Watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a spiritual experience for me. I’ll try to explain without spoiling the plot. The movie includes a series of seemingly hopeless situations, and different characters are forced to make a choice: Do I give in, and do what is easy or advantageous to me; or do I do what I think is right and good, even though I think it won’t matter or help anyone?
We are presented with this choice every day. While I got married this year, it was a tough year in many other ways. I faced tremendous upheaval at work, and my family has experienced serious sickness and loss this year, not to mention the numerous natural and man-made disasters: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and shootings including Las Vegas.
I found myself reflecting about the prospects for 2018. So much was going wrong. Would 2018 be different? What was the point of going into 2018 with any hope that it would be? The character Poe sums up “the point” in this way: “We are the spark that will light the fire,” that will bring about needed change.
The characters in The Last Jedi, who face tremendous odds, continued to choose the paths of integrity, hope and justice, in the face of rampant vanity, despair and cruelty. While each individual act might not start that fire, the fire cannot start without one spark. And you never know which one will start it.
We saw the movie at the end of Hanukkah, so I started thinking about it in the context of the holiday. Lighting the Hanukkah candles, and reading this reflection on the significance of Hanukkah (it’s not the “Jewish Christmas”), the miracle becomes clear both in the past and in the here and now. Our celebration of the miracle of lights is a call for us to be a people of hope, who believe that no matter what’s happening around us, there’s an opportunity for surprise, and for something amazing to happen.
It can be sad to acknowledge that our wedding is behind us. It was a wonderful day with all of our loved ones together, celebrating a major milestone for us. Our honeymoon is also over–we have the wine, the photos and the memories from that special time. The celebration of miracles at Christmas and Hanukkah in the first year of our marriage brought me out of that sadness. Through this reflection, I decided to look for hope in all things, in 2018. Hope that my job is offering me the opportunity to practice resiliency. Hope that my family will be well and my loved ones are at rest. Hope that my financial assistance, volunteerism and voice can make a difference for a world in great need. I may not solve these things, but in 2018 I am choosing to believe that they might be made possible with my “spark.”