Today is the first day of Hanukkah, a celebration of the miracle of light. In the Hanukkah story, when it seemed that there was no more light left, the light kept burning until a new reserve of oil was ready.
Even in dark times, we have access to more light than we sometimes know. At this dark and busy time of year, it’s important to remember the miracle of not only the external lights, but also the internal.
To honor the light that is within each of us, I want to share a poem by Mary Oliver:
The Buddha’s Last Instruction
by Mary Oliver
“Make of yourself a light”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal—a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire—
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.