Tag Archives: light

Heart & Soul

Heart & Soul

Rev. Annie Kopko

 

We begin with an excerpt from The Butterfly Effect by Andy An- drews.

There are generations yet unborn whose very lives will be shifted and shaped by the moves you make and the actions you take today. And to- morrow. And the next day. And the next.

Every single thing you do matters. You have been created as one of a kind. On the planet Earth, there has never been one like you …and there will never be again. Your spirit, your thoughts and feelings, your ability to reason and act all exist in no one else. The rarities that make you special are no mere accident or quirk of fate. You have been created in order that you might make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world. Know that your actions cannot be hoarded, saved for later, or used selectively. By your hand, millions—billions—of lives will be altered, caught up in a chain of events begun by you this day. The very beating of your heart has meaning and purpose. Your actions have value far greater than silver or gold. Your life… And what you do with it today …matters forever.

So how do we live, knowing this is true? We live consciously, gently, respectfully, purposefully, grateful and considerate of all things, per- ceived and not perceived. I call this leadership. And if you do not think you are a leader, think again. Everything you do, say, feel, and think matters and has consequences. We are in relationship with all living beings. Each of us pays attention to another.

So how do we live knowing we will die?  We live lovingly, knowing that what we do, think, and say fulfills a destiny we planned long before this lifetime.

We live consciously, knowing that what we think matters. We know we have the power to create change all around us.

We live deliberately, knowing that what moves us affects everyone. The love we give is the love we live.

We live with purpose, choosing what we love, and following that star.

When we love ourselves enough to choose happiness, we lift up our- selves and everyone who comes in contact with us. Happiness is not a goal, it is the way to live.

We may as well do this for ourselves and others, to honor our spirit. No one else can do it for us. That is why I write, it makes me happy and moves my life in positive ways that I don’t even know.

We are not our pain, but painful opportunities will present themselves to us, because we are spirits that have bodies. There are negative experi- ences in abundance in the world around us. When we sit up straight and take some deep breaths, we feel better physically and mentally. We might even choose to resist getting involved in our own opportunities for drama, and we automatically create the will and courage that it takes to face and embrace anything and everything.

It takes a lot of love, beginning with loving ourselves. There are a few things I recommend:

  • There is no need to judge everything you do or do not do. You are perfect in your imperfection. Let go expectations and open to unexpected inspiration.
  • Forgive yourself and others. We are all doing our best. Connect with your inner light. You have deep within unrec- ognized resources. Acknowledge the presence of your soul power and possibility. You can use this power, but first you must recognize, and accept it, then use it to heal your past.
  • Respect all people and their choices. What is most yours is your choice of your attitude. Do not let your own negative attitude or the attitude of another be your prison. Nourish your soul with beauty around you. We try to keep flowers in our house all the time.
  • Eventually everything must be given up. Letting go releases us to the self organizing power of the universe.

Don’t you want to see what is possible? I love the last part of this poem.

 

 The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down,

Into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

How to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With you one wild and precious life?

 

Snapshot of Associate Minister Annie Kopko of the Interfaith Center in Ann Arbor.

 

 

 

 

by Rev. Annie Kopko 

The Dark and the Light

We are attending to troubling times in our world today. Since stepping into my role at ICSG, many difficult and tragic events have taken place in our community and in our world, the most recent being a number of historically destructive natural disasters. As I reflect upon the devastation in Southeast Asia, Texas, Oregon, Montana, Florida, the Caribbean Islands, and Mexico, I find myself often without words. I know many of us have been personally affected by at least one of these events and that the challenges, losses, and fears continue to play out.

As I’ve been looking for my own guidance during this time, I began to think about the role darkness has played in my own life. I reflected on the many times that I have experienced darkness, how I fight with it, how it forces me to stay anyway, and what I gain from the process of composting and stumbling back into the light. Then I happened upon this beautiful writing by one of the spiritual teachers I follow, Tirzah Firestone. She began by referring to the solar eclipse that happened last month, starting with a quote from a friend of hers:

The most unforgettable moment was—after about two minutes of experiencing the totality—when the light of the sun, like a sparkling facet of a diamond, began peeking out from the edge…It symbolized for me that in the deepest throes of darkness the light is born.”

In response to her friend’s message, Tirzah shared the following:

“His sentiment comes right out of Kabbalah: the notion that light is born out of chaos and darkness. The 13th century Zohar says: For there is no light except that which issues from darkness… and there is no good except that which issues from evil. There is a lot of darkness in the world right now: fear, insecurity, hopelessness. How do we go about bringing light out of so much dark? I believe the Zohar is telling us that spiritual light comes not from avoiding, but from facing into the darkness. That true goodness comes not from untested innocence but from facing and wrestling with our darkest parts.”

