Wholeness and Peace

I am grateful to Bon Singer for composing the chant that inspired this song, and for graciously allowing me to adapt her words and melody into the chorus.

Lyrics

1. 
I awaken God’s love within me, 
Every person is an image of God. 
With love I awaken compassion, 
Sometimes life can treat us hard. 
So I find an act of kindness, 
I can do to ease their pain. 
When I’ve planted a seed of 
 wholeness and peace, 

Then I start all over again. 

(Chorus) 

אַהֲבָה 
מֵאַהֲבָה לְרַחֲמִים 
מֵרַחֲמִים לְחֶסֶד 
וּמִחֶסֶד לְשָׁלוֹם

Ahavah. 
Me-ahavah l-raḥamim. 
Me-raḥamim l-ḥesed. 
U-mi-ḥesed l-shalom. 

2. 
I awaken God’s love within me, 
Every person is an image of God. 
With love I awaken compassion, 
Sometimes life can treat us hard. 
So I find an act of kindness, 
I can do to ease their pain. 
I plant another seed of 
  wholeness and peace, 

And I start all over again. 

(Chorus) 

3. 
I awaken God’s love within me, 
Every person is an image of God. 
With love I awaken compassion, 
Sometimes life can treat us hard. 
So I find an act of kindness, 
I can do to ease their pain. 
I’m watering a garden of 
  wholeness and peace, 

And I start all over again. 

(Chorus) 

4. 
I awaken God’s love within me, 
Every person is an image of God. 
With love I awaken compassion, 
Sometimes life can treat us hard. 
So I find an act of kindness, 
I can do to ease their pain. 
I’m walking in a forest of 
  wholeness and peace, 

And I start all over again. 

(Chorus) 

5. 
We awaken God’s love within us
Every person is an image of God. 
With love we awaken compassion, 
Sometimes life can treat us hard. 
So we find an act of kindness, 
We can do to ease their pain. 
We’re filling up the world 
  with wholeness and peace, 

Let’s start all over again. 

(Chorus)

Reflections on this Song

The words and melody of Bon Singer are clear, brief, and beautiful: 
    Ahavah v-racḥamim, ḥesed v-shalom
    Love and compassion, kindness and peace. 
Searching their depths can yield insights and practical wisdom. 

In 2010 I chanted these words for the first time, and during the quiet moment after chanting, I understood that these four words could be a framework for action that deliberately leads us from noticing a need, through love, to compassion, to an act of sustaining kindness, to wholeness. 

Need, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, is a kindness-shaped hole in the life of another. Upon noticing a need, smile—you have an opportunity to repair a hole in someone’s world. 

Let your smile awaken your ahavah, love, for this person, who is a unique and holy soul. See them as created in God’s image. 

Let that love lead you to racḥamim, compassion. See what they really need. Name it to yourself. Can you fill that hole, or part of it? 

Let your compassion lead you to ḥesed, kindness. Give from a place of generosity in your heart. Give what they need, giving for their benefit. 

Acknowledge that you have given what the One Above wants you to give in that moment. The formerly empty hole and your act of kindness are both whole—each completing the other. Your act of ḥesed has brought wholeness to the soul before you, and to your own soul. Experience a feeling of shalom, peace, knowing that you have fulfilled your mission for this moment. Express gratitude for that gift. 

Summarizing the progression: start with love, go from love to compassion, from compassion to kindness, from an act of kindness to wholeness and peace. 

Fast-forward seven years, to a time that challenged me to fill many holes with kindness and caring. I chanted this progression as I walked. I chanted to recharge so I could fill more holes. The Hebrew words of Bon Singer’s chant sprouted prepositions, emphasizing the explicit movement of using each middah as a springboard to awaken the next.

Chanting also yielded other gifts—the English verses of this song, and the realization that each empty hole, filled with kindness, made the world more whole. Each act of gemilut ḥesed brings the world one small step closer to peace. The taste of wholeness and peace we feel after an act of kindness is not an endpoint—rather, it is a platform from which to start the process again, to climb even higher. The seeds of kindness we plant become a garden, and the garden becomes a forest. When we encounter brokenness, let’s use kindness to bring closer the ideal world we yearn to live in. 

Middot

Love  אהבה  Ahavah 
Compassion  רחמים  Racḥamim 
Kindness  חסד  Ḥesed 
Peace  שלום  Shalom 
Wholeness  שלימוּת  Shlemut

 

Walking in a forest of wholeness and peace

Walking in a forest of wholeness and peace

Special thanks to Bon Singer

Additional engineering by Alex Green 
Mixed by Alex Green

Photo by Virginia Choy on Unsplash