Not long after my mother died, I went on a spiritual quest of sorts. I talked to clergy from many denominations, telling them I didn’t even know whether I believed in a deity. The one person who responded in a way of comfort was a rabbi. He answered my statement by saying I didn’t have to believe in a deity. Rather, I had to live my life the way I believed in fairness and compassion to others. Having done that, he said, there will be no worry about what’s on the other side.
We talked for hours that day. The sanctuary truly felt like a holy place, and I relaxed my control more than I intended. After that, I went through the process of conversion classes, set before the beit din in what was a very uncomfortable judgement period, and joined the congregation. It was an extremely personal experience. I kept it relatively quiet.
Whilst I no longer follow that path, I do hold some of the beliefs quite dear. Chanukah is still very much a holiday of peace and light to me, and I still observe it every year. This year, on the last night, I lit memorial candles alongside the menorah. The lights surrounded my daughter’s urn and the little angel statue, making a beautiful glow. Beauty out of tragedy. Lights of memory in every sense of the word.