First Chanukah Candle: Eyes of Wonder
In Rededication, a series for Chanukah by Rabbi Yael Levy, we are invited to notice the blessings and lift up the good. Here is tonight’s teaching:
As we light the first candle and enter the Festival of Chanukah, we give thanks for arriving to this moment and we acknowledge the blessings and the challenges of this past year. In the radiance of this first light, we give thanks for moments of connection, awareness, kindness and love and we also honor the experiences of disappointment, sadness and pain.
As Chanukah begins, we rededicate ourselves to looking at the world with eyes of wonder and awe. We rededicate ourselves to noticing the blessings and lifting up the good. We do this not to deny hardship but rather to strengthen ourselves and enhance our capacity to bring goodness into the world. On this first night of Chanukah, we join with the psalmist in saying:
Open my eyes that I might see the wonders of the unfolding path. - Psalm 119:18
Practice: Sitting Quietly with the First Light
Finding a comfortable place to sit in view of the candles, we let the attention rest on the breath as we gaze at the light of the flames. We notice the shape, texture and colors of the fire.
Each time we notice that the mind has wandered, we bring ourselves back to the breath and focus on the flames. After the candles have burned about half way down, we whisper to ourselves three things we feel grateful for and repeat the verse of the psalmist:
With my whole heart, I give thanks to the One,
With my whole heart, I will speak about the wonders of life. Psalm 9:2
Action: Radical Kindness
The times we live in call for radical kindness. In honor of the first light of Chanukah, we look for ways to act with kindness toward those we encounter as we go about the day.
We begin the festival with this song by Matisyahu and this short video that lifts up the beauty and power of acts of loving-kindness.