Monday, May 23, 2016

In search of tiny fragments of light

I've found myself sharing this quote by physician Rachel Naomi Remen from Krista Tippett's "Becoming Wise" with so many people:

"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. 
And this, of course, is a collective task. It involves all people who have been born, all people presently alive, all people yet to be born. We are all healers of the world. That story opens a sense of possibility. It's not about healing the world by making a huge difference. It's about healing the world that touches you, that's around you."

I imagine this isn't the last reference to the book I'll share here. The book has become a bit of a manual on living right now.

Life feels like it's pivoting, right now. Transitioning into something new and unexpected and I've been struggling to figure out my purpose in that. The role I will play. The impact I will make. For a long time it felt like I was moving in a certain direction – I had a clear(ish) picture about what life could look like outside of freelancing and family. You know, the part where I accomplish the things I want to accomplish, or the things I thought I wanted to accomplish or whatever (it all feels muddied right now). 

It felt a bit like destiny. 

And ain't that a heavy word.

So now the future is blurry. As it probably always was. And I'm trying to center myself onto things that feel doable and purposeful. And this story ... the story about finding the hidden light – about healing the world that touches me, well, that resonates. It seems more possible than all the other impossibilities. 

It feels like an anchor. One of those negative words that's actually kind of positive. But its really the thing that moors us and gives us the security to grow. I don't feel capable of big things right now. But the world I touch? I mean, it's right there to mold. To change. To better.

And in the midst of the endless ugliness, well, that's beautiful, right?

If I can locate the missing shoe. Track down the lost Palace Pet. Tape torn picture of Rapunzel and super glue Queen Miranda's head for the 40th time, I can find one of those thousands of thousands fragments of light. 

I mean I see them already. In Jovie's hugs and the times Lily handing her favorite toy to her little sister and how my little brother grabs his little niece's hand to cross the parking lot. 

Everyone transforming what they are touching through small acts of love.

Last week I interviewed a woman who works for Bell Socialization Services, an organization that helps individuals with intellectual disabilities, mental health problems and homeless families. I asked her about how individuals and organizations can help, and I loved her response.

Averie said that inevitably, when they bring up the needs of the family shelter Bell runs, someone will suggest they call Oprah.

But she said we don't really need Oprah to fulfill our needs.

"There are people in our community who can help us solve this problem right now," she told me.

Then she told me a story about how one year when she was a young single mom, she came home find a couple bags of groceries on her porch right around Thanksgiving or Christmas. She said the impact of the gesture was huge. They left it on her porch so she didn't have to be embarrassed. They didn't expect a thank you, but they knew she would've been appreciative.

And anyone of us can buy the bag of groceries.

It's easy to be daunted by the enormous amount of need facing us. But Averie suggested that even if you just buy an extra bottle of shampoo or a toothbrush every time you stopped by the grocery store, you'd make a difference for the people she serves.

She said the next time you had a girl's night, if you asked everyone to bring a box of tampons, you'd make a difference.

If you have the drive and the means to change the world in a big way, then change the world in a big way. 

If not, then change the world in a small way. 

There are 7 billion of us. Surely, we can all find a little light.

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