Doing Our Best to Hold Onto Hope During Conflicting Times

Sister Eileen White, GNSH
Special to Bucks County Courier Times

I had the privilege of participating with several Jewish women and men friends in a Hanukkah candle lighting for the 8th day.  Before the pandemic, a group of us joined our Jewish friends regularly at Hanukkah time to light the candles and hear the cantor sing the prayers and laugh with everyone as we tried as best we could to pronounce the words of prayer or sang the parodies of Jewish life and culture to the tune of A Partridge in a Pear Tree (in this case, “a lemon with a glaizele tea”!)

We are, I think, all caught in a difficult challenge these days. We stand at the ready to defend our Jewish friends’ right to profess their beliefs and practice their faith. We mourn with them for the Israeli lives that were lost and those whose lives were turned upside down by violence and terror and grief. At the same time, we cannot bear to see the suffering of so many thousands of Palestinian citizens displaced from their home, grief-stricken for so many dead, so many wounded, so many innocent and confused and angry and hopeless. The news is hard to sort out. In our own country, there is fear of rising antisemitism and terrible rumors of antisemitism turning to violence.

There is confusion about our own country’s stance and our own government’s paralysis. Should we or shouldn’t we be funding the wars these two countries – Ukraine and Israel – are waging? Can we or can’t we condemn indiscriminate bombing when we hear that Hamas must be destroyed or risk its continued goal of exterminating the Jewish people?

On the faces of our friends downstairs singing the Hanukkah prayers we saw the grief, the fear, the confusion, and but then also, the hope. In our gathering – Jews and Christians, men and women, young and elderly – we lighted the candles for hope, for peace, for faithfulness, for dignity, for respect. We dug out a real oldie by Peter, Paul, and Mary: Light One Candle, written for Hanukkah, but easily translated into a hymn for hope for all of us – Jews and Muslims, Christians and Hindus, Buddhists and Quakers. Some day, we will remember that we are all breathing the same air, that we all depend on a heartbeat, that we all long for peace.

We Grey Nun Sisters heard a gifted Sister of Mercy reflect on hope recently. One of the images she shared with us with that hope was like standing on tiptoe trying to look over the wall to what is coming, what God will make possible one day. I am trying hard to stand on tiptoe these days. Where do you find hope? How do you hold onto hope? Who helps you remember to keep trying to look over the wall?

From a Faith Perspective appears in the Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer, and we are grateful for their permission to share it here. Sr. Eileen White, GNSH is a frequent contributor. It was published in the Sunday, December 17, 2023 edition.

The Grey Nuns