Saturday, September 7, 2013

Healing the World


Today is the day of the Jewish Sabbath; and it is also the time of the High Holy Days when congregants in temples and synagogues throughout the world will be urged to celebrate these Holy Days by engaging in acts of "Tikkun Olam" (a Hebrew phrase that means, "Healing/Repairing the World").

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Book of Genesis begins with a beautiful epic poem about the creation of the world. "In the beginning," God created everything to be in perfect harmony. All the creation, sky and sea, rocks and trees, all living creatures and humankind -all created as one perfect "shalom," a peaceful, harmonious, interdependent, interrelationship.  

However, the Genesis poem also recalls that, "in the beginning," the willfulness of ego-centered humanity destroyed that perfect harmonious "shalom."  Human beings decided that they were more important than anything else in the creation and the "ego" was born. And with the birth of the "ego" (the isolated individual "self"), the harmonious flow of the "shalom" was disrupted and shattered. 

 Since humans broke the "shalom," humans must now repair the breach.  

Today and throughout these High Holy Days, Jews throughout the world are urged to be reconcilers and relationship repairers. They are urged to do more than "pray for shalom." They are urged to engage in acts of "Tikkun Olam"- acts that will help restore shalom.  

Serving in a soup kitchen, visiting the sick, helping the poor and marginalized, forgiving someone who has hurt you, reconciling with someone from whom you are estranged are all examples of some very practical ways in which a person may engage in acts of "Tikkun Olam"- relationship repairing, "healing the world."

If I ever doubt that we live in a broken world, I just need to think about the unfolding events of the past weeks and days in Egypt and in Syria - bloodshed, violence, murder, brother against brother and sister against sister. I have no doubts that the world is broken and needs healing and repair. 

We human beings are a complex web of interrelationship (we are created as "shalom"), but over and over throughout the course of history, the stubborn will of egoic humanity has prevailed and the "shalom" has been broken. The epic myth about the human condition found in the Genesis poem has been ultimately proven true as the story of our broken human condition has been undeniably played out on the world stage. The events of our own days are perfect illustrations of that brokenness. 

In these Holy Days when Jews throughout the world are urged to engage in acts of "Tikkun Olam," I think every human being should join with our Jewish brothers and sisters and likewise engage in deliberate acts of reconciliation, forgiveness and relationship repairing. We all need to practice "Tikkun Olam" - now more than ever.  

Pope Francis has urged Catholics, all Christians, all believers, and all people of goodwill everywhere  to set today aside as a "Day of Prayer for Peace."  While I think it's a great idea that the whole world join together today in a spirit of worldwide "peace," I also think we need to do more than "pray" for peace.  

It's easy to say a prayer for peace and hope God makes it all better. It's just as easy to pray for peace  then go out and practice war and violence in the way a person lives their everyday life. 

So, instead of just "praying" for peace, I would like to honor Pope Francis' request that today be a "Peace Day," by "practicing" peace and engaging in acts to help restore "shalom" to a broken world.  I want to make this a "peace day" by devoting today to more intentionally practicing compassion, reconciliation and relationship repairing in my own everyday life. 

I want to make today a "Peace Day" by doing my part in practicing acts of "Tikkun Olam." 


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