Union is not merely a place we go to later—if we are good. It is a place of deep goodness that we naturally exist inside of—now.
While prophecy is often defined as “speaking truth to power,” this is an incomplete notion, being merely social criticism. Prophecy is speaking truth to power on behalf of a divine vision of wholeness. This vision comes from contemplation and the love it reveals.
All our traditions—Jewish, Christian, and Muslim—teach that the human race and every human being are created in the image of God…. We must remember to welcome ourselves, each other, and all who begin as strangers into the Tent that is open to all.
— Joan Chittister, Saadi Shakur Chishti, Arthur Waskow
Our task is to mend the broken world. We do this through every act of loving kindness, every act of chesed. And we do this through every act of tzedakah, which is generosity, hospitality. It’s an offering of ourselves, even when it’s not convenient and not comfortable.
I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, this is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate … seemed apprehensive about any other person. —Naomi Shihab Nye
Christ is the Divine Radiance at the beginning and the Divine Allure drawing us into a more positive future. We are thus bookended in a Personal Love—coming from Love and moving toward an ever more inclusive Love.
Our Souls in Service
Physician and teacher Rachel Naomi Remen invites readers to a deeper commitment to soul and service:
It often seems that the problems in the world are large and overwhelming and there are limits to what we can accomplish as a single person or even as a single group. It can be profoundly disheartening. But Tikkun Olam means that we each make a difference and we can heal the world.
Service is the work of the soul. We might view moments of genuine service as a movement toward the soul, a return to what is most genuine and real in each of us. In the trajectory of a lifetime, this turning toward our goodness happens not once but many times. Some of these turnings are small and some are large. All are important. Much in life distracts us from our true nature, captures the Self in bonds of greed, desire, numbness, and unconsciousness. But every act of service is an evidence that the soul is stronger than all that and can draw us toward it despite all.
Perhaps our greatest service is simply to find ways to strengthen and live closer to our goodness. This is far from easy. It requires an everyday attention, an awareness of all that diminishes us, distracts us, and causes us to forget who we are. But every act of service bears witness to the possibility of freedom for us all. And every time anyone becomes more transparent to the light in them, they will restore the light in the world.
Service is not the attribute of any one religion any more than holiness is. Many of those who serve life have no formal religion, while others follow any one of the many religious traditions on the face of this earth. All are a blessing to life.
Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging (New York: Riverhead Books, 2000), 327–328, 329.
Image Credit: A path from one week to the next—Madison Frambes, Untitled 1, 7, and 5 (detail), 2023, naturally dyed paper and ink, Mexico, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.
Though she weeps, the woman is moving forward. Pain is a natural part of healing.