"A few years ago, a young taxi driver drove me to John F. Kennedy Airport on Long Island. After a few minutes of conversation, I discovered that Mike had belonged to my synagogue years before I came to the community.
"So, rabbi," he asked while we sat in heavy traffic, "what do you say to a Jew like me who hasn't been in a synagogue since his bar mitzvah ceremony?"
Thinking for a moment, I recalled that in Hassidic lore, the baal aqalah (the wagon driver) is an honored profession. So I said, "We could talk about your work."
"What does my work have to do with religion?"
"Well, we choose how we look at the world and at life. You're a taxi driver. But you are also a piece of the tissue that connects all humanity. You're taking me to the airport. I'll go to a different city and give a couple of lectures that might touch or help or change someone. I couldn't have gotten there without you. You help make the connection happen.
"I heard on your two-way radio that after you drop me off, you're going to pick up a woman from the hospital and take her home. That means that you'll be the first non-medical person she encounters after being in a hospital. You will be a small part of her healing process, an agent in her re-entry into the world of health.
"You may then pick up someone from the train station who has come home from seeing a dying parent. You may take someone to the house of the one that he or she will ask to join in marriage. You're a connector, a bridge builder. You're one of the unseen people who make the world work as well as it does. That is holy work. You may not think of it this way, but yours is a sacred mission."
Jeffrey K. Salkin
"The Jewish tradition teaches that within every person, even the worst criminal, there exists a nekudah tovah, a point of pure goodness. The Jewish obligation is to work to uncover that point of goodness, in ourselves and in others, so that it can transform us through the process of teshuvah, the radical idea that we can change, that we can always be better than we are. The concept of teshuvah holds the promise that even the most wicked cannot be defined solely by their worst acts. The divine spark always contains within it the potential for change."
Note: text piece from the blog of Jonathan Carroll, picture from Stefan's Flickr page