The Ever Increasing Light
We begin the first night of Chanukah with one candle. Of course, this candle is never really alone. The Shamash, the candle that is responsible for the spark, the light from which each subsequent candle is lit, is truly the first candle. The lone flame from the Shamash lights the first candle. There is a faint light on the eve of Chanukah. The candles eventually burn down, until the next evening when another candle is added. This continues – the burning down of the candles, and the relighting the next night. With each relighting, we add a candle throughout the eight days. While this ritual takes place in the comfort and safety of the home, we are called upon to light the menorah in our front window. This light will shine to the outside world, to one’s community, and anyone else passing by who will be touched by the light of the menorah.
When a woman is diagnosed with cancer, she is the Shamash, the lone flame. Immediately, she transfers her light to those close to her – her family – and the light brightens. Sometimes though, the flame may weaken as a woman experiences the fear and anxiety surrounding her diagnosis, just like on Chanukah when the candles burn down at the end of each evening and it’s hard to see the light. But with each day that passes, there is renewal, and a woman builds upon the strength around her. She invites in more light by including her friends in her journey.
The transfer of this flame begins in the home, with those closest to her. As with the menorah in the window, her light, representing strength and hope, can spread to the community. She shares her flame and reaps the benefit of the ever increasing light – the support from her loved ones and community.
This is the essence of Sharsheret: Women sharing the experience of the weakening flames and the renewal that follows, the love and security of those close to them, and the kindness and reassurance from strangers experiencing the same journey. We come together and create a beautiful light offering strength and hope to one another and our community.