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Staying in the Dark Just a Little Longer

Posted on December 13, 2011 by Ela Merom

As we are looking towards the festival of lights, I want to invite us to remain in the dark just a little longer.
As the days shorten and nights lengthen we are, understandably looking for a way out. Who doesn’t enjoy lighting up the night with the Hanukah candles, or with colorful Christmas lights for that matter? Our traditions meet in that human need to be in the light, to warm up the spirit. We celebrate miracles, we celebrate faith. I want to focus our gentle attention on the moment before the birth of a miracle, what are the inner workings of a miracle? What allows for it to truly arise before our eyes?
There is nothing more crucial in order for us to allow for miracles, than cultivating an appreciation and a sense of awe-filled regard, a sacred honor, for the precious nature of the unknown. A miracle, a new form breaking out of normal, mundane, habituous lines of action, can only arise when we agree to let go of the forms and concepts we know and mistakenly believe guard us. This false sense is the foremost miracle blocker. Most of us live our lives in addiction to what we know, living out the same patterns in our family, in our work, even in our pleasure, repeating the same sayings, reproducing the same relationships, multiplying the same interactions.
You think you’re radical? Beware! Are you really living out choice, living out freedom? We are all stuck in some way or other. The place where our inner fist holds the tightest, is exactly where, once the fingers loosen, a butterfuly of white light will be released into the air, a miracle. Take a moment. We all know that inner fist. Feel it for a moment. Make a fist in both hands, tight. Now slowly release. How does that feel?  Ingrain that feeling: a miracle has already happened.
I want to propose that what is so scary about change is not change itself, but that moment just before change that brings a new, more aligned form. It is that chaotic, formless, in-between part that scares us, but it is in that place, a place of no-form, of languageless paradox, that is a magical birth canal. And make no mistake, no fluffiness is intended: It is dark and narrow and scary, very scary.
Let us grow in strength and faith! For it is not in the light, where everything is seen and clear, that we need faith, that we need to practice faith. True light and clarity is a by product of letting go–letting go in faith, agreeing to stay just a little longer, held by nothing and no one but God. God not as we think we know or want to imagine, but AS IT IS.
More often than not even when things seem to be moving forward, we are mostly using old forms to try and create new ones. Our imagination grasps at what we know to use that material to create more of the same. The reason for this is that most of the time we do not agree to stay in that place of breadth in between breaths. The upper link to eternity in Jewish mystical thought is called Ayyn, nothingness or emptiness. It is only in bearing witness to darkness, staying quiet, not filling the air with words, not lighting up the room, not making “happy, happy,” but staying alone with open palms and a loose jaw is when a miracle happens; its source from The Eternal, pushing through the birth canal of Ayyin, appearing before our eyes.
This is victory: Letting this process happen, and it is the biggest bravery of all. And it is then that we really start moving, not creating more of the same, not doing for the sake of doing, but doing Avodat ha’shem, God’s work in the world.
In Hebrew, משבר  “mashber,” means both crisis and birth. Rebirth is often regarded as a process which happens from this life to the next. If we are able to get friendly enough with the unknown we can blessedly give birth to ourselves many times during our lifetime, over and over again shedding old dry skin, when has become no longer useful. Allowing life to run through us, to shape us like rocks transformed slowly as raindrops caress them into new and beautiful forms. We could be more happy, we could be more free!
As we light the Menorah this year, as we remember the rededication and re-sanctification of the temple, let us not forget how broken and defiled it was just a moment before. It is in entering that broken temple that the cruse of oil was found. Let us celebrate not light over darkness but light born of darkness – blessed, holy darkness.

Staying in the Dark Just a Little Longer: Text
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