25 December 2005

I forgot to buy candles yesterday. But as the sun went down here in Metro Atlanta, I recalled I'd had to buy two full boxes of pink and purple votive ones to make up the Advent wreath this year.

I hurried to the closet, and took out the boxes-a miracle! I had just eight! With the one for the fourth Sunday of Advent as a shimash, I had the makings of this year's menorah!

I lined a shoe box lid with tin foil, and set the eight candles on the foil, then lit the shimash, and then the first candle. I set the box lid on a rolling hassock I found in the clearance bin at Wal-Mart three weeks ago, and rolled my makeshift menorah to the sliding glass door overlooking the car park.

Then I stepped out on the balcony to pray for the people who taught me what Hanukkah is about.

For Barbara, my father's third wife, may she rest always in His peace. A sweet, kind, yet fully capable of fierceness if needed, gentle Jewess, who reached out her heart to a tired, bitter, lonely Christian man in a time of his great need, and re-taught him the meaning of love, and freedom.

For, and in deepest gratitude for his all too brief friendship, Ilan, a brave man, who loved his God, his wife and children, and his country. A righteous man who would be embarrassed to see these words; who asked me to wear the Star of David on a black leather cord around my wrist; who died for freedom.

Oh Lord, I pray for Benjamin, who died in hospital of cancer, still hoping he would grow up to be a rabbi; who died un-knowing that he was already a rabbi, because he taught me so much about the real freedom acceptance of God's love brings.

For little Rachel, who also died of cancer, 3000 miles from Benjamin, but still had a crush on him, and would have been the perfect rabbi's wife.

For Rebecca, yet another child lost to cancer, older than Benjamin and Rachel, a girl in her late teens, who wanted to live so badly she was furious that she would die, yet with her last angry breath, was still trying to mother all the younger children on her ward.

And for Deborah, the prostitute, who hid her Jewishness in a small American town where the KKK burned crosses on the lawns of Jews nearly as often as on the lawns of African-Americans. Deborah, who pretended to be Methodist, but asked me to light the candles and pray for her soul as I did.

Thank-you, thank-you my dear ones, how I miss you, yet feel you near still.


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