An Excerpt from My Grandfather’s Blessings

By Rachel Naomi Remen

When I was a young child, my grandfather and I lit Hanukkah candles.  I lit all seven candles with my candle and the room was filled with light.  I sat back and looked at the menorah with all its candles burning.  It was so beautiful that my heart ached and tears filled my eyes.  “It’s beautiful, Grandpa,” I told him.

“Ah, yes,” said my grandfather.  “But God’s menorah is even more beautiful.  God’s menorah is made of people, not of candles.”

Puzzled, I turned to look at him.  “The story of Hanukkah says that God’s light burns in the darkness even without oil, and it is so,” said my grandfather.   “That is one of the miracles of the light.  But there is more.  There is a place in everyone that can carry the light.  God has made us this way.  When God says, ‘Let there be light,’ he is speaking to us personally.  He is telling us what is possible, how we might choose to live.  But one candle does not do much in the darkness.  God has not only given us the chance to carry the light, he has made it possible for us to kindle and strengthen the light in one another, passing the light along.  This is the way that God’s light will shine forever in this world.”

Now, after many years, I have found that often we discover the place in us that carries the light only after things have become dark.  Sometimes it is only in the dark that we know the value of this place.  But there is a place in everyone that can carry the light.  This is true.  My grandfather said so.  


An Excerpt from Kitchen Table Wisdom

By Rachel Naomi Remen

Some years ago, a young psychiatrist observed one of my sessions.  I was working with a former gang member whose hands were covered with tattoos.  He spoke of the deep love he now felt for his young wife who was dying; the ways in which his capacity to love had caught him unawares and had healed him.  As he shared insights about himself and experiences of intimacy and tenderness with his wife, I glanced over at the young psychiatrist.  He had stopped taking notes.  His eyes were filled with tears.  After this patient left, I asked him if he had learned anything useful from the session.  He smiled ruefully.  “We are all more than we seem,” he said.

Actually, we are all more than we know.  Wholeness is never lost, it is only forgotten.  Integrity rarely means that we need to add something to ourselves:  it is more an undoing than a doing, a freeing ourselves from beliefs we have about who we are and ways we have been persuaded to “fix” ourselves.  Even after many years of seeing, thinking, and living one way, we are able to reach past all of that to claim our integrity and live in a way we may never have expected to live.   Being with people at such times is like watching them pat their pockets, trying to remember where they have put their soul…..

Often in reclaiming the freedom to be who we are, we remember some basic human quality, some unsuspected capacity for love or compassion or some other part of our common birthright as human beings.  What we find is almost always a surprise but it is also familiar; like something we have put in the back of a drawer long ago. Once we see it, we know it as our own.  And so it is. 

Blessing for a New Beginning

By John O’Donohue

In out-of-the-way places of the heart, where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming, waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time, it has watched your desire, feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

Noticing how you willed yourself on, still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety, and the grey promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent, wondered would you always live like this? 

Then the delight, when your courage kindled, and out you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream, a path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear, you can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning that is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure; hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm for your soul senses the world that awaits you.



Photo by Wendell

Ventura Center for Spiritual Living

Be Love, Share Love, Serve Love.

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