Even when I take a break from news and social media, I’m still immersed in the realities of the world, just by walking around my neighborhood.
This picture was taken on a chilly late October afternoon. I wasn’t able to ascertain if the two people sleeping on a grating were migrants or crack addicts, but I was struck by the fact that a kind soul had left them fresh bread and fruit. This is a constant in my area: people’s concern for the less fortunate, even when it’s challenging.
At a local town hall meeting this fall to address the consequences of drug trafficking on our streets, local residents and shop owners were concerned about being accosted by hostile beggars, dealers occupying their entrances and parking facilities, addicts lighting up crack pipes along the sidewalks in broad daylight, sleeping in our hallways and using them for toilets, the effect on businesses and children walking to and from school in this atmosphere… but also worried about these human beings and their welfare. Police and town council members were present at the meeting, but also associations creating safe houses for poly-addicts to get sterile syringes, spend the night indoors, get medical attention and a chance at starting over. Amazing. The police explained that by law, addiction is considered an illness and when someone is picked up for drug trafficking, they are given shelter and counseling by the court system…
In this vein, here’s a quote from an interview with Rachel Naomi Remen, a story told to her by her grandfather:
“This is the story of the birthday of the world. In the beginning, there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. 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. [laughs] And the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. And the wholeness in 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 inate wholeness of the world. This is a very important story for our times — that we heal the world one heart at a time. This task is called “tikkun olam” in Hebrew, “restoring the world.”
Always looking for hidden light…