I believe we who celebrate Channukah got to kick-off the winter holiday season this year. As I write, Channukah is in it’s last few hours. There’s been much good food, lots of family, some presents and many, many candles (we let each child light their own special Channukiah, so at my house, last night there were 27 little flames all in a row). It got me thinking about how the symbolism of light and bringing brightness into the dark is a theme that runs through the diversity of this season’s celebrations. Light, enlightenment, warmth, a welcoming glow… all become important as the encroaching cold and dark affect our mood, our energy level and our want to get out and interact with our community.

And then I came across a reading in a holiday program I attended with my daughter. It brought a tear to my eye and a renewed resolve to my commitment to keep reaching, keep shining and keep doing. I actually photographed the page of the program so that I could share it with you (my apologies for not knowing who’s responsible for the original work). Here it is – consider it a little lit candle of holiday spirit:

At the last session, on the last morning of a two-week seminar, Dr. Papaderos turned and made the ritual gesture: “Are there any questions?” Quiet quilted the room. These two weeks had generated enough questions for a lifetime, but for now, there was only silence. “No questions?”, Papaderos swept the room with his eyes. So I asked, “Dr. Papaderos, what is the meaning of life?”

The usual laughter followed, and people stirred to go. Papaderos held up his hand and stilled the room and looked at me for a long time, asking with his eyes if I was serious and seeing from my eyes that I was. “I will answer your question.”

Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into a leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. And what he said went something like this:

“When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor, and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

“I tried to find all the pieces and put them back together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone, I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine, in dark holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

“I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game.

“As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. But light, true understanding, knowledge is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

“I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world – into the black places in the hearts of men, and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I’m about. This is the meaning of life.”

As we celebrate all different kinds of seasonal holidays, my wish is that you find and feel the light. And as we look to the brand new blank page that is 2019 – I hope that you see yours as fresh and bright, light white just ready to be written on. It is my pleasure to continue to reflect light towards you and I am grateful for all those that reflect it back to me and that pass it on.


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