in hebrew there is a phrase, tikkum olam, which i'm told means "to heal the world." i don't pretend to understand the history of this phrase or the full range of its meanings. just reading the wikipedia article about tikkum olam sends my head reeling, but i think i can understand some of its practical implications and applications. as i think of my responsibilities this day, i can see many opportunities to perform acts of healing. i can think of many who have hurts that might be healed, at least in part, by my actions. i can see how the care that i give others contributes to increased well being in the world. if i am able to be more mindful this day, i will understand this healing concept in my encounters with others in the course of the day, and if i can live mindfully each day, the effects of my actions will further contribute to the healing of the world.
there are those who see jesus' statement that "the poor you always have with you" (matthew 26:11) as suggesting that those who follow him have no responsibility for the poor, that poverty is an intractable problem resulting from the actions of those who are impoverished and therefore not a problem for those who are not poor. yet when we look at the life of jesus, his actions suggest otherwise. he spent his entire ministry among the poor and the outcasts of society. his most scathing words of condemnation are directed at those who would use religion as an excuse for ignoring the needs of those who are least able to care for themselves. everything we know of jesus from the gospel accounts of his life teach us that jesus saw his own role and that of the jewish people as one of inclusion, of reaching out to those who were excluded by their nationality, their social status, their gender, their profession. healing the world was at the heart of jesus' teaching.
when we affirm that we do not wish to waste the precious life that we've been given, we obligate ourselves to do what we can to heal the world. hurt, poverty, persecution, oppression, violence, and all the other ills of existence will always be with us, but, if we are to avoid wasting this precious life, we must do what we can to alleviate suffering where we find it. each act of lovingkindness moves the world closer to its ultimate healing. may each of us perform mindful acts of healing this day and each day. may we recognize that we each have a precious life and may we not waste it. shalom.