Monday, May 3, 2010

Repair The World

The morning rain and the wake-up call of the birds compete for recognition. The garden is a drenched puddle, but the air feels clean and fresh and the plants have all had a wonderful bath, removing the dusty pollen that has covered everything. But the hard rain in my garden has been nothing compared to the devastation around the country. Roads are washed out, homes have floated away, and now the repair must begin. People will come together and begin again to pick up and sort and salvage . They will unite with hope and work to make it better - to resume life in the safety of their homes and communities.
A few weeks ago - when the weather was beautiful - I toured Charleston, South Carolina with my garden club. Founded in 1670, it is a city that was in place long before our country came into being. The city has survived earthquakes, floods, and fires and war. It has rebuilt and renewed itself time and time again. Oh, some buildings have a quirky tilt and streets are bumpy inlaid with cobblestones, but the city is lush and beautifully charming with an abundance of sub-tropical gardens that make you want to look and linger. Our tour guide told us the history, proud of the fact that the city worked hard to repair itself after every disaster. There was a rich desire to preserve the past, write down history, create beauty, and salvage material for future use. Ship’s ballast became the cobbled streets. Historic buildings were reclaimed after being abandoned - restoring them and reviving them to functionality for a modern world. Many restaurants have their own history, set up in what once was a carriage house or a factory. Many homes have become museums or libraries for the public to tour and enjoy and learn. “New” is a frowned upon word in Charleston.
Before heading out on one of our guided walks, a few of us were discussing the idea of taking home new thoughts from our time together. We found we were gaining new appreciation and insight from each other, learning from each other on this field trip. A new friend to the group offered a phrase that seemed to fit beautifully into the history of Charleston and to our group as a club. In her faith, the Hebrew term “Tikkun Olam” is often used. It means “repair the world .” We were surprised that our visit to a historical city was so much about repair. Over and over, Charleston repaired. Over and over, monumental tasks were accomplished to make the city what it is today. It wasn’t easy. But the citizens never gave up and now thousands visit this beautiful coastal town each year to remember, reflect, and rejuvenate.
And we challenged ourselves to return home and with a idea of our own as to how we could repair our world. Tikkun Olam - it reminded me of a verse in Scripture from Isaiah 58.
“Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations. You will be called Repairer of Broken Walls; Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
Throughout Bible history, God’s people repaired, rebuilt, and restored. Not only walls and cities, but relationships as well. It is a lesson not only for a garden club, seeking to find ways to repair and restore the beautiful earth we have been given, but it is a daily lesson for each one of us. What can I repair today? What can I restore today? How can I rebuild today?
Into my mind came the memory of the horses pulling our carriages as we toured Charleston. They wore blinders. Blinders shield the horses from seeing too much around them, and point them toward their intended goal. Blinders help to keep the horses focused on their task at hand - moving forward without distraction. Blinders help the horses focus on the important - not the many, good possibilities. All the carriage driver has to do is to tap the horse’s back with the reins and the horse is reminded to keep going - keep moving in one direction until the reins of the driver give directions to turn or to stop.
It seems there is much repair to do this morning. Whether it’s an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico or washed out roads in Tennessee, a strained relationship, or a faith that is in need of restoration. We are all part of God’s world, and it is our job to restore and repair. Tikkun Olam. We have work to do. Hebrews says to “Fix our eyes on Jesus.” Don’t look around at others. Repair your own broken walls. Put your own blinders on and watch for His tap you on your back, guiding you in the direction He has in mind for you today.