While standing on a rooftop garden overlooking the Pacific Ocean with a warm breeze blowing and the soft tones of ambient music in the background amidst the company of friends, I watch the sun set gloriously over the horizon. The sky is a rustic orange tinged with pink hues. It momentarily turns green as the sun winks at us one last time for this day and then disappears. The light dissipates, the temperature begins to drop, we slowly go downstairs as the evening begins. What a gift of light this has been!
We are blessed to live in a world where beauty surrounds us. Light continues to enhance our environment. The rainbow at the end of a rain storm, the prism reflecting off freshly cleaned glass, the glistening white teeth of a smile reflecting sunshine, and the beauty of the stars shining in a clear night sky.
Although the miracles of Hanukkah are recognized to have happened many years ago, if we open our eyes to beauty and pay attention to acts and moments of love, joy and kindness, we can enjoy the miracle of life. When a baby first smiles at the parents, when a toddler laughs with pure joy while playing with a sibling, when a teenager receives that all important letter of acceptance to her dream college, when a groom steps on the glass under the chuppah, when a child sits on the grandparent’s lap while listening to a story, or a stranger reachers out to a needy person to lighten their load. Notice these moments, point them out to your children, discuss the lightness they bring to the people involved and by extension the world and recognize each miraculous moment for what it is. The ripple effect is powerful.
Every moment of love, gratitude and happiness enhances our world.
We don’t have to look far to find shining lights, we just need to open our hearts to enjoy them and to recognize the miracle that each ray of light represents.
SUE PENN is currently the Director of Congregational Learning at University Synagogue where she oversees all education from ages 4-104. Sue has been honored for being an innovative educator and is committed to creative approaches in Jewish Education. Sue currently sits on the Board of the Jewish National Fund of Orange County, and of the Reconstructionist Educators of North America, where she was a previous chair. She is also co-president of the Orange County Jewish Educator Association. Sue also runs educational webinars for the Reconstructionist Movement.