I wanted to share Tirzah’s sentiment with you in part because we will have a guest speaker, Lucinda Kurtz, speaking about the Kabbalah at our service on Oct. 1st, followed by a workshop on the topic. I thought the synchronicity was poignant. I also appreciated Tirzah’s encouragement to face into the darkness. I do believe this is what is being asked of us during this time. We must face this darkness, wrestle with it, even if it means our worldview is tossed on its head. We are seeing how the decades of mistreatment of our Mother Earth is leading to pain and loss on a massive scale. We are acknowledging the suffering of many who have lost loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods, and their neighborhoods. We face all of this, we call on our resiliency to make it through this time, we show our aid to those who are suffering in any way we can, and we trust that the light will greet us on the other side. We commit to being co-creators of that light.

I encourage you to join in meditation and peaceful prayer for our world during the  24 hour Peace Generator, this weekend, Sept. 15th at 6pm- Sept 16th at 6pm, drop in any time. May all of those personally affected by tragedy today be safe, protected, and supported during this difficult time.

With Love,

Lauren

Response to Charlottesville

Hello Interfaith Family,

It has felt important to me to reach out during this difficult moment in our history. Having been out of town and mostly out of touch over the weekend, I am still wrapping my mind around a response to what occurred in Charlottesville, VA. Since hearing the news, I have felt many things: grief, anger, and pain, along with a fierce uprising of mother bear energy and a sense of hope as voices of peace rise above hate.

I was lucky enough to be in town for the vigil held at the Diag on Sunday night, which was truly a powerful event. Incredibly impactful words were shared, with an emphasis on waking up and standing up. We were reminded of, on the one hand, the unbearable costs of being silent in the face of such events and, on the other hand, the amazing power of coming together in peace.  I felt truly honored to stand with other members of diverse faith traditions and the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice in denouncing the hate and calling on all of our strength to stand against it. It truly seems that even as the shadow continues to reveal itself in louder ways in our world, the light is pouring in with all its strength. People all over the nation (and around the world) are coming together to do amazing work, work that will no doubt change our world for the better.

For the past month or so I have been in conversation with the Washtenaw County Democratic Party Black Caucus about leading an event at the ICSG called Uncomfortable Conversations. It is an opportunity for people of all races to talk openly, even if uncomfortably, about race and issues of race. Having attended one of these events a few months ago, I was struck by how important it was and it now feels to be even more urgent. I look forward to bringing this work to the center; keep your eyes out for finalized details soon.

By way of recognizing that so many people around the country have spoken and written such valuable words in the last few days, I thought I’d share a few passages from wise souls that I have encountered that have given me strength, hope, and awakening.

From a black female student who spoke at the vigil (unfortunately I have been unable to find her name):

“Now I need you all to wake up. This is America. This is the America that black and brown people have told you about. It’s the America that black and brown people have fought for…America is flawed, it is violent, it is divided, it is unfair and unjust, it is racist, it is sexist, it is homophobic, classist, and so much more. But you know what, this is also America, all of us here, we are America. And this America is strong, determined, passionate, tolerant, black, it is brown, it is Spanish-speaking, it is queer, it is woman, and it is youth. This America is loving and it is forgiving and because of all of that, we are so much bigger and stronger than the fear that causes some of America to hurt instead of heal.”

From Marianne Williamson’s talk given in Charlottesville on 8/13:

“Love gives us power and love gives us two categories of power. Our power to say no and our power to say yes… for those of us dedicated to the auspices of love, we know love sometimes says NO…We have zero tolerance for violence directed at any human being and ladies and gentleman, this is the time for all of us in America to remember and to stand and to own the courage, the moral courage it takes to also say no to violence when it is institutionalized and when it appears in our midst. This is not a time for moral relativism…this is the time to take a stand and to say no.”

From Pastor John Pavlovitz:

“We are not with you, torch-bearers, in Charlottesville or anywhere. We do not consent to this. In fact, we stand against you, alongside the very beautiful diversity that you fear. We stand with people of every color and of all faiths, people of every orientation, nationality, and native tongue. We are not going to have this…your racism and your terrorism will not win the day.”

In honor of all of these wise words and all of the ways in which we will continue to stand for love, I’ll close with a message of prayer. May we find the strength to release any fears and reticence to stand against what we know is wrong. May each of us, in ways both large and small, work every day to stand fiercely in our love for our planet and our fellow beings everywhere. May we use our privilege to pave the way for others, to make way for the silenced to be heard. May we, each day, be reminded that today is the day to stand for light, love, and liberation.

With Ferocious Mother Bear Love,

Lauren