11 December 2008

Life, little by little

Life just goes on by ... moment by moment, little by little.

And once in awhile, I stop to think about bigger things.

My little girl was born on Valentine's Day in 1995, and she lived for only half an hour after she was born. Thirty minutes was her whole life span. I have often wasted that much time watching some TV show I wasn't even really interested in, or wandering a shopping mall when I didn't need anything and didn't even want to be out.

Remembering the few minutes that made up her short life, I try to make the most of all the minutes I have been given. I don't always succeed, but I do try. The question of how to make the most of my life is one of those 'bigger things' that sometimes needs pondering.

I am forty years old, which means I am most likely about halfway through my own life span, although none of us know for sure how many days we will be given. What am I going to do with these days?

The simple answer is that I want to make the world a better place. The Jewish term is 'tikkun olam', the repair of the world, and it is something that I believe we are all called to do. Sometimes it seems that the repair that the world needs is just too large, there is too much to do, it is too big of a problem, and Someone Else will have to fix it. I mean, I can't solve world hunger by myself or wave my hands and say "We need world peace. Yes, right now. Great. Thank you for your cooperation."

What I can do is try to make a lasting impact where I am, to repair my little corner of the world.

I can improve the land that is under my stewardship, maintaining the native plants and grasses, putting the compost back into the garden to replenish what I take out as food, planting windbreaks and shelter trees for animals both domestic and wild. I can treat the animals in my care kindly, and ensure they have all they need and are given the opportunity to be what God made them to be - chickens free to scratch in the dirt, mother animals raising their own young, sheep and cows let out to graze in green pastures. I can make responsible choices about resource usage, ensuring that I use no more than my fair share of the world's limited resources ... less if I can manage it.

There is so much that needs doing, and sometimes, it seems like my efforts are too tiny, too small to matter. I am just one person, and I have only these few moments. Still, each moment well spent is not wasted, no matter how few of them there may be.

Each time someone

plants a tree
grows a tomato
saves a seed
puts peelings in the compost
drives a little less
mends a pair of jeans
gives away an old winter coat
harvests saskatoon berries for jam
hugs a child
scratches a dog's ears
kisses a donkey on the nose
lets a setting hen raise some chicks
knits a sock
smiles at someone
or does any of a thousand other tiny acts of purposeful kindness and responsibility

the world is repaired, little by little.


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