The Jewish festival of Chanukah each year in December reminds Jews of a time when Antiochus, a Syrian king, tried to force the Jewish people to worship Greek gods. A statue of Antiochus was erected in the Jewish temple and Jews were ordered to bow down before him. As the Ten Commandments forbid Jews to worship statues or idols and, they refused.
A small group of Jews called Maccabees rebelled, (Jewish rebel warriors) and after a lengthy battle recaptured Jerusalem from the Syrians. In the process the temple was virtually destroyed.
Jews then felt obliged to clean and repair the Temple, and when they were finished they rededicated it to God. They did this by lighting a lamp (Menorah) – which was a symbol of God’s presence. Only one small jar of oil was found, enough for one day, but miraculously the lamp stayed alight for eight days. (In Judaism, the process of becoming spiritually pure lasts seven days). The Maccabees could only produce additional pure oil after eight days: seven days of becoming pure including one day, once pure, to actually make the oil.
In our work as psychosexual and relationship psychotherapists we similarly deal with the battle ground, the cleaning up process and the rekindling of hope and desire after many battle worn months and years. Are we as therapists the ‘rebel warriors’ who challenge, confront and provoke new understanding and learning? Do we work with the ‘miracle’?
In my work couples present themselves for therapy when they are tired, hopeless and unable to see any light at the end of their respective tunnels. They can be battle weary, desperate and tearful. Part of our work is to hold the space, to be with this process, and to accept that healing takes time. There is no ‘quick fix’. We need to take into consideration people’s respective history, culture, faith (or philosophy), psychosexual understanding and relationship models. Only then can we set about the task of creating some form of purity and growth.
We work when we think there is not much left in the pot, where we think there are limited resources, when couples are fatigued and sometimes so are we!
Are we so different to the Maccabees? We hold the ‘faith’, we believe in recovery and hope. We attempt to create something which will last, which does not necessarily mean the couple will stay together but more that kindness and integrity will be fostered and re-established. If not, why do we do this work?