bed is I finally had some moments for reflection. As I work on this article, it is the full moon/Solstice/lunar eclipse, and I’m up until midnight to see it. Hopefully, the sky will stay clear. Regardless of whether I witness the eclipse, this is a time to connect with what is luminous and Holy. Chanukah and Solstice, for me, have been about cold days, pain, stress and a profound kindling of light and community linked to this time of year. When the days are short, the nights are long, and the moon is doing wondrous things I find more time for inner meandering and have the time to write my ramblings down to share with you.
This time of year is usually a little problematic for me. I endeavor to not be grouchy or touchy, but find myself telling all the clerks and folks who wish me a Merry Christmas or tell me about the “specials” coming up in time for Christmas, that I AM JEWISH, Dammit! Even, if I don’t use the expletive, the all CAPS seem to emerge. This is despite many years of trying to curb this tendency and find ways to just honor and delight in the cycles of others as this “jolly” season unwraps itself (pun intended).
This year Channukah fell on December 1 through 8, which was very early. It is not Christmas Lite or eight days of presents or anything like that for our family. I usually make a killer batch of latkes, during the eight days, complete with home-made applesauce. We light candles, say the prayers and perhaps play some games or visit with whatever friends come over. There is a Channukah party every year that my congregation throws and I often handle clean up for that (not this year, as I was using a cane and my foot was out of commission).
Chanukah is a full eight days of family, community and friends. The busyness of Chanukah is tempered by the custom of not doing any work while the candles are burning, so the dishes have to wait and the rush of my life takes a short hiatus for the thirty minutes or less that those small candles burn. This practice of enjoying the flickering light, sitting in semi-darkness with colored candles in a beautiful Hannukiah, is what I enjoy the most. The stillness, even though brief, and easily broken, if I choose to ignore the tradition, is what I long for and what kindles an inner flame within.
When I am still, when I am not hurrying, the clock really does slow down and time shifts. The colors and the smells, the beauty of those around me, penetrate deeply and I remember to treasure every moment. This is the best gift and the only real gift I ever need or want at this time of year.
I’d also love to not have the urge to proclaim my being different or Jewish whenever someone wishes me seasonal greetings. Working on that and on remembering that all the folks I know are actually quite similar to me. We are all trying to get to a place of warmth, joy, safety and treasuring with ourselves, the planet and each other. Whether you slide there in Santa’s sleigh or rise up with the lights of Channukah, or breathe yourself there in meditation or chant and howl as the Solstice comes, we are all ONE in our desires to be well and have goodness permeate our lives. I hope that you find the moments of stillness within all the hurrying that are the precious jewels of this time of year, when the cold, the shorter days and longer nights, and the desire to offer gifts is upon us. May the end of this year’s cycle bring you closer to all that you treasure and need.
Nicole writes to you from her warm bed in Bayside, waiting for the eclipse to remind her, deep in her bones of the wonder of the heavenly bodies and how she is spinning on a small planet in a vast universe and that she is a tiny piece of stardust alive and well, here and now.