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Friday, August 3, 2018

A spiritual pillar remembered

Joyce Sasse

Joyce Sasse - 
I spent time this morning at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens meditating on the memories of my oldest mentor and friend. Yesterday, amid family and friends, we celebrated a life that reached back 97 years.

She was a positive, joyous, forward-thinking person whose presence electrified any gathering. Her motto was to celebrate even the tiniest moments of life.

I wondered how much her children understood about the way their parents advocated within church circles, 50 years ago, for constructive ways to work with clergy serving rural congregations. Their plea to help struggling ministers deal with their problems, rather than shift those individuals repeatedly from one congregation to the next, fell on deaf ears. Consequently, the couple divorced themselves from their church denomination, but remained spiritual pillars throughout the region.

It was the first time I came to understand what it meant to be “spiritual-but-not-religious”. The rigidity of religious institutions can be burdensome.

Do their teenage children, now grown to be grandparents themselves, understand?

The lack of religious affiliation freed this couple to work beyond the traditionally accepted boundaries of religion, race, sex and ageism. They were politically astute in a political party their neighbours ignored. They identified and supported causes for people who were overlooked for too long. Serving the cause of justice and making charitable-living a lifestyle were norms in their everyday world.

Oft times in my own life, as I found myself fighting some issue of injustice in stormy seas, I remembered how this special mentor had shown me the way. I offer a prayer of gratitude for her insight and compassion.

It was an honour to be able to commend the remains of my friend and her husband to the elements from which God fashioned us in the beginning. We did all this in the name of Jesus Christ who promised each of us life beyond this earthly time.

When we had done all we could do, we departed with peaceful hearts – knowing we too are blessed by God.

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