For several years at around this time of year, I’ve posted or linked to the lyrics to Peter Yarrow’s Chanukah song “Light One Candle”. (Here they are, with an account of the history behind the holiday.) Every year, they seem more appropriate.

As is probably clear, I’m not a very observant Jew. But I do light candles and say the brachas every year. Chanukah means a lot to me, not for the “we won, neener neener!” aspect of the holiday but for the idea of kindling a light at the darkest time of year, an idea it shares with all of the winter Solstice holidays. It’s an image that keeps coming back to me; candles and sparks and stars all over my writing. Here’s the most recent attempt:

A Light in Winter

The year is drawing in, the winter’s near
The newscast moans of terror and despair
A hellish swirl of doubting, dread and fear.

Then as the maelstrom waters iris closed
I see a tiny light that shows the way
An answer promised, questions yet unposed.

A light – from candle, lamp or strung on tree
It kindles, bravely holding off the dark
And breathes of maybes, hopes, and cautious dreams.

I wonder, sometimes, if it’s God’s own mark,
That miracle of light, the ancient spark.