Kukula Kapoor Glastris

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Hindu, Episcopalian, Jewish and Greek. How did Kuku pull that off?

Jo Barclay-Beard
Kukula and I were in an EfM seminar together for four years. In short, EfM is a study in theology and how it applies to our everyday life. While I cannot tell all of the stories because of confidentiality there are some I can share. First: The death of her mother. When Kukula returned from India she shared with our group the ritual of preparing her mother's body after death. She (Kukula) talked about the females in the family getting together to wash and prepare her mother's body. Kukula talked about watching the funeral pyre and seeing the plume of smoke rising heavenward. She talked about seeing her mother's ashes being spread on the Ganges River. What struck me about this was the reverence with which Kukula spoke.

A second incident was our (she and I) talking about drinking the communion wine that was not consumed during the service. At one time the chalice bearers would consume any wine that remained after the communion had ended. She and I marveled that we experienced the same mystical occurrence - a burning like a sweet fire that enveloped the whole body beginning in the solar plexus region and spreading outward. Not the "high" of alcohol; rather the burning of transformation.

My third and final story that I can share regards "guilt" and the candle. One evening our seminar group was discussing the negative things we held onto even though we knew that God didn't. Kukula's was "guilt". She always felt that she didn't do enough for her family, for her church, for her neighborhood, for the hurting world. I asked her to take a piece of paper and write the word "guilt" on it and put it into the flame of the candle. I told her the light of the candle was like the light of God - ready to consume the negative. Well, she put the piece of paper into the flame and the paper didn't burn. The paper was not consumed. Every single person in that seminar group sat around the table dumbstruck. Finally, she snatched the paper from the flame and said, "See, I will always have guilt." I responded, "See, the light of God will always be with you and surround you no matter where you are on your journey." It became a shared group learning experience.

So how did Kukula manage the Hindu, Greek, Jewish, Episcopalian? That's actually a very easy question to answer. Tradition not doctrine. Kukula embodied the very best of each faith tradition. She embodied the one tradition shared by each faith - hospitality and the belief in shared meals. Everything important in life happens over a shared meal. Our (Episcopal) faith tradition teaches us this, as do the other faiths. You could never be in Kukula's presence without a hug, true love and if you were in her home - food!

Sweet Kukula, I will miss you dearly and all that you have shown and taught me by your living example.
Eleni Kounalakis
Kukula was my koumbara, my Greek sister. One time, she introduced me around a room full of members of the Hellenic American Women's Caucus like a true Ellinida. Her name - Kukula - sounds a lot like "kukla", which is a Greek doll. She was a kukla - but she was the kind that get things done, pull family and friends together and always made you feel enveloped in love, generosity and kindness. I will always hold her loving presence in my heart.
Greg Garcia
Worldly food and sensible shoes to walk the talk!
Amy Cunningham
While discerning, she was open to exploring all faiths.