Week 23: Liquid Church’s Love Week: Spreading Kindness and Connection
The month of November always makes me think of kindness. The start of the winter holiday season is a wonderful time for refocusing and remembering that it takes only a tiny effort to share love! It brings to mind a special story I want to share with you. It’s my interpretation of the concept of Tikkun Olam*, Hebrew for “repair of the world”…
At the beginning there was only the Divine infinite, called “Ein Sof” (Hebrew for ‘without end’), which filled everything. At a moment in time Ein Sof decided to create life and drew in breath, contracting the expanded infinite into a tiny point of infinite density and energy. This is tzimtzum (“contraction”) and it left a dark, empty space all around for creation of the universe.
From the heart of that holy darkness a single great stream of light (the Primordial Light) emerged. Within that ray was everything which was and is destined to exist – perfect yet still undefined worlds of beauty, enlightenment, happiness and eternal health that transcended time.
In order for the finite world to come into being, the light needed to go through stages of contraction and descent and so Ein Sof created 10 holy vessels to hold the light and all of creation. But something happened and when the divine light began to radiate into the vessels they shattered one by one (in Hebrew, “Shevirat haKeilim”). This ruptured the fabric of the universe and created chaos as the divine sparks of light, along with the broken fragments of the vessels, scattered like sand and stars, falling everywhere and becoming entangled with the darkness.
These holy sparks of light and shards of shattered vessels became souls and objects in worlds throughout eternity. Each human soul and all of nature (from beginning of time through eternity) has within it a mix of the shards of light and darkness from that event. In this way we are forever linked to each other and all the natural objects in the Universe. The task for humanity is “tikkun olam” (meaning “repair the world”) – to restore the world to heavenly perfection by loving and kindness towards each other. Whenever you interact with anyone in the world remember and look for the spark of light.*
I love this creation story. I’d originally heard it back in 2005 while listening to Krista Tippett interview a guest on her radio show, “On Being.” I love the perspective of approaching others through the lens of interconnection and kindness. So when my church, Liquid Church, held “Love Week” last week, I was really excited to participate!
The concept of Love Week is to pour love on others through random acts of kindness. There were hundreds of activities you could participate in: sorting clothes, helping children, working with veterans and the elderly, helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, building homes, mentoring youth, painting, renovating…. The list seemed endless.
My husband Dean and I opted to participate in a mini-makeover at the Parsippany Community Center. Our church had just relocated to a Parsippany campus and wanted to do amazing things for our new neighbors. Dean and I were on the “prep team” which meant spending the evening with a group of about 12 people taping and laying plastic, spackling, moving furniture and otherwise preparing the extra large spaces within the center for the painting teams. We were just two of over 4,000 volunteers who collectively put in over 10,000 hours at locations all over New Jersey during the week.
Many of the activities during Love Week were small (like playing games with children after school at a local community center) but every activity had impact. Even the smallest act of kindness has the power to affect the lives of others and create ripples that spread out from you to others and through the community, fueling a fire for change.
When I turn on the news it’s filled with violence, corruption, aggression, hatred, disagreement. It seems that something terrible happens every day and some days it feels overwhelming. I find that kindness is a human connection that helps me connect with others and promote love. And… it’s contagious! It’s an awesome grassroots way to work towards a more loving world.
Welcome to the holiday season!
* I hope I’ve done this wonderful concept of Tikkun Olam justice in my retelling and do not mean to offend anyone by sharing a story not from my personal history or religion. I absolutely love this idea of unity and perspective of love and responsibility to each other and the earth and hope I have honored that tradition here.