At approximately 4 PM in mid-December I was walking on Route 8 parallel to Brant Lake and thinking about the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
Why Hanukkah? Well, Hanukkah commemorates a time 2000 years ago when the Jews fought for freedom. As part of our modern-day celebration a menorah or candelabra is lit for eight days, symbolic of the oil light in the temple in Jerusalem that lasted for eight days. When the rabbis first inaugurated this tradition many years ago there were two schools of thought. One school argued for lighting all eight lights on the first night and decreasing the number to one light on the eighth night. In opposition, the second school argued for lighting one light on the first night and building to eight lights on the eighth day. This latter school of thought prevailed and so today our observance moves from darkness to light.
Walking on Route 8 on a December day I understood this philosophy. I was nearing the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The darkest day of the year. Already the lake was in shadow and I realized I needed to hurry home while I could still see, before I was enveloped by night.
Now it is mid-March and the days are longer. I can walk in daylight until 6 PM. There is no need to hurry home. The light has increased like the eighth night of Hanukkah. Daylight will continue to increase as we move out of darkness, thus I understand why the rabbis decreed lighting one light the first night and watching the future becoming brighter and brighter.
This is the way to live, with optimism that the future will become increasingly brighter, that we will emerge from the darkness that has enveloped our world for many months.
Thank goodness for a longer walk along the waters of Brant Lake.