We are halfway through the eight nights of Hanukah, lighting one candle, then two, adding another each day to celebrate the miracle of the holiday.

And although we are ostensibly commemorating a miracle that happened long ago, I believe that the true goal of lighting all these candles, night after night, is to bring the blessing of increased light into our lives and our world.

At the darkest time of year, anything that increases light is welcome. And on this, the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook murders of 26 first graders and their teachers, light is more than merely welcome, it is necessary.

Sometimes it is hard to dispel the darkness. Sometimes, especially on the days when men with guns decide to murder innocent people, it seems that miracles can’t happen, and it is easy to think that God has forsaken us. Those are the times we so desperately need the light of love and caring, the light of concern for one another and the light of freedom and justice.

And the light of God.

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:

“God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.”

Light is fundamental to life. And God’s light is fundamental to our souls.

To believe in the return of light, when all the world is plunged into darkness, is the lesson of Hanukkah. To make possible the rekindling of hope, of holiness, of God’s light, when all around there is darkness, is the true miracle of Hanukkah.