On December 20, 2023
Columns

Mountain Meditation: Let’s repair our world together—“tikkun olam!”

 

By Marguerite Jill Dye

Extending a helping hand to a neighbor is a longstanding Vermont tradition in an environment with harsh winters, snow and rain storms with increasing potency. That is how our forebears survived.

Sharing kindness and passing on blessings is a great way to live our lives. Christian charity is a concept I learned in my Methodist Sunday school and James was often quoted about the importance of doing good work in the world because faith without deeds is useless. “I will show you my faith through my good works” (James 2:18). That was the basis of my theology until…. I first heard the words Jesus would have known—“Tikkun olam, repairing the world” for the betterment of society, an ancient Hebrew concept from the Talmud 2,000 years ago. This expression has been revived at various times and signifies that “repairing the world will bring about the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Brandeis.edu, “The World is Broken So Humans Must Repair It: The History and Evolution of Tikkun Olam”).

Living a life filled with lovingkindness is a similar Buddhist concept, while Christian charity helps lift others up. I was impressed by how tikkun olam teaches ethics and “philanthropy” as a way of life.

A dear friend on weekends in Killington leads a program in a Boston area school that demonstrates the importance of tikkun olam. Students study and select five organizations that help mend the world in various ways. A representative from each one presents their program in the auditorium, then students vote for their two favorites. They raise funds through myriad activities and the children and their families contribute, as well. Then they donate their substantial contributions to the chosen groups in a ceremony.

This instills a desire to help and the power of philanthropy. These youth continue the tradition of contributing to help heal the world through their life work and generosity.

Regardless of our individual riches, we can assist a global effort to mend our world by sharing our resources and the gifts we possess, also locally. Perhaps baking and cooking are your abilities—a warming zone is open in Rutland (6:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday) where breakfast and lunch are served to the needy in the United Methodist Church 60 Strongs Ave., Rutland. The Community Cupboard in Killington’s Little White Church (2326 US-4) is available for neighbors in need.  There are many ways to help.

Now we have exciting opportunities to assist refugee families through the Refugee Resettlement Program. Vermont needs more people, and refugees are willing to resettle here, rebuild their lives and contribute through hard work. Their rich cultures enhance and broaden our understanding and global perspectives. (To help as a family friend, tutor in English, with transportation, administration, special events, temporary housing etc., contact Volunteer@uscrivt.org, For more info visit: refugees.org).

Tikkun olam improves our world and strives to restore its harmonious nature. It is an opportunity for each one to reach one through our own Divine spark, by sharing our unique gifts and passions. Whether entrepreneur, artist, teacher, environmentalist, caregiver, developer, or retiree, our every small deed helps tip the world towards its healing restoration.

We must remember that “silence is consent.” Within our power as vehicles for good, we can ease human suffering and rebuild the world through our small acts of kindness and compassion. The ultimate goal is the everlasting perfection of our beloved world.

This holiday season is the perfect time to remember that we are one. What we do unto others we also do unto ourselves, so every positive act uplifts all of us, too. The Golden Rule, treating others as we wish to be treated, and the holy acts of tikkun olam are our opportunity to glue the world together, all together, for a brighter future for everyone.

May blessings of peace, harmony and joy be yours this holiday season.

Marguerite Jill Dye is a writer and artist who lives in both Vermont and Florida.

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