I knew very little about Mr. Rogers prior to watching the documentary. Since then I have been thinking about Mr. Rogers’ call to all of us to be repairers of the creation. The context of his comment was an invitation issued to him by PBS. Reeling from the aftershock of 9/11, PBS producers invited Mr. Rogers back to offer some insights and hope to children and adults. In his classic, simple straightforward fashion, sitting at a piano, Mr. Rogers looks up and gazes into the camera although you feel as if he is talking directly to you…
…No matter our particular job especially in our world today we are all called
to be “Tikkun Olam,” repairers of creation. Thank you for whatever you do,
wherever you are, to bring joy and light and hope and faith and pardon and love
to your neighbor and yourself.
To be called to be repairers of the earth is exactly the impulse behind Saint Madeleine Sophie’s vision of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Yet, I did not know the term, Tikkun Olam.
I looked it up. The word is a Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness performed to perfect or repair the world. The phrase is found in the Mishnah, a body of classical rabbinic teachings. For this concept to come alive to you, please listen to Rachel Naomi Remer
tell the story of the birthday of the world to Krista Tippett, the host of On Being
As you will learn from the podcast, Dr. Remer’s grandfather told her the story of the birthday of the world on her fourth birthday. I offer this summary but listening to the story just as watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor? engages one’s entire being.
In the beginning there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. And 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, and the vessels containing the light of the world,
the wholeness of the world, broke. And 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. And
this task is called tikkun olam in Hebrew. It's the restoration of the world.
I offer the readers of Musings this story the week before Advent. As we prepare our hearts, our consciousness, to receive Christ the Light in new and deeper ways, let us pray that we can each be open to the sense of possibility Dr. Remer’s story offers. As she explains, … “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." She and Mr. Rogers comprehend that each of us is called to be a light, a beacon of hope, simply by inviting those who cross our paths into relationship of respect, kindness and graciousness.