We were driving along the streets of Manhattan and I was sharing my weekend experiences as scholar in residence in a nearby synagogue with my son, Jeremiah. In particular I tried to convey how I understood the importance of Hannukah from the vantage point of gratefulness.It was somewhat elaborate-after all it had to take up at least 20 minutes of sermon time in the synagogue! Almost instinctively Jeremiah replied with a simple but very moving interpretation of Chanukah's richness as a source of connection to gratefulness living in our spiritual lives.I gratefully share his insight.
On the surface we focus on the LIGHTS of Hannukah-they capture our attention and symbolize so much of our emotional attachment to the holiday.Behind the light,however, is the oil, the fuel without which the fire and the light are impossible."I see gratitude as the oil, the fuel, that has the power of kindling the lights of enlightenment and joy," he concluded.
I became aware of a new way of understanding the popular legend of Hannukah's miracle, the oil sufficient for one day lasting for eight days.If we understand oil-gratitude as spiritual fuel, then this miracle takes on new and ongoing significance. A slight awareness of the gift of life for which to feel grateful carries the potential for the outpouring of increased capacities to see the world as a miraculous and a marvelous gift for which we can hardly hold back our response of praise and gratitude.To me gratitude, as a spiritual fuel,is entirely renewable and capable of energizing our spiritual lives with added dimensions of beauty, joy and holiness.It is no accident that we ignite an additional light each night of Hannukah; we do so to remind us of the power of a single spark to kindle a flame of passion, love and goodness which will to illuminate the many dark corners of our our lives and the world.