David Lertzman, partner in creation

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, May 13, 2021

Tearful crocus at Morley honours triumph of life.
Photo by Deanna Two Young Men

Because of the recent death of a loyal reader and frequent contributor to these columns, I’m delaying the next in our series on the Whisper in the Silence till next week. This week we will celebrate the wisdom of my soul brother, David Lertzman. David died Tuesday evening, May 4, in a bear attack while out running near his home in Waiparous Village, northwest of Cochrane.

David, 59, was an assistant professor of environmental management and sustainable development at the University of Calgary.

Out of the rigours of wilderness living, David had acquired an indomitable, positive attitude toward life that made him a pleasure to be around. Over the years since I first met him, we would often sit by a café window, our beloved foothills and mountains to the west, and discuss one topic in particular that he knew a great deal about: joy in the wilderness. Indeed, he saw himself as a “Divine Partner in Creation.”

But this is a broken world, he would lament. Turning to his appreciation for Jewish mysticism and the concept of tikkun olam, “healing of the world,” he shared his thoughts in our column for Oct. 5, 2017. David wrote:

I FIND MYSELF REFLECTING on the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, the restoration or healing of the World, as a model for personal development in service to the Earth’s greater good. Yet, how can this be done with the diffusion of such cruelty, pain and suffering across our beloved Planet? Judaism teaches that sin is collective. We are all responsible for the World, including the problems we witness and experience whether or not we feel we have created them. We must start with ourselves and look within.

Turning within is ultimately about returning to who we are at our Core, our true Self, the Divine Spark of Sacred Mystery within each of us. During the 16th Century in Safed, Israel, Rabbi Isaac Luria popularized the idea of Tikkun Olam. He taught that nothing in this World is without a Spark of the Divine, which is the Core and Essence of every being. Our purpose is to liberate these Divine Sparks in all we do, revealing the beauty and true nature within elevating our Soul and all those we touch.

Two centuries later, the Baal Shem Tov taught that good can be found and celebrated wherever and within whomever one encountered. We are led, as it were, to seek these Divine Sparks who have been waiting for liberation, perhaps since the dawn of Creation. Thus, wherever we go and with whomever we meet, we bring and foster Tikkun in all we do through our thoughts, words and deeds.

When I hold back, when I diminish that Divine Spark within for whatever reason, the World becomes a dimmer, less bright place. The World needs you to shine, to be true to your inner nature, your authentic Self. In giving that gift to the World, you will be giving it to yourself. What greater sense of purpose and call to service could there be than as a Divine Partner in Creation?

—David Lertzman, PhD, Waiparous

AS MENTIONED above, David’s fatal encounter with the bear occurred the evening of May 4. Most interestingly, that was about the same time that Deanna Two Young Men had her own encounter: a photographic encounter with a tearful crocus near her home at Morley, a half-hour south of Waiparous. Was that blossom feeling the pain of its nature-loving friend? Who knows. But this much we do know: the crocus has long been associated with the triumph of life and hope over death and despair.

So, my brother: To life, to life, l’chaim! Till we meet again.


© 2021 Warren Harbeck

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