Shekina Glory

Excerpt from Daybreak:

When we left the temple, great crowds of pilgrims stayed on the Mount waiting for the sunset and darkness before lighting their torches. My thoughts raced thinking of Judas Maccabeus and his men attacking on this very spot hundreds of years ago. They finally defeated the troops of Antiochus Epiphanes and tore down the statue of Zeus.

I thought of the miracle of the oil that kept burning for eight days while Judas, so-called the Hammer, led his troops in cleansing the Temple. The question for us now was would Israel experience another miracle. Could we defeat the Romans and reclaim our freedom? It seemed impossible but we were Jews and believed in miracles.

***

We began our short journey home on the road out of Jerusalem leading in the direction of Gaza, the last stop in Israel for those traveling to Egypt. We would arrive at our dwelling after only a few miles, just when the sky turned to a sea of darkness, illuminated by millions of heavenly lights like ships in the heavens above or souls on their way to meet the Lord of Lords. When I doubted my faith, I only had to look up on a clear night, and doubts vanished in the wonder of the heavens above.

Father was quiet as usual on the trip home. I saw him gaze up at the sky now and then. I thought he was waiting to see the first evening star. When we saw the lights of our home in the dstance, the heavenly bodies began to be visible. We both noticed one unusual star as we turned to look at the eastern sky. Its rays were extensive and seemed to reach the earth itself, an awesome sight. We stopped walking and looked at the vision above.

Finally, my father said, “Shekina Glory! This is the night of lights and the light of God’s presence is shining on us. The City of David lies to the east. It is written in Sacred Scripture the Messiah will come from Bethlehem, the City of David.”

“What are you saying, Father? I don’t understand.”

“It will be made known, my son. But now we have arrived at home and it is a joyous night.”

“You’re right, Father. I hear laughter. Our relatives must be here and the aroma of Mother’s cooking reminds me of how famished I am.”

A Christmas Story

Some years ago on Christmas Eve, by chance, but I believe by design of Providence, I alone visited my dear uncle in the nursing home where he resided for a great number of years after my mother cared for him at least seven years and reluctantly had to place him there. My  husband and I offered to visit him on the way to our home in New Jersey after our traditional Russian Christmas Eve supper with most of my siblings and their families. It was a beautiful tradition and the one time we were always together in the house where we grew up.                                                                                  

My mom & dad went every evening and made sure he ate supper, but they were both exhausted that night. My husband had a cold and stayed in the car. I was his only visitor that day and he was still in bed with unopened presents under his small lighted tree. The holidays are often sad in nursing homes, especially Christmas.  But his face lit up when He saw me and with the help of an aid we had him sit up. I opened the presents for him and he was pleased with each one. I could have cried when he told me the same jokes I’d heard on every visit, but I laughed instead. Before leaving I asked if he would like to be wheeled down to the nurses’ station and he agreed. He said hello to some of those sitting there and the nurses all smiled at him. It was difficult leaving him.

The ride took about an hour and a half through the Poconos and into New Jersey. I shed some tears at first, then felt glad for the time I had with him. Shortly after returning home the phone rang past midnight and my mother told me he had passed on. She felt bad not seeing him that one night she missed visiting her brother. I must tell you at his funeral a few days later a great many tears were shed by those who cared for him over his years in the facility.

During the time of mourning someone said “to die on Christmas meant you would immediately go to heaven” and I believe he did. And God must be  listening to those old jokes forever. My uncle had a gift, a great gift, that no one ever saw him without smiling while he sat in his wheel chair and touched so many lives.

Christmas is the story of a child, the Son of God, being born into the world in a way that it was said not even the angels could have imagined beforehand. Now every Christmas I think of my Uncle Harry and smile for he and his gift are still alive.  

Looking back: Finding Treasures

Advent is a season of hope, beauty, and joyful anticipation, as well as,  lingering sadness and longing for past celebrations to be relived. Very often this desire to bring back the past is impossible. However,  what we are able to recapture is hopefulness. The Bible admonition to …seek and you shall find… can be applied to seeking hope from past events, looking back at sadness yet discovering hope in the midst of  sorrow. 

This was written on Christmas 2014 but was a reminiscence from Christmas 1998.

Lights

Blue lights on the windowsill
White lights on the tree
As if this Holy Holiday is like the rest.
Someone missing, separated
Distant both in miles and mindfulness
Beyond our reach.

Now there upon the branch of birch
Appeared a bird of blue, the color of the sky
Orange breasted, feathered, round and regal
A light, a prayer, a reason to believe
All is possible, all is well
Blue lights on the window sill
White lights on the tree.

 

This poem was written on this date, December 5th, in 2016.

First Snow

The first snow came in silence like a thief
Yet did not take from us but gave
A spectacle of white
The miracle that transforms everything is felt
Through the senses and the heart

Evidence of what lies beyond
The barren dreariness of winter
Beauty we cannot possibly imagine
Except at the sight of the first snow.