Imago Scriptura 61 – Tikkun Olam

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I saw this turtle this afternoon as I was driving to pick up my son from his day camp.  This turtle was a hefty guy – his shell was about 8-10″ in diameter.  But he was trying to cross the street and, because he is a turtle, he wasn’t moving very fast.  I actually nearly ran him over becuase he was crossing just past the crest of a hill.  I was going to be late already to get my son and my initial inclination wasto just keep going.  But, because of what I had read earlier in the day in Nehemiah, in Acts, and in a new book I started today, I pulled over to help this turtle make it safely across the street.

Both scriptures today and then a section from a new book I started reading today really connected with me especially in light of yesterday’s post.  I started into the book of Nehemiah today and read of his desire and his calling to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in chapters 1-3.  Its a beautiful story of courage and initiative and a willingness to follow God’s calling.  The next reading was from Acts 2:1-21 where we read of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the speaking of the prophecy from Joel.  Its the story of the continuing transformation of the disciples from those who were afraid and locked behind closed doors to those who were willing to speak out to the gathered thousands.

Finally I started reading Krista Tippett’s new book, “Becoming Wise – An Inquiry into the Art and Mystery of Living”.   Part of the first chapter referenced a Jewish term – “Tikkun Olam” which refers to a “restoration/repair of the world.  She quotes an interview with Rachel Naomi Remen who tells the following story (which was told by Remen’s grandfather):

This was my fourth birthday present, this story. In the beginning there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. 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. 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. This task is called tikkun olam in Hebrew. It’s the restoration of the world.

Tippett, Krista (2016-04-05). Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living (pp. 24-25). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I love the idea of the restoration of the world.  In the Nehemiah story, his restoration was the wall of Jerusalem.  With the disciples, it was the proclamation of the Gospel.  For me today, it was this turtle.  Some acts are big, some are small – all can contribute to the restoration of the world.  Today, my act of restoration was helping a single turtle cross a road.  Tomorrow my act might be something different but its stlll all about restoration and healing.

That’s what I want to remember and live today.  In light of the Orlando shootings, I want to live as one seeking the restoration and the healing of the world.  That’s what I read in the stories of Jesus – one who was about restoration and healing not about further breaking and dividing.

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