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 witnesses 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.

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* The Hebrew phrase tikkun olam (pronounced tee-KOON oh-LUHM) means “world repair.” In modern Jewish circles, tikkun olam has become synonymous with the notion of social action and the pursuit of social justice.