Sunday, August 1, 2010

What If You Are Exactly What's Needed to Heal the World?

Today on NPR, I'm listening to Speaking of Faith, and they're rerunning one of the shows which is the most profound to me (go here to listen, here for the transcript). I first heard it early in a car trip when I was driving north on I95, and I spent the next 8 hours thinking about it. I continue to think about it.

There are days when I'm just exhausted when I measure my accomplishments against my potential. I see so many faults, so many places where I've fallen short. Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen encourages us to see ourselves differently.

First she tells a story about the beginning of the world: "In the beginning there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. And then, in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. And the wholeness of the world, the light of the world was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light, and they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.

Now, according to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world. It's a very important story for our times. And this task is called tikkun olam in Hebrew. It's the restoration of the world."

And then she reflects on the meaning for us in the present day: "It's a very old story, comes from the 14th century, and it's a different way of looking at our power. And I suspect it has a key for us in our present situation, a very important key. I'm not a person who is a political person in the usual sense of that word, but I think that we all feel that we're not enough to make a difference, that we need to be more somehow, either wealthier or more educated or somehow or other different than the people we are. And according to this story, we are exactly what's needed. And to just wonder about that a little, what if we were exactly what's needed? What then? How would I live if I was exactly what's needed to heal the world?"

What if God doesn't need me to change? What if God has created me to be exactly what's needed, right here, right now? For me, it's a powerful thought.

The whole show is amazing. Dr. Remen has been working with people at the edges of life, people with unhealable diseases precisely. Those people have such wisdom that those of us living regular lives don't often access. We're lucky to have someone like Dr. Remen to remind us. And we're lucky to have someone like Krista Tippett, who brings us such fascinating guests.

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